Through domestic extraction alone, the U.S. could make significant headway in obtaining enough lithium to reach energy goals and eliminate foreign mineral dependency, according to new data from The Nature Conservancy reported in POLITICO.
Dig, baby, dig: As the world adds new technology-based energy sources, minerals are increasingly important.
- Minerals—including copper, nickel, lithium and others—are crucial for such technologies as solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicle batteries and battery storage.
The China problem: The lithium supply chain, like many critical mineral supply chains, is currently on shaky ground.
- “China controls most battery processing, and current trade tensions and national security concerns are raising concerns about the reliability of that source.”
However, “According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Nevada alone has 8.5 million metric tons of lithium – enough to meet global demand for 85 years. California has another million tons.”
- “Lithium resources in the top five states—Nevada, California, Arkansas, North Carolina and Utah—would meet the world’s needs for more than a century based on current global demand and market conditions.”
- Global demand for lithium, which is crucial to the manufacturing of electric vehicle batteries, is set to balloon forty-fold by 2040.
But … “It’s worth noting mining lithium won’t immediately solve everything, said Jordy Lee, a program manager at the Colorado School of Mines’ Payne Institute for Public Policy.”
- “China’s hold on cathode and battery manufacturing means that right now, even if more lithium was mined in the U.S., the raw materials would likely still have to be shipped to China for processing.”
The NAM’s view: “The NAM has long advocated for increasing domestic mineral production while leveraging the strong environmental and workforce protections in the U.S. to create stronger, cleaner energy supply chains,” said NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Rachel Jones. “We can’t afford to let China run the table on our energy future; we have the chance to diversify now.”