Congressional Leaders Urge President Biden and the Department of Defense to Consider Polymetallic Nodules for U.S. Critical Mineral Supplies and National Security

  • In a letter to President Biden and the Pentagon, nine members of Congress urged the Administration to “keep all options on the table, including deep-sea opportunities, in assessing polymetallic nodules as a viable resource to secure critical minerals and close national security vulnerabilities.”
  • In June, the House Armed Services Committee directed the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy “to assess processing of seabed resources of polymetallic nodules domestically” under the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
  • The news comes as American and allied auto and battery makers struggle to secure supplies of critical battery metals that comply with guidelines for incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act.

NEW YORK, July 31, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — TMC the metals company Inc. (Nasdaq: TMC) (“TMC” or the “Company”), an explorer of the world’s largest estimated undeveloped source of critical battery metals, today welcomed a letter from Congressional leaders and several members of the House Armed Services Committee urging the Biden Administration to assess domestic processing of seafloor polymetallic nodules as a means to secure key energy transition metals and “close national security vulnerabilities.”

In the letter, addressed to both President Biden and Secretary of Defense Austin, the House members led by Robert J. Wittman (R-VA 1st District), wrote: “Currently, the United States relies significantly on foreign nations, many of them unfriendly and with nonexistent labor and environmental standards, to meet the United States’ present critical mineral demands. Additionally, China dominates much of the international critical mineral supply chain on land and is now ramping up focus on seafloor resources known to be the largest estimated source of metals like cobalt, nickel and manganese, presenting a national security vulnerability for the United States…Recently, China has taken aggressive and brazen steps to secure and process seabed resources of polymetallic nodules into strategic planning for national security. Currently, Chinese companies hold 5 out of 31 International Seabed Authority (ISA) contracts for exploration and development – more than any other country.”

In March, China’s state-owned newspaper China Daily recognized TMC’s leadership position in the industry and announced its intention to invest further into the development of technologies to responsibly and economically recover seafloor polymetallic nodules.

While the U.S. holds no such contracts as it has yet to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Members wrote: “there remains an opportunity to evaluate domestic processing and refining of seafloor resources from the contracts held by allied parties and domestic partners in international waters.”

TMC Chairman and CEO, Gerard Barron, said, “The U.S. faces an acute shortage of domestic supply and processing of critical lithium-ion battery cathode materials like cobalt, nickel, manganese, and we welcome the growing recognition in Washington of the narrowing window that exists to make material changes to how and from where the U.S. sources the metals that it will need in vast quantities for the energy transition, and other critical sectors. By onshoring primary processing and refining of nodules, the U.S. could secure supply and achieve mineral independence in four metals critical for the clean energy trainsition, support domestic companies and jobs, and drastically reduce the environmental and social impacts that currently plague geopolitically-complex battery material supply chains.” 

In February 2022, TMC welcomed the recognition from US political and military leaders of the potential of deep-sea nodules to strengthen national security and re-shore supply chains for the energy transition. In March last year, Mr. Barron wrote to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, in which he noted, “Support from the U.S. Government for the development of the polymetallic nodules resource and TMC’s first project, NORI-D, would unlock access to the resource without overcoming legislative hurdles to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

Previously, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a leader on energy and critical minerals issues in the U.S. Senate, wrote a letter urging the Department of Energy to focus on securing access to battery raw materials and explore the potential of polymetallic nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone of the Pacific. In reply, Secretary Granholm confirmed, “Ongoing R&D on critical battery minerals processing through the DOE Office of Science and the Advanced Manufacturing Office is applicable to potential U.S. domestic processing and refining of metallic marine nodules…DOE is continuing to work with interagency partners to consider all potential sources of critical minerals for the supply chain including the role that seabed nodules could play in the future.” 

About The Metals Company 
The Metals Company is an explorer of lower-impact battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules, on a dual mission: (1) supply metals for the clean energy transition with the least possible negative environmental and social impact and (2) accelerate the transition to a circular metal economy. The Company through its subsidiaries holds exploration and commercial rights to three polymetallic nodule contract areas in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean regulated by the International Seabed Authority and sponsored by the governments of Nauru, Kiribati and the Kingdom of Tonga. 

More Info
Media |
Investors | 

Forward Looking Statements
Certain statements made in this press release are not historical facts but are forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements generally are accompanied by words such as “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “should,” “would,” “plan,” “predict,” “potential,” “seem,” “seek,” “future,” “outlook” and similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters. These forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Most of these factors are outside TMC’s control and are difficult to predict. Factors that may cause such differences include, but are not limited to: regulatory uncertainties and the impact of government regulation and political instability on TMC’s resource activities; changes to any of the laws, rules, regulations or policies to which TMC is subject; the impact of extensive and costly environmental requirements on TMC’s operations; environmental liabilities; the impact of polymetallic nodule collection on biodiversity in the CCZ and recovery rates of impacted ecosystems; TMC’s ability to develop minerals in sufficient grade or quantities to justify commercial operations; the lack of development of seafloor polymetallic nodule deposit; uncertainty in the estimates for mineral resource calculations from certain contract areas and for the grade and quality of polymetallic nodule deposits; risks associated with natural hazards; uncertainty with respect to the specialized treatment and processing of polymetallic nodules that TMC may recover; risks associated with collective, development and processing operations; fluctuations in transportation costs; testing and manufacturing of equipment; risks associated with TMC’s limited operating history; risks associated with TMC’s intellectual property; and other risks and uncertainties, including those under Item 1A “Risk Factors” in TMC’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022, filed by TMC with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on March 27, 2023, and in TMC’s other future filings with the SEC. TMC cautions that the foregoing list of factors is not exclusive. TMC cautions readers not to place undue reliance upon any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. TMC does not undertake or accept any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect any change in its expectations or any change in events, conditions, or circumstances on which any such statement is based except as required by law.

Primary Logo

Leave a Comment