Keith Krach on reducing US dependence on China for rare earths and other vital minerals

March 1, 2021  Source:  Liz Claman interview | By: Liz Claman and Keith Krach

In this February 2021 interview with Liz Claman, Keith Krach, former Undersecretary of State, discusses moves taken to reduce US dependence on China for rare earths and other vital minerals.

Keith Krach: A lot of the work has been done on these supply chains. And that was part of a big study that we did with regard to clean supply chains, also with with clean labor.

The other one with regard to the semiconductor business and Liz, we talked about this before, is the onshoring of TSMC, which was the biggest onshoring in history — 12 billion dollar state of the art plant. And it also brought their ecosystem. We had two theories. One was that it would trigger other semiconductor companies to onshore in the U.S., which has happened and also it triggered the CHIP Act, which is roughly about a 30 billion dollar act to help onshore those things.

And then the last thing with regard to clean minerals, Liz, is the Clean Minerals Initiative, and that is in conjunction with the Clean Network. As you know, that’s 60 countries, two thirds of the world’s GDP. We’ve got 20 companies, actually 20 countries signed up for that–for the Clean Network. You know, just to make an illustrative point, I’ll give you an example of a critical mineral: polysilicate.

The U.S. used to produce 60 percent of it. Now it’s down to 10 percent. China produces 90 percent of it. And it’s the processing plants. And this is what goes into solar panels and semiconductors. 90 percent goes into solar panels. And the majority of it is being manufactured in massive plants in Xinjiang with slave labor. And they have two dedicated massive coal-fired power plants. So we’re taking down all our coal plants around the world, which is a good thing. But we’re replacing it with solar panels that are manufactured with coal power. So this is a typical example. And it affects every single industry, batteries, cars, you name it.