American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • To Lead in EV Revolution, We Must Ramp Up U.S. Mineral Production

    “The U.S. has for too long ceded control of the front end of our manufacturing supply chains to foreign nations, assuming the materials we require will be there when we need them,” writes National Mining Association president and CEO Rich Nolan in a recent Boston Herald piece. In doing so, the U.S. has allowed China to establish “dominance of key mineral supply chains that it has now leveraged into stunning dominance of battery manufacturing, the very technological heart of EVs and home to so many of the auto jobs of tomorrow.”

    Followers of ARPN are well aware of the “battery arms race” (see our recent post on the issue here) which has led to almost 150 planned for or operational lithium-Ion battery megafactories in China versus fewer than a dozen lined up in the U.S.

    Nolan laments that “[d]espite vast domestic resources, the U.S. has one operational lithium mine and just one rare earth mineral mine that must export its production to China for processing. Conversely, China controls 80% of the global rare earth mineral market and 60% of the lithium market. China’s control of other key battery metals like cobalt and graphite is nearly as complete.”

    Thankfully, stakeholders in the U.S. after several wake up calls are beginning to realize the urgency of the situation (see our post from earlier this week here) — and the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure passage contains several relevant critical mineral provisions.

    However, Nolan is concerned that while there is a sense of urgency within the Biden Administration for accelerating EV deployment to reduce emissions, the “urgency to build a secure, responsible and homegrown material supply chain has yet to materialize.”

    Nolan makes a clear appeal for an all-of-the-above approach aligned with the Biden Administration’s 100-Day Supply Chain Review (see our report on it here):

    “The scale of the demand coming our way is too large and growing far too quickly for half measures. We must be active participants in securing U.S. EV supply chains, and we must take an all-of-the-above approach to ensure mineral supply chains become an enabler of U.S. EV deployment and American climate action, not an impediment.

    Working with allies to source our mineral needs and standing up a robust material recycling sector should be critical pieces of this effort, but they are at best complements to vastly expanding domestic mineral production and processing by American workers under world-leading environmental and labor standards. It’s essential we recognize that U.S. mining policy is now foundational to energy and climate policy. We can be a global leader in the EV revolution, but it won’t happen if we supercharge domestic mineral demand while failing to ramp up U.S. mineral production.”

    As lawmakers get back to business after Labor Day, we will look for signs that that the U.S. Government is ready to do more than pay lip service to all of the above, and embrace policy, programs and projects that address the deep shortfalls in Critical Mineral supply — across the entire value chain and with the entire arsenal at its disposal.

  • Summer Critical Mineral Import Data Provides Fresh Impetus for Comprehensive Resource Policy Reform

    In the wake of several eye-openers regarding our nation’s critical mineral supply chain woes — the coronavirus pandemic, increasing trade tensions with adversary nations like China, and reports underscoring the mineral intensity of our green energy future — the bipartisan infrastructure package passed by the U.S. Senate before the August recess contained a series of provisions that, in the words of analyst Andy Home, represent “undoubtedly good news for industrial metals” and mark a “broader investment drive across the full length of the metallic supply chain.”

    As lawmakers continue their work on the package, new data analysis provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence underscores why efforts to boost U.S. control of critical mineral supply chains and “overcoming reliance on other nations not only for supplies but for infrastructure and processing capacity,” must be prioritized:

    According to data collected earlier this summer, “U.S. imports of critical minerals increased 7.9% in the second quarter on a year-over-year basis, while staying relatively flat quarter over quarter.”

    S&P Global Market Intelligence notes that “the volume of critical minerals flowing into the country in the first half of 2021 surpassed the 316,108 tonnes imported in the first six months of 2020 by 41,209 tonnes.”

    As S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Camille Erickson argues, “China maintains a firm grip on the processing of several critical minerals.”  She points to International Energy Agency that have China processing roughly 90% of global REE supply (and 50% to 70% of global Lithium and Cobalt supply).  Erickson further notes a lack of “sufficient midstream infrastructure in the U.S.,” which “means critical minerals often must undergo various chemical processes — such as concentrating, refining and smelting — elsewhere.”

    While the bipartisan infrastructure package as passed by the U.S. Senate is looking to “bring back some of the crucial midstream components that we are very much lacking here in the U.S. and North America more broadly,” the American Exploration & Mining Association would like to see an even bigger, more comprehensive push, arguing (on Twitter) that “[e]fforts to rebuild the mineral supply chain are incomplete.  We need more mines and smelters, but we need efficient permitting too.”

    Here’s hoping that lawmakers — refreshed from their August recess — do justice to the “all of the above” approach to mineral resource policy as embraced by the Biden Administration in its 100-Day Supply Chain Review (see our report on it here).

    As critical minerals expert Morgan Bazilian recently wrote in a piece for The Hill, in which he embedded his call for a comprehensive mineral resource policy approach into the green energy transition context:

    “If the U.S. wants to get out from under China’s thumb while avoiding conflict, then it must create effective mineral policy by rebuilding innovation capabilities, partnering with industry, and leveraging the government’s role as a market actor. (…) As a nation we have spent so much time preparing for a better tomorrow that we may have neglected to get the materials we will need to actually build it. If the U.S. wants to take direct action to fight climate change and save the lives of its people, then it will need the mining and metals industry.”

  • The Genesis and Development of the “Battery Arms Race”

    It’s no secret in the critical minerals space — and increasingly beyond — that “we are in the midst of a battery arms race.”  Today, “battery arms race” is a frequently used phrase to describe the rise of lithium Ion battery megafactories, but did you know that it was one of the ARPN expert panel members who [...]
  • Make Haste Slowly – The Inherent Risks of an Electrification of the U.S. Military: Material Inputs, Geopolitics and Cyberattacks

    As governments around the globe continue to push towards carbon neutrality, Alan Howard and Brenda Shaffer, faculty members at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, warn against the hidden dangers of the — rushed — electrification of the U.S. military in a new piece for Foreign Policy. Against the backdrop of the Pentagon having commissioned studies [...]
  • House Armed Services Committee’s Bipartisan Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force Releases Findings and Recommendations

    On the heels of the recently-released White House 100-Day Supply Chain report, momentum to strengthen U.S. supply chains is building. On July 22, 2021 the House Armed Services Committee’s bipartisan Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force, chartered in March of 2021 to “review the industrial base supply chain to identify and analyze threats and vulnerabilities,” released its [...]
  • The Mineral Intensity of a Carbon-Neutral Future – A Look at Copper

    Amidst the global push towards carbon neutrality, “Critical Minerals” has become a buzzword.  As the green energy transition has gone mainstream and electric vehicles and renewable energy sources dominate the news cycle, so has talk about growing demand for some of the specialized materials underpinning this shift — most notably the Rare Earths, and the battery [...]
  • Critical Mass: ARPN Commentary on the White House 100-Day Supply Chain Report & the Importance of Critical Minerals to the U.S. Technology Base

    After years of inertia, the Critical Minerals space has seen a lot of activity lately. While the coronavirus pandemic has exposed significant supply chain vulnerabilities and critical mineral resource dependencies, recent studies have highlighted the mineral intensity of the global pursuit of a low carbon energy future. This week’s developments in Washington — movement on [...]
  • “Supply Chain” Begins With “Supply:” Department of Commerce 100-Day Report Chapter on Complex Semiconductor Supply Chain

    Current news coverage may have you believe that when it comes to critical minerals, all we’re talking about is Rare Earths and battery tech metals, such as Lithium, Cobalt, Manganese, Nickel and Graphite. However, while certainly extremely important for 21st Century technology, these materials and the sectors in which they find key applications only represent [...]
  • 100 Day Supply Chain Report Inspires New Developments in Critical Minerals Realm

    Released at the beginning of June, the White House’s 100 Day Supply Chain report assessed risks and vulnerabilities in the supply chains for four key industrial sectors, making recommendations on how to alleviate them appears to have already inspired several new developments in the critical minerals realm: As the Australian Financial Review’s U.S. correspondent Matthew [...]
  • Caught in the “Green Dilemma” of Securing Critical Mineral Resource Supply Chains

    A few months ago, when the Biden Administration stepped up its efforts to promote its ambitious renewable energy agenda, Forbes analyst David Blackmon suggested that we might be about to “witness a replay of the politics of the Shale Revolution, only this time those politics will be playing out around the mining of the country’s [...]