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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Through the Gateway: Nickel – Powering Modern Technology

    Over the course of the last few weeks, we reviewed Nickel and its co-products Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium as part of our trip Through the Gateway.”

    We’ve established that the importance of each of the co-products is growing as the revolution in materials science advances. Meanwhile, our import dependence for each of the co-products is significant, and ranges from 58 percent for Palladium to 100 percent for Scandium.

    For Nickel, the U.S. domestic supply picture has recently changed, with our import dependence dropping from roughly 50 percent to currently 37 percent with new projects having come online.

    Here, too, new uses may increase demand going forward.  We already touched on Nickel’s alloying capabilities, which underscore its versatility and staying power. However, it is its application in battery technology that may become a game changer for the metal’s supply and demand going forward.

    In light of across-the-board predictions of higher battery use over the course of the next few years, and in particular in the consumer and electric vehicle segments, analysts see demand for its component metals – including Nickel – soaring.

    The bottom line – Gateway Metals not only provide us with access to many co-product metals that underpin modern technology.  They are also important building blocks of the 21st Century.  With our domestic manufacturers increasingly relying on a stable supply of Gateway Metals and their co-products, the time to devise a comprehensive mineral resource policy framework is now.

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  • Through the Gateway: Scandium Embodies Materials Science Revolution

    As we near the conclusion of our journey “Through the Gateway,” we noticed that one metal has kept popping up in our coverage – Scandium.

    co-product of Tin, we also discussed it in the context of the alloying properties of Gateway Metal Aluminum. It is also a co-product of Nickel.

    There is good reason it keeps popping up. For one, while on paper, Scandium resources may in fact be abundant, it is rarely concentrated in nature, making commercially viable deposits extremely rare. Because it is at present largely recovered as a co-product during the processing of various Gateway Metals, including Tin and Nickel, total global production rates are quite low (see our previous post).  Scandium may also be present in certain Copper and Rare Earth deposits.

    Enter Scandium’s high tech applications – perhaps most importantly Scalmalloy, the state-of-the-art lightweight aluminum alloy powder with almost the strength of titanium, which perfectly illustrates the ongoing revolution in materials science.

    In light of these and other relevant high-tech applications for Scandium, some expect demand to soar as high as by 800% over the next decade. Unsurprisingly, several mining companies – most recently in Russia and Australia – have thrown their hats into the ring, and are looking to go into the business of primary Scandium recovery.  In the U.S., which is currently 100% import dependent to meet our domestic Scandium needs and has to rely on Kazakhstan, and Russia, developers of multi-metallic deposits are also studying the inclusion of scandium recovery into their project plans.

    A key challenge – as we have frequently lamented - lies in the fact that resource development cannot happen overnight, especially in a regulatory environment that does not encourage the harnessing of our domestic resource potential.

    How the new projects coming online will affect supply and demand remains to be seen, particularly as the materials science revolution continues to yield new research breakthroughs and applications for tech metals.  However, the bottom line is – if Scandium is not yet on your radar, it needs to be.

    As we previously pointed out: 

    [T]he question is whether U.S. scandium dependency will deepen — or whether U.S. policymakers will understand that resource development policy is key to American innovators’ access to another critical metal.

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  • Through the Gateway: Rhodium – Not Just Another Platinum Group Metal

    A rare, silvery white, hard and corrosion-resistant metal, Rhodium is not only one of Palladium’s fellow members of the Platinum Group Metals (PGMs); it, too, happens to be a Nickel co-product.  And, as is the case with Palladium, one of Rhodium’s main uses is in catalytic converters to reduce automobile emissions, as well as in industrial catalysts. Alloyed with [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Palladium – A Catalyst For Comprehensive Resource Policy?

    For some, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the word Palladium is boots – made popular by the French Legion and the Grunge movement of the 1990s. Others may be more familiar with the element Palladium, a member of the Platinum-Group Metals (PGMs), and as ARPN would argue, of greater interest to us [...]
  • Presentation: Lithium Ion’s Role In the Energy Storage Revolution – The Impact on Raw Materials

    ARPN expert and Benchmark Minerals Managing Director Simon Moores hosted a great event on critical minerals and their applications in energy storage technology in Washington, DC last month.  He graciously allowed us to share his introductory presentation on “Lithium ion’s role in the Energy Storage Revolution: The impact on raw materials.” Focusing on Lithium, Graphite [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Cobalt – A Critical Mineral Under Scrutiny

    A lustrous, silvery blue, hard ferromagnetic, brittle element, Cobalt’s physical properties are similar to Iron and Nickel. It forms various compounds, stable in air and unaffected by water.  Main uses include many alloys, including superalloys used in aircraft engine parts and high-speed steels, as well as magnets, and catalysts, to name but a few. It’s [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Rio Tinto Partners with Critical Materials Institute (CMI) in Research Partnership to Recover Wide Range of Gateway Metals from Domestic Resources

    For the past few months, the American Resources Policy Network has highlighted the concept of “Gateway Metals” and “Co-Products” in the context of our “Through the Gateway”-campaign.  It would appear that people in government and the business community are taking note:  The Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI) has just announced it will join with global mining and minerals company Rio [...]
  • Through The Gateway: A Look at Gateway Metals, Co-Products and the Foundations of American Technology

    The following is an overview of our “Through the Gateway” informational campaign, in which we outline the importance of Gateway Metals and their Co-Products. Here, we expand on the findings of our “Gateway Metals and the Foundations of American Technology” report, in which we focused on a group of five “Gateway Metals,” which are not only critical to manufacturing and [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Nickel – “The Metal that Brought You Cheap Flights”

    “It made the age of cheap foreign holidays possible, and for years it was what made margarine spreadable. Nickel may not be the flashiest metal but modern life would be very different without it.”  We couldn’t have introduced our next Gateway Metal any better than the BBC did in a feature story on Nickel and [...]
  • Graphite: At the Core of Your Pencil, 21st Century Technology, and Geopolitical Resource Warfare

    It may be its most well-known use, but Graphite today is at the core of more than just your pencil – it is at the core of 21st Century consumer technology.  Just ask Elon Musk. The Tesla Motors CEO and futurist recently insinuated that the label “Lithium-Ion battery” may actually be a misnomer for the batteries that power [...]

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