In the wake of a rapidly evolving realignment of the world trading system resulting from the economic equivalent of World War III, President Joe Biden last week took the first of what are likely to be many steps toward building greater self-sufficiency for the United States.
Biden called for increasing U.S. production of key minerals used in the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries. He invoked the Defense Production Act which allows the government to support production of certain materials and goods deemed essential for national defense and even to order industry to mine minerals and make machinery including vehicles such as tanks and bombs.
For the Biden administration its first small step toward U.S. self-sufficiency consists of making companies which mine minerals key to electric vehicle batteries such as lithium, nickel, graphite, cobalt and manganese eligible for direct subsidies or purchase commitments to incentivize increased production. The applicable program (called Title III) has about $750 million to spend, not that much to rectify what is a huge deficit.
It’s worth looking at U.S. net imports of each of these minerals to understand just how hard reaching self-sufficiency will be. For starters, let’s examine a table from a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report about U.S. import dependence for key minerals:
Of the five minerals listed above, the United States is 100 percent dependent on imports for two: graphite and manganese. (It’s worth noting the China, Russia and Ukraine are among the top six producers of graphite and China is the largest producer by far. China and Ukraine are among the top five producers of manganese and again China is by far the biggest producer.)
Complete U.S. dependence on imports implies that there is no current production of these minerals in the United States and that nobody has even been looking for these minerals on U.S. soil…
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…