Following Joe Biden’s invoking of the Defense Production Act yesterday, nickel expert Trent Mell is commending the President’s decision to surge the domestic production and sourcing of electric vehicle materials.
Speculation early in the week indicated President Biden was considering using the Defense Production Act for the second time in his presidency to help domestic companies source materials for EVs within the United States. In recent months, material prices have surged due to various issues, namely the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Nickel, one of the most crucial materials for the EV production agenda moving forward, surged from $30,000 to $100,000 on the London Metals Exchange in early March, causing a temporary trading freeze.
The United States has long depended on foreign sources of materials, despite having mines for many primary EV materials present in the U.S. However, the inflation of these crucial materials has caused prices to surge. Tesla is just one example of these price increases, as CEO Elon Musk said “inflation pressure” would affect prices moving forward. Tesla announced price hikes on all four of its vehicle models the next day.
As a result, mining experts like Mell called for the production of EV materials to be obtained domestically or at least within North America. It would not only help control costs but would also help EV companies based in North America obtain sustainably and responsibly sourced materials for their products.
Now that Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act, Mell’s wishes for domestic material production are becoming more realistic.
“I am encouraged by this latest measure and what it could mean for the Idaho Cobalt Belt,” Mell said to Teslarati in an emailed statement. “We cannot achieve a low carbon future without new nickel, cobalt, and lithium mines. Building mines in America is important for our national security and industrial interests, and we can realize our clean energy ambitions in a safer, cleaner, and more responsible manner.”
Biden’s memo released yesterday said his decision to invoke the Act was based on ensuring “a robust, resilient, sustainable, and environmentally responsible domestic industrial base to meet the requirements of the clean energy economy, such as the production of large-capacity batteries, is essential to our national security and the development and preservation of domestic critical infrastructure.” While vehicle manufacturers in the United States are producing some electric vehicles domestically, many of the parts and materials are sourced from other countries. China, for example, produces the largest quantity of lithium-ion batteries, and CATL, a Tesla supplier based in China, is the largest single manufacturer of the cells globally.
“The United States depends on unreliable foreign sources for many of the strategic and critical materials necessary for the clean energy transition — such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and manganese for large-capacity batteries,” Biden wrote. “Demand for such materials is projected to increase exponentially as the world transitions to a clean energy economy.”
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