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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 fighter jets — critical minerals are integrated into all aspects of U.S. supply chains. And, in spite of the fact that the United States is rich in mineral resources, we have maneuvered ourselves into a situation where we often find ourselves at the mercy of China.”

    Outlining the genesis and extent of our over-reliance on largely Chinese-sourced mineral resources, Wirtz argues that while the main focus has been on rare earths, our supply chain vulnerabilities stretch far beyond, as evidenced most recently by the findings of the new World Bank report on “The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition.”

    With COVID as the catalyst, that message is resonating with U.S. policymakers, in the Cabinet Departments and at the White House. Wirtz outlines several current policy initiatives aimed at alleviating our supply chain vulnerabilities:

    • U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s Onshoring Rare Earths Act of 2020, or ORE Act, which defines ‘critical minerals’ as the 17 Rare earths plus four key minerals underpinning battery tech;  
    • the expansion of the Department of Energy’s “target list” for project proposals to develop next gen extraction, separation and processing technologies for five rare earths plus cobalt, lithium, manganese and natural graphite; and
    • two new Executive Orders which would promote domestic mineral resource development. 

    She closes:

    “All of which is to say that, after long period of inaction, the U.S. Government seems to be viewing strategic materials and critical minerals issues with a new seriousness.  That’s a welcome development.  COVID, with its sudden disruption of supply chains, should be the last warning the U.S. needs to bolster our mineral resource security going forward.”

    Read the full piece here.

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  • 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 for the online discussion forum OurEnergyPolicy.org.”

    Citing ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores, who in 2019 testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which Sen. Murkowski chairs, lamented that the U.S. was so far merely a “bystander” in the “global battery arms race,” Sen.Murkowski wrote:

    “We have effectively surrendered the front end of the supply chain to other nations. If we fail to adjust course, we will continue to cede jobs and economic growth. We will face supply disruptions and price spikes for essential building blocks that we effectively choose not to produce. The Trump administration deserves credit for the steps it has taken to change our trajectory, and I have re-introduced my American Mineral Security Act to strengthen those efforts. (…)

    As our country begins to emerge from the current crisis and considers options to restore our economy, it is critical that we set a course for long-term resilience by addressing the supply chain vulnerabilities the pandemic has exposed. That should start with mineral security—and the modernization of federal policies that will serve to protect us going forward.”

    Invited to comment on Murkowski’s remarks, Moores took to OurEnergyPolicy earlier this week and noted that since his Senate testimony, “the US has fallen further behind in this global battery arms race.

    He elaborates: 

    “In February 2019, there were 70 battery megafactories in the pipeline of which 46 are in China and 5 in the USA. Today there are 136 of these super-sized electric vehicle battery plants in operation or being planned: 101 in China and 8 in the USA. China is building a battery gigafactory (megafactory) at the rate of one every week; the USA at one every four months. In 2019, China produced 72% of the world’s lithium-ion batteries whereas the USA only 9%.”

    What is key, he notes, is that China has “not just built an entire suite of super-sized battery megafactories for its auto industry, but the entire supply chain to feed them.”While only producing 23% of key battery raw materials combined, he points out, China produces 80% of battery chemicals, which represent the next step in the supply chain. Moores concludes: 
     

    “The world’s supply chain arrows point toward’s China for production of lithium-ion batteries as China understands that this is the enabling technology for the 21st-century auto industry and critical to our future energy needs via storage.

    This isn’t just making batteries for a niche auto, this is industrial infrastructure the 21st century and China holds the sway of power. The USA needs to ask itself when the last time it built a heavy industry from scratch? It’s likely to be before its leaders were born in 1933 and FDR’s New Deal. This is the scale of the challenge facing the world’s biggest economy: Building secure, local, hi-tech supply chains for a lithium-ion economy. In turn, this will create millions of jobs and put the USA at the forefront of this energy storage revolution.

    Now that the battery megafactories have arrived, Moores says the “focus must turn to building them within the USA and securing the inputs (raw materials) and outputs (recycling) to make this happen.”

    The time to end our “bystander” status in the global battery arms race (and beyond, because our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals does not end with battery tech) is now.  

    ***

    Read more from several ARPN expert panel members on critical mineral supply chain security challenges here:

    And for a visual introduction to the issue of our nation’s mineral over-reliance on China, check out these two clips by the Clear Energy Alliance. 

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  • 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 [...]
  • “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 [...]

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