Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has turned energy markets and supply chains upside down, prompting bipartisan calls for ‘Made in America.’ In a speech on energy independence in Warsaw, Poland, President Biden said, “the days of any nation being subject to the whims of a tyrant for its energy needs are over.”
Energy technologies – electric vehicles, solar and wind energy – are dependent on minerals such as copper, gold, lithium and rare earths. However, for years, the U.S. stood by idly while our mineral import dependence grew, despite significant reserves available on American soil.
Consider uranium, a metal used as fuel in carbon-free nuclear power generation. Since 1980, the production of uranium in the U.S. has dropped consistently. Today, the U.S. is nearly 100 percent import-dependent with more than 16 percent of the nation’s uranium derived from Russia. According to the U.S. Geologic Survey, Russia is a source of six of the major minerals for which the U.S. is more than 50 percent import-dependent. Ukraine is the source of two major mineral imports: titanium (over 90 percent import-dependent) and gallium (100 percent import-dependent). These are only a few examples.
While the Biden administration has shown important leadership in identifying the scale of the materials challenge and recently issued a directive to use the Defense Production Act to support battery minerals production, comprehensive policy solutions to address the problem directly have failed to materialize.
Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) wrote to President Biden requesting him to invoke the Defense Production Act and double down on the urgent work to build the reliable and domestic mineral supply chains our economy and national security rely on. Then the ranking members of three House Committees sent a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting federal regulatory and permitting reforms that pose significant barriers to American competitiveness to be included in the COMPETES Act being considered by Congress.
More must be done. It’s time to support domestic mining operations and invest in more production of minerals and processing here at home. The more we focus on sourcing domestic non-fuel minerals in America, the more economically competitive our country will become. Companies such as Perpetua Resources, Lithium Americas, Talon Metals, Western Rare Earths and a plethora of others stand ready to produce the minerals we need in an environmentally friendly manner while safeguarding the interests of the nation.
The era of overreliance on imported minerals has stretched beyond the breaking point. We have the resources. It’s now time to act. While President Biden’s recent commitments are a step in the right direction, they are not nearly enough to get us to where we need to be. With your support, we can achieve the right policies to foster an American mining renaissance.
To learn more about the domestic mining projects that are waiting to help reshore American supply chains, click here.
NMA President and CEO