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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 and member of the ARPN panel of experts, was invited to testify on opportunities and risks in the energy storage supply chain. In his testimony, Moores outlined the “rise of the lithium ion battery megafactories,” and shared Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s assessment of the development of the two largest growth markets for which these lithium ion batteries will be targeted – EV and stationary/utility storage, which Moores characterized as the “two uses that underpin the energy storage revolution.”

    Said Moores:

    Both markets are in their infancy. However, as these markets mature over the next 10 years, the scale of application and its disruptive effect on established auto and energy industries will be unprecedented.”

    Moores then discussed the critical raw material inputs fueling lithium ion technologies — Lithium, Graphite, Cobalt and Nickel — with an eye towards the United States’ current and prospective role in these respective markets. While outlining opportunities, Moores also warned of great risks:

    “The demands EV manufacturers are placing on raw material miners to chemical processors and cathode manufacturers are huge – they are being asked to increase their business footprint by 5-10 times in a 7-year period. At present, there is little desire to share this capital and commercial risk of building new mines or expanding their business to meet this new demand. 

    Major auto manufacturers will eventually have to conclude that supply chain partnerships and capital investment is the only way to secure lithium, graphite, cobalt, nickel or lithium ion battery cells. But this decision-making process is slow for players outside of China and risks derailing any form of revolution in the energy storage industry.”

    He argued that necessary investment is still falling short and “needs to be 10 times larger to create a new blueprint for a post-2030 world.”

    Concluded Moores: 

    “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.”

    Here’s hoping that his testimony resonates with Members of Congress and helps deepen the conversation about a much needed comprehensive mineral resource strategy. 

    To read Moores’s full testimony, click here. Video footage of the hearing will be made available on the committee’s website as well. 

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  • Guest Commentary: Jeff Green On New Congressional REE Policy Initiative

    The following is a guest post by American Resources expert and J.A. Green & Company president and founder Jeffery A. Green

    The United States has placed itself in a very precarious situation with respect to its ability to produce and refine strategic and critical materials. Over the past few years we have willfully ceded our last remaining production capacity for rare earth elements to the Chinese who have readily adopted the role as the world’s monopolist when it comes to the production of these crucial elements. In fact, China now controls more than 90 percent of the global production of rare earth elements.

    While rare earths are small, yet critical materials essential to the proper functioning of society’s high tech items, smart phones, computers, and televisions, they are also essential for the proper function of numerous defense-related end items including aircraft and missiles. Without access to these materials, we risk having to revert to Vietnam-era technologies, not a prudent strategy for the world’s greatest fighting force.

    Compounding the problem, the only major domestic producer of certain rare earth products, a major publically traded United States Corporation, filed for bankruptcy in 2015 after compiling more than $1 billion in debt. The company subsequently shuttered and disassembled its U.S. mining facility and sold a portion of its assets to China to pay creditors. Thus, the United States was left with no domestic production capacity for certain strategic and critical materials. Any restriction on access to foreign rare earth elements would leave the U.S. without the ability to produce a host of defense-related components and in a risky and precarious security situation.

    Legislation recently introduced by Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA) would aim to rectify this dangerous hole in U.S. national security policy. The Materials Essential To American Leadership and Security Act of 2017 or METALS Act would require certain major defense acquisition programs (“MDAP”) to forgo a small fraction of their overhead costs in order to reestablish a domestic industrial base for rare earth elements and other materials deemed strategic and critical for defense applications. Aircraft and missile MDAPs which utilize strategic and critical materials would be required to contribute just one percent of their internal programmatic administration funds to create a working capital fund designed to reignite the domestic industrial base for strategic and critical material production and separation. The revolving fund, to be known as the Strategic Materials Investment Fund, would issue five-year, interest-free loans to domestic companies seeking to bridge the “Valley of Death” and provide an alternative to Chinese-produced materials. Additionally, the fund would reimburse defense contractors should they incur higher prices for procuring domestically produced strategic and critical materials.

    The METALS Act would support and strengthen our domestic industrial base by providing the necessary capital to companies attempting to ensure American independence from non-allied foreign powers and provide a safe and secure supply chain for the Department of Defense. Funding for the Strategic Materials Investment Fund is specifically derived from the Department of Defense’s internal programmatic administration funds to alleviate any impact on the procurement of weapons systems. The bill would in no way impact the quantities of weapons systems to be procured.

    The METALS Act is the first step toward reestablishing safe and secure domestic supply chains for strategic and critical materials and ensuring the United States always has access to materials essential for defense and national security.

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  • Interview: AEMA’s Laura Skaer – The Mining Industry’s Challenges and a Look Ahead

    For the last few months, politics has sucked up much of the oxygen in Washington, DC and around the country.  With the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States behind us, many of us are hopeful that the time has come to finally shift the focus away from politics toward policy. Against the backdrop [...]
  • McGroarty before U.S. Senate Committee: “Increased Resource Dependence Jeopardizes U.S. Economic Strength and Manufacturing Might”

    In his testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on “the Near-Term Outlook for Energy and Commodities Markets” last week, ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty argues that while in the long-run, the market is self-corrective, there are certain actions that should be taken while we wait for that long-run to arrive if [...]
  • Lacking Critical Mineral Resource Strategy on Earth, Congress Passes Law for Space Exploration

    In what may be a prime example of not being able to see the forest for the trees, Congress has passed, and President Obama has signed legislation allowing for the commercial extraction of minerals and other materials, including water from the moon and asteroids. Some compare the move to “visions of the great opening of [...]
  • Bipartisan critical minerals bill introduced in U.S. Senate

    A group of seventeen U.S. senators has introduced legislation aimed at addressing the United States’ mineral supply issues. The bill, titled Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013, was put forth by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and the Ranking Member of the committee, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), both of whom were [...]
  • “A case study in critical metals inaction” – ARPN’s McGroarty on Rhenium

    In a new piece for Investor Intel, our very own Dan McGroarty sounds the alarm on a little-noticed but troubling passage in the U.S. House-passed Defense Authorization Act for 2014.  Said section in Title III acknowledges the importance of Tungsten and Molybdenum powders, including Tungsten Rhenium (WRe) wire to a variety of Department of Defense [...]
  • America’s Mineral Resources: Creating Mining & Manufacturing Jobs and Securing America

    Testimony presented by Daniel McGroarty – Oversight Hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Sub-Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources, March 21, 2013 Chairman Lamborn, my thanks to you and your colleagues on the House Sub-Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources for the opportunity to testify today. I am Daniel McGroarty, [...]
  • Mineral Resources and the Presidential Election

    American Resources Principal Daniel McGroarty addresses the issue of the United States mineral dependencies against the background of mounting Presidential campaign pressures in a piece for The Hill’s Congress Blog. Here’s an excerpt: When it comes to our mineral dependence, President Obama has talked about Rare Earths, talked about strengthening manufacturing, and talked about the [...]
  • Time for a “strategy to bring more U.S. minerals mining operations online”

    National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn had a great piece in the Washington Times last week striking a tune that will be familiar to readers of our blog. Quinn argued that it’s time for the United States “to develop a strategy to bring more U.S. minerals mining operations online.” Here are some of [...]

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