Biden Admin Uses Ukraine Aid Funds To Scope Out Cobalt Mining In Idaho

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Biden Admin Uses Ukraine Aid Funds To Scope Out Cobalt Mining In Idaho


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The Biden administration has begun using funds from a $40 billion Ukraine aid package Congress passed in 2022 to rebuild American manufacturing capacity and restock weapons and scope out critical mineral mining possibilities in Idaho, according to Defense News.

Pentagon planners hope the contracts awarded through Defense Production Act (DPA) authority will help break the U.S. industrial base’s dependence on China and Russia for critical minerals and expand production capabilities, the outlet reported. The Department of Defense (DOD) handed out the first contract from the $600 million fund Congress included the May 2022 package set aside for arming Ukraine in April, and in June used the funds to authorize cobalt exploration in Idaho.

The award, announced June 15, directs Jervois Mining USA to scope out its Idaho mine for a mineral that, despite its critical application in batteries and other technologies, is dominated by Chinese-owned mining companies, according to Defense News.

“A lot of cobalt was getting refined in either China or the Ukraine, or some place that it can’t be refined anymore,” Anthony Di Stasio, director of the Pentagon’s investment office, told Defense News. “What most people don’t know is every hard-target penetrator that we use in the military is a tungsten-cobalt alloy. So if we want to shoot through anything hard, we need cobalt.”

Tanks, armored vehicles and armored planes all require cobalt, he added.

A January report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found the U.S. defense industrial base lacks the capacity for a major war as China continues to invest in munitions and weapons systems six times faster than the U.S.

DOD’s Office of Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization, which manages DPA contracts, handed out $215.6 million to Aerojet Rocketdyne to expand and modernize its facilities in Alabama, Arkansas and Virginia in April, according to a press release. The plants at those locations manufacture Javelins, Stingers, and the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) that the U.S. has donated to Ukraine.

On June 16, the office awarded $45.5 million to an Iowa company for producing high-priority aluminum, Defense News reported. Russia controls roughly three quarters of the world’s high-priority aluminum needed for jets and some military vehicles.

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“There has to be pretty high purity, otherwise bad things happen, like it could crack,” Di Stasio told the outlet. “So we sent out a signal to industry that we wanted to expand production of high-priority aluminum in the United States.”

Then came a $13.8 million grant to The Timken Company for ball bearing production, according to Defense News. Timken is the only U.S. manufacturer that produces ball bearings meeting DOD standards for withstanding rapid temperature shifts experienced in weapons systems.

Di Stasio said the Pentagon is looking for a company that can become a second supplier, according to Defense News.

As of Tuesday, the Biden administration committed more than $40.5 billion in security assistance for Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February 2024, including close to $17.1 billion in weapons directly contracted from industry, according to the State Department.

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All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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