U.S. Must Mine for Rare Earths for Plans of Electrifying U.S. Transportation

In a recent opinion piece published on a local news site, Robert W. Chase, a Professor who led a college Department of Petroleum Engineering and Geology from 1978 until 2015, shared China is our leading supplier of minerals and metals, giving it great leverage over our supply chains for advanced technologies. Consider the possibility of waking to the news that China has cut off exports of electric-vehicle battery metals — lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite and rare earth minerals. What if China decides it has had enough of U.S. pressure with regard to human rights abuses and decides to retaliate by restricting the export of key metals? Then consider the panic that would set in as the price of metals skyrockets.

Most geologists believe there are trillions of dollars’ worth of minerals beneath the ground in the United States, but U.S. mineral production has withered for decades and import reliance has doubled in just the past 20 years. A largely broken mine-permitting system in the United States has pushed mining investment and production overseas when we need these critical supply chains at home more than ever.

We need a public policy that encourages investment in domestic mining, reduces permitting barriers, and encourages domestic manufacturers to use responsibly produced domestic materials. Such a policy would reduce dependence on foreign suppliers, stem the flood of billions of dollars to China, facilitate the development of new energy technologies, protect the environment, and limit our vulnerability to embargoes. Read more from Robert’s OP-ED

“Meanwhile, panelists at the Energy Storage Summit USA this week heard that a combination of soaring demand for grid resilience and anti-Chinese import sentiment can only bring growth to the US’ manufacturing, mining and recycling sectors.”

The US could see new mines and raw material production “scale up” as demand for battery energy storage systems and grid resilience increases over the next decade, according to Margaret O’Riley, battery, automotive and electrification business recruitment lead for power holding company Duke Energy Corporation.

“Now that there’s a market for these batteries and everyone sees it’s coming,” O’Riley said, “I think you’re going to see mining production scale up, as well as reusing those batteries taking those minerals out and putting them back into new batteries. A number of companies are looking at that as well.” Full Story from EnergySource.News

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