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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Through the Gateway: Nickel – Powering Modern Technology

    Over the course of the last few weeks, we reviewed Nickel and its co-products Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium as part of our trip Through the Gateway.”

    We’ve established that the importance of each of the co-products is growing as the revolution in materials science advances. Meanwhile, our import dependence for each of the co-products is significant, and ranges from 58 percent for Palladium to 100 percent for Scandium.

    For Nickel, the U.S. domestic supply picture has recently changed, with our import dependence dropping from roughly 50 percent to currently 37 percent with new projects having come online.

    Here, too, new uses may increase demand going forward.  We already touched on Nickel’s alloying capabilities, which underscore its versatility and staying power. However, it is its application in battery technology that may become a game changer for the metal’s supply and demand going forward.

    In light of across-the-board predictions of higher battery use over the course of the next few years, and in particular in the consumer and electric vehicle segments, analysts see demand for its component metals – including Nickel – soaring.

    The bottom line – Gateway Metals not only provide us with access to many co-product metals that underpin modern technology.  They are also important building blocks of the 21st Century.  With our domestic manufacturers increasingly relying on a stable supply of Gateway Metals and their co-products, the time to devise a comprehensive mineral resource policy framework is now.

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  • Through the Gateway: Scandium Embodies Materials Science Revolution

    As we near the conclusion of our journey “Through the Gateway,” we noticed that one metal has kept popping up in our coverage – Scandium.

    co-product of Tin, we also discussed it in the context of the alloying properties of Gateway Metal Aluminum. It is also a co-product of Nickel.

    There is good reason it keeps popping up. For one, while on paper, Scandium resources may in fact be abundant, it is rarely concentrated in nature, making commercially viable deposits extremely rare. Because it is at present largely recovered as a co-product during the processing of various Gateway Metals, including Tin and Nickel, total global production rates are quite low (see our previous post).  Scandium may also be present in certain Copper and Rare Earth deposits.

    Enter Scandium’s high tech applications – perhaps most importantly Scalmalloy, the state-of-the-art lightweight aluminum alloy powder with almost the strength of titanium, which perfectly illustrates the ongoing revolution in materials science.

    In light of these and other relevant high-tech applications for Scandium, some expect demand to soar as high as by 800% over the next decade. Unsurprisingly, several mining companies – most recently in Russia and Australia – have thrown their hats into the ring, and are looking to go into the business of primary Scandium recovery.  In the U.S., which is currently 100% import dependent to meet our domestic Scandium needs and has to rely on Kazakhstan, and Russia, developers of multi-metallic deposits are also studying the inclusion of scandium recovery into their project plans.

    A key challenge – as we have frequently lamented - lies in the fact that resource development cannot happen overnight, especially in a regulatory environment that does not encourage the harnessing of our domestic resource potential.

    How the new projects coming online will affect supply and demand remains to be seen, particularly as the materials science revolution continues to yield new research breakthroughs and applications for tech metals.  However, the bottom line is – if Scandium is not yet on your radar, it needs to be.

    As we previously pointed out: 

    [T]he question is whether U.S. scandium dependency will deepen — or whether U.S. policymakers will understand that resource development policy is key to American innovators’ access to another critical metal.

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  • Through the Gateway: Cobalt – A Critical Mineral Under Scrutiny

    A lustrous, silvery blue, hard ferromagnetic, brittle element, Cobalt’s physical properties are similar to Iron and Nickel. It forms various compounds, stable in air and unaffected by water.  Main uses include many alloys, including superalloys used in aircraft engine parts and high-speed steels, as well as magnets, and catalysts, to name but a few. It’s [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Nickel – “The Metal that Brought You Cheap Flights”

    “It made the age of cheap foreign holidays possible, and for years it was what made margarine spreadable. Nickel may not be the flashiest metal but modern life would be very different without it.”  We couldn’t have introduced our next Gateway Metal any better than the BBC did in a feature story on Nickel and [...]
  • Through the Gateway: “Fairy Dust” Supply Woes Loom

    As we continue our look Through the Gateway, comes a stern reminder by way of Canada that the geopolitics of resource supply represents a complex issue warranting comprehensive policy approaches.   And it literally concerns a metal that touches us — more precisely, we touch it — every day, too many times to count. A decision to [...]
  • Through the Gateway: A Look at Cadmium

    Most of us have heard of Cadmium as a component of NiCd (Nickel-Cadmium) batteries.  To date, this also happens to be the most frequent use for the metal, accounting for about 85% of the Cadmium consumed globally in 2015. A silvery metal with a bluish surface tinge, Cadmium is corrosion-resistant and its oxides are insoluble in water.  Nearly [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Germanium – Semiconductor of the Future?

    Our first Zinc co-product, Germanium, is a silvery metalloid.  According to USGS, “in nature, it never exists as the native metal in nature” and “is rarely found in commercial quantities in the few minerals in which it is an essential component.” That said, the “most commercially important germanium-bearing ore deposits are zinc or lead-zinc deposits formed at low temperature.” Discovered [...]
  • A Look at Gateway Metal Import Dependence: Copper – 25 Years of Rising Dependence

    If our trip Through the Gateway holds one lesson so far, it’s that old patterns and paradigms are out the window.  Advances in technology and materials sciences have changed the applications for many mainstay metals and are fueling demand.   As we have outlined, the same applies for numerous rare tech metals, which are primarily sourced [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Of Diaper Rash Cream, Fertilizer and Battery Technology – A Look at Zinc

    If you’re a parent of young children, you’ll probably appreciate Zinc for its medicinal properties – a good diaper rash cream or sunscreen for the little ones comes with a good dose of Zinc oxide. Otherwise, you may have come across this metal primarily as an anti-corrosion agent used to prevent metals like steel and iron from [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Tin, Co-Products and Shifting Paradigms

    While not as flashy as some other metals, Tin’s versatility will continue to drive demand.  We are familiar with its use in food preservation.  Meanwhile, ITRI, the tin industry’s UK-based trade association, highlights the “storage, generation and conservation of energy as key drivers for new applications for the metal over the next 3 to 30 years.” Coupled with its [...]

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