Decarbonization ambitions ignite debate over mining, permitting – by Robert Zullo (Iowa Capital Dispatch – May 31,2023)


The decarbonized, electrified future envisioned by the Biden administration, state governments, automakers, utility companies and corporate sustainability goals depends to a huge degree on minerals and metals.

Lots more lithium will be needed for car and truck batteries, as well as the big banks of batteries that are increasingly popping onto the electric grid to balance the intermittency of wind and solar power. Those batteries, as well as wind turbines and solar panels, also need copper, cobalt,, nickel, zinc and “rare earth” elements used in electric car motors and other clean technologies, among other materials.

The problem is that not enough of those materials are mined in the United States or other friendly countries to meet the projected demands of a decarbonizing nation. At present, China dominates the market for most battery raw materials, for example, which “presents geopolitical and environmental risks,” per a presentation on May 10 by S&P Global on challenges facing the global battery sector.

”This is part of what the legislative environment is gearing up to help us counter,” said Graham Evans, an S&P Global research director focused on auto supply chain and technology. “We don’t want to be too heavily reliant on any one country.”

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