Thursday March 3, 2022

Duluth News Tribune
Dan Ervin

March 3, 2022

Now is the time to ask: How important is the mining of minerals and metals in the United States to the advancement of clean-energy technologies? As demand for clean-energy metals soars, and as global supply-chain challenges only grow more pronounced, the answer is exceedingly clear. Building a domestic mineral supply chain is foundational to the energy transition and electric-vehicle revolution.

Geopolitical considerations are an important dimension of the need for U.S. mobilization in the minerals and metals space. U.S. mineral import reliance is at alarming levels, and China is now the dominant producer of half of the more than 30 minerals the U.S. government has deemed critical to our economic and national security. Overreliance on a geopolitical rival for fuel or critical materials is not a place we want to be. Just ask the E.U. as it deals with Russian dominance of the European gas market. But even putting aside grave geopolitical considerations, soaring commodity prices and the threat they pose to clean energy deployment are reasons enough for the U.S. to fully engage in mineral supply chains.

Consider what is happening with the metals used for lithium-ion batteries, the enabling technology for electric vehicles. Lithium prices jumped a staggering 437% in 2021, and they continue to rise this year. New battery manufacturing capacity is coming online far faster than miners can open new mines and bring production to market. The result is a tear in the lithium market that is showing no signs of slowing down.

Read the full article here.