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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Lithium: Battery Arms Race Powers R&D Efforts in Quest for Domestic Mineral Resources

    As the “tech wars” gear up and the “battery arms race” shifts in to higher gears, efforts to promote the securing of domestic critical mineral supply chains are not only underway in policy circles in Washington, DC, but in the private sector as well.  Companies including the world’s top diversified miners are intensifying their R&D efforts to meet the world’s increasing demand for tech metals. 

    The latest case in point:  Rio Tinto’s successful production of lithium carbonate – a key component of electric vehicle battery technology – as part of the reprocessing of waste piles from its long-standing boron mine in southern California.

    Part of a unit that produced borates [link to old Boron post], the Boron site is home to at least 80 minerals. The lithium find was part of waste reprocessing in an initial search for gold and other elements at the site.  Efforts now shift to improving quality and lifting volumes, according to Bloomberg.

    As Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of issue experts told the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources earlier this year, “The growth trajectory expected for lithium ion battery raw material demand is unprecedented. Lithium ion batteries are becoming a major global industry and the impact on the four key raw materials of lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite will be profound.” Outlining theoretical demand scenario from megafactories in the pipeline at 2023 and 2028, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence estimates that lithium demand will increase by over eight times.

    The Boron discovery, while in Moores’ view not necessarily a “volume play,” but rather an “IP [intellectual property] play” is significant because in recent years, there has been only one lithium production facility in the U.S. — prompting analysts like Moores to lament that the United States is a “bystander” in the battery arms race.  

    Confirming Moores’ analysis, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called our nation’s over-reliance on foreign critical minerals our nation’s “Achilles’ heel that serves to empower and enrich other nations, while costing us jobs and international competitiveness.”

     

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  • ARPN Expert Panel Member on Strategic Metals Supply Chain in an Era of De-Globalization

    The trade war between China and the U.S., tensions between Russia and the West, the green energy transition — today’s political, geopolitical and economic pressures have significant implications for resource development. In a new piece on his blog, ARPN expert panel member and president of President of House Mountain Partners, LLC Chris Berry discusses “[t]he Strategic Metals Supply Chain in an Era of De-globalization.”

    Setting the stage by using the examples of Lithium, Cobalt and the Rare Earths, Berry argues that while in his research “drivers of the macro economy have historically either been political or economic in nature, but rarely both at the same time,” the current resource policy and investment climate is different today as a “confluence of macro-economic and political forces are converging all at once to place investors and corporations at a unique crossroads vis- à-vis investment along the strategic metals supply chain.”

    Berry outlines what he considers the current drivers of overall investor sentiment in the markets and outlines how the convergence of these drivers is spooking corporate capital expenditure decisions, with the trade war between the U.S. and China being the first of many.  As an expert focused on the field of energy metals, Berry acknowledges however, that “this doom and gloom does mask some very positive longer-term dynamics around the energy metals/EV thesis,” and that justifying a “long-term bearish thesis” would be difficult.

    In fact, he says, “the dismantling of the existing global trading system and its eventual replacement is exactly what you’d want to see as an investor along the strategic metals supply chain,” and sees a “unique opportunity for project-level investment.”

    Berry, who will elaborate further on the economic, financial and geopolitical aspects of the energy transition in a forthcoming book set to publish in 2020, concludes with an appeal for “strategic thinking on the parts of Western governments, corporations, and other stakeholders” as “the societal, economic and national security implications” surrounding the electrification of transportation and energy storage “are simply too significant to ignore.”

    Click here to read the full piece. 

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  • U.S. To Pursue National Electric Vehicle Supply Chain

    ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores must have struck a nerve when he called the U.S. a “bystander” in the current battery arms race during a recent Congressional hearing. His message  —  “Those who control these critical raw materials and those who possess the manufacturing and processing know how, will [...]
  • “Something Does not Come from Nothing” – Formulation of Mineral Resource Strategy Should be a Precursor to Green Energy Debate

    “Something does not come from nothing. That fact can be easily forgotten when it comes to seemingly abstract concepts like ‘energy,’” writes Angela Chen in a new piece for technology news and media network The Verge. Chen zeroes in on four key metals and minerals that have become indispensable components of green energy technology – Neodymium, [...]
  • U.S. Currently Bystander in Global Battery Arms Race, ARPN Expert Tells U.S. Senate Committee

    A key global player, the United States is not used to being a bystander. Yet this is exactly what is currently happening, says Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s Managing Director Simon Moores, addressing the full U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources this morning. Delivering his testimony on the outlook for energy and minerals market in [...]
  • U.S. Senate to Hold Hearing on Energy and Mineral Markets, Member of ARPN Expert Panel to Testify

    We’ve called it “the new black.” The Guardian even went as far as ringing in the “Ion Age.”  Bearing testimony to the growing importance of battery technology, the U.S. Senate will hold a hearing examining the outlook for energy and minerals markets in the 116th Congress on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 with an emphasis on battery [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: DoE’s New Research Center on Lithium Battery Recycling to Leverage Resources of Private Sector, Universities and National Laboratories

    Speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Energy Innovation Council last week, Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced the launch of a new research center on lithium battery recycling. The Battery Recycling R&D Center will focus on reclaiming and recycling “critical materials (e.g. cobalt and lithium) from lithium based battery technology used in consumer electronics, defense, energy [...]
  • Welcome to the “Ion Age”? The Ongoing Rise of Battery Technology

    Unless you’ve spent the last few years under a rock, you know that battery technology is the new black. With a new detailed “briefing” feature, The Guardian even goes as far as ringing in the “Ion Age” – a play on lithium-ion battery technology, which continues to make headlines. Writers Adam Vaughan and Samuel Gibbs [...]
  • Jadarite and the Materials Science Revolution – “Kryptonite” to Alleviate Mineral Supply Concerns?

    In 2007, a new mineral found in Serbia made headlines around the world. “Kryptonite Discovered in Mine” – wrote the BBC about the discovery of a material the chemical formula of which – sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide – happened to match the one of the famed kryptonite stolen by Lex Luthor from a museum in the [...]
  • Move Over, Lithium and Cobalt, Graphite and Graphene are About to Take Center Stage – Courtesy of the Ongoing Materials Science Revolution

    Earlier this week, we pointed to what we called the “new kid on the block” in battery tech – Vanadium.  It appears that what held true for music, is true in this industry as well – “new kids on the block” arrive in groups. Now, all puns aside – as Molly Lempriere writes for Mining-Technology.com, [...]

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