Biden says mineral supply chain actions will help end foreign reliance

President Biden speaks during an event to sign an executive order regarding project labor agreements at Irownworks Local 5 in Upper Marlboro, Md., on Friday, February 4, 2022.
Greg Nash

President Biden on Tuesday said that actions his administration will take to bolster the critical mineral supply chain will end the reliance on China for such materials. 

“China controls most of the global market in these minerals and the fact that we can’t build a future that’s made in America if we ourselves are dependent on China for the materials that power the products of today and tomorrow,” Biden said in a virtual meeting on the administration’s announcement

“This is not anti-China or anti-anything else,” he added. “It’s pro-American. That’s why I’m taking action.”

Targeted minerals — including lithium, graphite, and rare earth materials — power phones, computers, household appliances, electric vehicles and wind turbines, among other technologies.

Biden said the U.S. imports close to 100 percent of these minerals from other countries, including China, Australia and Chile, and he expects demand for these minerals to increase by up to 600 percent over the next several decades.

“When it comes to clean energy, China has spent several years cornering the market on many of the materials that power the technologies that we rely on,” Biden said.

“Made in America means using products, parts and materials as well as minerals right here that are in the United States of America,” he added. “It means betting on American workers.”

The White House announced that MP Materials will invest $700 million in the magnet supply chain, creating 350 jobs by 2024, and that the company will be given an additional $35 million from the federal government for a magnet supply chain and the processing of rare earth elements.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables will break ground on a facility to test the viability of a sustainable extraction process for lithium, which is a mineral that’s used in batteries. 

Biden was joined in the virtual meeting by James Litinsky, CEO of MP Materials; Alicia Knapp, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables; JB Straubel, CEO of Redwood Materials; Silvia Paz, executive director of Alianza Coachella Valley; and Tom Conway, president of the United Steelworkers. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks also joined the meeting.

“These new investments are going to do more than create good-paying jobs, they’re also going to set America up to lead the world in building a clean energy economy and a clean energy future,” Biden said. 

He added that labor unions and tribes will be at the table throughout discussions and that environmental protections are paramount.

The president added that his action will aim to avoid historical injustices that many mining operations have left behind in American towns. The Biden administration is working to modernize American mining laws and regulations, and Granholm is set to visit the Imperial Valley in California and hear from residents.

Tags China Gavin Newsom Gina McCarthy Jennifer Granholm Joe Biden Kathleen Hicks mineral dependence Supply chain

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