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Rights Abuser China Emerging as Dubious Linchpin of Biden's Lithium-Battery Supply Chain


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Real Clear Investigations

A Chinese-dominated mining company has procured millions of dollars in American subsidies to extract lithium in the United States – but, given a dearth of U.S. processing capacity, the mineral is likely to be sent to China with no guarantee that the end product would return as batteries to power President Biden's envisioned green economy.

Critics say the scenario would increase U.S. energy dependence on a hostile power – one accused of using forced labor in the manufacture of both lithium batteries and solar panels – and undercuts the Biden administration's emphasis on domestic sourcing of green energy.

 

"We need the finished product here," said Glenn Miller, a retired professor of environmental science at the University of Nevada, Reno, who has spent decades in mining chemistry.  “I would hope there is an advantage to taking that lithium and shipping it 200 miles south to process it [rather] than shipping it around the world. We should all be troubled by China’s control of [minerals]. Why can’t we do this?”

While the United States has ample supplies of lithium, it currently falls short on the capacity to process it into a usable form, meaning that the $7 billion in taxpayer money invested in the nation’s battery supply chain will have to include a foreign component. That is almost certain to include China, which produces 79% of the world’s lithium-ion batteries:snip:

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Tesla’s Battery Deals Highlight Chinese Dominance of Key Materials for Electric Vehicles

Tesla signed new contracts with two of its current Chinese battery material suppliers, Bloomberg reported on Sunday, highlighting the extent to which American electric vehicle manufacturers rely on China for critical minerals and materials.

Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co. and CNGR Advanced Material Co. renewed pricing agreements to provide Tesla with supplies of ternary precursors, chemical concoctions essential for lithium-ion batteries to store energy for electric cars, up until the mid-2020s, according to Bloomberg. China dominates the world’s lithium-ion manufacturing market, producing about 79% of all lithium-ion batteries that entered the global market in 2021.:snip:

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