Daily Management Review

US Targets Significant Increase In Lithium Production To Rival China: Reuters


US Targets Significant Increase In Lithium Production To Rival China: Reuters
The US government plans to draw up a strategy for the launch of a nation-wide electric vehicle supply chain strategy and would be meeting up with executives from automakers and lithium miners in early May, reported Reuters, citing information from three sources familiar with the matter.
There has been no major push in the US for the development of mines in the country and associated processing facilities for lithium and hence companies like Volkswagen AG, Tesla Inc and other electric-focused automakers and battery manufacturers have to depend on imports of the mineral despite the companies expanding in the country and making investments of billions in the new technology.
The global electric vehicle supply chain is currently dominated by China. Almost two-thirds of the world’s lithium-ion batteries are produced in China. In comparison, only about 5 per cent is manufactured in the US. According to data from Benchmark Minerals Intelligence, which tracks prices for lithium and other commodities, China also controls most of the lithium processing facilities of the world.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, partly because of increased demand from Tesla, SK Innovation Co and others manufacturing battery factories in the US, the import of lithium has doubled since 2014.
“We need to find ways to more efficiently develop our nation’s domestic critical mineral supply because these resources are vital to both our national security and our economy,” North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement to Reuters.
Invitation to attend the meeting has been given to Hoeven and Senator Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate’s energy committee. According to two of the sources in the Reuters report, te meeting is also likely to be attended by officials from the U.S. Department of State, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Standalone legislation for streamlining the permitting process for lithium and other mines is expected to be introduced as part of the effort. That would enhance research on domestic supplies of critical minerals and encouraging mineral recycling.
In the US, there are currently 5 companies which includes Lithium Americas Corp, that are in the process of developing new lithium projects in the country with the help of new technologies for the extraction of the metals form elements such as clays, bromine and even oilfield waste. Such processes and technologies are not commonly used elsewhere in the world and some analysts and experts consider those technologies to effectively be game-changing. However secured financing is not available to all of the projects.
But US would be able to produce at least 77,900 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent annually if all of the five projects come online by 2022. That would make the US amongst the largest lithium producers of the world.  
“Creating a domestic electric vehicle supply chain is the perfect blueprint to make America great again,” said Jesse Edmondson, chief executive officer of U.S. Critical Minerals.