In a world increasingly defined by geopolitical complexities and economic interdependence, the United States finds itself at a critical juncture, navigating the delicate balance between energy security and global supply chain dynamics. The current landscape is one marked by strategic considerations and intentional policymaking.
In recent analysis, attention is drawn to a significant element: The incorporation of Foreign Entities of Concern (FEOC) within the Infrastructure Law. Notable nations covered by this provision include China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. This inclusion aims to curtail their influence in the burgeoning domestic battery supply chains.
Against this backdrop, the impending unveiling of the EV tax credit revolution in January 2024 and the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August 2022 emerge as catalytic forces propelling transformative shifts.
Just 16 months after the passage of the IRA, the largest federal investment in alternative energy and sustainability in American history, we are witness to historic climate action and an investment in America to create good paying jobs and reduce costs. Encouraged by the IRA, the private sector has announced over $110 billion in new clean energy manufacturing investments. over $70 billion in the electric vehicle (EV) supply chain and more than $10 billion in solar manufacturing. The private sector has invested in over $240 billion in new clean energy manufacturing investments since President Biden was elected.
Amidst the changing currents of U.S. energy policy and supply chain reform, the states of Nevada and Arkansas stand center stage in the development of lithium projects. Nevada, renowned for its arid landscapes and abundant natural resources, has become a crucible of innovation, hosting ambitious initiatives which harness the vast potential of lithium.
Nevada aims to become epicenter of lithium mining
Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo’s five-year strategic plan focuses on expanding the state’s electric vehicle production, technological innovation and new infrastructure. He believes that claystone lithium will emerge as the key critical element in Nevada’s energy transition as he seeks to make the ‘Silver State’ the epicenter of lithium mining in North America.
Unlike traditional lithium production from brine or hard rock sources, claystone lithium extraction represents a distinct approach that taps into the geological characteristics of regions in Nevada.
Arkansas’ role in powering America’s future
In the heartland of America, Arkansas is actively carving out its role in the energy sector by spearheading critical elements projects. A noteworthy development unfolded in November 2023 when ExxonMobil laid out ambitious plans to establish itself as a key player in lithium production. The company embarked on a significant venture by drilling its inaugural lithium well in southwest Arkansas, marking a strategic move toward bolstering the nation’s lithium supply. Under the brand Mobil Lithium, this endeavor underscores the transformative potential in regional initiatives.
These local initiatives are tangible examples of the groundswell of activity underway, attesting to the decentralized nature of the U.S. push toward energy independence and supply chain resilience.
The heightened need for the U.S. to source as much sustainable, “homemade” lithium as quickly as possible, with America’s natural resources and supportive policies able to bring new mines online, will ensure its place in history as the leader in America’s secure and sustainable new energy paradigm.
America’s road to energy metal independence is long and full of hurdles, both on the supply and processing side. While the United States holds about 8 million metric tons of lithium in reserve, ranking it among the top five countries in the world, right now only a fraction of the world’s supply is produced at one solitary lithium brine mine in Nevada called Silver Peak, run by Albemarle Corp.
As we dissect the intricate web of national policy, it becomes increasingly apparent that Nevada and Arkansas are not just states on the map; they are vital players in the quest to reshape domestic supply chains and elevate the nation’s energy security.
America’s legislative strides are engines of change, steering the nation toward a future characterized by a robust, self-sustaining ecosystem in the sourcing, manufacturing, processing, and recycling of energy metals. As the gears of progress are set into motion, America’s drive for domestic resilience is a paradigm shift actively reshaping the nation’s energy landscape.
Graham Harris is chairman and director of Surge Battery Metals Inc., a pure-play lithium company focused on its flagship project Nevada North Lithium Project in Elko County. He was previously founder, chair and director of Millennial Lithium Corp., which was acquired by Lithium Americas. Based in Vancouver, BC, Canada he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.
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