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  • Defense Industrial Base Report “Clear Sign We Need to Act Urgently”

    In a new piece for The Hill’s Congress Daily Blog, retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John Adams argues the recently released Defense Industrial Base Report and its findings, which we previously discussed here and here, represent a call to action for Congress and other stakeholders, because it shows that “[j]ust when we should be retooling for renewed great power competition, the very foundation from which we project strength is crumbling.” 

    Gen. Adams highlights  the “aggressive industrial policies of competitor nations, particularly China”as one of the biggest issues.  Pointing to the extent our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals has grown over the course of the past 40 years, he says “[o]ur shocking import dependence on minerals and metals is merely a microcosm of the problem,” and continues:

    “A troubling number of these minerals are dominated by domestic Chinese production or by Chinese companies operating around the globe. Take our 100 percent import reliance on rare earth minerals. China has monopolized the production of these 17 minerals, which are in a dizzying array of military hardware. From F-22 and F-35 aircraft to guidance and targeting systems, these minerals are essential to most of our advanced weapons systems. That we have allowed to China to dominate their production and processing defies comprehension.”

    His suggestions on how to alleviate the problems strike a theme familiar for followers of ARPN:

    “We must first begin with taking a comprehensive approach to U.S. competitiveness. Challenging unfair trade practices should be part of that approach but reducing our self-imposed barriers to competitiveness must be part of the equation as well. Our redundant, broken mine permitting process is a case in point. (…) We can and must do better.”

    He concludes:

    “Rebuilding our defense industrial base is finally being given the attention it deserves. How effectively we act remains to be seen. However, the systemic challenges highlighted in the just-released report can no longer go unaddressed. A concerted effort from the executive branch, Congress and the Department of Defense is needed to undo years of damage caused by decades of complacency. We must urgently address our astonishing and growing import dependence on the raw materials that are the building blocks for our most important defense systems.”

    The time to act is now – our competitors, and first and foremost China, have made clear they’re not going to wait for us to get our resource policy house in order.

  • European Union Pushes Ahead With Attempt to Create Battery Manufacturing Value Chain in Europe

    While the United States is finally taking steps to approach mineral resource policy in a comprehensive and strategic fashion, the European Union got a head start several years ago, and has since begun enacting mineral resource policy initiatives within the context of its raw materials strategy.  With its ambitious 2050 low-carbon vision, and the rise of battery tech (most recently visualized by Visual Capitalist with new data provided by our friends at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence) it comes as no surprise that the European Union places a strong emphasis on the circular economy model and battery technology as core tenets of its mineral resource policy.

    Against this backdrop, the European Commission in October of last year launched the European Battery Alliance (EBA), with the objective to “create a competitive manufacturing value chain in Europe with sustainable battery cells at its core.” 

    The rationale behind the EBA is that the battery “will represent a high proportion of the value added in the car of the future.”  With the car industry a major player in the European economy, the aim is to retain as much of the value creation in Europe as possible” in order to minimize disruptions in the supply chain. Meanwhile, the EU considers itself “a leader in many sectors of the battery value chain with great potential in recycling and the circular economy.”  The Strategic Action Plan for Batteries adopted in May of this year represents a comprehensive set of concrete measures with the goal to “develop an innovative, sustainable and competitive battery ‘ecosystem’ in Europe,” and the Commission earlier this month announced that “the first pilot production facilities are being built and further projects are announced to establish the EU as the lead player in the strategic area of battery innovation and manufacturing.” 

    While praising the European Union’s initiative as an effort to “foster communication and co-operation, encourage consortiums and use existing funding better,” the Financial Times editorial board this week argues that Europe’s push may end up being too little too late as “Asian rivals with scale and expertise are building capacity in Europe, including South Korea’s LG Chem in Poland, Samsung SDI in Hungary and China’s CATL in Germany. The likes of BMW and VW have signed big contracts with them.”

    The conclusion the editorial board draws for the European Union applies equally for the United States:

    “Battery technology is (…) the kind of area where co-ordinated EU-level action, if done well, could make a difference. Brussels and commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, who has made the plan something of a personal project, are right to try. Falling even further behind now could leave Europe struggling for decades to catch up — and put countless jobs at risk.” 

    The U.S., too, could benefit from a more coordinated policy approach to battery technology – and more broadly to the mineral resource sector.  With global race to corner the market heating up, isn’t it time we put a comprehensive resource strategy in place?
  • ARPN Expert: To Counter China’s Mineral Resource Dominance, U.S. Apathy About Critical Minerals Must End  

    Followers of ARPN know that China is the big elephant in the room when it comes to the United States’ critical mineral resource supply issues.  As ARPN expert panel member Ned Mamula, an adjunct scholar in geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute, and “Rare Mettle” author Ann Bridges write in [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • A “Dangerous Dependence:”  Mineral Resource Security Goes Mainstream

    In recent weeks, we have seen a flurry of articles and commentaries in national publications discussing reforms to address our ever-growing reliance on foreign mineral resources.  The two most recent examples are member of the ARPN expert panel Jeffery A. Green’s piece in Real Clear Defense entitled “Dangerous Dependence on China for Critical Minerals Runs [...]
  • Happy Birthday, America – Onward to Resource Independence Day?

    It’s that time of the year again – we load up our shopping carts with fireworks and burger buns, and gear up for parades to honor of the men and women who have fought, and continue our safeguard our freedom today. Many of us will have already traveled this week – and according to AAA, [...]
  • Critical Mineral List Finalized – Now Comes the Hard Part

    “Identifying which minerals are ‘critical’ is the easy part. Working out what to do about them is going to be much harder.”  – That’s the conclusion Reuters columnist Andy Home draws in his recent piece on the current Administration’s efforts to develop a strategy to reduce import reliance for metals considered “critical to the economic and [...]
  • The Daily Caller: DOI Critical Minerals List Highlights United States’ Over-Reliance on Foreign Mineral Resources

    Heavily quoting from ARPN’s statement on the issue, The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch earlier this month reported on the Department of the Interior’s finalized list of minerals deemed critical for U.S. national security. Writes Bastasch: “President Donald Trump’s administration’s release of a list of 35 critical minerals highlights just how reliant the U.S. is on [...]
  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty Comments on DOI’s Release of Final Critical Minerals List

    The Department of the Interior released its final list of Critical Minerals today. The following is ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty’s statement on the list: “DOI issued its final list of Critical Minerals, unchanged at 35.  What we see is the degree of US dependency – the US is 100% import-dependent for 14 of the 35 [...]
  • Congressional Western Caucus Members Call for Expansion of Critical Minerals List

    Earlier this month, members of the Congressional Western Caucus sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Acting Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Mary Neumayr calling for the inclusion of additional metals and minerals into the draft critical minerals list released by Secretary Zinke [...]