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US in $675 million critical materials supply chain move

The US Department of Energy has launched a US$675 million programme to expand the country’s domestic critical materials supply chains.
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US moves on vulnerabilities

The program will address "vulnerabilities" in the domestic critical materials supply chain, which are both an economic disadvantage and an impediment to the clean energy transition, the department said. 

"Critical materials, which include rare-earth elements, lithium, nickel, and cobalt, are required for manufacturing many clean energy technologies, including batteries, electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels," it said in a statement. "The program will advance domestic sourcing and production, strengthening America's position as a global manufacturing leader." 

The administration of President Joe Biden is aiming to reduce US reliance on imports of critical materials, minerals and rare-earth elements, especially from China. 

Biden invoked the Cold War-era Defense Production Act in March this year to bolster domestic supplies and stockpiles of critical minerals. 

It has also stepped up cooperation with key allies, including Australia, Japan and the UK, on securing future critical minerals.

Global demand for critical materials is expected to increase by 400-600% over the next several decades, the energy department said.  

For certain materials, such as lithium and graphite used in electric-vehicle batteries, demand is expected to increase by as much as 4,000%, it said. 

"The Department of Energy's comprehensive strategy calls for increased domestic raw-materials production and manufacturing capacity, which would reduce our dependence on foreign sources of critical materials, secure America's clean energy supply chain, and introduce more jobs associated with the clean energy transition," the department said. 

The energy department's programme is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

The department's Critical Materials Research Program is seeking feedback on the proposed programme from industry and other groups by September 9.