It has been reported today that the Biden administration is looking to allied nations as primary sources of critical mined raw materials, and that it, the administration, will focus on supporting the domestic American processing of such imported ores into useful products focused on domestic production of EVs, their batteries, and components.
This is an example of a complete disregard by the Biden administration for America’s competitive advantage, safety, and, ironically, its economy to placate a loud anti-mining luddism that pervades the American left.
It is in two words, hypocritical and stupid. It’s hypocritical because it assumes that out-of-sight, out-of-mind, will placate the left’s “greens” into thinking that pollution in Australia, Canada, or Brazil and its attendant costs doesn’t exist. It’s stupid, because it makes no economic sense.
Transporting raw material concentrates to the USA for processing is rarely cheaper than mining and processing them domestically. In the case of cobalt, for example, its “ore” is mostly a byproduct of copper or nickel production, and there is no cobalt mine in the USA and there is only one facility in North America (Canada) capable of processing the ore concentrate into “battery grade” cobalt.
In the case of the rare earths almost all ores are radioactive and thus have to be “cleaned” at licensed and specialized facilities. Only one such private facility exists today in the USA.