SAFE’s Mineral Center Joins House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party Working Group on Critical Minerals and Rare Earth Supply Chains

In June, Abigail Hunter, Executive Director of SAFE’s Center for Critical Minerals Strategy, testified as part of the inaugural closed-door meeting of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party’s Critical Minerals Policy Working Group, led by Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Kathy Castor (D-FL), both of whom spoke at SAFE Summit 2024.

Hunter’s testimony focused on the inexorable relationship between commercial and defense industrial bases. She emphasized the pressing need for secure and reliable critical minerals and rare earth elements (REEs) supply chains in the face of the CCP’s growing dominancy of these vital materials.

Hunter joined Abby Wulf, SAFE Alum and Head of American Battery Materials Initiative, and Matt Sloustcher, Senior Vice President of Communications and Policy at MP Materials (a Minerals Center partner), who discussed battery and magnet supply chains and existing government support.

Responding to some Congressmembers participating in the Working Group who expressed skepticism about transportation electrification and concern that the United States could never catch up with China on electric vehicles, Hunter emphasized the dual-use nature of critical minerals and mineral-intensive technologies.

Hunter noted that:

  • Robust commercial capacity for critical minerals and REE production during peacetime ensures the nation’s readiness during times of conflict.
  • A resilient commercial industrial base is foundational to innovation and scaling technologies.
  • Critical minerals like aluminum and copper are essential in manufacturing across society, including in traditional internal combustion (ICE) vehicles, but their biggest sources of growing demand, which justify government intervention and reshoring, are for clean energy technology applications

Members also asked how we can better encourage private sector investment in these supply chains. Hunter and the other witnesses talked about how there is historic investment in the mid and downstream, but there needs to be more investment in the upstream. Supporting the emergence of national champions, strengthening commercial diplomacy and providing trade authority, coordinating investment with allies and their industries, permitting reform, and keeping strong guardrails, like the FEOC provisions, in place were also discussed.

A key takeaway from this June meeting is that the Working Group must foster a bipartisan understanding of the importance of a holistic supply chain approach that encompasses domestic mining, processing, manufacturing, and recycling capabilities. Only then can the Working Group develop a more comprehensive and effective strategy to secure America’s strategic interests.