U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to help the United States secure mineral resources and supply chains that will fuel the nation’s auto and energy industries for years to come. The legislation, The American Minerals Security Act, is focused on the many minerals that the United States is currently import reliant on. She introduced the bill while speaking at the Benchmark Minerals Summit in Washington, D.C.
Murkowski, the chair of the US Senate Committee of Energy and Natural Resources has led the push to secure the supply of critical minerals such as lithium, graphite, cobalt and nickel and reduce the U.S. reliance on foreign sources.
The new legislation goes further than ever before, looking at not only the domestic mineral resources but the supply chains that refine the raw materials into speciality, engineered materials for lithium ion batteries and electric vehicles.
The legislation follows a number of U.S. Senate hearings on the subject which featured testimonies from Benchmark Minerals' Managing Director, Simon Moores in October 2017 and February 2019, Yahoo reported.
"I recently spoke at the Benchmark Minerals Summit on our foreign mineral dependence. The significance of foreign oil dependence is widely understood, but our foreign mineral dependence is equally – if not more – serious,” Murkowski said, citing statistics from the U.S. Geological Survey. “Last year we imported at least 50 percent of 48 minerals, including 100 percent of 18 of them. That should worry everyone, particularly because it is happening at the same time that demand, for everything from graphite and lithium to cobalt and nickel, is about to skyrocket.
“Unless we take significant steps, we are at risk of ceding major economic drivers to other countries," said Murkowski.
“Senator Murkowski has taken a true leading role in U.S. supply chain security for the critical minerals that are the foundation of the 21st century automotive and energy industries,” Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence said.
“Right now, the U.S. produces 1 percent of global lithium supply and only 7 percent of refined lithium chemical supply, while China produces 51 percent,” Moores said. “For cobalt, the U.S. has zero mining capacity and zero chemicals capacity whilst China controls 80 percent of this second stage.
“Graphite is the most extreme example with no flake graphite mining and anode production compared to China's 51 percent and 100 percent of the world's total, respectively. And it’s a similar story with nickel: under 1 percent mined in the U.S. and zero capacity for nickel sulfate.
"These supply chains are the oil pipelines of tomorrow. The lithium ion battery is to the 21st century is what the oil barrel was to the 20th century.”