American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Vanadium’s Time to Shine?

    Steve LeVine, Future Editor at Axios and Senior Fellow at The Atlantic Council, has called it “one of the most confounding areas of research” and a “technology that, while invented more than two centuries ago, is still frustrating scientists.”   It is also one of the areas where one of the key growth industries – the electronic vehicle segment – is making massive investments to achieve breakthroughs: We’re talking about battery technology.

    Supply concerns for the materials underpinning this technology are increasingly forcing automakers and other industries relying on energy storage, such as utilities, to step up their efforts both boost the amount of energy batteries can store and diversify materials used to achieve these efficiencies.

    Lithium, Cobalt and Nickel have long been the shining stars of battery technology, but there is a new kid on the block – particularly in the area of stationary storage.

    Simon Moores, member of the ARPN panel of experts and Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, believes that Vanadium’s time to shine may have come.  Addressing attendees of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s World Tour in Melbourne Australia, Moores said that “if the vanadium market gets a number of key [mines] up and running quickly, vanadium flow could have its ‘lithium ion battery moment’ — its Elon Musk moment.”

    Traditionally known as an alloying component in various steels, where its strengthening properties come to bear, Vanadium has been used in the building and construction industry for a long time. Ferrovanadium alloys have also been used in protective military vehicles while a Titanium-Aluminum-Vanadium alloy is used in jet engines and high-speed aircraft.  While Vanadium flow battery technology has been around for a while, first-generation batteries were mired by inefficiencies ad costliness. Initial breakthroughs in 2011 increased storage capacity of Vanadium by 70 percent – and more R&D is continuing to yield further improvements. Vanadium flow battery technology today, however, is considered well established and commercially viable, leading Moores and his colleagues to estimate that by 2028, 50 percent of the “burgeoning stationary storage market will be lithium-ion, and 25 per cent vanadium flow batteries.”

    This emerging development, in turn, invites a theme that is very familiar for ARPN followers — the co-product challenge. As we have previously pointed out:

    “According to USGS, Vanadium [ a co-product of Aluminum ]  is at least as plentiful as Nickel and Zinc, at least in terms of its availability in the earth’s crust. However, it rarely occurs in deposits that can be economically mined for the element alone. Between 2009 and 2013, some co-product vanadium production occurred domestically (though not from Bauxite mining for Aluminum), but it has since been suspended. As a result, the United States is currently 100% import dependent for its domestic Vanadium needs – in spite of the fact that ‘domestic resources and secondary recovery are adequate to supply a large portion of domestic needs.’

    This once more begs the question – isn’t it time for a more comprehensive approach to mineral resource policy?”

    The inclusion of Vanadium on the Department of Interior’s list of 35 minerals deemed critical to U.S. national security was a logical first step. Now appropriate policy reforms must follow.

  • Lithium – Challenges and Opportunities Underscore Need for Domestic Resource Policy Overhaul

    In an interview with InvestingNews.com, Simon Moores, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s managing director and a member of the ARPN panel of experts, discusses challenges relating to Lithium – one of the key materials underpinning EV battery technology.

    Moores says that big challenges still lie in bringing new supply to the market, but the situation is not “straightforward, it’s not just about getting the spodumene up and running, it’s about that conversion capacity and what’s actually real.”

    As for opportunities, he says that automakers are realizing the challenges and are beginning to pay closer attention to Lithium:

    “We are coming into a new era where the auto companies know that you have to –well, someone’s have to going to pay for the supply chain to scale and most are trying to work that out, they know that now, I think, they have to have some kind of input somewhere, but that’s the raw material or the cathode or the batteries. We think it’s going to lie with the raw materials, the two key ones, which are lithium and cobalt in our eyes and I think that’s the biggest opportunity that the lithium space faces right now.”

    The U.S. – once the largest Lithium producer in the world – today lags far behind Chile, Australia and other nations in terms of production — but automakers, realizing the challenges, are beginning to turn back to the United States as a potential source of supply.

    As we previously outlined:

    “While challenges will remain, as ‘some of the deposits will require as-yet untested technology for extraction,’ experts, including our friends at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, believe that at least one or two U.S.-based projects could enter production in the next four to five years.

    Much will depend on the domestic policy environment, where changes are on the horizon. If U.S. policy-makers and other stakeholders make good on their recently-found commitment to comprehensive resource policy reform, the United States could once more become the mineral resource power house it once was – and Lithium could be on the forefront of this development.

    This will mean, however, that Washington, DC will have to do more than pay lip service.  An opportunity to improve the outdated and duplicative permitting process was just squandered when lawmakers on Capitol Hill struck the House-passed Amodei amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.  With reports offering reform solutions due from various government agencies, it remains to be seen whether policy makers are ready to actually tackle the challenges or merely kick the can down the road again.

  • Automakers turn to U.S. Market as Potential Source of Lithium

    We’ve said it before, EV battery technology is the new black – and if the metals and minerals fueling this technology are not yet on your radar, you’ve clearly missed the memo.  Even the oil industry is coming to grips with this new reality. As our friends from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence report: “For the first [...]
  • Supply Chain Timelines Warrant Comprehensive Policy Approach – A Look at Lithium

    In case you haven’t noticed, EV battery technology is the new black. With Lithium being one of the key metals driving this technology, our friends at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence have looked at the material’s supply chain – and the time it takes to develop the respective components of it. As Simon Moores, managing director at [...]
  • Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s World Tour Returns to U.S. this May

    Our friends from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence – formidable experts when it comes to battery tech and the mineral resources driving it – are returning to the U.S. in May for another round of their World Tour. This year’s tour will “focus on the supply chains for the next generation of battery technologies,” and seek to [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]