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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Is it Time for a GigaMine? Metal Tech News’s Lasley on the Prospect of Tesla GigaMines

    Earlier this month, Elon Musk, founder and CEO of tech giant Tesla, made headlines with his call on global mining companies to boost production of nickel, a key component in EV battery technology.

    “Any mining companies out there … wherever you are in the world, please mine more nickel,” he said, adding “Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way. (…) Don’t wait for nickel to go back to some high point you experienced five years ago (…).”

    Against the backdrop of Musk’s call to action to miners, Shane Lasley, publisher of Metal Tech News, entertains the question of whether Tesla gigamines might be added to the front of the company’s supply chain in a new piece for the publication.

    Lasley argues that while Musk’s offer seems to imply that his preference would be for the mining sector to supply nickel, there are “subtle clues” indicating that he would be willing to set up a Tesla mining operation if needed.

    Providing context, Lasley writes:

    “While Tesla can easily expand battery production by simply building more gigafactories and squeezing more efficiencies out of the enormous facilities already in operation, getting the raw materials to these factories could be the challenge.

    This is because Tesla is not the only EV and lithium-ion battery company driving massive new demand for nickel, graphite, lithium, cobalt, and manganese. Every major automobile manufacturer on Earth is rolling out new electric and hybrid models, and new players are emerging in both the EV and lithium-ion battery sectors.”

    With the World Bank forecasting that production of metals and minerals like graphite, lithium and cobalt will have to increase by nearly 500 percent by 2050 to meet global demand for renewable energy technology, it comes as no surprise that EV manufacturers are kicking their search for raw materials into high gear. However, as Lasley points out, “there have been no reports of automakers getting directly involved in the business of mining … at least not yet.”

    Musk hinted at the possibility of throwing Tesla’s hat into the mining business ring in 2019, but so far, seems to intend to lean on miners to provide necessary supplies. That may change, however, because as Musk stated last year, “[Tesla will] do whatever we have to, to ensure that we can scale at the fastest rate possible.”

    Those of us interested to find out more, should probably create a calendar item for September 22 — Battery Day.

    Writes Lasley:

    “Slated to be held in Freemont, California on Sept. 22, Battery Day is an event where Tesla is expected to showcase its batteries and introduce new technologies. And, given Musk’s prelude, we are likely to learn a lot more about the company’s plans to source the minerals and metals at the front end of its gigafactory supply chain.”

    Read Lasley’s full piece here.

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  • Independence Day 2020 – Critical Mineral Resource Policy in a Watershed Year

    It’s that time of the year again – Independence Day is upon us.  This year, things are different, though. If you’re like us, it kind of snuck up on you, and it took seeing the booths selling fireworks in the parking lots to realize it’s July already.  After all, we just came off the longest month of March ever, right?

    While parades and fireworks to honor the men and women who have fought for, and continue to safeguard our freedom today, have been canceled in many places, July 4th still provides us with an opportunity to pause and take stock of where we are as a nation — and this year, there is much to reflect on.

    From a critical mineral resource perspective, we at ARPN have always used the occasion of Independence Day to remind ourselves that “while we cherish the freedom we are blessed with in so many ways, we must not become complacent, as there are areas where we’re increasingly becoming less independent” — with our reliance on foreign mineral resources being a case in point. 

    Today, this statement rings more true than ever, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic having exposed the vast extent of our mineral resource supply chain vulnerabilities. As ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argued in a piece for Real Clear Politics in March, “[t]he rapid spread of the coronavirus is doing more than claim an alarming number of human hosts — it is burning through decades of bureaucratic inertia and plain inattention as the American economic ecosystem has become dangerously dependent on China.”

    As followers of ARPN know — and as our nation as a whole is increasingly realizing —the United States’ reliance on foreign non-fuel minerals has significantly increased over the course of the past 65 years, both in terms of number and type, as well as as a percentage of import reliance.  Along with the rise in import dependency came a drastic shift in provider countries.

    Whereas the number of non-fuel mineral commodities for which the United States was greater than 50% net import-dependent was 28 in 1954, this number increased to 47 in 2014.  And while the U.S. was 100% net import reliant for 8 of the non-fuel commodities analyzed in 1954, this total import reliance increased to 11 non-fuel minerals in 1984, and currently stands at 17.  In the latest USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries report, China continues to be the elephant in the data room, and is listed 25 times as one of the major import sources of metals and minerals for which our net import reliance is 50% or greater.

    This spells trouble, and this realization is going mainstream, as indicated by this week’s Wall Street Journal discussion of a report by consulting firm Horizon Advocacy, which (looking specifically at rare earths) warns that “China’s rare earths positioning both implicates and threatens the entire global system,” and that “China will not rule out using rare earth exports as leverage (…).”

    Thankfully, there are indications that policymakers on Capitol Hill, in Cabinet Departments and in the White House are taking the issue seriously, and, after years of inaction, a flurry of current policy initiatives aimed at alleviating our supply chain vulnerabilities points to the U.S. Government viewing strategic materials and critical minerals issues with a new seriousness.

    Underscoring the urgency of the situation largely from a battery tech minerals perspective, Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and a member of the ARPN panel of experts, told the committee that “(…) the consequences of a long-term cutoff of some of the critical materials that we’ve discussed today would just be disastrous for the U.S. economy. (…) The threat of China…is becoming more and more evident every day even during this pandemic.” 

    How we proceed forward over the next few months of 2020 could become a watershed moment for United States. Will we continue to tinker around the edges of policy reform, or will we finally take significant steps towards U.S. mineral resource independence? 

    As Moores concluded in his Senate testimony with regards to securing critical mineral resource supply chains:

    “It is not too late for the US but action is needed now.”

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  • State Department Hopeful More Nations Will Join Energy Resource Governance Initiative in the Wake of COVID

    ***posted by Daniel McGroarty*** As demand for renewable energy continues to grow despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of State hopes to expand the Energy Resource Governance Initiative (ERGI) – an initiative launched last year by the United States and joined by ten other countries, including Canada, Australia and Brazil – aimed at improving supply chain security [...]
  • National Security Expert Calls for Securing Domestic Mineral Resource Supply Chains: “Crisis Borne from China’s Predation and Our Own Neglect No Longer Theoretical”

    After decades of watching “China become the world’s workshop as it snatches up industries, jobs and critical supply chains, [i]t’s time to restructure the global economy in our favor, and that means decisive action to shore up our most important industries,” writes Brig. Gen. John Adams (U.S. Army, retired), president of national security consulting firm Guardian Six [...]
  • Materials Science Revolution Continues to Yield Breakthroughs – a Look at Scandium

    Did you turn on the TV to watch the SpaceX Crew Dragon take off en route to the International Space Station yesterday only to be disappointed?  The long-awaited historic first launch of American astronauts from U.S. soil in nearly nine years has been postponed due to weather, but there’s a still good chance we will [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty for The Economic Standard: Red Swan – a Leaked 2010 Cable on Critical Infrastructure/Key Resource Vulnerabilities Provided Warning Signs We Failed To Act On

    In a new piece for The Economic Standard, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argues that while the “intellectual shrug” of “who could have seen this coming” tends to be a common reaction to our new normal of sheltering in place and social distancing, there were warning signs for a coming crisis we failed to recognize for what they were, and act [...]
  • Mining Sector Essential Part of Nation’s Critical Infrastructure Workforce

    As the U.S. grapples to flatten the curve of the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, large swaths of public life have come to a grinding halt. However, as North of 60 Mining News publisher Shane Lasley points out in a new piece for the publication, “it remains imperative for the nation to maintain the critical [...]
  • To Reduce Supply Chain Vulnerabilities, U.S. Should Tap Domestic Mineral Resources More

    Over the past few weeks, the spread of the coronavirus has begun to expose the supply chain challenges associated with an over-reliance on foreign raw materials, the effects of which will be felt across broad segments of manufacturing. In a new piece for PennLive Patriot-News, Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America [...]
  • Addressing a Piece of the Mineral Resource Puzzle – Federal Land Withdrawals

    As followers of ARPN know, the United States has finally embarked on a quest to look for ways to reduce its over-reliance on foreign mineral resources, and in doing so, reduce the leverage it has yielded to nations like China over our national security. In a new series for the Capital Research Center, geologist and [...]

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