Cobalt is an essential element in electric vehicle batteries .  -  IMAGE: Getty Images/urbazon

Cobalt is an essential element in electric vehicle batteries.

IMAGE: Getty Images/urbazon

Decades after the last U.S. cobalt mine closed, an Idaho mine has opened to help meet increased demand for electric car batteries.

As the U.S. government pushes for more North America production of EV batteries and the raw materials required to make them, more plants are cropping up here.

The new cobalt mine, owned by Jervois Global in Australia, could be joined by at least half a dozen others that have applied for permits from the U.S. Forest Service to operate in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, which is on the Idaho Cobalt Belt.

Cobalt is an essential ingredient for lithium-ion batteries that go in EVs.

The U.S. is encouraging construction of a North American EV supply chain via federal tax credits for EVs built in North America, with batteries made on the continent, and with battery minerals made or recycled here. The push is intended to eliminate the country’s dependence on Asia, particularly China, for EV batteries and materials.

A U.S. delegation met with Mexican government officials in September to encourage integration of the two countries' supply chains and to expand EV production by way of Mexico’s nationalized lithium industry.

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