The US Department of Defense (DoD) issued an interim rule on September 29, 2020, that will require DoD contractors to cease supplying tantalum originally sourced in various forms from ‘adversarial foreign suppliers’, identified as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea..
The DoD’s new rule (DFARS 225.7018) restricts the department from purchasing tantalum oxides, metals, and alloys which were derived at nearly any point in the supply chain from the named countries.
The rule formally implements a national security measure, signed into law in 2019, designed to limit the US DoD’s exposure to non-allied sources for tantalum. With wide uses in key defence technologies, tantalum is designated a critical mineral in the US, whose absence “would have significant consequences for the economy or national security,” according to the US Department of Interior, 2018.
DFARS 225.7018 implements section 849 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020. Section 849 of the NDAA added tantalum to an existing statute (10 U.S.C. §2533c) that lists critical materials the US DoD cannot source (with few exceptions) from Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea.