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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Sweden Tosses Hat Into Ring In Race For Materials Underpinning EV Revolution

    As the race for the metals and minerals driving the electric vehicle revolution heats up, and China continues to jockey for pole position, Sweden is tossing its hat into the ring.  According to recent media reports, the Swedish government has earmarked 10 million kronor ( roughly one million Euros) to explore the option of digging for Cobalt and Lithium on its own territory by the first half of 2020.  Writes Nora Manthey for Electrive.com:

    “A new report published by the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU) finds that “there is great potential for prospecting for many innovation critical resources in Sweden, including graphite, lithium, Rare Earth Metals (REE), volfram etc”. Now the Swedish government has jumped on those findings and funds further research with 10 million kronor, reasoning that the growth in e-mobility and other industries will spike demand.”

    An indispensable component for EV battery technology, and largely sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the origination point of roughly 62 percent of global refined Cobalt – which is also a Nickel and Copper co-product –  has quickly become one of the hottest commodities.

    Meanwhile, sourcing from the DRC has long been fraught with challenges with production conditions commonly known to involve child labor and poor environmental standards.   A recently mulled (and since decided) designation of Cobalt as a “strategic material” on the part of the DRC, leading to a higher tax rate of 5 instead of so far 2 percent, has thrown another wrinkle in the already challenging global Cobalt supply picture.

    Sweden is home to automaker Volvo, which in 2017 made headlines when it announced that all newly-launched vehicles from 2019 onward will be “partially or completely battery-powered.”

    The move to explore for domestic Cobalt and Lithium also fits in the overall context of the country’s mineral strategy, unveiled in 2016.

    Thankfully, from a U.S. perspective, policy makers are beginning to wake up to the global resource race and the need to formulate a critical mineral strategy and a national action plan to secure critical resources.   Here’s hoping the movement set in motion late last year with Executive Order 13817 will not fizzle. As the case of Sweden shows, other nations will not sit idly at the sidelines.

    As Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of experts, testified before  U.S. Senators in the fall of 2017:

    “This energy storage revolution is global and unstoppable. For countries and corporations, positioning themselves accordingly to take advantage of this should be of paramount importance and longer term (~10 year) decisions need to be made.”

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  • 2018 – A Tipping Point For U.S. Resource Policy and Related Industries?

    The following is a guest post by ARPN expert panel member Chris Berry, Founder, House Mountain Partners. His expertise focuses on, but is not limited to, energy metals including Lithium, Cobalt, Graphite, Vanadium and Rare Earths.

    The Executive Order recently signed by President Trump to prioritize domestic natural resource development couldn’t have come at a better time. Though the idea of foreign dependence on critical raw materials such as rare earth elements, lithium, and cobalt is not a new one, globally synchronized economic growth and a new Administration in Washington have many thinking that “this time could be different” and a new approach and attitude towards domestic raw material extraction and processing has increased in importance.

    Technology has traditionally been a deflationary “force for good” specifically in the energy industry (think about how hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the oil and gas business has put OPEC on its heels and allowed a US-based oil and gas business to compete anew). The leadership that the US has shown in this industry is in no small part due to the research and development funding from the US Government in past decades. It is not a stretch to expect the same deflationary phenomenon to affect the mobility and energy storage industries underpinned by lithium ion batteries.

    Technologically-driven cost deflation can be seen in other industries such as the lithium ion battery business where the cost per kilowatt-hour (KWh) has fallen by roughly 10 to 14% per year since 2000. This has massive implications for both the energy industry (renewable energy deployment and grid integration) and automobile industry (electric vehicle adoption). Most experts expect cost parity between a full electric vehicle and a traditional internal combustion engine early in the next decade. What are we in the United States doing to get ready for this massive shift with respect to security of supply of raw materials?

    We are clearly at a tipping point for these industries, as their increasing need for critical minerals and metals intersects with an aggressive China, making security of supply of raw materials a small but highly significant Achilles Heel of supply chain management. The United States has numerous well known deposits of critical minerals, such as lithium and cobalt, many of which at today’s prices are economic to extract and process. So what are we waiting for? What we have lacked historically is the political will to find a balance between national security, commerce, and environmental concerns. President Trump’s Executive Order is a welcome, though controversial, first step in reckoning with this challenge that has profound consequences for US competitiveness and job creation going forward.

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  • Automakers Pledge to Uphold Ethical and Socially Responsible Standards in Materials Sourcing. Where Will the Metals and Minerals Come From?

    Late last month, international automakers made headlines when pledging “to uphold ethical and socially responsible standards in their purchases of minerals for an expected boom in electric vehicle production.” As Reuters reported, a group of 10 car manufacturers have formed an initiative to “jointly identify and address ethical, environmental, human and labor rights issues in [...]
  • Nickel – The “Metal That Brought You Cheap Flights” Now “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution”

    Another week, another great infographic by Visual Capitalist – this time on the “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution” – Nickel. Long an important base metal because of its alloying capabilities, Nickel’s status as a Gateway Metal, yielding access to tech minerals like Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium – all of which are increasingly becoming [...]
  • Moores’ Law: The Rise of Lithium Ion Battery Megafactories and What it Means for Critical Mineral Resource Supply

    Earlier this month, Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of experts testified before the full U.S. Senate Energy Committee on opportunities and risks in the energy storage supply chain.   We’re titling his observations as Moores’ Law — which is his for the taking, given the placement [...]
  • Senate Energy Committee Zeroes in on Energy Storage Revolution – Where Will the Battery Megafactories Get the Minerals and Metals They Need?

    Just last week, we highlighted the surge in EV technology and its implications for mineral resource supply and demand.  A timely subject – as evidenced by the fact that the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy held a “Full Committee Hearing “to Examine Energy Storage Technologies” this week. Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence [...]
  • The Surge of EV Technology and Implications for Mineral Resource Supply and Demand

    You may have caught Elon Musk’s exchange with Daimler on Twitter over investment in EV technology earlier this week. Vacuum giant Dyson has also tossed its hat into the ring announcing that it will spend $2.7 billion to develop an electric car. The headlines are piling up, and it’s no longer a secret that demand [...]
  • Why Cobalt Should be High on Your Radar

    In a recent article, the Financial Times zeroes in on one of the metals followers of ARPN will know is becoming increasingly indispensable to 21st Century clean energy technology: Cobalt.  Once an obscure metal you rarely heard about, this co-product of Nickel and Copper is increasingly afforded “critical mineral status” – primarily because of its [...]
  • Urban Mining – No Panacea but Important Piece of the Resource Strategy Puzzle

    Advances in materials science continue to transform the way we use metals and minerals, and in doing so, also change the supply and demand scenarios for many materials. As we recently pointed out on the ARPN blog, demand for Cobalt has been soaring thanks to its applications in battery technology and the growing popularity of electronic [...]
  • Cobalt Demand on the Rise – But What About Supply?

    Once an obscure metal most people had rarely heard about, Cobalt, a co-product of Nickel and Copper, is becoming a hot commodity and is increasingly afforded “critical mineral” status. The main reason for this development is Cobalt’s application in Lithium-ion battery technology. Soaring demand for rechargeable batteries and the growing popularity of electric cars have sent the [...]

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