-->
American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • State Department Hopeful More Nations Will Join Energy Resource Governance Initiative in the Wake of COVID

    ***posted by Daniel McGroarty***

    As demand for renewable energy continues to grow despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of State hopes to expand the Energy Resource Governance Initiative (ERGI) – an initiative launched last year by the United States and joined by ten other countries, including Canada, Australia and Brazil – aimed at improving supply chain security for the metals and minerals underpinning green energy technology. 

    Under the initiative announced in June, the U.S. ”will share mining expertise with member countries to help them discover and develop their minerals such as lithium, copper and cobalt, as well as advise on management and governance frameworks to help ensure their industries are attractive to international investors.”

    Earlier this month, Frank Fannon, a top-ranking U.S. energy diplomat, told Reuters that “[w]e are very much looking to expand ERGI to include other governments as well as governmental institutions,” stating that he has been in talks with the European Commission, and that an expansion of the initiative could “include emerging-economy countries around the world, as well as Japan and other developed countries in Asia with strong energy demand.” 

    The announcement ties into broader efforts to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign (and especially Chinese) critical raw materials in the post-COVID context now gaining momentum in Washington, D.C., several of which ARPN’s own Sandra Wirtz outlined in an op-ed for The Economic Standard last week: 

    “The new urgency is exemplified by new legislation introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas): The Onshoring Rare Earths Act of 2020, or ORE Act, seeks to reduce U.S. reliance on China for critical minerals. Defined as the 17 rare earths, plus four key minerals underpinning battery technology (lithium, cobalt, graphite and manganese), the ‘Cruz Criticals’ are key to establishing a domestic supply chain. The bill proposes a series of measures aimed at encouraging domestic mineral production, and strengthens existing federal statutes prohibiting rare earth magnet sourcing from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. Recognizing that mineral production can take many forms, from traditional mining to recycling, reclamation from legacy mines, coal waste and even fracking water, it also sets up a federally-funded pilot program for traditional mining of critical minerals as well as what Cruz terms ‘secondary recovery projects.’  (…)

    Meanwhile, the Department of Energy (DOE) is broadening its target list to include the above-referenced building blocks of battery tech. In a list close in composition to the Cruz Criticals, DOE is asking for project proposals to develop, in cooperation with its technology hubs, next generation technologies to extract, separate and process ‘key critical materials’: five rare earths — neodymium, praesodymium, dysprosium, terbium, and samarium — as well as cobalt, lithium, manganese, and natural graphite.

    At the White House, two new Executive Orders take aim at strategic materials and critical mineral development.  One Order, directing an executive branch review to reduce the regulatory burdens under NEPA — the longstanding National Environmental Policy Act — in order to speed infrastructure, energy and mining projects, has triggered threats of legal action that, if successful, could stop the regulatory review even before it begins. While receiving far less media attention, the second Executive Order, delegating Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III emergency authorities to the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, including the authority to underwrite loans to support strategic material production, could prove more meaningful.  And unlike a standard-issue Executive Order, which can be undone by a successor president with the stroke of a pen, the DPA allows any president to delegate authorities by law — without requiring Congressional approval.”  

    This list of initiatives provides a snapshot, and several additional pieces of legislation aimed at reducing U.S. mineral resource dependencies have been introduced.

    As Wirtz closed last week’s op-ed: 

    “All of which is to say that, after long period of inaction, the U.S. Government seems to be viewing strategic materials and critical minerals issues with a new seriousness.  That’s a welcome development.  COVID, with its sudden disruption of supply chains, should be the last warning the U.S. needs to bolster our mineral resource security going forward.”

    Read the full op-ed here.

    Share
  • ARPN’s Wirtz: “COVID Should Be the Last Warning the U.S. Needs to Bolster Mineral Resource Security”

    ***Posted by Daniel McGroarty***

    “The current coronavirus pandemic has exposed significant supply chain challenges associated with our over-reliance on foreign (and especially Chinese) raw materials,”  writes ARPN’s Sandra Wirtz in a new piece for The Economic Standard:  

    “PPE has become the poster child, but whether it’s smart phone technology, solar panels, electric vehicles, or fighter jets — critical minerals are integrated into all aspects of U.S. supply chains. And, in spite of the fact that the United States is rich in mineral resources, we have maneuvered ourselves into a situation where we often find ourselves at the mercy of China.”

    Outlining the genesis and extent of our over-reliance on largely Chinese-sourced mineral resources, Wirtz argues that while the main focus has been on rare earths, our supply chain vulnerabilities stretch far beyond, as evidenced most recently by the findings of the new World Bank report on “The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition.”

    With COVID as the catalyst, that message is resonating with U.S. policymakers, in the Cabinet Departments and at the White House. Wirtz outlines several current policy initiatives aimed at alleviating our supply chain vulnerabilities:

    • U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s Onshoring Rare Earths Act of 2020, or ORE Act, which defines ‘critical minerals’ as the 17 Rare earths plus four key minerals underpinning battery tech;  
    • the expansion of the Department of Energy’s “target list” for project proposals to develop next gen extraction, separation and processing technologies for five rare earths plus cobalt, lithium, manganese and natural graphite; and
    • two new Executive Orders which would promote domestic mineral resource development. 

    She closes:

    “All of which is to say that, after long period of inaction, the U.S. Government seems to be viewing strategic materials and critical minerals issues with a new seriousness.  That’s a welcome development.  COVID, with its sudden disruption of supply chains, should be the last warning the U.S. needs to bolster our mineral resource security going forward.”

    Read the full piece here.

    Share
  • Demand for Certain Metals and Minerals to Increase by Nearly 500%, According to New World Bank Study

    At ARPN, we have long argued that the current push towards a lower-carbon future is not possible without mining, as green energy technology relies heavily on a score of critical metals and minerals. The World Bank’s latest report, entitled “The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition,” published earlier this week in the context of the [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty for The Economic Standard: Red Swan – a Leaked 2010 Cable on Critical Infrastructure/Key Resource Vulnerabilities Provided Warning Signs We Failed To Act On

    In a new piece for The Economic Standard, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argues that while the “intellectual shrug” of “who could have seen this coming” tends to be a common reaction to our new normal of sheltering in place and social distancing, there were warning signs for a coming crisis we failed to recognize for what they were, and act [...]
  • New Chart Unveils Supply Chain Weaknesses for Manganese, a Critical Input for EV Technology

    Testifying before the U.S Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in February 2019, ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores sounded the alarm on the supply chains of metals and minerals that are key components of battery technology and energy storage. Arguing that we were in the middle [...]
  • As Beijing Sees Coronavirus Pandemic as Opportunity to Weaken U.S. Position, America Should Bolster Domestic Mineral Supply Chains

    Earlier this month, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argued that while the current focus on ending the dangerous dependence on critical medicines needed to combat COVID-19 is more than warranted, Congress and the administration “may want to broaden their focus from critical medicines to critical minerals.” In a new piece published in the Duluth News Tribune, Michael Stumo, [...]
  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty for RealClearPolitics: “Time to Reduce Reliance on China for Medicine AND Critical Minerals”

    In a new piece for RealClear Politics, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argues that while the current focus on ending the dangerous dependence on critical medicines needed to combat COVID-19 is more than warranted, Congress and the administration “may want to broaden their focus from critical medicines to critical minerals.” Read his full piece here: Getting Critical [...]
  • A Mineral Resource Policy for 2020 – New Year’s Resolutions for Resource Policy Stakeholders

    We realize that New Year’s resolutions are somewhat controversial.  Some say, they‘re not worth the paper they’re written on – but we feel that whether or not we implement all of them, they offer a good opportunity to both step back to reflect and set goals as we look at the big picture ahead. And that [...]
  • Lithium: Battery Arms Race Powers R&D Efforts in Quest for Domestic Mineral Resources

    As the “tech wars” gear up and the “battery arms race” shifts in to higher gears, efforts to promote the securing of domestic critical mineral supply chains are not only underway in policy circles in Washington, DC, but in the private sector as well.  Companies including the world’s top diversified miners are intensifying their R&D efforts [...]
  • Against Backdrop of Battery Arms Race, Chemists Receive Nobel Prize for Work on Lithium-Ion Technology

    Critical minerals are a hot button issue.  Materials that long seemed obscure like Rare Earths, Lithium, Cobalt, Graphite, and Nickel have entered the mainstream and are making headlines every day.   Against the backdrop of the ongoing materials science revolution and the intensifying battery arms race, it is only fitting that this month, three pioneers of Lithium-ion battery technology [...]

Archives