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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Is Lithium the New Black?

    At a time when mineral commodities have been slumping, one material is proving to be the exception to the rule, leading many to hail lithium as a rare bright spot for miners, amid cratering prices of raw materials tied to heavy industry such as iron ore to coal.”

     Via our friend Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Minerals and lead expert on the supply chain for batteries, we came across a solid analysis of minerals in clean car technology.  Bloomberg’s Liam Denning discusses the role of lithium as one of the key minerals at the heart of 21st Century battery technology fueling electric vehicles as well as portable devices and power storage.

    Contrasting lithium’s story with that of two other once promising metals, palladium and uranium, Denning outlines lithium’s rise to stardom, appeal and potential staying power.  His verdict – lithium is a mineral worth watching:

    “Rising demand that is largely indifferent to price, combined with lagging supply, is what commodity bulls dream of. This underpinned the boom in palladium, as well as the recent bull markets in oil and copper. It looks like lithium’s turn is coming.”

    With Tesla’s new Gigafactory slated to open soon, and other battery makers expanding their plants, chances are, he is right.

    Says Simon Moores:

    “[New supply from all lithium sources] will have a critical role to play in sourcing lithium for the battery supply chain. As things stands, there will not be enough lithium to supply the battery megafactories coming onstream.”

    With the net import reliance on foreign supplies of lithium hovering at more than 60% according to USGS estimates, this challenge will most certainly affect U.S. battery makers and downstream domestic industries.

    Click here to read the full piece.

    Click here to keep tabs on Simon Moore’s analysis of critical metals and minerals.

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  • The “Electronification of Everything” Raises Specter of “War Over the Periodic Table”

    Via our friend and ARPN expert Simon Moores’ Twitter feed, we came across a three-part must-read series for Bloomberg View, in which author and policy expert David S. Abraham discusses the role of rare earths in today’s increasingly high-tech world.   Perhaps most interestingly, Abraham clarifies a common misconception in part two of the series:

    “Although the multiple functions of our new gadgets appear to come with the opportunity to use fewer raw materials — after all, the iPhone is a computer, book, and music player — the reality is we use far more total resources.

    Indeed, some new products use less rare metals than their previous iterations. For example, LED displays use far fewer rare-earth elements per lamp than their fluorescent cousins. But other times, an apparent reduction in materials use is just a displacement.”

    As he explains, laptops today may use fewer rare earths because flash drives are getting smaller, but to offset reduced memory capacities, usage of REE-magnets for hard drives in cloud-data storage centers is skyrocketing.

    Abraham cites the electric toothbrush, the production of which requires roughly 35 metals, as an example of the “’electronification’ of what were once simple products is now embedded with rare metals.”  Supplying these 35 metals, he says, requires an extensive supply chain spanning six continents.  The dangers associated with the inherent risk of supply disruptions stretch far beyond dental hygiene:

    “Because whole industries are built on just a few rare metals, disruptions to their supply can have profound global implications and give resource-rich countries tremendous leverage. (…) And as these metals are critical to green technology as well as underpin complex weapons systems and ultimately a country’s national defense, more is on the line than spinning toothbrushes.

    Abraham’s warning in part three of the series should sound familiar to our ARPN readers, as it reflects concerns we have consistently raised over the past few years:

    “Increasingly today, national economic security and the fate of many businesses are beholden to a handful of unheralded metals, produced often in one country, in many cases China. As our products become more advanced and supply lines intertwined, manufacturers become tied to the properties of specific rare metals, leaving them hostage to the resources. Without more robust supply lines, the War over the Periodic Table may be just beginning.”

     Read the entire three-part series here.

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  • Does Elon Musk Know Where His Giga-Metals Will Come From?

    ARPN followers are well-versed on the dangers of foreign resource dependency – a concern highlighted by Tesla Motors’ announcement earlier this year that the EV manufacturer will build a massive Giga-Factory in the American Southwest, with the goal of doubling global EV battery output by 2020. As ARPN’ers know, the next question is: Where will [...]
  • Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory to Drive Critical Mineral Demand

    The graphite, lithium and cobalt industries are set for major demand surges as Tesla Motors prepares to break ground on its super-battery plant, the Gigafactory, next month. The high-end EV manufacturer is looking to double the world’s battery output as it seeks to bring the production cost of battery packs down in a bid to [...]
  • What are China’s intentions for its graphite production?

    The following is a guest post by American Resources expert Simon Moores. Wide-reaching controls on China’s natural resources continue to be at the forefront of its shift to a high value economy. Already industries like rare earths and phosphate fertilizer are tightly controlled by government-forced regulation. The question remains whether graphite – the 9th most [...]
  • Lithium Supply & Markets Conference held this week

    Industrial Minerals, the London-based intellectual home of one of our experts, Simon Moores, is hosting a conference on Lithium Supply & Markets in Las Vegas this week. Over the past few years, Lithium has seen increased attention due to its relevance in battery technology. Lithium Carbonate is a key component in the manufacture of Lithium-Ion [...]
  • As graphite demand increases, geopolitical dimension becomes more apparent

    ProEdgeWire’s Graphite and Graphene Weekly Review sees surging demand for graphite and its derivative graphene, not least because of their important role in battery technology, where graphite continues to be a traditional component, while graphene is considered a major factor in future generation batteries. Recent reports of aircraft batteries catching fire won’t change that – [...]
  • EV uncertainty dominates discussion at Graphite Conference – Part 2

    This is the second of a two-part post by American Resources Expert Simon Moores and his Industrial Minerals colleague, Andy Miller. Read Part One here.   2013 rebound after poor year 2012 has been a poor year for graphite demand. Trading activity has been sapped out of the industry since September with little sign of [...]
  • EV uncertainty dominates discussion at Graphite Conference – Part 1

    This is the first of a two-part post by American Resources Expert Simon Moores and his Industrial Minerals colleague, Andy Miller. Check back tomorrow for Part Two. The future for electric vehicle (EV) batteries dominated discussion at Industrial Minerals 2nd Graphite Conference in London last week, despite being only the fourth largest market for the [...]
  • American Resources experts to speak at international graphite conference

    American Resources Principal Daniel McGroarty will speak alongside fellow American Resources expert and Manager for Industrial Minerals Data, Simon Moores, at Industrial Minerals’ 2nd Graphite Conference 2012 in early December. In light of its traditional uses, its importance for the new Li-ion technology, and the ostensibly endless potential applications for the “new super material graphene,” [...]

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