(Reuters) – The United States faces stiff challenges as it moves to create its own electric vehicle supply chain, industry analysts say, with the extent of the country’s metal reserves largely unknown and only a few facilities to process minerals and produce batteries.
Legislation making its way through the U.S. Congress aims to help offset those gaps, but China remains the global EV sector leader, a dominance seen by some as difficult to supplant. Even some U.S. mines are caught in China’s orbit, with domestic production of so-called rare earth minerals reliant on Chinese processing and now caught up in the U.S.-China trade conflict.
“China has a huge head start,” said Gavin Montgomery, a battery and mining analyst at the Wood Mackenzie consultancy. “They’ve just been at this a lot longer than the rest of the world.”
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, this month introduced the American Mineral Security Act to help streamline regulation and permitting requirements for the development of mines for lithium, graphite and other EV minerals.
The bipartisan legislation, which seeks in part to codify a late 2017 executive order on U.S. mineral development by President Donald Trump, gets its first hearing before Murkowski’s committee on Tuesday.
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