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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.

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  • 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 addressing its largely hollowed-out production capacity against the backdrop of surging critical materials needs.

    In an attempt to address current and future challenges, the European Commission earlier this month released its Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials, and an updated version of its List of Critical Raw Materials. The EU body also unveiled a foresight study on critical raw materials for strategic technologies and sectors from the 2030 and 2050 perspectives.

    As Andy Home, senior metals columnist for Reuters, writes in a column for the news agency, Europe’s strategy — and the underlying critical raw materials list — is similar to that of the United States, and “largely boils down to (…) find, mine, refine and recycle.”

    He adds:

    “However, as the United States is already learning with rare earths, building an entire supply chain from scratch is a tricky business.”

    Home uses lithium, newly added to the 2020 List of Critical Raw Materials, as an example, arguing that while the EU Commission estimates that by 2025, 80% of Europe’s lithium demand could be supplied from European sources, this target seems “highly ambitious given finding and mining the lithium is the (relatively) easy part. Refining it into chemical form and then making lithium-ion batteries is the hard part and the technical expertise currently resides in Asia, particularly China.”

    In order to address this challenge for lithium and other critical materials, strategic partnerships with friendly trading partners will have to be leveraged, and the EU has made clear that in this context, it will be looking primarily to Canada and Australia.

    The news of Europe shifting its supply chain overhaul into high gear should serve as another reminder for U.S. policy makers that we can’t admire the problem any longer because “we don’t have the luxury of time.”

    Partisanship in a highly contentious election year may make consensus on these issues even more challenging — but for the sake of our national security and economic wellbeing, prioritizing the re-shoring and securing of our critical mineral supply chains cannot wait.

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  • 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 [...]
  • U.S.-Canadian Critical Minerals Collaboration Moves Into Next Round

    It’s official. On January 9, 2020, the governments of the United States and Canada formally announced the finalization of the Canada-U.S. Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration to advance “our mutual interest in securing supply chains for the critical minerals needed for important manufacturing sectors, including communication technology, aerospace and defence, and clean technology.” [...]
  • India and the Tech Wars: Ripple Effects of the Confrontation over Who Will Dominate the 21st Century Tech Age

    While most of the headlines regarding the trade war between the United States and China — and, for ARPN followers, the underlying tech war over who which country will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age — focus on the main players in Washington, DC and Beijing, the ripple effects of this confrontation can be felt [...]
  • Canada and U.S. to Draft “Joint Action Plan” on Rare Earths / Critical Minerals

    After years of missed opportunities to prioritize mineral resource policy, the U.S. government is stepping up its efforts to secure critical mineral resource supply chains.   The latest case in point is the drafting of a “joint action plan” with our neighbors to the North to reduce reliance on Chinese supplies of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) — which, [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty: Trade War Between U.S. And China One Front in Larger Tech War for Dominance of 21st Century Technology Age

    “The specter of using rare earths as an economic weapon makes clear that the current trade war between the U.S. and China is in fact one front in a larger tech war – a competition to see which country will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age,” says ARPN principal Dan McGroarty in a new piece [...]
  • Metals in the Spotlight – Aluminum and the Intersection between Resource Policy and Trade

    While specialty and tech metals like the Rare Earths and Lithium continue to dominate the news cycles, there is a mainstay metal that has – for good reason – been making headlines as well: Aluminum.  Bloomberg recently even argued that “Aluminum Is the Market to Watch Closely in 2019.”  Included in the 2018 list of 35 [...]
  • Trade Patterns May Stay, but Manufacturers and Consumers to Bear the Brunt of Current Tensions Over Aluminum and Steel

    A recent Bloomberg story we featured last week put a face on the specter of trade war over aluminum and steel, and retraced the history of this symbiotic U.S.- Canadian trade relationship and what our very own Dan McGroarty has called the “world’s most integrated defense industrial base.”   Digging a little deeper, a new Wall [...]
  • Arvida, Quebec – Putting a Face on the Specter of Trade War Over Aluminum and Steel

    Last month, our very own Dan McGroarty argued in a piece for Investor’s Business Daily that the escalation of the trade war over U.S.-imposed trade tariffs on Canadian made aluminum and steel has serious implications not only for our economy, but also for the U.S. defense industrial base.  In it, he outlined the genesis of [...]

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