The United States has enough reserves of lithium, copper and other metals to make millions tram (Electric vehicles), but growing opposition to the new mines could force the country to become dependent on imports and delay the nation’s drive to electrify cars.
The tension underscores the dilemma the United States faces as it enters 2022, a year that US policymakers hope will see breakthroughs across a range of institutions. electric vehicle factory Ford, Synthetic engine and others.
President Joe Biden showed earlier this year he prefers to lean on allies for EV metals, part of a strategy designed to appease environmentalists. That means American automakers will have to compete with international rivals for supply amid a global rush to electrification.
US metal imports can increase greenhouse gas emissions by increasing shipping from overseas mines to processing facilities, mostly in Asia, thus reducing part of the rationale behind building more electric vehicles.
ONE Reuters analysis shows that proposed US mining projects could produce enough copper to build more than 6 million EVs, enough lithium to make more than 6 million EVs. 2 million EVs and enough nickel to generate more than 60,000 EVs.
Estimates are based on the volume of minerals used to generate Tesla Model 3, the world’s most popular electric vehicle, according to a study by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. Other types of EVs use different amounts, depending on the design.
James Calaway, executive chairman of ioneer Ltd.
In August, Biden issued an executive order to make half of the new car sell electricity by 2030.
Washington has so far issued confusing guidance to its mining industry. For example, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is poised to label a rare flower found on several acres in ioneer’s Nevada lithium mine as endangered, a step that could prevent back to permitting. At the same time, the US Department of Energy is deciding whether to lend this company more than 300 million USD to build the mine.
Other proposed mines face resistance from indigenous groups, ranchers or environmentalists, highlighting broader tensions in the United States as the resistance to living near the mines conflicts with ability to reduce electric cars. climate change.
In early 2022, federal judges will rule in two separate cases on whether former President Donald Trump’s approvals were granted by former President Donald Trump to Lithium Americas Corp. Rio Tinto Plc should be reversed.
In Minnesota, state regulators are weighing whether the license granted to PolyMet Mining Corp, controlled by mining giant Glencore Plc, should be revoked or re-issued. PolyMet’s mine will become a major nickel producer like the only US nickel mine scheduled to close in 2025.
In North Carolina, Piedmont Lithium Inc’s failure to keep local landowners on track with its development plans could prompt the company to approve the necessary local planning.
Biden himself in October took steps to block Antofagasta Plc’s Twin Metals copper and nickel mine project in Minnesota for 20 years. The proposed underground mine would become a major U.S. supplier of copper for electric vehicles, which use twice as much red metal as vehicles with internal combustion engines.
Despite that step, the White House has been working to emphasize its support for certain EV mining projects, including Lithium Americas’ proposed lithium mine – despite opposition. Native Americans – and a geothermal lithium project in California partially funded by GM.
The government also touts a Tesla lithium supply agreement with Piedmont, although that agreement was permanently suspended earlier this year.
Many mining projects have strong backing from labor unions, a constituency the president has worked hard to cultivate and which some at times clash with environmental groups hoping to block mining projects. new mine.
Biden’s EV target “means well-paying union jobs for people working in responsible mining operations that will provide the battery minerals and the environment,” said Tom Conway, head of the United Steelworkers, a union that represents a number of U.S. miners.