American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Has Canada Just Jump-Started its Electric Vehicle Sector? – A Look at the Recent Ford Canada Labor Deal Through the Prism of an Integrated North American Value Chain

    From a U.S. perspective, arguably the biggest news in the critical minerals sector in recent weeks has been U.S. President Trump’s latest executive order on critical minerals, which, according to analysts, is the first one in this field “that has the potential to bring some meaningful changes.”

    Aside from calling on the Department of the Interior to invoke the Defense Production Act to expand and strengthen our domestic mining and processing capacity, the order directs agencies to “prioritize the expansion and protection of the domestic supply chain for minerals and the establishment of secure critical minerals supply chains,” and to direct agency resources accordingly, to ensure that these “do not depend on resources or processing from foreign adversaries.”

    In its effort to secure U.S. supply chains, the U.S. will, among other things, leverage “cooperation and coordination with partners and allies, including the private sector” — an area into which the Trump administration has made forays in recent months with the signing of various cooperative agreements on critical minerals with Australia and Canada.

    The recently agreed-upon three-year labor deal between Unifor, the labor union that represents Canadian autoworkers, and Ford Motor Company of Canada Ltd, must be viewed in this context.

    Under the agreement, Ford will spend nearly $2 billion on its Canadian plants, including $1.8 billion toward the production of five electric vehicle models in its Oakville, Ontario plant, with production starting in 2025. The governments of Ontario and Canada, respectively, are contributing $295 million for a total spend of $590 million, towards retooling the Oakville EV plant.

    According to news reports, the upgrade of the plant will elevate Oakville into Ford Motor Company’s No 1. electric vehicle factory in North America.

    During the contract negotiations leading up to the agreement, in what constitutes a clear acknowledgment of the strategic importance of controlling the entire supply chain, Ontario’s premier Doug Ford made clear that the province was willing to invest to not only assemble EVs, but to also have battery manufacturing done in Ontario.

    The Canadian federal government’s investment into EV technology ties into its post-pandemic recovery plan. As Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains wrote earlier this fall in Policy Options magazine:

    “With Canada’s natural resources and skilled workforce providing a competitive advantage, we absolutely must support the development of the next generation of battery supply chains, right here in Canada. The ability of Canadian industry to pivot quickly has been on display since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a matter of months, Canadian manufacturers were able to retool their existing production lines and set up new manufacturing facilities to produce much-needed PPE and other critical supplies. There is no reason we cannot see the same kind of rapid retooling of existing facilities – and eventually the construction of new ones – to take on the manufacture of battery materials. Doing so would provide positive results across various sectors, including mining and critical minerals, automotive and bus manufacturers, research and development — all of which drive economic growth.”

    Now that the new U.S. Executive Order has declared a critical minerals “national emergency,” we will see whether Canada’s actions in the EV sector find an echo on the U.S. side of the border — and one that draws on the collective strengths of two of the world’s most technologically advanced democracies.

  • Panel Discussion: Stakeholders from Across the Political Aisle Agree Time to Secure Critical Mineral Supply Chains is Now

    At last week’s RealClearPolitics panel discussion sponsored by the National Mining Association, speakers discussed the extent of our nation’s critical mineral resource supply chain challenges.

    During the first panel, U.S. Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Penn.), who recently launched the bi-partisan Critical Materials Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, made the case for solving “this problem here in America.”

    While Rep. Swalwell underscored the role reclamation and leveraging our national research laboratories can play, Rep. Reschenthaler pointed to domestic mining and argued that “it is much better for the environment as a whole if we mine these [critical] elements here.” Both congressmen said they appreciated President Trump’s most recent executive order on critical minerals, but maintained that “more needs to be done to reduce permitting times for mining in the U.S. and expand U.S. production power.”

    Rep. Swalwell pointed to the need of congressional codification of the administration’s efforts to “make this a priority that lasts beyond any administration.”

    Issue experts Morgan Bazilian, Director of the Payne Institute, Professor of Public Policy, Colorado School of Mines; Joe Bryan, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council Global Energy Center; and Jane Nakano, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies, took the virtual stage after the congressmen, and echoed the sentiment that much more remained to be done.

    They also underscored the opportunity for the mining industry, which can play an important role underpinning the transition to a low-carbon future, which, as Mr. Bazilian stressed, will be resource-intensive. Ms. Nakano highlighted the challenges associated with the United States’ current permitting framework, arguing that while “[t]he U.S. is known for its abundant natural resources, including minerals and metals (…) [i]t is also known for its lengthy permitting process.”

    Stressing geopolitical, economic and national security implications, panelists went on to discuss efforts currently underway and possible future ways to address our critical mineral resource supply chain challenges.

    Bearing further testimony of the urgency of the situation, the U.S. House Republicans’ China Task Force, issued a new report earlier last week calling on Congress to take action to strengthen U.S. domestic critical minerals production as a means to combat China’s growing global influence.

    You can rewatch the complete panel discussion here.

    With the stakes ever-increasing, it is encouraging to see that even weeks before a highly politically charged election, policy makers from across the political spectrum can find agreement on the need to prioritize our nation’s critical material woes. As ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty has frequently pointed out“we have spent enough time admiring the problem.” The coming weeks will show if stakeholders will come together for an “immediate and active response on the part of the U.S. Government – one that will encourage American ingenuity, innovation and investment to bring new sources of supply into production.”

  • Critical Minerals and the Defense Industrial Base: Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Testifies Before Senate Armed Services Subcommittee

    Hours after President Donald Trump issued a new executive order declaring a national emergency on critical minerals, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support received testimony from Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord on the integrity of America’s critical minerals supply chains. Kicking off the hearing, (…) more

  • New Critical Minerals Executive Order Declares National Emergency, Invokes Defense Production Act

    In perhaps the strongest acknowledgment of the urgency of our critical mineral resource woes and over-reliance on foreign (and especially Chinese) supplies to date, U.S. President Donald Trump this week triggered rarely-used emergency government powers to address the issue. On his way to a campaign rally in Minnesota, the president on Wednesday signed an Executive (…) more

  • Scandium Has Yet to Go “Ballistic” — Will Recent Developments Change the Material’s Odds to Shine?

    “This obscure metal is going to go ballistic in a few years,” John Kaiser of Kaiser Research told the Investing News Network a few years ago. The metal he was referring to is Scandium — a material that is “as strong as titanium, as light as aluminum, and as hard as ceramic.” It’s a material (…) more

  • Europe Comes to Terms with Mineral Supply Challenges, Unveils Action Plan

    As the U.S. explores its options when it comes to diversifying our critical minerals supply chains away from China in the wake of COVID-19, Europe is coming to grips with its own mineral supply challenges. According to European metals association Eurometaux, the region “has reached a critical fork in the road,” as it grapples with (…) more

  • U.S. Over-Reliance on Critical Minerals — Are the Chickens Coming Home to Roost?

    The current coronavirus pandemic has shed a light on an inconvenient truth. We have become over-reliant on foreign (and especially Chinese) raw materials. As we previously outlined, “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 (…) more

  • Growing Mineral Resource Pressures in the Context of the Low-Carbon Transition Warrant “Domestic Mining Boom”

    “[G]aining full access to America’s domestic resources will be essential to our ability to grow, defend ourselves, and dominate in the energy world of tomorrow,” writes Forbes contributer Jude Clemente in a new piece for the publication, adding that “[w]e must finally get serious about America’s need for a mining revolution to give the wind, (…) more

  • “It’s Complicated.”   Reckoning with the Unique Material Inputs of the 5G Rollout

    As diplomatic and trade relations between the United States and China continue to deteriorate against the backdrop of the current coronavirus pandemic, the buildout of 5G technology is quickly becoming the new frontier in the tech war between the two global players.  5G is considered vital not only for 21st century telecommunications but also self-driving (…) more

  • Russia Pushes for Global Rare Earth Market Share as U.S. Struggles to Move Forward With Critical Minerals Initiatives

    Russia is certainly making headlines this week.  Quite obviously, much of the media attention is focused around President Vladimir Putin’s declaration that Russia has approved a vaccine for the coronavirus (after less than two months of testing) — but developments in the critical minerals realm also warrant attention: A top Russian government official has told (…) more