KINY: Sen. Murkowski advances boosting mineral security
Last week, in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Chairman Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Ranking Member Sen. Joe Manchin, provided keynote remarks at the start of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s 2020 Summit.
Murkowski emphasized that the pandemic has underscored the need to pass her bipartisan American Mineral Security Act, which has been included in multiple Republican-proposed coronavirus recovery packages.
The legislation would rebuild and strengthen the critical mineral supply chain, cut down on unnecessary permitting delays, and boost workforce development.
“The next decade is a critical time to rebuild our domestic supply chains, and the success of that effort will depend in large part on our willingness to take real steps to reverse our significant dependence on foreign minerals," Murkowski said. "Failing to take this seriously will put us at an economic and geostrategic disadvantage, especially as nations like China do everything they can to consolidate control.”
One key mineral is cobalt, which is vital to the electric vehicle market.
Alaska has a supply of the mineral, specifically at the Bornite project, a carbonate-hosted copper-cobalt deposit located near Kobuk.
Tim De Chant explained in The Wire China that the production of many components for electric vehicles is dangerously dependent on China, which is effectively building a “Cobalt Empire.”
“Cobalt has been called the blood diamond of the electric vehicle industry, undermining the sustainability goals of companies like Tesla,” he wrote. “China’s position in the cobalt market is the result of nearly two decades of planning. It was a high stakes bet that, if it pays off, could allow the country to swiftly climb the technological ladder while also positioning itself as a climate savior.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the United States imported 78 percent of its supply of cobalt, on a net basis, in 2019.