Ford asks US gov’t to speed up mining permits

Rouge electric vehicle center. (Image: Ford Motor.)

US carmaker Ford Motor is asking the Biden administration to speed up the permitting process for mining projects, particularly those targeting critical metals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite.

In a letter to the Department of the Interior on Tuesday, the auto maker said the current “lengthy, costly and inefficient permitting process” makes it difficult for American businesses to invest in the extraction and processing of critical minerals in the country.

Chris Smith, chief of government affairs, noted it takes up to 10 years to complete the current permitting requirements for critical mineral mining in the US. In Canada and Australia, similar processes take two to three years “while maintaining stringent environmental standards,” he wrote, according to Automotive News.

The federal government should limit permitting to a similar timeline in the US and expand implementation of the Defense Production Act to expedite battery mineral projects on federal lands, Smith said. 

The company also asked the agency to fund research and mapping of critical mineral deposits in the US, increase transparency in the permitting process and include emissions assessments in permitting evaluations. 

The comment was in response to the Interior Department’s request for input as it develops recommendations related to mining laws.

Ford has inked a flurry of supply deals in recent months to accelerate its shift to electric vehicles (EVs).

The agreements include sourcing battery capacity and raw materials from such companies as Chinese battery maker CATL and Rio Tinto.

The company is also working with LG Energy Solution and its long-time battery partner SK Innovation.

Last month, the company said it had secured enough battery supply to build more than half a million EVs annually by late next year, a quantum leap above the 27,140 battery-powered cars it sold in the US last year. The firm has also signed contracts with suppliers representing 60 gigawatt hours of annual battery capacity.