American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Industry Experts Lament Inclusion of Hardrock Mining Royalties and Fees in Reconciliation Spending Package

    Against the backdrop of the accelerating battery arms race, and a recent growing realization that our nation has become over-reliant on critical mineral imports from adversary nations, the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources committee has added language to the proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending package last week that could throw a serious wrench into any promising developments recently taken to secure U.S. critical mineral supply chains, say industry experts.

    Tucked into the massive spending package are provisions that would place an 8% gross royalty on already existing hardrock mines, while 4% would be placed on new ones. In addition, the proposed language would levy a 7 cent fee for every ton of rock moved in the mining process.

    In a q&a session with Real Clear Energy on the proposal earlier this month, the National Mining Association’s Rich Nolan said:

    “New royalties and fees (…) will crush the competitiveness of the industry when we know we need responsible, domestic production for everything from the energy transition to the EV revolution. The hardrock mining industry is already paying between 40% to 50% of earnings in federal, state and local royalties, taxes, and other fees. This punitive, partisan proposal (…) is just the opposite of what we need to reshore production and build secure supply chains.”

    Citing the sharply increased need for metals and minerals in the context of the green energy transition, as outlined in recent studies by the World Bank and International Energy Agency, he added:

     “There’s no getting to where we want to go without embracing the need and opportunity for increased domestic mining. President Biden’s recent EV executive order warned that China is cornering the global market on battery and EV production and using control of material supply chains to do it.

    Included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill are steps to improve mine permitting, to better leverage the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program to encourage mineral production. That’s the right path. We have to be working to support the competitiveness of U.S. mining, not undercut it.”

    It is estimated that the provisions, which would represent one of the most substantial changes to a 1872 law that has long governed U.S. hardrock mining, could raise about $2 billion in federal revenue over a decade.

    With the reconciliation package still having to move through the congressional process, it is unclear whether the provision will even make it out of the House, or be changed or removed by the U.S. Senate.

    However, against the backdrop of the ever-increasing mineral intensity of our green energy future, the potential impact of these provisions is significant, and we will keep tabs on this issue over the coming weeks.

  • Closing the Loop “Contributor” to Solving our Critical Mineral Resource Woes, “Not a Solution”

    As the global battery arms race continues to heat up amidst surging demand for EV battery technology and energy storage systems, a recent Financial Times piece explores the themes of urban mining and closed-loop solutions to increase critical mineral resource supply.

    The piece outlines a significant challenge with regards to today’s critical mineral resource supply chains:

    “The biggest source of cobalt at the moment is the DRC, where it is often extracted in both large industrial mines and also dug by hand using basic tools. Then it might be shipped to Finland, home to Europe’s largest cobalt refinery, before heading to China where the majority of the world’s cathode and battery production takes place. From there it can be shipped to the US or Europe, where battery cells are turned into packs, then shipped again to automotive production lines. 

    All told, the cobalt can travel more than 20,000 miles from the mine to the automaker before a buyer places a “zero emission” sticker on the bumper.” 

    The piece cites proponents of closed-loop systems suggesting that car emissions can be cut by more than half if the batteries used are continually recycled, and points to a  2019 World Economic Forum estimate that a “circular battery value chain” could account for 30 per cent of the emissions cuts needed to meet the targets set in the Paris accord and “create 10m safe and sustainable jobs around the world” by 2030.

    While promising – with some arguing that not only could recycling aid supply constraints and help the environment but also prove to be cheaper — bringing urban mining to scale remains challenging, with one issue being design parameters of products failing to consider the product’s end of life and making disassembly “so laborious that it becomes impractical.”

    However, against the backdrop of “broad political support for electric vehicles and policies to address climate change” the Financial Times piece argues that while “niche today, urban mining is set to become mainstream this decade.”    Advanced materials science is doing its part, and we have previously featured several research projects and promising initiatives by several mining companies to close the loop in their operations.

    The rise of the urban mine and the circular economy will undoubtedly continue.  However, we stand by what we said a while back:

    “Urban mining will by no means obviate the need for traditional mining and is as such not a panacea for supply woes.  With innovations in the field and concerted efforts to not only improve extraction technologies, but to also develop products and materials in ways that lend themselves to easier reclamation of metals, it does, however, represent a viable opportunity to alleviate pressures – and as such deserves to be factored into any comprehensive mineral resource strategy.”

    As Brian Menell, founder of TechMet, a partly U.S. government-owned investment company told the Financial Times:

    “In 10 years’ time a fully optimised developed lithium-ion recycling battery industry will maybe provide 25 per cent of the battery metal requirements for the electric vehicle industry (…) So it will be a contributor, but it’s not a solution.”

    The solution to our mineral resource and supply chain challenges lies in a comprehensive “all-of-the-above” approach.  There is no immediate silver bullet, but against mounting resource pressures, focusing on closing the loop AND building out domestic production and processing capabilities — while at the same time fostering cooperation with close allies and scaling up research and development — is the only viable path to success in the long run.

  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • “Undoubtedly Good News for Industrial Metals” – a Look at the Senate-passed Infrastructure Package

    In a recent piece for Reuters, columnist Andy Home unpacks the U.S. Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure package.   While the bill has yet to make it through the U.S. House of Representatives and a likely conference committee, it is worth taking a look at what its passage could mean for the critical minerals sector. According to Home, the [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • “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 [...]
  • Copper, Lithium, Antimony and Tellurium: Minerals Make Life Features Four Minerals as “Key to an Advanced Energy Future”

    As the number of countries pledging to reach net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of this century (or soon thereafter) continues to grow, and governments and other stakeholders work to transform the energy systems underpinning our economies, demand for critical metals and minerals is soaring. The rapidly-accelerating adoption of EV battery technology, along with plans [...]