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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Tesla’s 20 Million Vehicles by 2030 Goal in Context

    Innovation. Disruption. That’s what Elon Musk and Tesla have become synonymous for — and for good reason. A recent claim made that Tesla would be able to reach production of 20 million vehicles per year before 2030, however, may be more of a stretch goal than a realistic number, as staff at Mining.com has recently pointed out.

    Granted, when Elon Musk made the claim in September of last year, he added the caveat that the 20 million vehicles production number would require “consistently excellent execution.” It’s more than that, though — the limitations of material inputs, and, more specifically, the challenges associated with critical mineral resource supply, cannot be executed away.

    In an interesting thought experiment that puts these numbers into context, using data from Adamas Intelligence, Mining.com has extrapolated just how much in raw materials Tesla would require to produce those 20 million vehicles instead of the half million vehicles it produced last year.

    Here’s the chart:

    As Frik Els of Mining.com points out,

    “When Tesla makes 20 million cars in a year it will need more than 30% of global mined nickel production in 2019 (2020 saw a 20%-plus reduction in output) for its batteries. Put another way, Tesla will have to buy the entire output of the top 6 producers – Norilsk, Vale, Jinchuan, Sumitomo, Glencore, BHP, and then some.”

    Els continues, facetiously:

    “Since Tesla is replacing graphite anodes with silicon, it’s not necessary to dwell on the fact that if this elusive scientific breakthrough is not commercialized at the speed of a Tesla in Ridiculous Mode, the carmaker would need 94% of the world’s natural graphite production by the time it hits 20 million cars a year. At least you can make more graphite.”

    For cobalt, the requirement would be more than half of global production before 2030, and for lithium it would be a whopping 165%.

    And, as followers of ARPN well know, rare earths may not in fact be “rare,” but that doesn’t mean they magically appear out of thin air like fairy dust.

    While Mining.com’s number crunching and throwing shade may make Tesla’s numbers seem like pie in the sky constructs, they do underscore an important fact:

    “The future energy system will be far more mineral and metal-intensive than it is today,” as Dr. Morgan Bazilian, Director of the Payne Institute and Professor of Public Policy, Colorado School of Mines testified before Congress in the fall 0f 2019, and several studies have since confirmed.

    With the COVID-19 pandemic having underscored the challenges associated with the geopolitics of resource supply, and the green energy transition agenda having moved to the forefront under the new Biden Administration, securing and shoring up critical mineral resource supply chains is becoming increasingly paramount.

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  • USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries: Mineral Resource Dependencies Continue in 2020

    2020 may go down in history as the year in which our world changed drastically, but one thing remained largely steady, according to the latest USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, one of our favorite reports which is hot off the press: Our nation’s mineral resource dependencies. However, as followers of ARPN will know, that is hardly a good thing, as our degree of import reliance for critical minerals in recent years has consistently been too high for comfort.

    A look at the chart depicting U.S. Net Import Reliance — or the “Blue Wall of Dependency,” as we have dubbed it based o the many blue bars showing 100% import dependence, reveals that we are still 100% import dependent for 17 of the metals and minerals included in the USGS report, unchanged from the previous year. However, the number marks a stark contrast to our import reliance for metals and minerals in 1984, when we were 100% import reliant for just 11 commodities.

    The number of metals and minerals for which we are 50% or more than 50% import dependent is unchanged over last year — the report pegs it at 47.

    Of note, while we had seen a drop in dependency for foreign supply of lithium (down to >25%) last year, that number has gone up again to >50%. This is particularly relevant as lithium is one of the key components of green energy technology, the importance of which is only set to grow under the new Biden Administration.

    China continues to be the elephant in the data room, and is listed 24 times as one of the major import sources of metals and minerals for which our net import reliance is 50% or greater. That is down by one, however that change is owed only to the fact that garnet has slightly dropped in import reliance (to 48%, and not to a diversification of sources away from China.

    This may change going forward, as 2020 has underscored the urgency of strengthening our domestic supply chains, and has yielded some important progress with regards to policies aimed at reducing our over-reliance on foreign, and especially Chinese metals and minerals. Executive Order 13953 declaring a critical minerals national security emergency, several key provisions of which were later codified in the Energy Act of 2020, as well as parts of the National Defense Authorization Act come to mind here.

    However, meaningful change takes time, and whether we will see significant changes in the numbers on our favorite chart going forward, will depend largely on the extent to which stakeholders will act on these provisions and implement policies that bring us closer to an all-of-the-above approach on critical minerals.

    Click here to read this year’s Mineral Commodity Summaries.

    For previous iterations, click here.

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  • Europe Forges Ahead With Battery Gigafactory Buildout As U.S. Still Struggles to Get Off Starting Block

    The current coronavirus pandemic may have thrown a wrench into the gears of many industries, but — against the backdrop of skyrocketing materials supply needs in the context of the green energy transition — Europe continues to forge ahead with the buildout of its large-scale battery gigafactory capacity.  According to London-based Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, whose [...]
  • ARPN’s Wirtz: “COVID Should Be the Last Warning the U.S. Needs to Bolster Mineral Resource Security”

    ***Posted by Daniel McGroarty*** “The current coronavirus pandemic has exposed significant supply chain challenges associated with our over-reliance on foreign (and especially Chinese) raw materials,” — writes ARPN’s Sandra Wirtz in a new piece for The Economic Standard:   “PPE has become the poster child, but whether it’s smart phone technology, solar panels, electric vehicles, or [...]
  • ARPN Expert Panel Member: U.S. Must Turn to Building Out Critical Mineral Supply Chains Securing Both Inputs and Outputs

    Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), long one of the leaders on Capitol Hill pushing for a comprehensive overhaul of our nation’s mineral resource policy, addressed the challenges of our nation’s over-reliance on foreign – and especially China-sourced critical metals and minerals against the backdrop of the current Coronavirus pandemic in a post [...]
  • Demand for Certain Metals and Minerals to Increase by Nearly 500%, According to New World Bank Study

    At ARPN, we have long argued that the current push towards a lower-carbon future is not possible without mining, as green energy technology relies heavily on a score of critical metals and minerals. The World Bank’s latest report, entitled “The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition,” published earlier this week in the context of the [...]
  • U.S. Import Reliance, Supply Chains, and National Security – A Visual

    The current coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on many aspects of social life and public policy. With nations struggling to secure critical medicines and other supplies, many of which are sourced from China, the global crisis is increasingly exposing the challenges associated with supply chain security — for medical devices, for personal protective [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]

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