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Lithium – A Case In Point for Mining Policy Reform

In a recent op-ed for the Reno Gazette Journal, professor emeritus of mining engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, Jaak Daemen makes the case for comprehensive mining policy reform.  

Citing the arrival of electric vehicles in which “battery technology is catching up with the hype,” he cautions that benefits benefits associated with the sought-after shift to said technology – i.e. environmental benefits and a reduction of U.S. dependence on foreign oil – might be delayed if we “aren’t serious about the supply of the minerals for EV adoption,” and that “sourcing the minerals and metals that are the building blocks to this electric future remains a stumbling block for the EV transition.” His case in point: Lithium. He argues:

“Miners can’t open new mines fast enough. Lithium demand is expected to jump 100-fold by 2030.The U.S. is unprepared to meet this demand. We have just one lithium mine in the U.S. ( in Nevada!). The problem is not a lack of resources. It’s a regulatory approach that endlessly delays bringing mines in production.(…) 

To meet the soaring demand for minerals and metals critical to our EV and high-tech future, we have to rethink our approach to mining regulation. The place to start is mine permitting.”

 As Daemen correctly points out, our reliance on foreign Lithium imports – which Daemen pegs at over 80 percent, is only “one example of a troubling trend,” as documented by the U.S. Geological Survey

Concludes Daemen:   

Gaining the necessary approvals to open a new mine in the U.S. takes seven to ten years. In Canada and Australia, with similar environmental standards, mine permitting takes two to three years. It’s past time to cut the red tape. Cell phones, computer chips and EV batteries are built with minerals. Let’s ensure a robust domestic supply for the materials that are the building blocks to our future.  Nevada already makes a major contribution to the EV revolution. Give the state a chance to make one more major contribution: accelerate mine permitting!”