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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Nickel – The “Metal That Brought You Cheap Flights” Now “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution”

    Another week, another great infographic by Visual Capitalist – this time on the “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution” – Nickel.
    Long an important base metal because of its alloying capabilities, Nickel’s status as a Gateway Metal, yielding access to tech minerals like Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium – all of which are increasingly becoming indispensable components of 21st Century technology – has continued to elevate the metal’s importance.   

    However, as the infographic outlines, it is its application in battery technology that may completely change Nickel’s status going forward. Here, so far, Cobalt and Lithium have been in the spotlight leaving Nickel largely underrated – even though by mass, Nickel already represents the most important component of Lithium-Ion cathodes. In order to increase energy density while reducing raw material costs, analysts expect the overall Nickel content in future battery chemistries to increase even further. 

    Meanwhile, as the infographic shows, most Nickel is not high-grade enough for battery production, with less than 10 percent coming in sulfide form, of which not all is battery-grade material. 

    From a U.S. perspective, USGS has in recent years revised its Nickel supply assessments, as we outlined last year when we discussed the “metal that brought you cheap flights” in the context of our Gateway Metals informational campaign

    “While previous year reports showed no domestic reserves for Nickel, reserves today are pegged at 160,000 metric tons – and one active new Nickel mine in Michigan produced 26,500 metric tons of concentrates for export to Canadian and overseas smelters. Our net import reliance for Nickel is 37 percent, and new projects in varying stages of development in Minnesota may further reduce our dependence on foreign supplies of Nickel.”

    Since then, our import reliance has dropped even further to 25 percent. 

    If demand projections materialize as outlined in the infographic, that is a good thing, though current investments into the Nickel market may not suffice to fully meet demand. 

    Time for our policy makers and other stakeholders to add Nickel to their watch list and get serious about devising a comprehensive mineral resource strategy. 

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  • Boron – One Of The Most Versatile Materials You’ve Never Heard About?

    Visual Capitalist has put together another great infographic – this time one that shows that Boron is far more ubiquitous than one would think. 

    You may have come across them in your laundry room or your kids’ slime-making experiments in the form of Borax, but may not have heard much about them otherwise. However, with the revolution in materials science, Borates are quickly becoming a key component in many cutting-edge applications. Courtesy of Visual Capitalist, we can now count the ways. The infographic alone lists 13 different properties of Boron that make it one of the most versatile materials you’d never heard about, and scientists are discovering new uses at a rapid pace.  

    Recent research breakthroughs, some of which we recently discussed, may be unlikely to affect our domestic supply scenario, as thankfully, the U.S. is a net exporter of Borates with a strong production base. However, as we previously argued, mining exports make considerable positive contributions to our trade balance. As such, our policy makers and stakeholders should work to foster a policy framework that supports the development of our domestic mineral resources – “not just for those where our demand exceeds supply, but for those like Boron, where U.S. production supplies the world.”

    Take a look at the full infographic here.

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  • European Commission Expands Critical Raw Materials List (U.S. Government, Are You Listening?)

    Earlier last month, the European Commission released an updated list of critical raw materials in the context of the European Union’s “Raw Materials Initiative” – a project put forward in 2008 to tackle challenges associated with raw material access.  The 2017 list is an update and expansion of the Commission’s 2014 list, identifying 27 raw [...]
  • Moores’ Law: The Rise of Lithium Ion Battery Megafactories and What it Means for Critical Mineral Resource Supply

    Earlier this month, Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of experts testified before the full U.S. Senate Energy Committee on opportunities and risks in the energy storage supply chain.   We’re titling his observations as Moores’ Law — which is his for the taking, given the placement [...]
  • The Surge of EV Technology and Implications for Mineral Resource Supply and Demand

    You may have caught Elon Musk’s exchange with Daimler on Twitter over investment in EV technology earlier this week. Vacuum giant Dyson has also tossed its hat into the ring announcing that it will spend $2.7 billion to develop an electric car. The headlines are piling up, and it’s no longer a secret that demand [...]
  • Graphene-fed Spiders and Our Web of Resource Dependencies 

    A material long hailed as being on the cutting edge of materials science, Graphene is making headlines again. And, fitting for fall and people gearing up for Halloween, it involves everyone’s favorite creepy crawlies – arachnids.  Researchers at the University of Trento in Italy have found that spiders fed with graphene and carbon nanotubes, which [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Lithium – A Case In Point for Mining Policy Reform

    In a recent op-ed for the Reno Gazette Journal, professor emeritus of mining engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, Jaak Daemen makes the case for comprehensive mining policy reform.   Citing the arrival of electric vehicles in which “battery technology is catching up with the hype,” he cautions that benefits benefits associated with the [...]
  • Why Cobalt Should be High on Your Radar

    In a recent article, the Financial Times zeroes in on one of the metals followers of ARPN will know is becoming increasingly indispensable to 21st Century clean energy technology: Cobalt.  Once an obscure metal you rarely heard about, this co-product of Nickel and Copper is increasingly afforded “critical mineral status” – primarily because of its [...]
  • Africa Taking Center Stage in China’s Quest for Resources

    It is “the single largest source of mineral commodities for the United States, particularly for resources like rare earth elements, germanium, and industrial diamonds,” according to the United States Geological Survey, which notes in its most recent Mineral Commodity Summaries report that “of the 47 mineral commodities that the United States is more than 50 [...]

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