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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 Reuters that Russia plans an investment of $1.5 billion in rare earth minerals in its quest to become the biggest REE producer after China by 2030.

    The move comes at a time when other countries, including the United States, are trying to curb their over-reliance on foreign critical minerals against the backdrop of growing tensions with China, which has long held the pole position in the race to control the global REE supply chain.

    According to Reuters, Russia is looking to attract investors for eleven projects designed to increase the country’s share of global REE output to 10% by 2030, allowing for Russia to “become almost self-sufficient in rare earth elements by 2025 and start exports in 2026.”

    While it appeared that U.S. efforts to promote domestic critical mineral resource development were finally gaining traction in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic having laid bare our mineral resource supply chain challenges and over-reliance on foreign (and especially Chinese) supplies, policy may once more become the victim of politics in this watershed election year. 

    Reform-minded lawmakers have put forth several legislative initiatives, and have even formed a bipartisan “Critical Materials Caucus.”  However, while critical minerals provisions were added to the latest round of COVID relief stimulus packages, chances of their passage have been dwindling as partisan tensions continue to flare.
    As attempts to keep the momentum for resource-related policy reform appear to have come to an impasse in Congress, researchers are forging ahead to provide innovative solutions that not only transform the way we use certain metals and minerals, but have the potential to help alleviate our over-reliance issues. 

    The Department of Energy has stepped up its efforts to promote collaboration between its research hubs and the private sector to look for ways to diversify mineral resource supply, develop substitutes and drive recycling of critical minerals and rare earth elements. Some recent initiatives include “using a high-speed shredder that turns old computer hard drives into scrap containing significant amounts of REE content,” and “recovering nickel, cobalt and manganese from disassembled electric vehicle battery packs.”

    Meanwhile, in the private sector, a rare earths pilot plant processing facility situated in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, which will focus on group separation on REEs in to heavy, middle, and light rare earths, has received the required permits and officially opened. According to media reports“USA Rare Earth’s pilot plant is the second link in a 100% US-based rare earth oxide supply chain, drawing on feedstock from its Round Top deposit.”

    Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit,  the U.S. had begun to enter into cooperative agreements with allied nations to ensure future supplies of critical materials, specifically with Canada and Australia. 

    Against the backdrop of the upcoming 2020 elections, finding policy consensus may be more than an uphill battle.  However, for the sake of our national security and economic wellbeing, lawmakers would be well-advised to reach out across the political aisle to foster a policy environment that promotes an all-of-the-above approach on critical minerals and harnesses the United States’ vast domestic mineral potential.   

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  • 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 [...]
  • McGroarty for IBD: “Subjecting U.S. Aluminum Access to Trade Tensions with Canada National Security Crisis Waiting to Happen”

    Against the backdrop of the recent escalation of the U.S.-Canada trade war, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argues in a new piece for Investor’s Business Daily that while “the focus has been on U.S.-imposed trade tariffs on Canadian-made aluminum and steel, and their economic impact,” the “damage the tariffs may do to the U.S. defense industrial base” [...]

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