Australian Winners of Biden's $4.5B Critical Minerals Grants

Australian Winners of Biden’s $4.5B Critical Minerals Grants

Critical minerals, including copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements, are needed for electric vehicle batteries, renewable energy and military technology.

Mr. Biden also announced the American Battery Materials Initiative, an attempt to mobilize the US government and its allies to strengthen the global supply chain for critical minerals used in power, electricity and electric vehicles.

Brisbane-based Novonix is ​​among Australian companies set to benefit from Department of Energy grants. The ASX-listed company is receiving $240 million for its new Chattanooga, Tennessee facility to produce 30,000 tons per year of synthetic graphite for lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and other electronic devices.

Melbourne-based Syrah received $350 million in grants to expand its natural graphite facility in Vidalia, Louisiana. Syrah’s facility will be the only major natural graphite producer outside of China and the first major natural graphite producer in the United States.

Rio Tinto-backed Talon Metal also received $190 million for its battery minerals processing facility in Mercer County, North Dakota. Talon has signed a supply agreement with Tesla for 75,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate.

Talon chief executive Henri van Rooyen said the Biden administration’s recent legislation is a watershed moment in building self-reliance on critical minerals.

“Between the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the United States has taken significant actions over the past year that prioritize and accelerate the development of the domestic battery supply chain from mining to recycling,” Van Rooyen said.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill invests more than $7 billion to help domestic manufacturers have the critical minerals and other necessary components needed to make batteries.

The Inflation Reduction Act makes new and used electric vehicles more affordable for consumers with tax credits that support the use of minerals and battery components from the US and allies like Australia.

The two laws, along with the CHIPS & Science Act will invest more than $135 billion to build America’s electric vehicle industry, including sourcing and processing of critical minerals and battery manufacturing.

The 20 projects that received new funding on Wednesday are expected to supply enough lithium for over 2 million EV batteries annually.

In June, Mr. Biden invoked the Defense Production Act, a war power that allows the government to fund production of critical minerals on the fly and help fund productivity improvements, safety improvements and feasibility studies.

Late last year, the US government updated its list of top critical minerals, adding nickel, which is used to strengthen alloys found in batteries, electronics, military hardware and a range of energy technologies. Australia produces 24 percent of the world’s supply and is perfectly positioned to capitalize on it.

The newly announced American Battery Materials Initiative will be led by a White House steering committee coordinated by the Department of Energy with support from the Department of the Interior.

It will “leverage the State Department’s ongoing work to work with partners and allies to strengthen critical mineral supply chains worldwide.” It will also strengthen federal engagement and consultation with the private sector to coordinate resources more effectively.

The Biden administration also established the Mineral Security Partnership, which includes Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Commission, to accelerate investment by governments and the private sector in strategic opportunities critical minerals.

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