In the February edition of The Crucible, the Minor Metals Trade Association (MMTA) has featured an editorial by Jeff Green on “Public Procurement of Materials Critical to National Security”. In the piece, Mr. Green discusses new reforms to the acquisition and disposition of materials by the U.S. National Defense Stockpile and how this may impact future programs towards critical materials like rhenium and yttrium oxide.
From 2008 to 2011, the U.S. Air Force operated a rhenium recycling pilot program, with an estimated $2 million in savings annually for jet engine manufacture. However, because the National Defense Stockpile did not have the authority to carry out “recycling” programs, the pilot was not extended. With this new authority, the pilot may be reactivated, and it also may be applied to the recovery of yttrium oxide from Department of Defense compact fluorescent lighting, which the Department already is required to collect.
Mr. Green argues that the latter point is part of a more nuanced “second look” by the Department towards rare earth policy. Certain key rare earth processing and production capabilities are now viewed as critical, especially for the reduction of metals and the separation of high-purity heavy rare earth oxides.
The complete article is available here (pages 4-5).