WASHINGTON — Ford Motor Co. and Rivian are urging the federal government to expedite the permitting process for U.S. critical mineral mining projects that support domestic battery production for electric vehicles.
In comments submitted Tuesday to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Ford said the permitting process for mining projects that support high-capacity battery manufacturing "should be no longer than three years."
"Today's lengthy, costly and inefficient permitting process makes it difficult for American businesses to invest in the extraction and processing of critical minerals in the United States," Chris Smith, Ford's chief government affairs officer, said in a letter to the department.
Current U.S. permitting requirements for critical mineral production can take up to 10 years, he said. "In contrast, Canada and Australia have adopted mineral permitting policies that enable producers to complete the process in two to three years, while maintaining stringent environmental standards."
Ford is calling for expanding the use of the Defense Production Act to authorize expedited proposals that support battery projects on federal lands as well as improving transparency in the permitting process.
The automaker also is urging the government to fund research and geomapping of critical mineral deposits throughout the U.S., including directing DPA funds for Energy Department research into how the domestic resource base could meet the needs of the auto industry as it seeks to produce more EVs and batteries here.
Ford also wants the government to make sure U.S.-based mining companies and downstream users are committed to social and environmental principles.
"If we enable American critical mineral production to perform at full potential, our nation can enjoy enormous economic growth, new job opportunities and solidified supply chain security while simultaneously fueling ambitious emission reduction goals and providing customers with innovative, high-performing vehicles," Smith said.
EV newcomer Rivian Automotive Inc., in its comments to the department, also called for modernizing mining laws and expediting the permitting timeline as it focuses on ramping up production at its plant in Normal, Ill., and starting construction on a second plant in Georgia.
"We are encouraged by the discussion to help expand and accelerate domestic mineral development while also protecting our bedrock environmental laws and special places like National Parks and Wilderness," Rivian said.
"Much of the nickel, lithium, copper and cobalt reserves in the U.S. are located on or near tribal land," the EV startup continued, "so tribal consultation in the form of free, prior and informed consent must also be central to any update to our domestic mining laws."
The Interior Department requested information from the public in March to potentially improve federal hardrock mining regulations, laws and permitting processes.