-->
American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 global lender’s “Climate-Smart Mining” initiative, confirms this notion, and estimates that production of metals and minerals like graphite, lithium and cobalt will have to increase by nearly 500 percent by 2050 to meet global demand for renewable energy technology.  To achieve the transition to a below 2°C pathway as outlined by the Paris Agreement, the deployment of wind, solar and geothermal power, as well as energy storage will require more than three billion tons of minerals and metals.

    Interestingly, the report finds that while shifting to clean energy technology will be mineral-intensive, the carbon footprint of their production “will account for only 6% of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by fossil fuel technologies.” While recycling and re-use of metals and minerals will play an important role in increasing mineral demand, even drastic increases in this category will not suffice to meet demand for renewable energy technology and energy storage.

    Published against the backdrop of the global coronavirus pandemic, which, according to World Bank Global Director for Energy and Extractive Industries and Regional Director for Infrastructure in Africa, Riccardo Puliti, “could represent an additional risk to sustainable mining,” the report, and the Climate-Smart Initiative as a whole, seek to offer a “data-driven tool for understanding how this shift will impact future mineral demand.”  

    As economies — particularly in developing nations, many of which are home to the critical materials used in battery technology — start to reopen, the initiative seeks to help these nations “to mine those commodities in a sustainable manner to avert major ecological damage.”

    The World Bank’s Climate Smart Mining initiative is one facet of approaches taken to sustainably green our future, but, as we recently outlined, it does not end here. In an effort to offset some of the carbon costs of resource development, mining companies have started to incorporate renewable power sources into their operations.  Some recent examples include:

    • Rio Tinto looking at incorporating renewables and battery storage into its main mining sites in Australia, for example as part of its $1 billion upgrade for its Pilbara ore project

    • Fortescue Metals having partnered with a power utility to – with the backing of the Australian federal government – help power its Pilbara operations with solar energy and battery storage

    • Gold Fields planning to predominantly operate its Agnew gold mine in Western Australia (WA) using renewable energy by partnering with a global energy group and investing in an energy micro grid combining wind, solar, gas and battery storage

    • Antofagasta partnering with a utility company to turn its Zaldívar mine into the first 100% renewable energy-powered Chilean mine with a mix of hydro, solar and wind power

    • Rio Tinto looking to reduce its carbon footprint at its Kennecott Utah copper mine by as much as 65% through the purchase of renewable energy certificates 

    As challenging as the global post-COVID-19 environment will be, it also holds opportunity.  As Dr. Morgan Bazilian, Director of the Payne Institute and Professor of Public Policy, Colorado School of Mines told committee members during testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources chaired by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) last fall:

    “The future energy system will be far more mineral and metal-intensive than it is today. Many of these advanced technologies require minerals and metals with particular properties that have few to no current substitutes.

    The opportunity for the mining industry is tremendous. An industry that has experienced enormous public pressure and critique, accompanied by offshoring production overseas, can now evolve into one fundamental to supporting a shift to a low-carbon and sustainable energy system based on domestic natural resources.”

    Share
  • 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 were awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry.   Through their innovations, John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino, in the words of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences that awards the prestigious prize every year, “created a rechargeable world.” 

    A post for Quantamagazine’s Abstractions blog outlines some of the details of the research accomplishments by Goodenough, Whittingham and Yoshino, who, by building on each other’s work, developed a Lithium-ion battery that — unlike the ones used before — were safe, lightweight, and highly efficient. According to Quantamagazine: “That design is ubiquitous today, powering portable electronics and helping to shift the world’s energy infrastructure in a more sustainable direction, as it allows electricity produced from renewable sources, such as the sun and the wind, to be efficiently stored and put to work.”

    Ultimately, in a nutshell, Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized our lives since they first entered the market in 1991.  They have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society, and are of the greatest benefit to humankind.

    Battery technology indeed has come a long way since the three Nobel Prize winners began their work in the field in the 1970s. After Sony introduced the first commercialized the Lithium-ion battery in 1991, camcorders were the biggest driver of demand for several years. Laptops replaced camcorders as biggest source of demand by 2000, and by 2010, the smart phone was the biggest driver of demand for Lithium-ion battery technology.

    Recently, however, fueled in particular by the advent of the electric vehicle (EV), developments in the field of battery technology have been kicked into high gear.

    The fact that Goodenough, Whittingham and Yoshino have finally been recognized for their contributions to the advancement of Lithium-ion battery technology is a testament to these developments and to the growing realization that, in the words of Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and a member of the ARPN panel of experts: “we have reached a new gear in this energy storage revolution which is now having a profound impact on supply chains and the raw materials that fuel it.” 

    Commenting on this year’s Nobel Prize award, Prof. Dame Carol Robinson, president of the British Royal Society of Chemistry, stated that battery tech research will remain an exciting field: 

    “It’s not the end of the journey, as lithium is a finite resource and many scientists around the world are building on the foundations laid by these three brilliant chemists.” 

    As this year’s Lithium-ion laureates remind us, in the meantime, it will be up to U.S. policy makers to devise prudent policies aimed at streamlining U.S. resource policy against a growing sense that the United States is becoming a “bystander” in the current battery arms race.

    Share
  • 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 [...]
  • McGroarty Warns of Real World Problem for 21st Century American Warrior

    In a new commentary for Investor’s Business Daily, ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty warns of “America’s unilateral disarmament in the resource wars.”  Invoking the world of Marvel comics, in which Vibranium is the imaginary metal used for Captain America’s shield, IronMan’s exoskeleton, and Black Panther’s energy-absorbing suit, McGroarty argues that the 21st Century American warrior (perhaps [...]
  • U.S. Senate to Hold Hearing on Energy and Mineral Markets, Member of ARPN Expert Panel to Testify

    We’ve called it “the new black.” The Guardian even went as far as ringing in the “Ion Age.”  Bearing testimony to the growing importance of battery technology, the U.S. Senate will hold a hearing examining the outlook for energy and minerals markets in the 116th Congress on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 with an emphasis on battery [...]
  • Welcome to the “Ion Age”? The Ongoing Rise of Battery Technology

    Unless you’ve spent the last few years under a rock, you know that battery technology is the new black. With a new detailed “briefing” feature, The Guardian even goes as far as ringing in the “Ion Age” – a play on lithium-ion battery technology, which continues to make headlines. Writers Adam Vaughan and Samuel Gibbs [...]
  • A View From Across the Pond: European Resource Policy Through the Prism of a Low-Carbon Vision

    The recently-released Defense Industrial Base study, which once more has underscored the need for a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. resource policy, directed its focus on U.S. competitiveness primarily vis-à-vis China. Already vast and resource-rich, the country has demonstrated an insatiable appetite for the world’s mineral resources and has pursued an aggressive strategy to gain access [...]
  • Vanadium’s Time to Shine?

    Steve LeVine, Future Editor at Axios and Senior Fellow at The Atlantic Council, has called it “one of the most confounding areas of research” and a “technology that, while invented more than two centuries ago, is still frustrating scientists.”   It is also one of the areas where one of the key growth industries – [...]
  • Race to Control Battery Tech Underscores Need for Comprehensive Resource Policy 

    Against the backdrop of the ongoing electric vehicle revolution, automakers are increasingly forced to deal with the realities of resource supply.  One of these realities was spelled out in clear terms by a Wall Street Journal report which stated: “There’s a Global Race to Control Batteries – and China is Winning.  Chinese companies dominate the [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: CMI Expands Collaborative Research Focus to Include Lithium and Cobalt

    The Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a Department of Energy research hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory, is expanding its research on tech metals “as rapid growth in electric vehicles drives demand for lithium, cobalt.” According to a recent Ames Lab press release, the Institute will focus on maximizing the efficiency of processing, usage and [...]
  • Archives