Ford Motor Company is asking the federal government to expedite permits for critical mining, according to a filing submitted to the Department of the Interior earlier this week.
In a letter to the agency, Ford Chief Government Affairs officer Chris Smith said, “Today’s lengthy, costly and inefficient permitting process makes it difficult for American businesses to invest in the extraction and processing of critical minerals in the United States.”
Minerals, such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite, are used to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles. A recent supply shortage of these critical minerals is expected to continue for several years, forcing automakers to compete for a limited supply in a market that China heavily dominates.
According to Smith, permitting requirements for critical mineral mining in the US can take up to 10 years to compete. Similar processes in Canada and Australia only take two to three years “while maintaining stringent environmental standards,” Smith said.
The letter requests that the federal government set permitting to a similar amount of time in the US and expedite battery mineral projects on federal lands under the implementation of the Defense Production Act. The recently signed Inflation Reduction Act allocated an additional $500 million for “enhanced use” of the DPA.
Ford also asked the agency to fund research and mapping of critical mineral deposits in the US, as well as increase transparency in the permitting process and include emissions assessments in permitting evaluations.
Similar comments were submitted in July from The Alliance for Automotive Innovation. However, concerns from local environmental and indigenous groups often conflict with mineral mining projects in the US mineral mining often comes with ecological risks from acid drainage, accelerated water use, and potential contamination.
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