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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • A Pivotal Moment to “Get Serious About Building the Domestic Mineral Supply Chain”

    Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order instructing his economic and national security teams to conduct a 100 day review of four key U.S. supply chains across federal agencies to assess the nation’s resiliency and capacity of the American manufacturing supply chains and defense industrial base to support national security [and] emergency preparedness.

    Targeting supply chains for semiconductors, high-capacity batteries, medical supplies and rare earth metals, the White House aims to “identify ways to secure U.S. supply chains against a wide range of risks and vulnerabilities.”

    The executive order comes against the backdrop of two recent announcements which mark a pivotal moment for EV battery technology in the United States: President Biden’s declaration to shift the entire federal vehicle fleet to EVs made in America, and General Motors’ announcement to cease production of cars powered by combustion engines by 2035. Undoubtedly, this will further heat up the already turbocharged lithium-ion-battery-to-electric-vehicle (EV) supply chain.

    As the National Mining Association’s Rich Nolan wrote in a recent RealClear Energy piece, this moment “offers both the potential for significant progress in reducing emissions and the opportunity for the U.S. to win the accelerating race for the future of the auto industry and the millions of jobs it supports.” But he cautioned that “if we don’t get serious about building the domestic mineral supply chain to support it, it’s a race we could lose.”

    Followers of ARPN know that we are already “in the midst of a global battery arms race in which the US is presently a bystander” — and that China, having taken the initiative to build battery capacity at speed and scale has long taken the pole position.

    Citing Benchmark Mineral Intelligence data, Nolan pointed to the fact that while 142 battery megafactories are currently in the pipeline worldwide, of these 107 will be in China, with 53 already actively producing. Meanwhile, there are currently only nine megafactories lined up in the United States.

    To succeed in this environment, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s Simon Moores says stakeholders will need to understand the lithium-ion-to-EV supply chain, its individual sections, and the linkage between them:

    “Automakers who quickly understand the importance of these linked steps in the battery supply chain to the quality and cost of their EVs will be the most successful at navigating the next decade. For governments, the shifts in the economics of the supply chain outlined in this article provide opportunities to create jobs, garner influence over a strategic industry, and establish new trading relationships, particularly relevant as Europe and the United States, under a Biden presidency, will seek to reduce reliance on China as a single point in the supply chain. Those who do not see the importance of the lithium-ion battery will have no meaningful future.”

    It’s not too late yet, but time and a firm commitment are of the essence. Concludes Nolan:

    “Catching up to China will mean building an EV supply-chain strategy from the mine up. The U.S. has the resources to do it. What we need now is a commitment to prioritize the production and a mines-to-markets strategy that enables us to build infrastructure for the electrification of transportation that will support American industry and millions of American workers.”

    President Biden’s executive order and the confirmation of Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm are early indications that the current administration understands the stakes. Here’s hoping that decisive action to strengthen our domestic critical mineral supply chains from EVs to Rare Earths and beyond will follow.

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  • China’s Saber-Rattling over Rare Earths Card Getting Louder

    After months of rumblings, it appears that China is gearing up to play its “rare earths card” again.

    Citing people involved in a government consultation, the Financial Times reports that Beijing is gauging exactly how badly companies in the United States and Europe, including U.S. defense contractors, would be affected by plans to restrict exports of rare earth elements.

    According to Chinese media, REE exports had already dropped by more than 20 percent following the passage of a new broad export control law restricting sales of items relating to Chinese national security that went into effect on December 1, 2020. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has since proposed more specific language to impose controls on REE production and exports.

    The development ties into the overall context of a deterioration of Chinese-American diplomatic and trade relations against the backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the buildout of 5G technology having emerged as a new frontier in the deepening tech war between the two global players.

    With China controlling more than 70% of global REE output, the specter of China weaponizing its position — yet again — is a serious threat to our national security and economic wellbeing. This is especially true when one considers that, while crucial, rare earths are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when considering our overall critical mineral resource dependencies — a fact for which USGS has just provided the annual reminder with the release of its Mineral Commodity Summaries 2021, which lists China 24 times as one of the major import sources of metals and minerals for which our net import reliance is 50% or greater.

    2020 has underscored the urgency of shoring up our domestic critical mineral resource supply chains, and has yielded important progress with regards to policies aimed at reducing our over-reliance on foreign, and especially Chinese metals and minerals.

    While the Biden Administration is — understandably — reviewing the preceding Administration’s policies, it is important that stakeholders realize that we can’t admire the problem anymore. We don’t have the luxury of time.

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  • 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 [...]
  • Amidst Big Policy Shifts, Signs for Continued Emphasis on Securing Critical Mineral Supply Chains at DoE

    Parents of young children will know: Transitions are hard. And what is true for toddlers, is also true for government. Observers of the critical mineral resource realm have been closely monitoring the transition from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration. There were early indications that, unlike some other areas, the critical mineral resource realm [...]
  • Critical Mineral Developments Continue in the Waning Days of 2020 — and Into the Early Days of the New Year

    If you’ve read our Year in Review post last month, you know 2020 was a busy year on the mineral resource policy front — so much so that even the last few days of December had several important developments. Most notably, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. While most of the media’s attention [...]
  • 2020 – A Watershed Year for Resource Policy

    ARPN’s Year in Review — a Cursory Review of the United States’ Critical Mineral Resource Challenge in 2020 It feels like just a few weeks ago many of us quipped that April 2020 seemed like the longest month in history, yet here we are: It’s mid-December, and we have almost made it through 2020. It’s [...]
  • With Asteroid Mining Likely Unattainable for the Time Being, U.S. Must Focus on Reducing Supply Chain Vulnerabilities – Here on Earth

    According to NASA, the Hubble Telescope earlier this month collected imagery of an asteroid “so rich in metals that its worth puts our global economy to shame.” Already discovered in 1852, the celestial body is located in the Solar System’s main asteroid belt, roughly 370 million km from Earth. The object, which has been called [...]
  • U.S. Senator and AK Governor for The Hill: With China Having Taken Control of Critical Mineral Supply Chains, We Need to Act Now

    Beijing’s threat to withhold potentially life-saving medical supplies and medications in the middle of a global pandemic, during which China has “taken control of [respective] supply chains around the world as part of its quest for global domination,” were a wake up call, write U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) in [...]
  • China’s New Export Control Legislation Raises Specter of REE Ban

    Three weeks ago, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring a critical minerals national emergency aimed at expanding domestic production of rare-earth and other critical minerals in an effort to reduce dependence on China. Among other things, the order directs the Department of the Interior to explore the application of the Defense Production [...]
  • Scandium Has Yet to Go “Ballistic” — Will Recent Developments Change the Material’s Odds to Shine?

    “This obscure metal is going to go ballistic in a few years,” John Kaiser of Kaiser Research told the Investing News Network a few years ago. The metal he was referring to is Scandium — a material that is “as strong as titanium, as light as aluminum, and as hard as ceramic.” It’s a material [...]

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