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Washington Watch: Biden to bolster mineral supply chain for phones, EVs and wind power to help end foreign reliance

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President Joe Biden said Tuesday his administration will take action to bolster the critical mineral supply chain and eventually end U.S. reliance on economic rival China for materials considered key to electric vehicles and several other technologies.

Targeted minerals include lithium, graphite and rare earth metals
They help run cell phones
computers, household appliances, electric vehicles, wind turbines and other technologies. 

“China controls most of the global market in these minerals, and the fact [is] that we can’t build a future that’s made in America if we ourselves are dependent on China for the materials that power the products of today and tomorrow,” Biden said in a virtual meeting to make the administration’s announcement.  

The announcement came the same day that geopolitical tensions shot higher. Russian movements in Ukraine have sent Europe into a spin over natural gas shortages and U.S. drivers are bracing for the highest gasoline prices in nine years as oil approaches $100 a barrel.

Read: Biden targets Russian banks, sovereign debt in ‘first tranche’ of sanctions over Ukraine invasion

Biden has made pushing EVs

and wind and solar power

the hallmarks of a pro-climate agenda. But his pro-union and pro-U.S. manufacturing stance has sometimes been at odds with the cost-effectiveness and speed of imports, particularly as he has set the U.S. on a path on halve the carbon emissions created by burning traditional fuels

by the end of this decade.

Biden said the U.S imports close to 100% of these minerals from other countries, including China, Australia and Chile.

Biden suggested that as the world transitions to a clean-energy economy, global demand for these critical minerals is set to skyrocket by 400%-600% over the next several decades, and, for minerals such as lithium and graphite used in EV batteries, demand will increase by even more — as much as 4,000%.

The White House announced that MP Materials Corp.

will invest $700 million in the magnet supply chain, creating 350 jobs by 2024. The company will be given an additional $35 million from the federal government for a magnet supply chain and the processing of rare earth elements, the administration said.

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