From cars and construction equipment to cellphones and military weapons, rare earth materials and other metals such as tungsten are critical to manufacturing many important things businesses and consumers use on a daily basis. While people around the world rely on these minerals in their everyday lives, China produces 80 percent of such materials used in the U.S. and has been doing so for quite some time.
What's made things even worse over the past 12 to 18 months is the pandemic. Many consumers stuck at home decided that their cellphone or computer needed to be replaced, which ultimately caused a shortage of these materials that is affecting other sectors, including the automotive and electronics industries.
Expanding the supply chain means the production of these metals that are indispensable to manufacturing both consumer and government necessities would not be solely sourced from China. But this won't happen overnight. The process of having a fully diversified supply chain is several years away because of the planning, process and permitting it takes to both open a mine and build a factory.