Mining for Rare Earth Minerals (No Gun Talk Today, I Promise)
Over the last few weeks, I’ve reshared a few presentations from The All In Summit. I’ve been learning so much from these presentations and I will make a point to attend the event next year.
Yesterday afternoon on my walk, I listened to a presentation from James Litinsky, who is the CEO of MP Materials.
The presentation was truly eye opening for me and highlighted many of the challenges, opportunities, and competitive disadvantages the United States has while the world transitions to electrification.
In short: Electrifying the world requires magnets. In order to make magnets, we have to mine minerals.
The mining industry in the United States has been halted by environmentalists and tougher red tape laws. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to get the permits required to start a rare earth mine in the United States. Yet, as a country, we all agree and welcome the transition to battery powered cars and solar panels that will power our lives for generations.
But what environmentalists don’t understand is that if we want Tesla’s and Prius', the minerals need to come from somewhere.
As of right now, China is completely downstream on this industry. They will own the markets for minerals such and Lithium, Copper, and Cobalt. Ironically, China powers most of their mining with coal, which puts more Carbon in the atmosphere than would have been emitted if the United States used its more energy efficient techniques.
The phrase is NIMBY (not in my back yard). We want our electric cars, and we want the moral superiority of “going green”, but we have no problem turning a blind eye to the 6 years old’s with no masks digging up cobalt in The Dominican Republic of Congo.
In the presentation, Litinsky calls for “A Grand Bargain.” Environmentalists need to compromise and be real with the fact that this is an industry that the United States must participate in, while hard core capitalists must realize that these mines must be held to the highest of environment standards.
We all want to be in the forefront of green energy. Right? We all want the United States to continue leading the world in free markets, democracy, and GDP. Right?
Okay great. Let’s come together and start digging up minerals. We need to build magnets so let’s start building!