A bipartisan caucus has been launched by the US House of Representatives in a bid to increase the production of strategically important minerals.

The move comes in the wake of further deterioration in the country’s relations with China.

The Critical Materials caucus will find ways to ramp up the production of specialized minerals that are used in manufacturing missiles, cell phones and other high-tech equipment, Reuters reported.

Focus will be on increasing the production of rare earths, lithium, titanium and other important minerals.

Currently, China is the world’s largest producer or processor of these minerals.

The panel, which was approved by the House Administration Committee’s leadership, will be chaired by Representative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, and Representative Guy Reschenthaler, a Pennsylvania Republican.

Swalwell was quoted by Reuters as saying: “All of us want to make sure America addresses this national security issue.

“I don’t consider China an ally country.”

Caucus members to work on legislation to permanently fund rare earths research at DOE

Initially, the caucus members will work on the legislation to permanently fund rare earths research at US Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories.

Reschenthaler said: “It is more important than ever for our nation to work towards achieving critical material independence.”

In April, the DOE announced plans to offer up to $18m for basic research aimed at helping to ensure the continued availability of rare earth elements.

According to the department, the research will focus on fundamental breakthroughs to enable improved methods to increase the availability or reduce the use of rare earth elements.

The research will also focus on finding more efficient separation approaches to enable reuse, and discovery of effective substitutes for rare earths.