DPA Announcement on Mineral Security Will Benefit Alaska

At the urging of U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Jim Risch (R-ID), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), President Biden today announced that he is invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) to spur critical mineral production.

On March 11, the Senators sent a letter to President Biden calling to invoke the DPA to rebuild the capacity of key sectors and value-chains by domestically producing and processing critical minerals such as graphite, manganese, cobalt, lithium, and nickel to support national security.

“This is an overdue step that will help address one of our nation’s most significant vulnerabilities, our increasing dependence on foreign supply of critical minerals. While there are a range of actions we should be taking to address this challenge, including further federal permitting reforms, the Defense Production Act is an important complement to them,” Senator Murkowski said. “My hope is that this decision marks the start of a much more serious emphasis on our nation’s mineral security, and that real projects, especially mines, in states like Alaska, result from it. It is also critical that the five minerals addressed under this decision are just the start, not the end, of federal efforts to rebuild our domestic supply chains.”

“I am pleased that President Biden has taken seriously our bipartisan call to strengthen our domestic critical minerals supply chain by invoking the Defense Production Act to increase production of five vital battery minerals. These minerals are essential to the technologies we have come to depend on and accelerating their production is vital to our energy and national security. Building out our domestic supply chain and reducing our reliance on Russia, China and other adversarial nations is more important than ever before. I urge the Administration to continue using all the tools at their disposal and working with Congress to unlock the full potential of our nation’s vast natural resources to deny any nation the ability to use supply chain dependencies against us and our allies,” said Chairman Manchin.

“While I am heartened that President Biden is heeding our concerns and invoking the Defense Production Act for certain critical minerals, this needs to be the beginning, not the end, of immediate and aggressive efforts to shore up our mineral supply chains,” said Senator Risch. “The United States’ overreliance on countries like Russia and China for these vital materials is a matter of national security. Many states, including my home state of Idaho, contain rich deposits of critical minerals we cannot afford to ignore any longer. We must take action to prioritize domestic critical mineral development before this serious threat turns into an active crisis.”

“We cannot go from a dependency on foreign oil to a dependency on Chinese minerals,” said Dr. Cassidy. “It is encouraging that the administration listened to our letter and is announcing action. However, enacting the DPA without addressing the bureaucratic logjam of permitting would be little more than symbolism. We have to also streamline the permitting process that could delay any effort by years.”

“Giving graphite and the battery materials the DPA Title III designation – as ‘essential to national defense’ – is a strong signal that the full force of the U.S. federal government will now be behind domestic development of these ‘super-criticals’. All of us at Graphite One want to thank Senator Murkowski, the Senate’s undisputed expert on critical minerals, and Chairman of the Senate ENR Committee, Joe Manchin who made such a compelling case for President Biden to take this step,” said Anthony Huston, the President and CEO of Graphite One. “With the USGS recognizing Graphite One’s Alaska deposit just last month as being America’s largest known graphite deposit, and adding to that our plan to produce battery-ready anode material, Graphite One is ready to answer the call, and create a complete advanced graphite supply chain solution for the U.S.”

"Alaska’s miners are pleased that the Biden Administration has finally connected the dots between increased mineral demand and the American sources to meet it.  The Presidential Determination refers to the need for 'environmentally responsible domestic mining and processing,' and no place does it better than we do in Alaska.  It is our hope that the Administration will expand beyond the minerals related just to battery storage, and aggressively pursue domestic development of all of the minerals we need more of, like copper, gold, silver, and zinc.  It is also our hope that the President’s policies are met with the most important thing needed to grow domestic mining: regulatory certainty.  We are deeply appreciative of Senators Murkowski and Sullivan for reminding the Administration of this, and for frequently highlighting the importance of a stable permitting regime in Congress," said Deantha Skibinski, Executive Director of Alaska Miners Association. 

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