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  • U.S. Should Revisit R&D Spending Priorities, But Reform Cannot Occur in Vacuum 

    Followers of ARPN have long known that China is the big elephant in the room. 

    In a piece for the Wall Street Journal, Ezekiel Emanuel, Amy Gadsden and Scott Moore lament that while there is a growing  awareness that China may be the – in the words of Sec. of State Mike Pompeo “greatest challenge that the United States will face in the medium to long term” – the United States has largely responded with “defensive measures” like tariffs.

    “[T]he challenge can’t be answered just by demanding that China plays fair,” they argue.

    Their advice: 

    “The U.S. needs to meet strength with strength, and the best way to do that is to renew a longstanding American advantage: innovation. To compete and win in the century ahead, the U.S. urgently needs to fix the mismatch between its declared national technology priorities and the deployment of our research funding.”

    Emanuel, Gadsden and Moore point to an erosion of America’s lead in science and technology fields stemming from “steadily declining U.S budgets for basic scientific research and a lopsided emphasis on the life sciences to the detriment of emerging technologies.”

    Against the backdrop of misguided U.S. government spending priorities, China has made massive investments in science, technology and engineering research and development – to the tune of $410 billion in 2016, which, according to the authors of the piece, is more than that of Japan, Germany and South Korea combined. 

    And while private investment in R&D has increased, Emanuel, Gadsden and Moore argue it’s “not nearly enough.”

    Indeed, targeted investments in R&D can yield great results — as some of the recent examples of public-private partnerships featured as part of our “Profiles of Progress” series have shown.

    However, increased spending can and should not occur in a vacuum, but should rather be part of a comprehensive policy overhaul.   The mineral resource sector serves as a case in point: Here, decades of misguided government policies —  from the duplicative and lengthy permitting process for mining projects adding cost and uncertainty, to land access policies — have been discouraging private investment. This, as ARPN followers know all too well, has left the United States increasingly reliant on foreign mineral resources.  

    As U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski recently argued in a Congressional hearing:

    “In contrast to the energy sector, our nation is headed in the wrong direction on mineral imports. This is our Achilles’ heel that serves to empower and enrich other nations, while costing us jobs and international competitiveness.” 

    Emanuel, Gadsden, and Moore are right when they argue “America needs to do what it does best: compete,”  but revisiting spending priorities is only a part of the puzzle.

    What we need is a comprehensive policy overhaul of the U.S.’s resource development policy.

    However, 16 months after the President issued his Executive Order on Critical Minerals (which has arguably led to some positive first steps towards mineral resource policy reform) we are still awaiting the release of a report by the Department of Commerce outlining a “broader strategy” and recommending specific policy steps to implement it.

    Meanwhile, China presses on — both on R&D and securing access to critical minerals. 

  • Infographic Visualizes the Electrification of Vehicle Fleet

    Followers of ARPN may have noticed that much of our recent blog coverage has focused on EV battery tech.  Here are a few examples:

    Of course, there are good reasons for focusing on this field – and once more Visual Capitalist has done a great job capturing some of them in a new infographic.

    The rise of the electric vehicle – and especially its pace – has taken many by surprise. Analysts at Morgan Stanley estimate that four of every five cars sold worldwide by 2050 will be battery-driven EVs.  As the infographic shows, Morgan Stanley analysts further believe that the number of cars with internal combustion engines (ICEs) are to be surpassed by battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) before 2015, as the BEV fleet hits one billion.

    Whatever the adoption timelines ultimately may be, our friends at the American Exploration & Mining Association are spot on with their tweet about what the electrification of vehicles means for the resource realm: “4/5 cars sold in 2050 will be electric.  5/5 will require minerals like cobalt, lithium & iron.”  

    It is time for policy makers to follow up the release of the Department of Interior’s list of 35 metals and minerals deemed critical to U.S. national security with comprehensive policy reforms that help secure domestic supplies of these and many other materials.

  • Resource Policy’s Butterfly Effect – South Africa’s Landownership Issues to Cripple U.S. Defense Arsenal?

    Can the taking of a farm in South Africa cripple the American defense arsenal?  We’re about to find out – says ARPN’s principal Daniel McGroarty in a new piece for Investor’s Business Daily. Invoking the so-called “Butterfly Effect” – an expression used to describe the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system [...]
  • While Some Reforms Fizzled, Enacted NDAA Contains Potentially Precedent-Setting REE Sourcing Provision

    As we have noted, the recently-signed John S. McCain (may he rest in peace) National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (H.R. 5515), stands as a missed opportunity to enact several meaningful mineral resource policy reforms. Nonetheless, one provision of the signed legislation marks an important development for the realm of resource policy – [...]
  • A New Theater for the Global Resource Wars?  A Look at Antarctica

    At ARPN, we have long argued that we need comprehensive mineral resource policy reform.  One of the main reasons we have finally seen some momentum on this front is the growing realization that there is a global race for the metals and minerals fueling 21st Century technology and our everyday lives — something that our [...]
  • Cobalt’s Star Rising Even Further in Light of Breakthrough New Applications?

    Cobalt is a rising star among critical minerals, in large part because of its key role in battery technology.  However, that’s hardly the only reason. The ongoing materials science revolution has produced a new long-term use for Cobalt that may prove to be a technological breakthrough: A California-based company has announced that it has found [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • North Korean Brinkmanship Highlights Nexus Between Resource Policy and Geopolitics

    At ARPN, we have long highlighted the important but oft-overlooked nexus between resource policy and geopolitics.   The latest case in point is South Korea, which, as ARPN President Daniel McGroarty points out in his latest opinion piece for Fox News, is navigating murky waters “talking sunshine and Rare Earths as North Korean war clouds gather.” For decades, [...]
  • 2016 – A Mixed Bag for Mineral Resource Policy

    It’s that time of the year again.  And as people are gearing up for the New Year, we are taking the opportunity to take stock of the last twelve months, and want to highlight a few select notable developments of relevance to ARPN followers. From a mineral resource policy perspective, we saw some positive developments [...]
  • Event: Benchmark Minerals World Tour Comes to Washington DC

    If you are based out of Washington, DC or happen to be in town on October 21, here’s an event you should not miss: Our friends at Benchmark Minerals, a U.K.-based price data collection and assessment company specializing in the lithium ion battery supply chain, are taking their Benchmark World Tour to Washington, DC.   ARPN expert and Benchmark [...]