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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • As Tech War Deepens Over REEs, Australia Steps Up to the Plate

    As the trade war between China and the United States deepens, concern over access to Rare Earths and other critical minerals is spreading all over the world.  While the U.S. is taking steps aimed at increasing domestic REE supplies — most recently manifesting in the Trump Administration’s invocation of the 69-year-old Defense Production Act and efforts to increase international cooperation with allies, Australia, too, is taking action.

    Reports the Straits Times:

    “Australia will step up production of rare earths and other militarily sensitive ‘tech metals’, the country’s defence minister said Monday (Aug 12), as doubts grow over the reliability of Chinese supplies.”

    According to Ms. Linda Reynolds, Australia has “at least 40 per cent of the known reserves of tech metals, whether it’s lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite but also most of the rare earths that our current technology and our lifestyles today relies on (…)” — deposits that “could safeguard supplies for allies including the United States and Britain.”  

    The possibility of Western allies obtaining metals from Australia had been discussed “at length at recent Australia-US ministerial consultations and in discussions with British counterparts,” reports the Straits Times.

    The news comes on the heels of an Australian mining company striking a deal with a German industrial company to develop Rare Earths in northern Australia after terminating a previous agreement with a Chinese firm.

    Earlier last month, a partnership between the U.S., Australia and Japan which includes the setting up of a separation facility in the United States was announced.

    The next few weeks an months will be instrumental in the “tech war” — the competition to see which country will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age. As the U.S. begins to take steps aimed at breaking free from the shackles of Chinese Rare Earths dominance, it is encouraging to see this increased level of cooperation with important strategic allies like Australia. 

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  • U.S. Steps Up International Cooperation to Counter Chinese Resource Threat

    Against the backdrop of mounting Chinese-American trade tensions, the United States is stepping up cooperative efforts with allies to reduce its reliance on Chinese supplies of Rare Earths.  

    The most recent case in point – a partnership with Australia and Japan – includes the setting up of a separation facility in the U.S.

    Reports the International Business Times: 

    “The Australia-based corporation Lynas, which is the world’s only major rare earth producer outside China, has joined hands with Texas-based Blue Line to set up the facility in Texas. Operations are expected to begin in 2021.”

    The move ties into the overall context of an unfolding tech war that has been lurking underneath the surface of the trade confrontation between the United States and China.  

    As ARPN’s principal Dan McGroarty recently explained“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.” 

    With brinkmanship looming large on the REE and critical minerals front, the United States is finally taking  steps to adapt to the realities of 21st Century resource policies. 

    In early June, the U.S. Department of Commerce released its Critical Minerals Strategy calling for “unprecedented action to ensure that the United States will not be cut off from these vital materials.” 

    Also in June, the US state department and its Canadian and Australian counterparts announced that to ensure future supplies of materials needed for new energy technologies, including lithium, copper and cobalt, they will cooperate and “work to help countries discover and understand their mineral resources.”

    And after weeks of Chinese threats that it could cut off U.S. access to the essential technology materials known as rare earths, the Trump Administration in July took a counter-action of its own invoking the 69-year old Defense Production Act to spur domestic REE development.

    The latest partnership announcement between the United States, Australia and Japan ties into this overall realization that the materials science revolution requires a more comprehensive, strategic and concerted approach to resource policy than that pursued by the United States to date.

    All of this is good news.  However, after decades of failing to prioritize mineral resource policy, big questions remain for the U.S., as McGroarty recently outlined:

    “How will China respond to the new U.S. action?  And how quickly can the U.S. close the rare earths gap — with production today at zero, even as known U.S. rare earth resources exist — before China loses its leverage over materials the U.S. Government has deemed critical to ‘the national economy and national security?’”

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  • As Japan Retreats, US Dozes Off Again On Critical Minerals

    Over the course of the last few months, slumping prices have prompted Japanese companies to reassess their rare metals strategies and cancel cooperative agreements that were once considered a high priority. As Nikkei Asian Review reports, state-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. (JOGMEC) has cancelled a joint exploration contract for a tungsten mine in [...]
  • Japan Pursuing Long-Term Critical Mineral Strategy in Kazakhstan

    In an effort to secure ongoing access to Rare Earths (REEs) for its domestic industries, Japan, which in geological terms does not have much of a resource profile, has entered into a series of cooperative agreements with Kazakhstan, a nation quickly ascending into the league of top REE suppliers in the world. The latest one [...]
  • Does Elon Musk Know Where His Giga-Metals Will Come From?

    ARPN followers are well-versed on the dangers of foreign resource dependency – a concern highlighted by Tesla Motors’ announcement earlier this year that the EV manufacturer will build a massive Giga-Factory in the American Southwest, with the goal of doubling global EV battery output by 2020. As ARPN’ers know, the next question is: Where will [...]
  • New year, new players in the REE game?

    In an ongoing reaction to China’s restrictive mineral policies, countries are expanding their efforts to look for alternative supplies of sought-after commodities. Case in point is Japan, which in recent months has inked cooperative agreements with a number of other nations including India and Vietnam. Its most recent effort is focused on what is better [...]
  • Japan continues to diversify its REE suppliers with imports from Kazakhstan

    Against the backdrop of mounting tensions in the territorial dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Japan has recently been stepping up its efforts to diversify the sources of its mineral resource supply. Japan-based Sumitomo Corporation will import Rare Earths from Kazakhstan, according to the website Finance GreenWatch. With the backing of the [...]
  • Interview: Putting the Chinese-Japanese island dispute into perspective

    In a three-part interview series with Metal Miner, American Resources principal Daniel McGroarty discusses resource nationalism, the role of China in global resource wars and lessons for the United States’ mineral resource strategy against the backdrop of the East China Sea territorial dispute between China and Japan over a tiny group of islands, with outsized [...]
  • ARPN Expert View: “East China Sea one front in larger resource wars”

    Two years after China’s Rare Earths embargo on Japan and subsequent supply shortages put the until-then largely obscure group of critical minerals on the map, tensions between the two countries are reaching new heights, with the specter of war looming. At the heart of the current tensions lies a territorial “tug-of-war” over five tiny – [...]
  • Chinese-Japanese tensions to rise again over Rare Earths

    China’s suspension of Rare Earth shipments to Japan in the fall of 2010 kicked off a firestorm and has largely contributed to the extensive media coverage Rare Earth supply issues have received in recent months. While shipments were since resumed, reports that Japan is diversifying its supply sources have surfaced from time to time. But [...]

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