The White House announces investment in lithium mines and recycling to extract US from rare minerals.
The White House on Tuesday announced new plans for drilling and recycling of minerals in the US to alleviate supply chain shortages and remove the country from relying on foreign resources for scarce natural resources.
The impact of this epidemic on supply chains has led to shortages affecting many industries, but the chip shortage has kept everything from video game consoles to new vehicles inaccessible to customers, and may not improve until 2023 or 2024.
Major technology companies are opening up chip factories on US soil to challenge Taiwan’s dominance in the global chip market, but the US needs to supply its resources to make all that silicon. Efforts made by President Joe Biden on Tuesday are aimed at doing just that.
The first of those efforts is a multimillion-dollar exploration of Berkshire Hathaway’s renewable energy unit to paint lithium deep under the California deserts. If the effort is successful, the plant can start production in 2026 and produce 90,000 tons of lithium each year. That could lead California to supply a third of the world’s lithium demand, the Gov office said. Gavin Newsom wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Another California company, MP Materials, will receive $ 35 million in government funding to start producing magnets used in electric vehicles, electronics, and wind turbines. China currently produces 87% of the world’s magnetic field, which is an important component of those products, according to a White House press release.
The US will not simply intensify its production of much-needed technology – it will develop better ways to get it back in the garbage dump, Biden said. Redwood Materials, a Nevada company led by Tesla founder J.B. Straubel, which regenerates electric car batteries, will work with Ford and Volvo to harvest lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite batteries.
Finally, the White House is looking to reclaim rare earth minerals from coal and mineral waste, a $ 140 million project funded by Biden’s $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which passed last fall. That’s more than $ 3 billion in funding from an infrastructure bill dedicated to refining the design and production of batteries, the Department of Energy announced in early February.
Ultimately, the aim of these efforts is to make the US less dependent on foreign sources of minerals and materials needed to finance domestic production of chips and other technologies. While Biden recommends other benefits such as producing well-paying jobs in the US, improving the country’s independence to produce the necessary components in gadgets and products also improves national security.