Battery metal miners with US-based projects received a welcome boost last week after plans to streamline domestic regulation and permitting requirements in the sector were unveiled at a major industry conference. Speaking at a Washington-based event on Thursday hosted by Benchmark Minerals Intelligence, US Senator Lisa Murkowski said she plans to introduce the Minerals Security act alongside fellow senator Joe Manchin.
Murkowski, who chairs the US Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told Reuters the act would support the development of lithium, graphite and other electric-vehicle supply chain minerals mines in the US. The directive will form part of growing efforts to curb China’s increasing dominance in the electric vehicle (EV) space.
Although electric-focused automakers and battery manufacturers like Tesla and Volkswagen wish to expand in the US, they are currently reliant on mineral imports rather than domestic mines and processing facilities. The chief source of this supply is China, which produces nearly two-thirds of the world’s lithium-ion batteries. The US, meanwhile, manufactures just 5pc.
‘Our challenge is still a failure to understand the vulnerability we are in as a nation when it comes to reliance on others for our minerals,’ Murkowski said. She added that China’s lead in the EV space – which is expected to soar over the coming decades – also gives it an edge in its ongoing trade disputes with the US.
The US is not the only country worried about China’s dominance over the growing EV supply market, either. Indeed, France and Germany both asked the European Commission to support a €1.7bn battery cell consortium earlier this week. Also in attendance at Thursday's event was Tesla, which highlighted its concerns around a global shortage of nickel, copper, and other EV battery minerals in the future due to underinvestment.
The combination of concerns over global supply and increasing efforts to boost the US battery metals sector is encouraging for those firms already operating projects in the sector. For example, Tim McKenna of Piedmont Lithium - which is developing a lithium project in North Carolina – said at Thursday’s event: ‘We need to focus the United States on the fact that China is way ahead of us in the electric vehicle race.’
A potential beneficiary that we have previously covered on Mining Maven is Global Energy Metals (TSX-V:GEMC). Last month, the Canadian developer- which is planning to co-list in London- revealed that it had made a payment allowing it to begin exploration work at the two US cobalt projects it is buying in Sparks, Nevada. The properties are called Lovelock and Treasure Box and are located in Churchill County, around 150km east of Tesla’s major battery factory in Sparks.
Lovelock covers around 1,400 acres and is said to have produced 500ts of cobalt and nickel mineralisation between 1883 and 1890 when it was last in operation. Global Energy believes exploration work and modern drilling techniques could unlock a large amount of potential value at the site. Treasure Box, meanwhile, is adjacent to Lovelock and hosts mine workings from limited copper production, which occurred until early into the 20th century. A historical diamond drill hole at the asset reportedly intersected 1.52pc copper over 85ft, with mineralisation beginning at the surface.
Global Energy has agreed to buy an 85pc-interest in the projects from Nevada Sunrise, making its first option payment in March. In April, it raised $813,500 in an oversubscribed private placing intended to support its work programme in Nevada.
Speaking to Mining Maven in February, Global Energy’s chief executive Mitchell Smith said the acquisition had given the business a low-cost entry to an exciting jurisdiction close to the world’s largest battery factory:
Author: Daniel Flynn
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