White House Sees Progress on Securing Critical Mineral Supply Chains

February 23, 2022 by Dan McCue
White House Sees Progress on Securing Critical Mineral Supply Chains
Clouds and nearby mountains are reflected in a polluted canal, once used as a boating dock, along the Salton Sea in Desert Shores, Calif., Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that progress is being made on securing critical mineral supply chains, moves the administration says will power clean energy manufacturing and create good-paying jobs.

Last year, Biden signed an executive order intended to strengthen the nation’s domestic supply chains for critical materials like lithium, graphite and rare earth materials that are used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products.

“These minerals power phones and computers, household appliances, electric vehicles and batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, and so much more,” Biden said Tuesday.

“Without these minerals, we simply can not function,” he continued, adding that the demand for these materials is expected to increase by between 400% and 1000% over the next several decades.


“Up to now, we’ve had to import a significant portion of them — close to 100% importation — from other countries, particularly China, Australia, and Chile. When I signed the executive order last year, I was determined to change that,” the president said.

“We’ve seen what happens when we become dependent on other countries for essential goods like computer chips,” Biden said. “Why did the cost of automobiles skyrocket and become about a third of the reason for the increase in inflation? It’s because they didn’t have the computer chips. You can’t build an automobile today without those chips. 

“And that’s true as well in regard to personal protective equipment and so much more,” he said, “That’s why I committed us to building a clean energy supply chain stamped ‘Made in America.’”


Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom also attended the largely virtual event held in the South Court Auditorium of the Old Executive Building. 

Among the specific initiatives unveiled at the White House were:

  • The Defense Department’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment program awarding MP Materials of Las Vegas, Nevada, $35 million to separate and process heavy rare earth elements at its facility in Mountain Pass, California, establishing a full end-to-end domestic permanent magnet supply chain. 
  • Paired with this catalytic public funding announcement, MP Materials announced it will invest another $700 million and create more than 350 jobs in the magnet supply chain by 2024. These magnets are used in EV motors, defense systems, electronics, and wind turbines.
  • Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables said it will break ground this spring on a new demonstration facility in Imperial County, California, to test the commercial viability of its sustainable lithium extraction process from geothermal brine as part of a multibillion-dollar investment in sustainable lithium production over the next five years. If successful, this sets the company a path towards commercial scale production of battery grade lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate by 2026. 
  • Redwood Materials discussed a pilot, in partnership with Ford and Volvo, for collection and recycling of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries at its Nevada based facilities to extract lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite. This builds upon Redwood’s recent announcements including a joint venture with Ford to build a recycling facility in Tennessee and its intention to begin construction on a new cathode manufacturing facility in Nevada in 2022.
  • Sec. Granholm focused on DOE’s first-of-its-kind $140 million demonstration project funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law to recover rare earth elements and critical minerals from coal ash and other mine waste, reducing the need for new mining. This project will deliver on the work of the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization by creating good-paying manufacturing jobs in legacy coal communities.
  • She also discussed $3 billion in IIJA funding to invest in refining battery materials such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel.

The announcement came just days ahead of Thursday’s one-year anniversary of Biden signing Executive Order 14017 which mandated a review of vulnerabilities in the nation’s critical mineral and material supply chains within 100 days. 

In June 2021, the administration released a supply chain assessment that found the country’s over-reliance on foreign sources and adversarial nations for critical minerals and materials posed national and economic security threats.

On Tuesday, the president said “Made in America” means “using products, parts, and materials, as well as minerals from right here in the United States … It means betting on American workers. And it takes a federal government that doesn’t just give lip service to buying America but actually takes action.

“Today we’re announcing a new effort that’s going to help us, in my view, keep that drumbeat for good-paying jobs, strengthen our national and economic security, and ensure that we can continue to build a future that’s made in America in a way that lives up to our values,” the president said.


 “As I mentioned, China currently 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. This is not anti-China or anti anything else; it’s pro-American,” Biden concluded.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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