The Biden administration is planning a series of investments in hopes to increase domestic production of critical minerals used in everyday products as the nation continues to struggle with ongoing supply chain problems.
“Critical minerals provide the building blocks for many modern technologies and are essential to our national security and economic prosperity,” a White House fact sheet announcing the investments said. “These minerals—such as rare earth elements, lithium, and cobalt—can be found in products from computers to household appliances. They are also key inputs in clean energy technologies like batteries, electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels … The U.S. is increasingly dependent on foreign sources for many of the processed versions of these minerals. Globally, China controls most of the market for processing and refining for cobalt, lithium, rare earths and other critical minerals.”
“In June, the Biden-Harris Administration released a first-of-its-kind supply chain assessment that found our over-reliance on foreign sources and adversarial nations for critical minerals and materials posed national and economic security threats,” the fact sheet continued.
“In addition to working with partners and allies to diversify sustainable sources, the reports recommended expanding domestic mining, production, processing, and recycling of critical minerals and materials,” the fact sheet went on.
“Today, President Biden will meet with Administration and state partners, industry executives, community representatives, labor leaders, and California Governor Gavin Newsom to announce major investments in domestic production of key critical minerals and materials, ensuring these resources benefit the community, and creating good-paying, union jobs in sustainable production.”
The fact sheet then laid out the administration’s plans to address the “over-reliance on foreign sources” of critical minerals:
- The Defense Department, through its Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment program, awarded a $35 million grant to rare-earth mining company MP Materials to separate and process rare-earth elements at its Mountain Pass, California facility. The grant would attempt to establish a complete start-to-finish supply chain for building magnets, which are used in electric motors, defense systems, electronic, and wind turbines. MP Materials also announced a $700 million investment, hoping to create 350 jobs by 2024.
- Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables said it would announce the construction of a facility to test the viability of its process to extract lithium from geothermal brine.
- Redwood Materials would discuss a pilot program in cooperation with Ford and Volvo to collect and recycle rare-earth minerals from used lithium-ion batteries
- Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced the Department of Energy’s $140 million project to recover rare-earth material from coal ash and other mine wastes, in hopes of reducing the need for new mines. Granholm would also discuss $3 billion in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to invest in refining elements used for battery materials.
The Biden administration also touted several investments already made by private companies working to advance the projects set forth in the fact sheet. The administration also touted the work it had done over the past year in order to “secure reliable and sustainable supplies of critical minerals and materials,” including updating mining regulations, updating the Federal list of critical minerals, and strengthening the stockpile of critical minerals.
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