WSJ: U.S. steps up efforts to counter China’s dominance of minerals key to electric cars, phones
Tue October, 2020, Age: 2 weeks
At the beginning of this month, President Trump signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act to speed the development of mines. The following week, Ireland’s TechMet Ltd. said that the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, a state-funded investment entity, had invested $25 million in its projects to produce and recycle nickel and cobalt. Miners and analysts have welcomed the moves, but caution it takes around 10 years to set up a mine and that the West also needs to develop the capability to process these resources into the materials used in final products.
Up until the 1980s, the U.S. was the world’s biggest producer of rare earths and created the technology to process them, but today it has only one producing mine, the Mountain Pass mine in California, and no processing plants. David Henderson, founder of consulting firm Rittenhouse International Resources LLC, says the U.S. now lacks technical expertise in the sector and will need to collaborate with allies like Australia and Canada to catch up.