A report out this month from the International Energy Agency (IEA) points out an aspect of the Biden administration’s green energy ambitions that the green energy proponents will have a hard time swallowing — it will require a massive increase in the mining of minerals such as lithium, graphite, nickel and rare-earth metals.
In an op-ed piece in today’s Elko Daily Free Press, Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, summarizes key points from the 287-page IEA report. WSJ illustration
“According to the IEA, the production of lithium-ion batteries alone could drive up the global demand for lithium by more than 40 times through 2040,” Stumo writes. “Supplies of other key minerals — including graphite, cobalt, and nickel — would need to increase by at least 20 times as well.”
Environmentalists are already trying to block mining of lithium at the Rhyolite Ridge mine here in Nevada in order to protect the rare Tiehm’s buckwheat, which only grows on the public lands where the mining is to occur.
According to Stumo, the U.S. is now heavily reliant on China and other nations for these raw materials. “In fact, America’s mineral-import reliance has doubled in just the past two decades. And thanks to aggressive, mercantilist policies, China now controls 70 percent of the world’s lithium supplies, 80 percent of rare earth metals, and roughly 70 percent of the world’s graphite,” he writes.
While China utilizes extremely toxic practices to extract minerals, Stumo observes, the U.S. has some of the world’s most stringent environmental standards, meaning mine permitting can often take up to a decade.
If it takes a decade to get up to speed on mineral production, that will leave the U.S. in the thrall of China if the Biden green energy goal is to be met.
“To meet soaring demand and reduce imports from China, the United States must start mining more of these resources at home,” Stumo concludes. “The good news is that the U.S. possesses more than $6 trillion in mineral reserves. It’s time for federal policies to change in favor of U.S. mining and materials processing. Otherwise, President Biden’s clean energy agenda could fall short of its goals — and leave the U.S. dependent on China’s reckless mining industry.” IEA graphic comparing mineral requirement