Doing so would add critical minerals such as lithium, nickel, graphite, cobalt and manganese to the list of items covered by the 1950 Defense Production Act, a law enacted amid the Korean War that allows the president to use emergency authority to make large orders of a certain type of product or expand productive capacity and supply.
The White House will work closely with the departments of Energy and the Interior to implement the presidential determination under the Defense Production Act, the source said, adding that a presidential determination signed by Biden would “in no way” bypass or supersede permitting or environmental review processes for mining these minerals.
The source also said that the actions being considered aren’t loans or direct purchases for critical minerals; instead, they would fund feasibility studies, co-product and by-product production at current operations, as well as productivity and safety modernizations.
“China not only leads the world in manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, but also in the processing of the minerals and raw materials required in lithium-ion battery manufacturing,” the senators said. “Our dependence on foreign-sourced cobalt and lithium is elevated as the processing of both is dominated by China.”
This story has been updated to note that the Intercept first reported the Biden administration was considering using the Defense Production Act for this purpose.