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Growing Mineral Resource Pressures in the Context of the Low-Carbon Transition Warrant “Domestic Mining Boom”

“[G]aining full access to America’s domestic resources will be essential to our ability to grow, defend ourselves, and dominate in the energy world of tomorrow,” writes Forbes contributer Jude Clemente in a new piece for the publication, adding that “[w]e must finally get serious about America’s need for a mining revolution to give the wind, solar, and electric car revolutions a real opportunity to materialize.”

Clemente’s call for action comes against the backdrop of America’s “ongoing transition to a far less carbonized energy complex,” in the context of which, according to the author, we have been “unwisely laying the foundation for another huge energy problem: over relying on outsiders for the essential components of the energy world of tomorrow.”

After outlining the extent of our critical mineral resource dependencies, Clemente points to the recent World Bank study estimating that that production of metals and minerals like graphite, lithium and cobalt will have to increase by nearly 500 percent by 2050 to meet global demand for renewable energy technology. He argues:

“This mounting reliance on foreign suppliers puts us in a very precarious position in our goal to win the energy race, a glaring climate vulnerability that must be addressed. Not surprisingly, China has a firm grip over many of these supply chains, such as crucial materials like lithium, cobalt, and rare earths.

Whether its for $2 trillion or $5 trillion, Joe Biden’s climate plan for huge amounts of wind and solar farms and electric vehicles will surely require huge amounts of rare earths and other materials. We could thus transfer trillions of dollars of wealth into China and even further increase U.S. dependence on the Chinese Communist Party.”

Pointing out that the not-in-my-backyard argument against domestic mining fails to acknowledge that our more stringent environmental and labor standards than most of our foreign suppliers, Clemente writes:

“Installing an energy transition that depends on outside supply chains riddled with such clear problems would be a dangerous reversal for a U.S. energy security ranking that has continued to be lifted since the shale oil and natural gas revolution took flight in 2008.”

While the United States’ vast mineral riches make a push for greater resource independence possible — growing mineral resource pressures in the context of the low-carbon transition make it a necessity.

Clemente closes with a warning:

“In a variety of areas, we have no choice but to emerge from COVID-19 more self-sufficient, and those blocking our required mining revolution to shift to the energy world of tomorrow are playing right into China’s hands – again.”

Read the full piece here.