Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 5:21 EDT

American Elements CEO Says America Needs a Strategic Metals Reserve

August 30, 2011

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — America needs to create a Strategic Metals Reserve to protect its manufacturing capabilities and defense posture in case of an embargo–especially by China–according to Michael Silver, president and chairman of the board of American Elements, a global manufacturer of engineered and advanced materials, including rare earth metals and chemicals.

Silver says Congress should immediately establish the U.S. Strategic Metals Reserve (SMR) structured similar to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) started in 1975 as a result of the 1973-74 oil embargo. “The cost of these key strategic metals has increased 25+ fold in the last year,” says Mr. Silver.

“These metals are very precious to the health of our nation,” says Silver. “So precious that U.S. manufacturing would grind to a halt within months if cut off. The SMR is exactly the type of action the federal government should take to assure our long term competitiveness. In manufacturing, the nation that has the raw materials, wins.”

Prices have jumped considerably since 2009. Lanthanum was $8.50 a kilogram in 2009, it sells for $140 today. Cerium soared from $9.50 to $162, and Neodymium has skyrocketed from $18-20 per kilogram in 2009 to $420 today.

According to Silver, other than a single pit mine in California, these necessary metals are only mined outside of America and greater than 95% of the majority of the most critical only in China. They include the 14 metals commonly known as the “rare earths.” The rare earths are essential to everything from automobiles, cell phones and jets to numerous military applications. They run the catalytic converters in cars (cerium), light up TV screens (europium), and drive the signal down fiber optic cables (erbium). In fact, every Toyota Prius has 15 pounds of rare earths in it (lanthanum, neodymium). Most critical to the defense of our nation, rare earths are essential in the production of bullet proof vests (yttrium), night vision goggles (gadolinium) and in the F-35 and F-22 Fighter Jets, Bradley Armored Vehicle and the AIM-9x Sidewinder missile (neodymium).

The U.S. would not be the first country building a strategic reserve. China itself established a strategic reserve last year reported to eventually stock over 100,000 tons. South Korea, Japan, the EU and UK are all making plans.

According to Silver, without a reserve, China maintains a costless means to quickly damage the U.S. and they already have used their Rare Earths power against Japan.

Earlier this year President Obama launched the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) stating, “Today, I’m calling for all of us to come together – private sector industry, universities, and the government – to spark a renaissance in American manufacturing and help our manufacturers develop the cutting-edge tools they need to compete with anyone in the world.” The plan includes $100 million to “develop and deploy advanced materials.” According to Silver, “A portion of this money must be allocated to fund an SMR feasibility study group”.

Silver suggests there is virtually no cost to establishing a reserve; it’s simply a reallocation of assets. “Two years ago neodymium metal sold for $35-45 per pound. Today it is $900 per pound and climbing. All rare earth metals have risen similarly. Had America created a reserve 48 months ago, we would have experienced a windfall of epic proportions.”

About American Elements

American Elements is the world’s manufacturer of engineered & advanced materials with corporate offices and primary research & laboratory facilities in the United States and manufacturing & warehousing in the United States, China, Mexico and the United Kingdom. www.americanelements.com

Contact: Rob Wynne, rob@wynnepr.com, 310.540.7204

SOURCE American Elements

Source: PR Newswire