OPINION: So much for the electric vehicle revolution. You cannot make the machines without the metals that power them – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – May 13, 2022)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Any successful politician is adept at finding the one bit of good news floating in the ocean of despair, then gushing about it to try to drown our worries.

So it is with U.S. President Joe Biden. A few weeks ago, when the war in Ukraine was propelling gasoline and diesel prices ever higher – regular gas hit a record average of US$4.43 a gallon on Friday – he suggested that painful pump prices will speed the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), fear not. Voila – no more hard decisions about filling your SUV or feeding your kids.

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Pentagon asks Congress to fund mining projects in Australia, U.K. – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters – May 11, 2022)

https://www.reuters.com/

May 11 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Defense has asked Congress to let it fund facilities in the United Kingdom and Australia that process strategic minerals used to make electric vehicles and weapons, calling the proposal crucial to national defense.

The request to alter the Cold War-era Defense Production Act (DPA) came as part of the Pentagon’s recommendations to Congress for how to write the upcoming U.S. military funding bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act.

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Biden Admin’s Anti-Mining Policies at Odds With Green Energy Goals, Experts Say – by Chris Woodward (Inside Sources – May 8, 2022)

https://insidesources.com/

President Joe Biden has made two commitments on green energy. One is to dramatically increase the use of green tech like electric vehicles (EVs), windmills and solar power. The other is to build that new tech here in America.

“There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing,” Biden said during his State of the Union address. And he wants half of all new cars sold in 2030 to be EVs, too. But there;s at least one reason why these products can’t be built in America: Minerals. Production of green tech, like batteries for EVs, relies heavily on minerals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper.

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EDITORIAL: The president wants more mining — or does he? (Las Vegas Review-Journal – May 4, 2022)

https://www.reviewjournal.com/

President Joe Biden’s energy policy consists of catering to progressive greens while pretending for voters that he’s doing everything he can to fix the damage he’s caused by catering to progressive greens. His recent executive order on mining represents more of the same incoherence.

A few weeks back, the president signed a measure invoking the Defense Production Act of 1950 to boost domestic production of minerals — lithium, cobalt, nickel — critical to clean-energy technology. Yet it’s anything but clear that the White House actually wants these minerals out of the ground.

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The Salton Sea could produce the world’s greenest lithium, if new extraction technologies work – by Katie Brigham (CNBC.com – May 4, 2022)

https://www.cnbc.com/

About 40 miles north of the California-Mexico border lies the shrinking, landlocked lake known as the Salton Sea. Once the epicenter of a thriving resort community, water contamination and decades of drought have contributed to a collapse of the lake’s once vibrant ecosystem, and given rise to ghost towns.

But amidst this environmental disaster, the California Energy Commission estimates that there’s enough lithium here to meet all of the United States’ projected future demand, and 40% of the entire world’s demand. That’s big news for the booming electric vehicle industry, as lithium is the common denominator across all types of EV batteries.

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Biden administration making $3 billion investment in lithium ion battery production – by Betsy Klein (CNN.com – May 2, 2022)

https://edition.cnn.com/

(CNN)President Joe Biden is building on his electric vehicle goal with a $3 billion investment Monday aimed at boosting the US supply of lithium ion batteries through the bipartisan infrastructure package.

The move is aimed at fighting climate change, but also to make the US more energy independent and secure, officials said, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has disrupted global oil markets.

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Biden Administration Begins $3 Billion Plan for Electric Car Batteries – by Lisa Friedman (New York Times – May 2, 2022)

https://www.nytimes.com/

The Biden administration is planning a major shift to electric vehicles, but experts say it requires a secure, resilient supply of critical minerals.

The Biden administration plans to begin a $3.1 billion effort on Monday to spur the domestic production of advanced batteries, which are essential to its plan to speed the adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy.

President Biden has prodded automakers to churn out electric vehicles and utilities to switch to solar, wind and other clean energy, saying the transitions are critical to eliminating the pollution that is dangerously heating the planet.

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Biden order to boost mining may not have quick payoff – by Matthew Daly (Associated Press/Yahoo Finance – April 30, 2022)

https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is turning to a Cold War-era law to boost production of lithium and other minerals used to power electric vehicles, but experts say the move by itself is unlikely to ensure the robust domestic mining Biden seeks as he promotes cleaner energy sources.

Biden’s action, part of his efforts to find alternatives to fossil fuels and combat climate change, does not waive or suspend existing environmental and labor standards, the White House said. Nor does it address the chief hurdle to increased domestic extraction of so-called critical minerals: the years-long process needed to obtain a federal permit for a new mine.

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Skyrocketing Lithium Prices Highlight Need For New Technologies – by David Blackmon (Forbes Magazine – May 2, 2022)

https://www.forbes.com/

Concerns over the ultimate availability of adequate supplies of lithium and other minerals that are critical to the energy transition have elevated recently. On April 8, Tesla and SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk tweeted that he was considering starting his own mining company in light of rising prices for lithium, which he said had reached “insane levels.”

“Tesla might actually have to get into the mining & refining directly at scale, unless costs improve,” Musk said in his tweet. “There is no shortage of the element itself, as lithium is almost everywhere on Earth, but pace of extraction/refinement is slow.”

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Why the Debate Over Russian Uranium Worries U.S. Tribal Nations – by Simon Romero (New York Times – May 2, 2022)

https://www.nytimes.com/

If imports end because of the war, American companies may look to increase domestic mining, which has a toxic history on Indigenous lands.

KAIBAB NATIONAL FOREST, Ariz. — After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the United States slapped bans on Russian energy sources from oil to coal. But one critical Russian energy import was left alone: uranium, which the United States relies on to fuel more than 90 nuclear reactors around the country.

That dependence on Russia is breathing life into ambitions to resurrect the uranium industry around the American West — and also evoking fears of the industry’s toxic legacy of pollution.

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California promised to close its last nuclear plant. Now Newsom is reconsidering – by Sammy Roth (Los Angeles Times – April 29, 2022)

https://www.latimes.com/

With the threat of power shortages looming and the climate crisis worsening, Gov. Gavin Newsom may attempt to delay the long-planned closure of California’s largest electricity source: the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

Newsom told the L.A. Times editorial board Thursday that the state would seek out a share of $6 billion in federal funds meant to rescue nuclear reactors facing closure, money the Biden administration announced this month. Diablo Canyon owner Pacific Gas & Electric is preparing to shutter the plant — which generated 6% of the state’s power last year — by 2025.

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New Lithium-Extraction Technology Attracts Investors. But Is It Viable? – by Scott Patterson and Amrith Ramkumar (Wall Street Journal – April 21, 2022)

https://www.wsj.com/

Developing a domestic supply is an important part of the U.S. push to expand alternative energy sources

Lithium is a key component of rechargeable batteries, and developing domestic supply is seen as an important step in a broad push for the U.S. to transition to alternative energy sources.

In February, the Biden administration unveiled plans to invest $2.9 billion to boost production of advanced batteries and strengthen the battery supply chain in the U.S., including the development of domestic supplies of lithium. Last month President Biden also invoked the Defense Protection Act to increase production of battery metals.

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FORGET GAS PRICES. THE BILLIONAIRE CLUB’S RUN ON COBALT SAYS EVERYTHING ABOUT OUR BATTERY-POWERED FUTURE – by WILLEM MARX (Vanity Fair – April 21, 2022)

https://www.vanityfair.com/

Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and other masters of the universe are betting big on Greenland as mining in the Congo gets too dirty for even Elon Musk.

As the bankers from J.P. Morgan’s London offices stepped off the two-hour private flight from Johannesburg onto the hot runway, soldiers sporting sunglasses and semiautomatics watched them closely. The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s brutal civil war had ended several years earlier, but peace remained tenuous, and the Lubumbashi airstrip was still heavily militarized.

It was the summer of 2006, the height of a period that became known as the commodities “Super Cycle,” in which a hardy vanguard of investors sought to sate industrializing China’s seemingly endless appetite for raw materials, particularly metals. Relying on low-cost financing, dealmakers at Credit Suisse, First Boston, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley scoured the world for once state-owned mining assets in need of fresh funds or those primed for privatization.

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Rivian CEO Warns of Looming Electric-Vehicle Battery Shortage – By Sean McLain and Scott Patterson (Wall Street Journal – April 18, 2022)

https://www.wsj.com/

Much of the battery supply chain isn’t built, challenging an industry aiming to sell tens of millions of EVs in coming years, RJ Scaringe says

NORMAL, Ill.—Rivian Automotive Inc. Chief Executive RJ Scaringe is warning that the auto industry could soon face a shortage of battery supplies for electric vehicles—a challenge that he says could surpass the current computer-chip shortage.

Car companies are trying to lock up limited supplies of raw materials such as cobalt, lithium and nickel that are key to battery making, and many are constructing their own battery plants to put more battery-powered models in showrooms.

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How mining for clean energy could undermine Biden’s EJ goals – by Jael Holzman and Scott Waldman (E&E News – April 19, 2022)

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The Biden administration has said it is activating all the levers of government to advance environmental justice for people of color. However, one of President Joe Biden’s own policies for climate action might challenge his commitment to racial equity.

Earlier this month, Biden invoked a wartime law to free up federal funds for domestic mining activities for five metals sought by manufacturers of zero-carbon energy products: lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite and manganese. It was a move that, if successful, could help open mines across the country to support the production of electric vehicles and other technologies that are needed to reduce the country’s use of fossil fuels.

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