“Out of concern to protect this special place for future generations, I have made this decision.”
That’s what US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said when signing an ordinance last week that bans mining on nearly a quarter of a million acres in the forest. Minnesota’s top national for the next two decades. In 1978, President Carter signed the law that specifically designated this area for mining to meet the national demand for minerals.
The Biden administration says the decision does not indicate that it does not support mining. Without further explanation, the Interior said “the department sees the value of critical minerals and their critical importance to the future of this country.”
The planned mining had the potential to produce copper and nickel, two key elements in the production of electric vehicles (EVs), solar panels, wind turbines and other devices. Global demand for nickel alone has doubled in the past five years.
[RELATED: Mills’ Solar Power Project Linked to Chinese Forced Labor…]
The global thirst for cobalt and lithium is also growing rapidly. Electric vehicle batteries contain 70% more cobalt than lithium, but 74% of the world’s cobalt is mined from a deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As noted in a previous article in this space, the conditions under which Congolese miners, including 40,000 children, struggle to harvest this mineral at the equivalent of a dollar a day, are horrendous as numerous studies and presentations show.
Late last year, President Biden’s labor department released a report in which it admitted that cobalt mines in the Congo were still exploiting child labor. “Clean energy is a central pillar of the Biden-Harris administration’s policy goals,” he said, “yet this clean energy future cannot — and will not — be built on the backs of the forced labourers.” Less than two months later, Biden signed a deal with the DRC government that did just that, tolerating the exploitation of tens of thousands of African children in exchange for greater amounts of cobalt to fuel the American obsession. of global climate change.
Biden’s message is clear. The United States wants more and more devices to “power” our green energy goals, but that won’t help supply their essentials. We will consume more and more cell phones, electric vehicles, solar panels, etc., but the United States will not provide its “fair share” of the minerals needed to make this happen. Instead, we will let the poorest citizens of the Third World provide this to us in slavery-like conditions.
And so it is here in Maine. Despite extremely low net annual CO2 emissions, Governor Mills continues to intensify policies that require electric vehicles, solar panels and other mineral-dependent devices to be used in Pine Tree State while taking action to prevent Maine from supplying the minerals they need.
The latest example – in 2021 a couple discovered that 10 of the 3,000 acres they own in Newry contain the richest known ‘solid rock’ lithium deposit in the world. The estimated 11 million tonnes of ore can be valued at $1.5 billion and is contained in mineral crystals known as spodumene that literally protrude from the ground. These could be mined like stone and transported to a separate location where the lithium could be mined.
[RELATED: Maine EV Goals Put Green Ideology Over Lives of Cobalt Mining Congolese Children…]
Last year, the owners asked the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) whether spodumene mining on the ten-acre area would be governed by the Maine Metallic Mineral Mining Act (MMA), a law very restrictive adopted in 2017. In a response letter, DEP officials admitted that “in many ways, spodumene mining is comparable to limestone or granite mining. For example, the environmental risks associated with this type of activity are generally comparable. Limestone and granite quarries of course exist throughout Maine and have been active for centuries.
The letter also said: “The term ‘metallic mineral’ is not a commonly understood geological term with an agreed meaning.” Also from the DEP letter: “Spodumene mining for use as a metallic element component, on the other hand, is new to Maine with no history of regulation.”
Spodumene is not identified in law as restricted, its mining and environmental risks are comparable to granite mining, and the term “metallic mineral” has no clear definition in science. There is no indication that the legislator intended in any way for spodumene to be governed by the 2017 law.
With all of this information excluding spodumene from the rule of law, the Maine DEP nevertheless concluded that the mineral “falls within the present definition of ‘metallic mineral’ contained in MMA.” This is an erroneous legal position, especially since spodumene mining is no more harmful to the environment than granite mining.
With this declaration, however, unless remedial action is taken by the legislature or the courts, the Mills administration has effectively banned the mining of lithium from the world’s largest deposit, just when demand for this mineral is exploding. . The decision is not only at odds with Maine’s economic interests, as permitting mining in Newry would impact economic benefits to the community, it is also contrary to Mills’ stated goal of filling the roads with lithium battery powered electric vehicles. .
Nearly three quarters of the lithium produced each year in the world is used in the production of batteries. Currently, the United States essentially has a large lithium mining operation, located in Nevada, which produces 5,000 tons per year, or less than 2% of the world’s annual supply. The Newry deposit could provide as much lithium per year for 2,200 years. Besides an obvious increase in the global supply of a very important mineral, a mine that could bring $1.5 billion in economic activity to western Maine should be welcome, not banned by overzealous regulators. .
If we continue on an aggressive path towards renewable energy in Maine, the need for these minerals in the future will be enormous. Although still in its infancy, for example, the production of electric vehicles already requires a third of the cobalt mined globally. Since there are approximately 2,100 cell phones for every EV on the planet, there is ample room for huge growth in EVs. However, each EV battery requires 5,000 times more lithium than a cell phone.
The demand created by the aggressive expansion of electric vehicle use is simply unsustainable. The world is not producing enough lithium to meet the targets set for future use of electric vehicles. Annual global demand for this mineral has already exceeded the capacity of current mining operations.
Here in Maine, the Mills administration is doing everything it can to expand the use of electric vehicles while preventing new mining operations from extracting the minerals needed to run these vehicles, no matter how they need to stretch current law to do so. Maine’s approach seems to be “give us more, more, more, but don’t ask us to carry the burden.”
This is a problem that is not going away. Tuesday, the latest book by Siddharth Kara Cobalt Red: how the blood of the Congo fuels our lives will come out. It is already ranked at the top of several sub-categories on Amazon.com involving African history, African politics and human rights, while preparations are underway to produce a film based on it.
Republicans back in control of Congress promise to thoroughly investigate the activities of President Biden’s son, Hunter. This will certainly include the sale of Congolese mining rights by the financial company known as BHR which he co-founded. This sale to Chinese interests has yet to be fully investigated and will no doubt be part of this very public debate.
According to New York Times“BHR’s role in buying the Chinese mine was not a major focus (from past investigations). It took on new relevance because the Biden administration warned this year that China could use its dominance growing cobalt to disrupt America’s retooling of its auto industry to make electric vehicles.
Despite the threat of Chinese aggression, the horrific conditions under which miners, including children, suffer to produce these minerals, and the global shortage coming to crisis level as demand increases far beyond the current supply, neither the government in Washington nor our leaders in Augusta seem to be working to do their part to bring in these essential minerals. Meanwhile, they are calling for even more electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines.
It is the kind of self-indulgent, selfish, arrogant behavior that generates hatred among Americans abroad and plays into the hands of those who wish to foment anti-American sentiment abroad. Propaganda need only describe America’s dependence on iPhones, tablets and Teslas, made possible by the suffering of African children and slaves in China, India and elsewhere, framed by regular news reports on government actions to ban the extraction of essential minerals on US soil. . As a nation and as a state, we are not taking our responsibilities.
Don’t make a mistake. Clean energy is a dirty business and there are no easy solutions. But Maine’s political leaders could at least attempt to resolve the inconsistency of Maine’s green energy policies, and do so in a way that provides economic benefits for Maine.