The Biden administration, hoping to win over private investors who have been slow to back U.S. projects to mine metals for electric vehicle batteries, is framing its support for a proposed Nevada lithium mine as evidence that the U.S. is serious about reversing a decadeslong decline in heavy industry.
The conditional $700 million Department of Energy loan, granted last week to Australian miner Ioneer Ltd., would help finance the first new lithium mine in the U.S. since the 1960s as the country attempts to build an EV battery supply chain to compete with China. Before Ioneer can begin construction, it must still obtain a final federal permit. Environmental groups have opposed the Rhyolite Ridge, Nev., mine because of the presence of a wildflower found only on about 900 acres around the proposed site; last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the flower an endangered species.