Lithium is an essential input in battery production, making it a strategic commodity amid the global pivot from fossil fuels. Yet the United States remains conspicuously absent on the list of top global lithium producers – at least for now. The Trump administration identified the supply of critical minerals as a strategic vulnerability in 2017 when it signed an executive order to assess and strengthen domestic supply chain resiliency. The order called for “a comprehensive evaluation of the defense and industrial base supply chains” and it produced a list of 35 critical inputs that are either essential to the economic and national security of the United States, vulnerable to disruption, or serve “an essential function in manufacturing a product, the absence of which would have significant consequences for our economy and national security.”
The vulnerability has been identified by US policymakers; but can the United States actually hope to catch up to other global producers?