CLAIM: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said during Wednesday night’s Republican presidential primary debate that China “controls 85 percent of the rare-earth minerals” pivotal in electric vehicle production.


Burgum made the remark and elaborated on China’s outsized environmental destruction in pursuit of rare-earth supplies in response to a question posed about the ongoing United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against the “big three” American automobile companies, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (the parent company of Chrysler). Burgum interrupted to make his statement after the moderators allowed several other candidates to answer, then attempted to move on to the next question without giving him the platform.

“We’re missing the point, and every other network is missing the point. The reason why people are striking in Detroit is because of Joe Biden’s interference with capital markets and free markets,” Burgum asserted. “The subsidies — we’re subsidizing the automakers, and we’re subsidizing the cars, and a particular kind of car, not every car. We’re particularly — we’re subsidizing electric vehicles.”

“And when you decide that we’re going to take all of your taxpayer monies, take a billion dollars, subsidize a certain type of vehicle, and the batteries come from China. China controls 85 percent of the rare-earth minerals.”

“China is moving 100,000 pounds of earth in Indonesia, in Africa,” he continued. “They’re literally destroying the planet so that we can make them make a battery that’s in a car subsidized here. That’s why they’re striking — because they need two-thirds less [sic] workers to make an electric car. This strike is at Joe Biden’s feet.”

China dominates both rare-earth mineral production and processing, the latter giving Beijing control over most of the world’s supply. China controls 60 percent of the world’s production of rare-earth minerals and, as Burgum noted, 85 percent of the processing, meaning countries that produce their own rare-earth minerals rely, to some extent, on China to be able to use them. When broken down by specific minerals used in the production of electric vehicle batteries, China controls nearly 70 percent of the world’s lithium, 95 percent of manganese, 73 percent of cobalt, 70 percent of graphite, and 63 percent of nickel.

“Even by 2030, China will make more than twice as many batteries as every other country combined, according to estimates from Benchmark Minerals, a consulting group,” the New York Times reported in May.

The second Republican presidential primary debate is being moderated jointly by Fox Business and Univisión and hosted at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute.

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