Biden Administration Moves to Unkink Supply Chain Bottlenecks

Most of the world’s lithium, a key ingredient in the batteries that power electric vehicles, is mined in Australia, China, Chile and Arge...


Most of the world’s lithium, a key ingredient in the batteries that power electric vehicles, is mined in Australia, China, Chile and Argentina. China dominates global production of rare earth minerals such as neodymium, used to make magnets in wind turbines. It has also largely cornered the market in lithium-ion batteries, accounting for 77 percent of the world’s capacity for producing battery cells and 80 percent of its raw-material refining, according to BloombergNEF, an energy research group.

The United States lags far behind other countries in manufacturing many clean energy technologies, leaving it heavily reliant on imports.

The Biden administration has vowed to bring back more of that manufacturing and mining, but progress has been slow. In the United States, companies are racing to unlock lithium supplies in states like Nevada and North Dakota, though those efforts face opposition because of their environmental effects. The country also has only one mine that produces rare earth minerals, in Mountain Pass, Calif.

As part of its announcement on Tuesday, the Biden administration said it would work to identify new domestic sites where such critical minerals could be mined with environmental safeguards, asking Congress to increase funding for a mapping program at the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Energy Department announced that it would offer loans for companies that could sustainably refine, process and recycle rare earths and other materials used in electric vehicles. The agency on Tuesday will also release a plan to develop a domestic supply chain for lithium-ion batteries.

The Energy Department has $17.7 billion in authority to issue loans under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, which Congress created in 2007 and used in 2010 to support the electric-vehicle manufacturer Tesla in its early days. In its announcement, the agency said it would seek to offer loans to manufacturers of advanced battery technology that established factories in the United States. It also announced a new policy in which future funding of new clean-energy technologies would require recipients to “substantially manufacture those products in the United States.”

Semiconductors — a key component in cars and electronic devices — were also another key research area for officials, though they did not describe immediate plans to increase production. A global semiconductor shortage has forced several American auto plants to close or scale back production and sent the administration scrambling to appeal to allies like Taiwan for emergency supplies. Instead, the 100-day review report said Congress should support a $50 billion investment in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden Administration Moves to Unkink Supply Chain Bottlenecks
Biden Administration Moves to Unkink Supply Chain Bottlenecks
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