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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Measuring Criticality in Today’s Interconnected World

    Against the backdrop of the current U.S.-Chinese tensions over Rare Earth Elements and the global battery arms race, Morgan D. Bazilian, Professor of Public Policy and Executive Director of the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines, argues that the United States must “widen its consideration of critical materials past a limited understanding of security in a deeply interconnected world.”

    In a post for Scientific American, Bazilian retraces trends and events in the critical minerals sphere and points to the shortcomings of methodologies applied to date to measure criticality of metals and minerals. Writes Bazilian:

    “But how do we measure security or criticality in a meaningful way? The methodology used in the U.S. list essentially boils down to if it is deemed “essential” and if it is estimated to have a supply chain risk. Neither of those hurdles is precise, so proxies are used. That is typical in security assessments of all kinds.”

    Comparing various approaches used around the world and drawing from examples from the energy sector, he concludes:

    “The future will likely bring more globally interdependent markets and systems. As a result, it is useful to further encourage new quantitative and qualitative approaches to the issues of security and criticality—in both minerals and energy. Additionally, some of the tools developed during the early oil shocks, such as the development of the International Energy Agency, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and sending the Navy’s Fifth Fleet to protect key supply choke points (such as the Strait of Hormuz), are now being considered to protect access to critical materials.

    Finally, policy must take into consideration issues across the supply chain from raw materials through final manufacturing in an interconnected world. A narrow focus on domestic ‘dominance’ will not be sufficient, nor useful in addressing mineral criticality. The lessons from the energy sector are attractive as an analogy—a thoughtful application in a very different sector is required.”

    One should note that the piece was written before the release of the Commerce Department’s Critical Minerals Strategy in early June, which itself has made recommendations on how to improve assessments, such as to make supply chain networks more robust “so that domestically produced critical minerals can support our Nation’s economic security and national defense.”

    For example, the strategy calls for an “an interagency methodology to periodically assess market trends and competitiveness of the U.S. critical mineral industry and its downstream supply chains in order to recommend policies and strategies such as government investment in R&D, capacity expansion, stockpiling, and trade actions.”

    That not withstanding, Bazilian’s points of how to measure criticality – and particularly his emphasis on factoring in the degrees of interconnectivity in today’s globalized world remain valid – and provide some important food for thought as the debate over critical mineral resource security continues to heat up. 

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  • U.S. to Cooperate with Canada and Australia To Encourage Responsible Resource Development for New Energy Technology

    Amidst growing concerns over the availability of metals and minerals underpinning the EV revolution, the United States, Canada and Australia have joined forces to encourage the responsible development of said materials.

    As the Financial Times reported earlier last week, the US state department and its Canadian and Australian counterparts “will work to help countries discover and understand their mineral resources. They will advise on management and governance  frameworks that will attract international investment and support good environmental and social policies.”

    China – itself no stranger to playing politics with its position of strength in the resource realm – has long been jockeying for pole position in this area, for good reason. As Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of experts stated earlier with respect to EV battery technology: “whoever controls these supply chains controls industrial power in the 21st century.”

    The move for greater international cooperation comes as the threat of China playing the REE card looms larger than ever, as we discussed earlier last week.

    While potentially at the brink of seeing REE supply disruptions for military equipment firms, the United States appears to have awaken to the realities of 21st Century resource policies. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce released its Critical Minerals Strategy calling for “unprecedented action to ensure that the United States will not be cut off from these vital materials.”

    The cooperative push by the U.S. State Department may be separate from that effort, but ties into the overall realization that the materials science revolution requires are more comprehensive, strategic and concerted approach to resource policy than that pursued by the United States to date. 

    Meanwhile, Europe is also stepping up its mineral resource game, particularly in the EV realm.

    Against this backdrop, U.S. action becomes all the more urgent.  It is not too late yet. Says Moores:

    “There is no doubt that if the US acts now and invests wisely in partnerships, it can catch up, (…) [b]ut it really needs to act now.”

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  • Resource Alert:  North of 60 Mining News Has Launched “Critical Minerals Alaska” Magazine and Dedicated Webpage

    Over the past few weeks, China’s threat to play the “rare earths card” has generated quite a buzz and, along with growing concerns over supply chains for battery tech, has directed much-needed attention to our nation’s over-reliance on foreign mineral resources.  As followers of ARPN know, many of these issues are in fact home-grown, as the United [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress – Penn State University Launches Center for Critical Minerals

    Against the backdrop of a growing awareness of our over-reliance on foreign mineral resources — one need to look no further than the current coverage of China’s threat to play the “rare earths card” — Penn State University is launching a Center for Critical Minerals. Under the auspices of the College of Earth and Mineral [...]
  • Trade Tensions Underscore Need for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    While 2018 brought the inter-relationship between trade and resource policy to the forefront, this trend is continuing in 2019.   Last week, the White House announced sanctions on Iranian metals, which represent the Tehran regime’s biggest source of export revenue aside from petroleum.  The sanctions on Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors represent the [...]
  • Lawmakers Introduce New Legislation Aimed at Changing United States’ “Bystander” Status in Race for Critical Minerals

    As pressures mount for the United States to bolster its position as a non-fuel mineral raw materials producer amidst the ongoing battery tech revolution, a group of U.S. Senators have introduced legislation to boost domestic production of critical minerals. The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and [...]
  • U.S. To Pursue National Electric Vehicle Supply Chain

    ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores must have struck a nerve when he called the U.S. a “bystander” in the current battery arms race during a recent Congressional hearing. His message  —  “Those who control these critical raw materials and those who possess the manufacturing and processing know how, will [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress – Advances in Metals and Minerals Research May Yield Breakthrough in Quest for Fusion Power

    “Thousands of years ago, humans discovered they could heat rocks to get metal, and it defined an epoch. Later, we refined iron into steel, and it changed the course of civilization. More recently, we turned petroleum into plastic, with all that implies. Whenever we create new materials that push the limits of what’s possible, we [...]
  • Today: Three Members of ARPN Expert Panel to Discuss Battery Tech Materials and Supply Chains at Miller Thomson’s PDAC 2019

    Bearing testimony of the immense importance of the issue of battery tech materials and their supply chains, three members of the ARPN panel of issue experts will be presenting their viewpoints at a seminar hosted by Miller Thomson as part of their PDAC 2019 Series hosted in Toronto, Canada today. Simon Moores, Managing Director of [...]
  • “Something Does not Come from Nothing” – Formulation of Mineral Resource Strategy Should be a Precursor to Green Energy Debate

    “Something does not come from nothing. That fact can be easily forgotten when it comes to seemingly abstract concepts like ‘energy,’” writes Angela Chen in a new piece for technology news and media network The Verge. Chen zeroes in on four key metals and minerals that have become indispensable components of green energy technology – Neodymium, [...]

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