During a virtual congressional policy forum on critical minerals hosted by House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans earlier this week, experts agreed that the United States must adopt a holistic “all of the above” approach to critical mineral resource policy.
Panelists at the event, which can be re-watched in its entirety here, included:
Daniel McGroarty, principal, Carmot Strategic Group, Inc and principal, American Resources Policy Network
Laurel Sayer, president and CEO, Perpetua Resources
Reed Blakemore, deputy director, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council
Dr. Michael Moats, professor of metallurgical engineering and director of the O’Keefe Institute, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Abigail Wulf, director, Center for Critical Minerals Strategy, Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE)
Tim Gould, head of division, Energy Supply Outlooks and Investment, International Energy Agency (IEA)
Dr. Ian Lange, director, Mineral and Energy Economics Program, Colorado School of Mines
ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty told members that said “all of the above” approach should be applied not only to resource development, but also to Congressional policy, which currently is not maximizing policy tools already on the books. He also suggested that to secure domestic critical mineral supply chains, stakeholders should not only look to bolster domestic production, but also processing, turning “smelters into critical minerals hubs” and “treating them as the assets they are.”
There was a broad consensus among panelists that recycling, while important, would not obviate the need for domestic resource production in light of growing need for critical minerals. In fact, pointing to a brand new study released by the agency on the material inputs needed for a carbon neutral future, the IEA’s Tim Gould argued that recycling could only account for about 10% of the required mineral resources to underpin the transition to zero carbon.
Pointing to the growing threat of China controlling critical mineral resources, SAFE’s Abigail Wulf argued that the 2020s will be a “critical decade that will challenge the United States’ ability to consistently and effectively project its political, military, and economic strength.”
“During this time, the production of batteries, electric vehicles (EVs), semiconductors, and other advanced technologies will take on increased geopolitical importance in the face of a rising China. The nation that prevails in this struggle to control the manufacturing and distribution of these key industries will lead the global transition to a new energy future and the next industrial revolution. The United States cannot afford to lag behind China, risking our position of global economic leadership, leaving us vulnerable to supply disruptions and dependent on nations that do not share our values.”
Speakers highlighted the importance — and opportunity — of co-product development, and agreed that removing uncertainty in the mining sector was warranted.
Better education on what Dr. Michael Moats of the Missouri University of Science and Technology called a “societal lack of recognition of the importance of where things come from,” or the “dangerous disconnect,” between using manufactured goods and understanding what goes into making the product, would further be key ways to address the critical minerals crisis. After all, it’s not magic, or fairy dust that makes our 21st century hi-tech world go round.
As McGroarty closed his remarks:
“Critical minerals aren’t critical because of where they come from – they’re critical because of where they take us. American ingenuity, innovation and investment can do a lot – but the power of the private sector can do far more if public policy sends a strong signal that critical minerals matter – to the technology revolution transforming our world and to America’s place as the leader in that transformation.”
Access Daniel McGroarty’s full remarks as submitted here.
Click here to re-watch the entire forum.