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  • 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 can have large effects elsewhere -, McGroarty argues that

    “[e]xpropriation of a white-owned farm in South Africa can lead to civil strife that could disrupt mining in that resource-rich country, depriving the U.S. and its allies of metals and minerals supply, crippling defense preparedness by sidelining advanced weapons platforms – while strengthening adversaries like China and Russia, which happen to possess the very metals and minerals South Africa mines and America needs.

    So like the butterfly wings that trigger a tsunami, South Africa’s expropriation crisis could disrupt U.S. defense readiness, and hand our global adversaries dangerous new leverage.”

    The 2014 labor unrest that disrupted Platinum Group Metal (PGM) production for a certain period served as a recent warning – which, among other issues led the U.S. Geological Survey to use South Africa as a case in point to underscore the “risk associated with high production concentration in a single country” in its “Summary of Methodology and Background Information” for DOI’s 2018 Critical Minerals List.

    The recent racial tensions only exacerbate said risk.  McGroarty explains how a potential faltering of South African supply would affect U.S. defense contractors and ultimately U.S. national security:

    “What metals and minerals do U.S. defense contractors source from South Africa?  The PGMs, used in jet turbine blades and high-performance circuit boards.  Chromium, used as a superalloy in jet fighters and tanks.  Manganese, required for National Defense Stockpile material electrolytic manganese metal, for which the U.S. is 100% foreign import-dependent.  Titanium used in jet fighter air frames, and vanadium, used in super-conductor electromagnets like the ones needed for the U.S. Navy’s new railgun.

    You can find all of these metals and minerals on the recently published U.S. Government Critical Minerals List, deemed essential “to our national economy and national security.”  And the U.S. is import dependent — in some instances 100% dependent — for all of them.

    Here’s where the impact intensifies. If South African supply falters, what are the alternatives for the U.S. defense complex?  For chromium, we can turn to Russia. For PGMs, Russia again. For manganese, China is the global leader. For titanium and vanadium, it’s China or Russia.

    In other words, civil unrest, with the potential for civil war, in South Africa may well increase U.S. critical mineral dependence on China and Russia — nations recognized as U.S. adversaries in defense doctrine, and presently subject to sanctions and trade tariffs.”

    As followers of ARPN well know, many of our mineral resource dependencies are largely home-grown, as the U.S. is home to known resources of all of the metals and minerals referenced as “at risk” above and many more.

    Laments McGroarty:

    “As a nation, we’ve simply slipped into a post-industrial mindset that we don’t need to be a primary producer, exacerbated by a mine permitting process that is among the lengthiest in the world. Our manufacturers — including our defense industrial base weapons builders — simply buy what we need when we need it, from wherever it’s mined. And it’s worked.

    Until now that is, as the butterfly’s wings are flapping in South Africa.”

    The choice is ours – are we going to sit idly by and hope that China and Russia won’t “exploit any metals vulnerabilities that emerge” from South Africa’s land ownership issues, or are we going to enact the reforms necessary to “encourage domestic production of the metals and minerals we need to support our 21st Century lifestyles, and the advanced weapons platforms that keep us secure.”

    Click here to read the full piece.

  • 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 [...]
  • Independence Day – A Time To Celebrate Our Freedom, Yet Be Mindful of Growing Dependencies

    It’s that time of the year again. We’re filling our shopping carts with food and drinks, making sure we have enough gas for the grill, and buying some fireworks. The 4th of July, and with that, Independence Day, has arrived. But our country’s 240th birthday is more than a good reason to throw a barbecue in honor [...]