Restoring Domestic Supply of Critical Minerals Will Strengthen U.S. Semiconductor Industry

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013, 2:00pm

by David Isaacs, Vice President, Government Affairs

Last month, the semiconductor industry and many other sectors breathed a collective sigh of relief when Congress approved legislation to secure the supply of helium, a gas that is essential for semiconductor manufacturing, medical devices, and a range of other applications. With that near-crisis in mind, SIA supports the idea of developing a plan for ensuring the supply of other critical materials used to manufacture semiconductors and other important products.

Today, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), along with a bipartisan group of Senators, introduced legislation to revitalize America’s critical mineral supply chain. Critical minerals are used to build products across a variety of sectors, including national defense, health care, and consumer electronics. The Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013 directs the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to establish a list of minerals and elements critical to the U.S. economy that may be vulnerable to supply disruptions. It also develops a framework to bolster critical mineral production, expand manufacturing, and promote recycling and alternatives – all while maintaining strong environmental protections.

The recent experience with the helium supply illustrates the vital importance to the semiconductor industry and other important industries, as well as scientific research, of a secure supply of essential materials. We need to ensure that we have the proper policies in place to avoid disruptions of these critical materials, and this bill is an important step forward in achieving this goal.

We look forward to continuing to work with leaders in Congress to ensure that the U.S. has a secure supply of the elements and minerals that are critical to the U.S. semiconductor industry and the U.S. economy.