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President Biden on Tuesday announced several public and private investments aimed at increasing the domestic supply of minerals needed to manufacture electric vehicles, computers, solar panels and other products, but which currently come from abroad.
“We cannot build a made-in-America future if we ourselves depend on China for the materials that power the products of today and tomorrow,” Biden said at a House event. White.
The move is part of a push by the White House to make the United States less dependent on foreign goods, given supply chain disruptions that have led to shortages of goods, helping to fuel inflation. The investments announced Tuesday were aimed at boosting the nation’s supply of minerals – including lithium, cobalt and rare earths, many of which typically come from China – which are used in a wide range of technologies.
The Pentagon has awarded MP Materials, a US mining company, $35 million to expand a rare earths project in Mountain Pass, California, and the company is expected to invest an additional $700 million in supply chain by 2024. The project would establish the first comprehensive supply in the United States for permanent magnets, which are used in electric vehicle motors, wind turbines and defense applications, according to a White House statement.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables announced plans to break ground this spring at a California facility to test the commercial viability of a process that extracts lithium from geothermal brine. If the test is successful, the company could begin commercial production of lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate by 2026.
Redwood Materials said it would discuss a pilot project with Ford Motor and Volvo to extract lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite from older lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, according to the White House statement. .
The Biden administration has warned that a reliance on lithium, cobalt, nickel and other foreign minerals, particularly from China, poses a threat to the US economy and security. He promised to expand domestic supplies of semiconductors, batteries and pharmaceuticals, as well as the mining, processing and recycling of critical minerals.
The Infrastructure Act passed last year provided funding for projects to recover rare earths and other critical minerals from coal ash and mining waste, refine battery materials and recycle batteries from electric vehicles.
Mr Biden said on Tuesday that the United States must import nearly 100% of the critical minerals it needs from other countries, particularly China, Australia and Chile. “I was determined to change that, and we’ve seen what happens when we become dependent on other countries for essential goods,” he said.