Investing in America Boost for US Critical Minerals Mining

Critical minerals mining and extraction activities in the US now fall under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda and are eligible for funding

The US is strengthening its critical minerals mining programme through its Investing in America Agenda.

Critical minerals mining and extraction activities now fall under the umbrella of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, and are eligible for funding from the US Department of Energy Loan Programs Office (LPO), under the ‘Clean Energy Financing Program’. 

Specifically, the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allows the LPO to support “projects that increase the domestically produced supply of critical minerals”. This includes the “production, processing, manufacturing, recycling, and fabrication of mineral alternatives”.

The minerals move reinforces the Biden-Harris Administration’s pan-government approach to strengthening the US critical minerals supply chain. 

The US is completely reliant on imports for an estimated 12 minerals it classifies as critical, with China the primary exporter of many of these – a situation that causes potential vulnerabilities in the nation’s supply chains.

These include rare earth minerals, which are 17 similar elements that are essential in technology, high-powered magnets, electronics, and industry, along with natural graphite which is found in lithium-ion batteries. 

Critical minerals, such as lithium  silicon, cobalt, and manganese, are crucial to manufacturing clean-energy technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cells.

The US remains heavily dependent on China for almost 90% of rare earth elements, putting the future of the US economy, clean energy and national defence at stake.

The US has substantial critical minerals resources, but is desperate to do more in their mining and processing. Having critical mineral supplies concentrated in countries such as China “raises risks for investors and businesses, erodes US economic power, and weakens our energy security”, the US government has said, adding that “unreliable foreign sources are often produced with lower environmental or labour standards”.  

It says the LPO is making important strides to support US critical minerals projects “in line with President Biden’s ambitious clean energy and climate goals, including conditional commitments to mineral processing and battery materials recycling projects”.  

The LPO will prioritise financing for critical minerals mining projects that “significantly reduce emissions, earn the support of affected Tribes and communities, and have strong labour, environmental and environmental justice benefits, while meeting other program requirements”, the US government says.   

So-called ‘Title 17 Innovative Energy or Innovative Supply Chain’ projects must show they “reduce or avoid lifecycle air pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions while deploying innovative technologies”. Title 17 projects are also subject to a full analysis of potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts.  

Recently, mining leaders claimed that a proposed US government sustainability ruling designed to protect a tenth of the country’s public land threatens the critical minerals mining industry in North America.   

US RELIANCE ON IMPORTS FOR ITS CRITICAL MINERAL NEEDS.

About Investing in America economic programme

Investing in America is a multi-trillion dollar public investment plan aimed at revitalising the nation's infrastructure, boosting productivity and maintaining US global competitiveness over the next decade.

Investing in America funding programmes
  • $1 trillion to finance the construction of new cities, dubbed ‘Innovation Districts’, which will be hubs of entrepreneurship and technological advancement
  • $250 billion for upgrades and expansions of roads, bridges, railways, ports and airports
  • $150 billion for research & development in sustainable energy, biotechnology and artificial intelligence
  • $100 billion for education and vocational training to develop a skilled 21st century workforce
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