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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: CMI Expands Collaborative Research Focus to Include Lithium and Cobalt

    The Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a Department of Energy research hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory, is expanding its research on tech metals “as rapid growth in electric vehicles drives demand for lithium, cobalt.”

    According to a recent Ames Lab press release, the Institute will focus on maximizing the efficiency of processing, usage and recycling of Lithium and Cobalt starting this summer.

    Says CMI Director Alex King:

    “The global tech economy is heating up, and we’re likely to see high demand for a growing number of materials. We are trying to anticipate possible short-term supply issues through specifically targeted research and industry partnerships.”

    Since the research hub’s launch in 2013, it has engaged in 36 separate collaborative projects, most of which were initially focused on REEs.  CMI points out that while REEs will remain a key focal area, there is good reason to look beyond:

     “Other key manufacturing material supplies are in need of the Hub’s fast-moving collaborative approach. Research from National Laboratories and academic institutions is combined with engineering know-how from manufacturers, economic analyses, and assistance from AI and machine learning to rapidly find solutions to domestic shortages of manufacturing materials.

    The list of materials under CMI’s scrutiny has expanded to include not only lithium and cobalt, but also manganese, vanadium, gallium, indium, tellurium, platinum group metals, and graphite.”

    The advances of material science, which will yield new battery, solar cell and fuel cell technologies, will continue to drive demand for these materials.  CMI Deputy Director Rod Eggert points to associated possible supply challenges, and specifically the Co-Product challenge ARPN has recently outlined in a new report. Says Eggert:

    “These [materials] present possible supply challenges for a number of reasons.  Some of them are produced in small quantity as by-products of other mining processes; some are subject to unstable geopolitical conditions.” 

    In its research efforts, CMI relies on collaboration with academia as well as the private sector – an approach that has already yielded some great breakthroughs, several of which we have featured in our “Materials Science Profiles of Progress” series on the ARPN blog.

    To learn more about the above-referenced Co-Product challenge, read ARPN’s most recent report entitled “Through the Gateway. A Look at how Gateway Metals and their Co-Products Underpin Modern Technology”

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  • McGroarty in The Hill: Copper Should Be Factored Into NAFTA “Auto Rules of Origin” Negotiations

    In a new piece for The Hill, American Resources Policy Network principal Daniel McGroarty zeroes in on the intersection between trade and resource policy.

    Against the backdrop of the current negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), McGroarty argues that one of the metals ARPN followers have come to know as a key Gateway Metal – Copper – should be included in the new set of rules on NAFTA’s “auto rules of origin” provision on which negotiators from the U.S., Canada and Mexico may be nearing agreement.

    He explains:

    “Metals used in our cars have simply been “deemed to originate’ within NAFTA, no matter that they come from Asia, the EU or elsewhere. Not surprisingly, the percentage of non-NAFTA materials in NAFTA country products has risen from 14 to 27 percent in the first 15 years of the treaty.

    President Trump and his trade team have prioritized removing this blind spot on raw materials. According to officials close to the talks, there is an emerging consensus to add aluminum and steel to the country of origin requirements, which will strengthen the demand for these key metals.

    That’s progress. But before the ink dries, here’s one more metal that the Trump team should be considering that would bring benefits to the western part of the U.S.: copper.” 

    Followers of ARPN will understand the underlying reasons: Copper is far more than your old school mainstay metal, and is becoming increasingly indispensable for a broad range of technologies, including the electronic vehicle sector. It is also a Gateway Metal to co-products like Rhenium, Tellurium, Cobalt and REEs, all of which can be found on Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s recently-released draft critical minerals list – thus inviting beneficial national security implications to the suggested addition of Copper to NAFTA’s content list.

    Concludes McGroarty:

    “Right now, the U.S., Canada and Mexico are all among the world’s top 10 copper-producing countries (Nos. 4, 8 and 10, respectively), collectively producing over 2 million metric tons a year. With demand already outpacing supply, there’s a ready market for more North American copper production. There is simply no reason to allow non-NAFTA countries “copper citizenship” (or steel or aluminum for that matter) when it comes to calculating the North American content in our cars.

    Doing so punishes North American metals and minerals producers, and contributes to a chilling effect that depresses the incentives for increased resource production. And while Mexico doesn’t produce much in the way of aluminum or steel, its significant copper production would give it a ‘metals win’ in the NAFTA negotiations.

    With copper usage in electric vehicles ready to redefine metals requirements in the automotive sector, the U.S., Canada and Mexico should ensure that the supply chain for copper inputs is part of the strategy to make North America’s integrated supply chain — from mine to market — as competitive as possible.”

    To read the full piece click here.

    And to learn more about Gateway Metals and their Co-Products, read ARPN’s latest report here

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  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty Submits Public Comments on DoI Critical Minerals List

    Presidential Executive Order (EO) 13817 on a Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, was issued on December 20, 2017. Pursuant to the EO, the Department of Interior, in coordination with the Department of Defense, was tasked with compiling a list of Critical Minerals within 60 days. The DOI List was [...]
  • Visual Capitalist: Sec. Zinke’s Critical Minerals List Visualized

    Visual Capitalist has put together a great visualization of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s draft list of 35 metals and minerals deemed critical to U.S. National Security. The list was released earlier this month, pursuant to Executive Order 13817 issued on December 20, 2017, “A Federal Strategy To Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of [...]
  • ICYMI – Video and Supporting Documents for AGI Webinar on “Tracking the Global Supply of Critical Materials”

    Last month, the American Geosciences Institute ran a webinar entitled “Tracking the Global Supply of Critical Materials.”  Speakers for the event, which discussed “efforts to gather information and develop tools that can be used to ensure a secure national and global supply of mineral resources, and identify and quantifying vulnerabilities in this supply, among others,” [...]
  • New Year’s Resolutions for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    If you’re one of nearly half of all Americans, you will have already made a few New Year’s resolutions for 2018.   Among the most popular are personal betterment goals like “losing weight,” and “exercising more.”  While we’re all for making personal resolutions, at ARPN, we’re more concerned with the goals our policy makers are [...]
  • An Early Christmas Present? New Executive Order Calls for National Strategy to Increase Domestic Resource Development

    Only one day after USGS released its new report “Critical Minerals of the United States” – a study which underscores the United States’ over-reliance on foreign minerals – a new executive order directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to publish within 60 days a list of critical minerals to be followed by a report (after another [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty for Investor’s Business Daily: U.S. Mineral Resource Dependence a “Clear and Present Danger”

    Against the backdrop of growing threats to U.S. security – recent flash points involve Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea – a new Presidential Executive Order “On Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States,” zeroes in on defense readiness. The E.O. requires heads from various [...]
  • Happy Independence Day! We’re Free, Yet So Dependent

    Happy Birthday, America! Another trip around the sun, and we’re back on the eve of the 4th of July gearing up for parades, barbecues and fireworks in honor of the men and women who have fought, and continue to safeguard our freedom today. Last year, we used this opportunity to point out that while we cherish [...]
  • Scandium – Ready to “Take Off”?

    Remember the Light Rider?  A few months ago, we highlighted this high-tech motorcycle, which, because it is held together by an intricate web of “Scalmalloy,” is perhaps the lightest motorcycle in the world. Scalmalloy is an “aluminum alloy powder ‘with almost the specific strength of titanium’ [used] to build incredible structures by fusing thin layers of the material together.” One [...]

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