USA Rare Earth, LLC, which is providing funding and development of a rare earth mineral site in Texas, has acquired a domestic manufacturing capability to allow it and its partners to mine, process and produce rare earth magnets and related materials in the U.S., thereby reducing dependency on China for the supply of these critical materials that are used in high-technology products.

USA Rare Earth said on Tuesday it has acquired from Hitachi Metals America Ltd.

, the neodymium iron boron permanent magnet manufacturing equipment that was operated in North Carolina.

New York-based USA Rare Earth says that China controls more than 60 percent of the global market for rare earth magnets, which is valued at $14 billion annually. China is increasingly focusing on its domestic market applications for its rare earth mineral production.

The magnets are used in high-technology weapons systems although the commercial market drives demand. Electric vehicles, wind generators, medical devices and smart phones are key demand drivers in addition to aerospace and defense applications, the company says.

“Developing a full rare earth supply chain independent of China is essential for both the national economy and national security,” retired Army. Gen. Paul Kern, a board member of USA Rare Earth, said in a statement. “This plant provides the relevant industries in the U.S. the possibility of purchasing U.S. manufactured permanent magnets, without reliance on China for this key component. The importance of this acquisition should not be underestimated.”

The rare earth materials will be mined from Round Top Mountain in West Texas, which contains the largest deposit of rare earth minerals in the U.S.

USA Rare Earth expects to begin mining operations at Round Top in about 30 months, once feasibility studies, financing and construction set up are complete, Pini Althaus, the company’s CEO, told Defense Daily on Tuesday.

Althaus said his company’s operating costs will be “extremely low” and that USA Rare Earth’s prices will be competitive with China.

There is “zero production” of rare earth magnets in the U.S. currently so it’s a “large open field” for the company going forward, he said.