U.S. Commerce Dept. probes security risk of spiked imports of aluminum from China

The U.S. Commerce Department has launched an investigation to see whether a flood of aluminum imports from China and elsewhere was compromising U.S. national security.

The U.S. investigation seeks to understand the rising tide of aluminum imports. The Commerce Department is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are dumping aluminum foil into the U.S. market below cost and benefiting from unfair subsidies.Part of the justification for the investigation was that U.S. combat aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter and the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet require high-purity aluminum that is now produced by only one smelter, Century Aluminum Co.

He said that company could probably meet U.S. peacetime needs, but not if the United States needed to ramp up defense production for a conflict. The same high-purity aluminum goes into armor plating for military vehicles and naval vessels, he said.The investigation will determine if there is sufficient domestic aluminum capacity to meet U.S. defense needs and will also assess the effects of lost jobs, skills and investments on national security, Ross said.

Last November, a dozen U.S. senators requested that a U.S. national security review panel reject the $2.3 billion acquisition of Cleveland-based aluminum products maker Aleris Corp by China’s Zhongwang International Group Ltd.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.