A new report from the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) confirmed the U.S. isn’t moving fast enough to address our mineral import dependence. Despite all the rhetoric, task forces and working groups, China continues to be the main supplier of minerals essential to our economic and national security.
The USGS’ Mineral Commodities Summary Report shows the U.S. is reliant on imports for more than half of the country’s consumption of 49 minerals and 100 percent import-reliant for 15 of them. This is our reality yet mine approvals in the U.S. are at a standstill and many actions by the Biden administration are taking mineral access in the wrong direction. Despite claims about strengthening our domestic mining industry, the U.S. government seems content letting our mineral dependence go largely unaddressed.
As a perfect example, the Department of Treasury recently released guidance excluding minerals extraction from tax incentives passed under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), ignoring Congress’ intent to incentivize the domestic mineral production necessary for a secure and reliable mineral supply. The Treasury Department’s misreading of the law – cutting out the front end of the supply chain – prompted U.S. automakers and miners to join forces in urging the department to address this oversight that would only solidify China’s control of mineral supply chains.
China is already the main supplier of 24 of the 49 minerals the U.S. is more than 50 percent import reliant on. China knows exactly what it’s doing – it has dominated the production and global distribution of minerals vital to energy, manufacturing, technology, transportation, infrastructure and defense sectors for decades. The U.S. has known this, but it became alarmingly aware of China’s power when it imposed export restrictions on graphite, gallium and germanium. This left America floundering for minerals necessary to build advanced energy technologies like electric vehicles.
U.S. mineral dependence on geopolitical rivals like China and Russia is a risk to our economy, our security and our energy future. This year should be a year of action in Washington; we must take the necessary steps like passing reforms to the mine permitting process and fixing the tax incentives under the IRA to ensure the U.S. has a secure supply of minerals.
NMA President and CEO