The United States has been spending billions yearly for imported metals and minerals, despite the country’s abundance of various minerals in unexplored places such as Northeastern Minnesota.
Many believe that what the country lacks is an efficient process that permits access to said minerals and metals. Presently, it takes roughly a decade to bring a new mine in the country into production, with many blaming Congress for the unreasonably long wait period.
For years now, a senate bill that would modernize the whole licensing process has been buried in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Because of this, in 2020, America was forced to import more than $32 billion worth of commercial products and minerals, ranging from commodity metals to rare earth minerals such as zinc and copper, which are essential for communications and energy technologies as well as weapons systems. This demonstrates just how dependent the United States is on materials that are necessary for the nation’s existence.
The majority of the minerals supplied globally come from China. These minerals also happen to be the basis of the United States’ energy security. The materials are required for every stage of the production and refining of both natural gas and oil. For instance, America relies on China for minerals such as graphite, bentonite, potash and barite, which are used as lubricants for the drilling portion in gas and oil production.
In recent times, the demand for these minerals has grown, mainly because of deep-water and shale-boom drilling. In particular, the demand for barite, which is necessary in fracking, has spiked. Figures show that the United States imports more than 75% of its barite, and more than half of those imports are sourced from China. The rare earth minerals used in the United States for petroleum refining come from China as well.
This means that the United States’ gas and oil industry is at risk from an embargo or a sudden surge in the price of minerals. And is this the only industry at risk? Sadly, no.
As more countries embark on the journey of green transition to wind power, solar energy and electric vehicles, including the U.S., many battery metals and crucial minerals such as cobalt, graphite and lithium are needed. These minerals also come from China, showing just how much of a grip China has on these critical supply chains.
Over the past two and a half decades, America’s dependence on imported minerals has doubled. Many industries may be affected by this reliance, especially in the long run, with the demand for essential minerals growing exponentially each day.
A good way to remedy the situation would be to embrace domestic production once more, while introducing policies that uphold current environmental standards and establish efficient processes for approving or rejecting new programs and projects.
Meanwhile, Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) has been at the forefront of campaigning to see locally produced nuclear energy recognized by the U.S. federal government as critical. As a result, a national strategic reserve of uranium has been created.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/UUUU
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