The United States imported more than half of its supply of at least 46 minerals in 2020, and all of its supplies of 17 of those minerals, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, according to the United States Geological Survey. US substance. Many of the materials come from China, which leads the world in lithium ion battery production and has been known to have stopped exporting some products during times of political tension, including rare earth minerals.
The Biden administration has warned that reliance on foreign materials could pose a threat to US security, and has promised to expand domestic supplies of semiconductors, batteries and pharmaceuticals. , and other items. While the United States has a number of unexplored deposits of nickel, cobalt, and other important minerals and metals, the development of mines and processing sites can take years. Two-thirds of all world cobalt production is in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Chinese companies own or finance 15 of the 19 largest mines as of 2020.
However, bipartisan support for the expansion of U.S. mining and processing of battery components has grown in recent years. In a March 11 letter to Biden, senators including Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, and Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat, proposed invoking the Defense Production Act. to accelerate the domestic production of components of lithium-ion battery materials. , especially graphite, manganese, cobalt, nickel and lithium.
Todd M. Malan, head of climate strategy for Talon Metals, which is developing a nickel mine in Minnesota, said Washington has reached a bipartisan consensus around more support for mining. electric vehicle battery minerals in the country “due to concerns about dependence on Russia and China for battery raw materials as well as the urgency for the energy transition”.
But some domestic developments could be met with opposition from environmentalists in Mr. Biden’s own party.
Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who chairs the Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement on Wednesday that miners are “making pleas for opportunities to promote a decades-old mining program to allow polluters and Americans to suffer the consequences. ”
“Fast-track mining by archaic standards that puts our public health, wilderness, and sacred sites at risk for permanent damage is not the answer,” he added.
Dionne Searcey contribution report.