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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Senate Energy Committee Zeroes in on Energy Storage Revolution – Where Will the Battery Megafactories Get the Minerals and Metals They Need?

    Just last week, we highlighted the surge in EV technology and its implications for mineral resource supply and demand.  A timely subject – as evidenced by the fact that the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy held a “Full Committee Hearing “to Examine Energy Storage Technologies” this week. 

    Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of experts, was invited to testify on opportunities and risks in the energy storage supply chain. In his testimony, Moores outlined the “rise of the lithium ion battery megafactories,” and shared Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s assessment of the development of the two largest growth markets for which these lithium ion batteries will be targeted – EV and stationary/utility storage, which Moores characterized as the “two uses that underpin the energy storage revolution.”

    Said Moores:

    Both markets are in their infancy. However, as these markets mature over the next 10 years, the scale of application and its disruptive effect on established auto and energy industries will be unprecedented.”

    Moores then discussed the critical raw material inputs fueling lithium ion technologies — Lithium, Graphite, Cobalt and Nickel — with an eye towards the United States’ current and prospective role in these respective markets. While outlining opportunities, Moores also warned of great risks:

    “The demands EV manufacturers are placing on raw material miners to chemical processors and cathode manufacturers are huge – they are being asked to increase their business footprint by 5-10 times in a 7-year period. At present, there is little desire to share this capital and commercial risk of building new mines or expanding their business to meet this new demand. 

    Major auto manufacturers will eventually have to conclude that supply chain partnerships and capital investment is the only way to secure lithium, graphite, cobalt, nickel or lithium ion battery cells. But this decision-making process is slow for players outside of China and risks derailing any form of revolution in the energy storage industry.”

    He argued that necessary investment is still falling short and “needs to be 10 times larger to create a new blueprint for a post-2030 world.”

    Concluded Moores: 

    “This energy storage revolution is global and unstoppable. For countries and corporations, positioning themselves accordingly to take advantage of this should be of paramount importance and longer term (~10 year) decisions need to be made.”

    Here’s hoping that his testimony resonates with Members of Congress and helps deepen the conversation about a much needed comprehensive mineral resource strategy. 

    To read Moores’s full testimony, click here. Video footage of the hearing will be made available on the committee’s website as well. 

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  • China Jockeys for Pole Position in EV Industry

    ARPN followers know it’s the elephant in the room. China. Already vast and resource-rich, the country has demonstrated an insatiable appetite for the world’s mineral resources and has pursued an aggressive strategy to gain access to the materials needed to meet the world’s largest population’s resource needs.

    Thus, it comes as no surprise that China is also jockeying for “Pole Position,” as Robert Blain writes for China Daily Asia Weekly in what may well be one of the hottest commodity fields of our time: EV battery technology and the electric car industry as a whole – from “vehicle manufacturing and sales to battery technology.” 

    Demand for EV technology is surging in China, as electric and hybrid car sales are growing at a rapid pace. A recent survey cited in the article found that while Germany took the top spot for EV technology, China is emerging as an industry leader: “In industry, China has confirmed its pole position. The reason for this is the continuing rapid growth of the market, more than 90 percent of which is supplied with lithium- ion cells produced locally. This high local share is partly due to the fact that subsidies only apply where there is local value creation.”

     The article heavily quotes our friend and member of the ARPN panel of experts, Simon Moores of Benchmark Minerals. Moores believes that “there is no doubt China is the global hub for the electric vehicle revolution.” 

    He is quoted as saying: 

    “China is producing its own electric vehicles, but the export vehicles are first likely to be Western-branded ones. For example, [US electric-car maker] Tesla is looking to make batteries in a new Gigafactory near Shanghai. This is the first step in making Tesla EVs in China for the domestic and export market. VW [Volkswagen] has similar grand plan.”

    Ultimately, according to Moores, “for foreign car manufacturers to have power in the EV market, ‘they need to be in China.’”

    The article continues: 

    “China is also very well positioned in the production and export of lithium-ion batteries typically used to power electric cars. ‘China already produces the bulk of lithium-ion battery cathode material,’ said Moores. ‘It is locking up the lithium supply chain through Ganfeng Lithium and to a lesser extent Tianqi Lithium. It controls cobalt supply and battery grade refining and produces the vast majority of the world’s graphite anode material.’ Nearly 70 percent of all new lithium-ion battery capacity being built in new megafactory structures will be based in China, he said.”

    In a recent commentary for Investor’s Business Daily, our very own Dan McGroarty pointed out China’s prominent role as a lead supplier of the world’s mineral resources :

    “As noted by the U.S. Geological Survey, we are 100% import-dependent for 20 metals and minerals, and 50% or more dependent for another 50. As for where the U.S. obtains these metals and minerals it needs but does not mine, China is a leading supplier of 28 of the 50 — up from 21 just a year ago.”

    Time for policy makers to take note. We may not always be able to significantly reduce our reliance on foreign mineral resources, but where possible, we should work towards that goal – particularly when our lead suppliers are not the most reliable trading partners. We have several opportunities to do so – some of which McGroarty outlined in his commentary.  

    China will certainly remain a force to be reckoned with in the mineral resource realm, but Lithium and Lithium-ion technology represent a great case in point for comprehensive mining policy reform in the United States.

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  • EVENT: Experts to Discuss Critical Mineral Supply Chains and Energy Storage Revolution

    Our friends at Benchmark Minerals are back in town and they’ve done it again: The team led by Benchmark Minerals Managing Director and ARPN expert panel member Simon Moores has once more put together a great lineup for a half-day event in Washington, DC this Wednesday. Speakers like David Abraham, Director of the Technology, Rare [...]
  • Cobalt – First Steps Towards Reducing Mineral Resource Dependencies?

    A recent piece for InvestorIntel zeroes in on a metal which, due to its growing use in battery technology, coupled with a challenging supply scenario is increasingly afforded “critical mineral” status – Cobalt. A co-product of Nickel and Copper, the metal’s recent history, as author Lara Smith argues, has been “chaotic.” ARPN agrees that about sums it up. Criticism regarding the [...]
  • Event: Benchmark Minerals World Tour Comes to Washington DC

    If you are based out of Washington, DC or happen to be in town on October 21, here’s an event you should not miss: Our friends at Benchmark Minerals, a U.K.-based price data collection and assessment company specializing in the lithium ion battery supply chain, are taking their Benchmark World Tour to Washington, DC.   ARPN expert and Benchmark [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]

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