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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski

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  • Experts to U.S. Senators: It’s “Not Too Late for the U.S.” to Secure Mineral Supply Chains Post-COVID, “But Action is Needed Now”

    In a timely hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, witnesses discussed the urgency of securing U.S. mineral supply chains in a post-COVID context. 

    Committee Chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who has long been an advocate of comprehensive mineral resource policy reform set the stage arguing that “[t]he pandemic has brought home that we don’t produce many goods important to our country.” While pointing out that the mining industry may not have faced the same level of disruption as some other sectors, she said that it is “hard not to conclude that we have been lucky here, and luck usually isn’t a very good strategy.”  Invoking recent studies, such as the recent World Bank report released as part of the global lender’s “Climate Smart Mining” Initiative pointing to the mineral intensity of a low-carbon future she underscored that now is the time to address our nation’s over-reliance on foreign (and in particular, Chinese) supplies of critical minerals.

    Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the American Resources Policy Network (ARPN) panel of experts, who in prior testimony had warned that the U.S. had become a “bystander in the global battery arms race,” argued that while a new global lithium ion economy was being created, “any US ambitions to be a leader in this lithium ion economy continue to only creep forward and be outstripped by China and Europe.  In more stark terms: China is building the equivalent of one battery megafactory a week, the USA one every four months.”

    While warning that “[i]n the USA, progress is far too slow on building out a domestic lithium ion economy,” Moores did point to opportunities to alleviate what has become a dire outlook, but said that it would effectively require rebuilding a heavy industry from scratch — and “at a speed, at scale, and quality that will make most of corporate America uncomfortable.”

    He closed by invoking the U.S.’s successful creation of a widespread semiconductor industry in the 1980s:

    “The lead that the USA built in semiconductors and computing power due to companies like Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel Corporation has sustained the USA’s dominance in global computing for over 5 decades.

    Likewise, those who invest in battery capacity and supply chains today are likely to dominate this industry for generations to come.

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

    Other witnesses, which included Nedal Nassar of the U.S. Geological Survey, Joe Bryan of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, Mark Caffarey of Umicore USA, Inc., and Dr. Thomas J. Duesterberg of the Hudson Institute, echoed the sentiment. 

    Full written remarks of all witnesses can be viewed here, and archived video of the hearing, which includes a q&a session following the official statements, will be made available here.

     

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  • ARPN Expert Panel Member: U.S. Must Turn to Building Out Critical Mineral Supply Chains Securing Both Inputs and Outputs

    Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), long one of the leaders on Capitol Hill pushing for a comprehensive overhaul of our nation’s mineral resource policy, addressed the challenges of our nation’s over-reliance on foreign – and especially China-sourced critical metals and minerals against the backdrop of the current Coronavirus pandemic in a post for the online discussion forum OurEnergyPolicy.org.”

    Citing ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores, who in 2019 testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which Sen. Murkowski chairs, lamented that the U.S. was so far merely a “bystander” in the “global battery arms race,” Sen.Murkowski wrote:

    “We have effectively surrendered the front end of the supply chain to other nations. If we fail to adjust course, we will continue to cede jobs and economic growth. We will face supply disruptions and price spikes for essential building blocks that we effectively choose not to produce. The Trump administration deserves credit for the steps it has taken to change our trajectory, and I have re-introduced my American Mineral Security Act to strengthen those efforts. (…)

    As our country begins to emerge from the current crisis and considers options to restore our economy, it is critical that we set a course for long-term resilience by addressing the supply chain vulnerabilities the pandemic has exposed. That should start with mineral security—and the modernization of federal policies that will serve to protect us going forward.”

    Invited to comment on Murkowski’s remarks, Moores took to OurEnergyPolicy earlier this week and noted that since his Senate testimony, “the US has fallen further behind in this global battery arms race.

    He elaborates: 

    “In February 2019, there were 70 battery megafactories in the pipeline of which 46 are in China and 5 in the USA. Today there are 136 of these super-sized electric vehicle battery plants in operation or being planned: 101 in China and 8 in the USA. China is building a battery gigafactory (megafactory) at the rate of one every week; the USA at one every four months. In 2019, China produced 72% of the world’s lithium-ion batteries whereas the USA only 9%.”

    What is key, he notes, is that China has “not just built an entire suite of super-sized battery megafactories for its auto industry, but the entire supply chain to feed them.”While only producing 23% of key battery raw materials combined, he points out, China produces 80% of battery chemicals, which represent the next step in the supply chain. Moores concludes: 
     

    “The world’s supply chain arrows point toward’s China for production of lithium-ion batteries as China understands that this is the enabling technology for the 21st-century auto industry and critical to our future energy needs via storage.

    This isn’t just making batteries for a niche auto, this is industrial infrastructure the 21st century and China holds the sway of power. The USA needs to ask itself when the last time it built a heavy industry from scratch? It’s likely to be before its leaders were born in 1933 and FDR’s New Deal. This is the scale of the challenge facing the world’s biggest economy: Building secure, local, hi-tech supply chains for a lithium-ion economy. In turn, this will create millions of jobs and put the USA at the forefront of this energy storage revolution.

    Now that the battery megafactories have arrived, Moores says the “focus must turn to building them within the USA and securing the inputs (raw materials) and outputs (recycling) to make this happen.”

    The time to end our “bystander” status in the global battery arms race (and beyond, because our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals does not end with battery tech) is now.  

    ***

    Read more from several ARPN expert panel members on critical mineral supply chain security challenges here:

    And for a visual introduction to the issue of our nation’s mineral over-reliance on China, check out these two clips by the Clear Energy Alliance. 

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  • Tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 10 – U.S. House Committee to Hold Hearing on “Research and Innovation to Address the Critical Materials Challenge”

    On Tuesday, December 10 — close to the two-year anniversary of the White House’s executive order “to develop a federal strategy to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals” the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on “Research and Innovation to Address the Critical Materials Challenge.” The hearing comes against the backdrop of increased [...]
  • Time to Reduce Our Reliance on “Untrustworthy Countries for Strategically Important Minerals”

    As we recover from collective food coma and return to our desks after a tumultuous Thanksgiving travel week, J. Winston Porter, a former EPA assistant administrator in Washington, reminds us of the importance of keeping the focus on the issues associated with our over-reliance on foreign mineral resources.    In a new piece for InsideSources, Porter [...]
  • Sen. Murkowski, Panelists, Underscore Urgency of Securing Critical Mineral Supply Chains

    “With our eyes wide open, we are putting ourselves in the same vulnerable position [as we did with oil and gas decades ago] when it comes to these [critical] minerals,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told the audience at “Minerals: The Overlooked Foundation of Our Future,” an event organized by RealClearPolitics in partnership with our friends [...]
  • With Rare Display of Bipartisanship in Congress and Resource Partnership Announcement With Allied Nations, Momentum Building for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    Late last week, we witnessed the formal announcement of a forthcoming roll out of an “action plan” to counter Chinese dominance in the critical minerals sector during Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s week-long state visit to the U.S.. According to news reports the plan will “open a new front against China in a widening technology and trade war by exploiting [...]
  • U.S. Senator: “Our Energy Future Is Bright, But Only If We Recognize The World We Are In”

    As the tech wars over Rare Earths and other critical metals and minerals deepen, competition is heating up in another field of resource policy.  In a new piece for the Washington Times, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) discusses the new realities of a globalized energy market and the consequences associated with America’s declining nuclear energy [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty Quoted in Daily Caller Piece on the Specter of China Playing the “Rare Earths Card”

    Reporting for the Daily Caller, Michael Bastasch zeroes in on what has once again become a hot button issue – Rare Earth Elements (REEs) in the context of trade relations, as reported Chinese threats to “escalate its trade dispute with the Trump administration to include rare earth minerals has, once again, shined a spotlight on U.S. [...]
  • Trade Tensions Underscore Need for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    While 2018 brought the inter-relationship between trade and resource policy to the forefront, this trend is continuing in 2019.   Last week, the White House announced sanctions on Iranian metals, which represent the Tehran regime’s biggest source of export revenue aside from petroleum.  The sanctions on Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors represent the [...]
  • Lawmakers Introduce New Legislation Aimed at Changing United States’ “Bystander” Status in Race for Critical Minerals

    As pressures mount for the United States to bolster its position as a non-fuel mineral raw materials producer amidst the ongoing battery tech revolution, a group of U.S. Senators have introduced legislation to boost domestic production of critical minerals. The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and [...]

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