Most consumers probably don’t know anything about barite or gallium and their uses.
But President Trump does, which is why this week he issued an executive order declaring a national emergency over the supply lines of more than a dozen rare-earth elements for their critical functions in America’s military and industry.
Barite is a key component in the hydraulic fracturing industry, from which the nation gets much of its energy.
And gallium-based semiconductors are used in cell phones. Another rare-earth element, graphite, is critical to high-performing batteries.
And China is a major player in the production of all of them.
The president cited the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the National Emergencies Act in signing the order.
“These critical minerals are necessary inputs for the products our military, national infrastructure, and economy depend on the most. Our country needs critical minerals to make airplanes, computers, cell phones, electricity generation and transmission systems, and advanced electronics. Though these minerals are indispensable to our country, we presently lack the capacity to produce them in processed form in the quantities we need,” the president wrote.
“American producers depend on foreign countries to supply and process them. For 31 of the 35 critical minerals, the United States imports more than half of its annual consumption. The United States has no domestic production for 14 of the critical minerals and is completely dependent on imports to supply its demand.”