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Tue May 25, 2021, 12:08 PM

Exclusive: Biden looks abroad for electric vehicle metals, in blow to U.S. miners

Source: Reuters

May 25, 2021
11:03 AM EDT

Energy

Exclusive: Biden looks abroad for electric vehicle metals, in blow to U.S. miners

Ernest Scheyder Trevor Hunnicutt

U.S. President Joe Biden will rely on ally countries to supply the bulk of the metals needed to build electric vehicles and focus on processing them domestically into battery parts, part of a strategy designed to placate environmentalists, two administration officials with direct knowledge told Reuters.

The plans will be a blow to U.S. miners who had hoped Biden would rely primarily on domestically sourced metals, as his campaign had signaled last autumn, to help fulfill his ambitions for a less carbon-intensive economy.

Rather than focus on permitting more U.S. mines, Biden's team is more focused on creating jobs that process minerals domestically into electric vehicle (EV) battery parts, according to the people. ... Such a plan would help cut U.S. reliance on industry leader China for EV materials while also enticing unions with manufacturing work and, in theory, reduce pandemic-fueled unemployment.

{snip}

"It's not that hard to dig a hole. What's hard is getting that stuff out and getting it to processing facilities. That's what the U.S. government is focused on," said one of the sources. ... The approach would see the United States rely on Canada, Australia, and Brazil - among others - to produce most of the critical raw materials needed, while it competes for higher-value jobs turning those minerals into computer chips and batteries, according to the two sources.

{snip}

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/biden-looks-abroad-electric-vehicle-metals-blow-us-miners-2021-05-25/



Hat tip, Lauren Boebert

It's on Twitter.

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Reply Exclusive: Biden looks abroad for electric vehicle metals, in blow to U.S. miners (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves May 2021 OP
DURHAM D May 2021 #1
groundloop May 2021 #2
Jose Garcia May 2021 #6
a kennedy May 2021 #3
iluvtennis May 2021 #27
Metaphorical May 2021 #4
mathematic May 2021 #7
speak easy May 2021 #13
mathematic May 2021 #16
speak easy May 2021 #17
mathematic May 2021 #23
muriel_volestrangler May 2021 #24
speak easy May 2021 #26
Justice matters. May 2021 #18
mathematic May 2021 #22
maxsolomon May 2021 #5
Warpy May 2021 #8
pecosbob May 2021 #9
speak easy May 2021 #14
inwiththenew May 2021 #10
Bayard May 2021 #11
George II May 2021 #12
OneCrazyDiamond May 2021 #15
jmowreader May 2021 #19
Hekate May 2021 #20
maxrandb May 2021 #25
Hekate May 2021 #28
bucolic_frolic May 2021 #21
marble falls May 2021 #29
captain queeg May 2021 #30

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 12:11 PM

1. The Sky Is Falling ! Sky Is Falling !

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 12:24 PM

2. Since when does POTUS tell corporations where to purchase their raw materials???????

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Response to groundloop (Reply #2)

Tue May 25, 2021, 12:44 PM

6. The Federal Government can deny mining permits, forcing manufacturers to buy metals to buy metals

from foreign suppliers.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 12:24 PM

3. I think this statement might say it all.......

“Rather than focus on permitting more U.S. mines, Biden's team is more focused on creating jobs that process minerals domestically into electric vehicle (EV) battery parts, according to the people. ... Such a plan would help cut U.S. reliance on industry leader China for EV materials while also enticing unions with manufacturing work and, in theory, reduce pandemic-fueled unemployment.”

We need to cut our reliance on China right???

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Response to a kennedy (Reply #3)

Tue May 25, 2021, 05:34 PM

27. Yep,agree with you that's key, but some are shortsighted and can't see the forest for the trees. n/t

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 12:33 PM

4. Rare earth mining is dirty

and the US has a comparatively limited amount of rare earth deposits to begin with. Processing and refining what someone else is already digging up makes a lot more sense.

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Response to Metaphorical (Reply #4)

Tue May 25, 2021, 12:48 PM

7. None of the elements the article mentions are rare earths

For example, the US has a vast amount of lithium, which is the key constituent of EV batteries, but the plan sounds like it's to import the lithium from somewhere else.

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Response to mathematic (Reply #7)

Tue May 25, 2021, 02:21 PM

13. 'the US has a vast amount of lithium'? Not so.

The is one site with readily recoverable lithium in the U.S. - Silver peak, NV. The operator, Albemarle, is doubling that output by 2025. Alambie, also owns mines in Australia and Chile. It has diversified because the U.S. reserves are not sufficient to meet demand.

Albemarle’s US operation is modest compared with its others around the world. The company expects only 3% of its output this year to come from it.

https://cen.acs.org/energy/energy-storage-/Albemarle-double-US-lithium-output/99/web/2021/01



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Response to speak easy (Reply #13)

Tue May 25, 2021, 02:48 PM

16. Is so. This issue is about opening up our lithium to mining

Yes, we have virtually no lithium mining in the US and Biden intends to keep it that way. That's what this news story is. We have the lithium resources to mine, we're just going to buy it from australia and chile instead.

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Response to mathematic (Reply #16)

Tue May 25, 2021, 02:50 PM

17. 'We have the lithium resources to mine'

Where, outside Silver Peak? Link?

Australia is not exactly a low wage country. It is being mined because U.S. lithium is not readily recoverable outside Silver Peak.

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Response to speak easy (Reply #17)

Tue May 25, 2021, 03:58 PM

23. You literally responded to a post that said US is #5 in the world in lithium reserves

That's reserves, which is the amount of a resource that can be economically recovered. There are only 4 countries with more lithium reserves than us. There are only 3 countries with more lithium resources than us. I have no idea why you're insisting that we don't have lithium.

Here's the link from the USGS on worldwide reserves and resources:
https://pubs.usgs.gov/periodicals/mcs2020/mcs2020-lithium.pdf

The ranking of reserves is as in post #9, which you've seen. The ranking of resources is Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, United States, then Australia.

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Response to speak easy (Reply #17)

Tue May 25, 2021, 04:01 PM

24. California, elsewhere in Nevada

But the US has 10% of the world’s estimated 73 million tons of proven reserves, and the lithium rush is spreading across the US, especially the American west, home to the richest and most accessible deposits. Around 2,000 lithium claims have been made on 30,000 acres of federal public land in California alone.

In January, the US Bureau of Land Management approved a two-square-mile open-pit mine known as the Thacker Pass in Nevada. When it opens for business in a few years, it will be the nation’s largest source of lithium supply generating 60,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium carbonate annually. The mine, run Canadian-owned Lithium Americas, is expected to operate for at least 40 years.

https://qz.com/1975325/electric-cars-are-fueling-the-uss-lithium-mining-boom/

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #24)

Tue May 25, 2021, 04:45 PM

26. OK. I was not aware of the Thacker Pass project.

I presume they have crunched the numbers and it is economic. Looking at the article you quoted begs the question, is this really the sort of operation we want in the States?

1. It was jammed through in the final days of the Trump Administration

[A ] federal lawsuit challenging the construction of a huge Nevada lithium mine approved in the final days of the Trump administration says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state wildlife officials repeatedly warned the plans don’t comply with laws protecting water and wildlife near the Oregon line.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management itself acknowledged that when it approved Nevada Lithium Corp.’s Thacker Pass mine on Jan. 15, it didn’t conform with the bureau’s visual-resource protection requirements, according to the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Reno.

https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2021/03/05/federal-lawsuit-challenges-thacker-pass-lithium-mine-nevada/4601075001/

2. It it situated on/near tribal homelands

Lithium Nevada will work approximately 18,000 acres of BLM land about 26 miles from the Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Reservation, in a sea of sagebrush on the Nevada-Oregon border hemmed to the north by the Montana Mountains. The region is the traditional homeland of several related Indigenous nations, including the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, the Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe and the Burns Paiute Tribe.

https://www.hcn.org/issues/53.3/indigenous-affairs-mining-nevada-lithium-mine-kicks-off-a-new-era-of-western-extraction

3. It will generate 5,800 tons of sulphuric acid a day - which will have to be transported off site.

Thacker Pass in Nevada claims it will use less water, [than 18,000 gallons per ton of lithium] but will still need to pull from underground reservoirs and generate 5,800 tons of sulfuric acid each day on-site. That means shipping caustic chemicals by rail and trucking as many as 200 loads through local towns a day, reports the High Country News.

https://qz.com/1975325/electric-cars-are-fueling-the-uss-lithium-mining-boom/

4. It was approved in less than a year after the Trump administration gutted environment protections.

The White House finalized its rollback of one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws Wednesday, with President Trump calling the law the “single biggest obstacle” to major construction projects.

Critics say the rollback will gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which for 50 years has required the government to weigh environmental and community concerns before approving pipelines, highways, drilling permits, new factories or any major action on federal lands.

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/507536-trump-finalizes-rollback-of-bedrock-environmental-law-nepa

So it is a reserve, yes,, but it there are sound reasons why it was not exploited earlier.

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Response to mathematic (Reply #7)

Tue May 25, 2021, 02:54 PM

18. It's like keeping enough domestic fuel in the ground for national-security purposes in cases

of future unforeseen conflicts. We don't want to get it all out of the ground now when there's no conflict. We will start that once foreign sources deplete, in cases of conflicts (hard to predict, and preferably none).

When you think about how to prevent future crisis, it's your job if you're "good governing" and that's what we have now. DUers should not complain about having a prudent "good governing" executive now, compared to the past 4 1/2 years.

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Response to Justice matters. (Reply #18)

Tue May 25, 2021, 03:43 PM

22. That's what I was thinking

Seems like it's a strategic choice to preserve resources at home even if the spin is that it's a compromise with environmentalists.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 12:39 PM

5. We need to save these minerals for when we have to leave the planet.

I applaud this iron-fisted environmentalist futurism.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 01:02 PM

8. There's geopolitics at work, also

Because China has been the largest importer of coal and ore and is trying to exert political influence in exporter nations, it looks as though Biden might be trying to counter that by opening up US markets.

Heavy handed interference from Beijing has been an ongoing problem in Australia, according to the occasional ABC and newspaper story.

This isn't a slap to US miners, who will still get the work. It's an attempt to clip Xi's wings a bit.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 01:08 PM

9. The market was flooded worldwide a couple of years ago and demand has yet to build

https://www.spglobal.com/en/research-insights/articles/lithium-supply-is-set-to-triple-by-2025-will-it-be-enough

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2020/12/13/the-worlds-top-lithium-producers/?sh=319bc20f5bc6
In 2019, the world’s Top 5 lithium producers were:

Australia - 52.9% of global production
Chile - 21.5%
China - 9.7%
Argentina - 8.3%
Zimbabwe - 2.1%

The U.S. ranked 7th with 1.2% of the world’s lithium production. Nevertheless, the U.S. is home to two of the world’s top-producing lithium companies: Albemarle and Livent.

However, the world is only producing a tiny fraction of its lithium reserves. Based on 2019 production levels, known global lithium reserves would last more than 200 years. In 2019, the world’s Top 5 lithium reserves by country were:

Chile - 55.5% of the world’s total
Australia - 18.1%
Argentina - 11.0%
China - 6.5%
U.S. - 4.1%

Given the abundance of lithium reserves and the current status of lithium production in their respective countries, it seems likely that Chile and Australia will remain the world’s lithium-production superpowers for the foreseeable future.


Bottom line is that domestic mining is dirty, unhealthy and provides few jobs. Concerns over failure to wantonly extract domestic reserves are unfounded IMO. The headline is republican clickbait...'blow to U.S. miners' is really over the top.

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Response to pecosbob (Reply #9)


Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 01:11 PM

10. It passes the environmental cost for the batteries on to other countries

The extraction is a messy business.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 01:17 PM

11. This will get played by rethuglicans

Broken campaign promises, ya know--buy American.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 01:22 PM

12. I don't see this as a problem.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 02:41 PM

15. I seem to recall a lot of abandoned mines causing problems.

It sounds like this is a good idea.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 03:18 PM

19. Do we even have the deposits of rare earths that we'd need...

...in the quantity we’d need them in? And how long would it take to go from “side of a mountain with nothing on it” to “producing mine”?

If the Canadians and Australians are already producing the rare earths, it seems more logical to build battery factories and teach miners how to make battery packs.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 03:36 PM

20. Does "the miners" mean the mine owners? And if so, how is it a blow to them, seeing as how...

...mineral extraction is their business, something they develop and own and operate? This is on them, if they are not already diverting their attention away from coal.

If this is a “blow to miners” — ie the working men ruining their lungs down below — is Reuters directing blame to Biden for the choices of the corporations they are working for?



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Response to Hekate (Reply #20)

Tue May 25, 2021, 04:29 PM

25. This is such bullshit, miner-worship horseshit

We truly do suck as a country.

For a god damned century, we have immortalized and fetishized the "miner"

They are constantly held up as the epitome of the "hard-scrabble, salt-of-the-earth, hard-working" 'Murikan Middle Class.

There are 158,000 Americans employed by the United States Mining Industry...

There are 1,319,000 Accountants!

There are 3,500,000 Teachers!


Nothing against Miners, my grandfather worked the mines around Corning, OH, but how we came to use miners as the example of workers whose jobs are so much more important and deserving of protections than other, much large workforce, is, quite frankly, MADDENING.

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Response to maxrandb (Reply #25)

Tue May 25, 2021, 05:43 PM

28. Right. I'd be more impressed with "concern" for miners if they were not still dying of black lung

...and worse, now that the coal has to be drilled out of layers of what, quartz? Whatever, it sickens workers even faster.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 03:40 PM

21. With all the recycling and efficiency and demolition, we still mine metals?

If you could feed off the waste in America you'd be rich as a crypto miner

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 05:43 PM

29. Hat tip to Lauren fucking Boebert? And on DU???

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 10:00 PM

30. I wonder about the extraction and refining process

I worked in a copper mine in Chile. Millions of tons of rock were crushed and spread over a vast distance and sprayed with sulphuric acid (dilute solution) which filtered through and leached out the copper. I think they use cyanide on gold heap leach operations. It is hugely mechanized.

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