The Advanced Energy Oxymoron: Why Policymakers Need Mining to Meet Climate Goals

Posted on May 11, 2021 by Minerals Make Life

The Biden administration recently set an ambitious goal of slashing emissions 50% by 2030 and being carbon neutral by 2060. The President’s plan to combat climate change hinges on electrification and advanced energy technologies that rely heavily on minerals. To achieve this ambitious goal, policymakers must address the disconnect between the growing demand for minerals and policy proposals that will exacerbate our supply constraints and increase our over reliance on imports.

According to a May 2021 International Energy Agency (IEA) report, the world’s demand for minerals is far exceeding the available supply. If demand continues to outpace supply, the cost of deploying these energy technologies could jeopardize efforts to address climate change. The IEA’s report underscores the need for increased investment in responsible, secure minerals supply chains that will underpin the energy transition.

Even as these stark warnings come from the world’s foremost climate experts, U.S. lawmakers are considering a variety of proposals that will harm domestic mining’s competitiveness on the global stage and discourage future investment. From increasing fees and taxes levied on mining companies to  placing millions of acres of mineral-rich federal lands out of reach, U.S. policy momentum is set to increase our import dependence, and obstruct a domestic-driven energy supply chain.

Growing U.S. mineral import reliance isn’t for a lack of domestic resources. The U.S. is home to an estimated $6.2 trillion worth of mineral reserves. These resources can form the foundation of our advanced energy future and can be accessed while adhering to world-leading environmental standards.

The IEA’s analysis highlights the huge increases in mineral supply needed to meet projected demand for a range of advanced energy technologies.

  • Copper demand for electrical grid lines is expected to more than double by 2040.
  • Lithium demand could grow by more than 40 times by 2040, followed by graphite, cobalt and nickel (around 20-25 times).
  • Cobalt demand could be anything from 6 to 30 times higher than today’s levels.
  • Rare earth elements may see 3 to 7 times higher demand in 2040 than today.

To achieve the Biden administration’s ambitious plans, we need mining policy that recognizes the urgency of bringing additional domestic mineral production to market. If the U.S. acts quickly, we still have the opportunity to build a responsible, secure industrial base for an advanced energy future. The U.S. must move decisively to bring new mineral production to market to reduce our reliance on imports and to ensure responsibly sourced materials are an enabler of global efforts to reduce emissions, not an impediment.

Policymakers cannot have it both ways. Read why our Made-in-America energy future must mean mined-in-America.

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