American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • U.S. Senator: Embrace Domestic Mining and Processing of Critical Minerals “Before It’s Too Late”

    In a  column for Newsweek, U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) makes an urgent appeal to the U.S. public and policy stakeholders to embrace domestic mining and processing of critical minerals “before it’s too late.”

    Arguing that while it is “possible to produce them here” he says that “onerous federal rules make it extremely difficult,”adding that “[w]e cannot sit idly by and hope our U.S. mining industry can cut through the red tape currently strangling it.”

    Sen. Risch points to the long-standing and, against the backdrop of surging demand, increasingly dangerous practice of over-relying on foreign – and especially Chinese supplies of critical minerals, which has given our adversaries significant leverage over us. The senator points to China’s penchant for weaponizing the mineral supply chain, with recent examples being the restriction of gallium and germanium exports — key components of semiconductor production and defense technology, arguing that “[i]t is only a matter of time before China decides to punish the U.S. and ur allies again by holding minerals hostage. That will even apply to minerals that are mined in the U.S. but processed in China, like copper.”

    Meanwhile, one of the key obstacles to increased domestic mining and processing according to Sen. Risch, is the Biden administration, under whose guise a “working group on mining regulations released recommendations that, if implemented would transition mineral rights to a leasing program and add a dirt tax to every shovelful of ore, regardless of the value of the mineral,” which, according to the senator “would add years to the already lengthy permitting process and stifle investment in mining projects.”

    Followers of ARPN are familiar with the average permitting timeframe for mining projects of roughly seven to ten years.  Litigation from NIMBY environmental groups — Sen. Risch points to the Rosemont decision in the Ninth Circuit Court which “changed the interpretation of long-established mining law” and “hampers the industry while making mining significantly less efficient and cost-effective”– can further add years to the already onerous process.

    With even U.S. car companies requesting that the Biden administration speed up the mine permitting process, a consensus is growing that reform should be a national priority.

    Sen. Risch points to the U.S. Department of Defense being an outlier in the administration and having recognized the “danger we face, which is why it is awarding grants to critical mining projects.”  The senator highlights the stibnite gold project in the central region of his home state of Idaho, where Perpetua Resources is working to be the sole domestic source of antimony, a key component of military technology.

    But of course, as followers of ARPN know, there are more projects receiving DoD support with even more expected to be announced on a rolling basis.

    In ARPN’s latest post on the blog, we pointed a series of Presidential Determinations involving specific critical minerals which laid the foundation for this type of funding under Defense Production Act Title III authority.

    Current projects, recently highlighted by Oregon Group’s Anthony Milewski, include:

    • Graphite: a $37.5 million agreement between the DoD and Graphite One (Alaska) to fast-track a domestic graphite mine;
    • Antimony (as highlighted by Sen. Risch): two awards — $24.8 million and $15.5 million — by the DoD to Perpetua Resources to secure a domestic source of antimony [an additional conditional award of up to $34.6 million under the existing Technology Investment Agreement was announced earlier last month];
    • Lithium: a $90million agreement to secure lithium production between the DoD and Abermarle;
    • Nickel: a US $20.6 million agreement between the DoD and Talon Nickel to increase domestic nickel production.

    Closes Sen. Risch:

    “Every aspect of our society and security relies on processed minerals and would therefore benefit from expedited permitting and easier access. We cannot afford to wait until China reduces or even cuts off our access to critical minerals.

    It is time for America to see the power of the U.S. mining industry, invest in it, and secure our supply chains. The technology we depend on every day is only possible because of mining. To ensure not just our economic success but our national security, Congress must revamp our mining laws and substantially reduce irrelevant regulations.”

    The stakes are getting higher by the day, and, as ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty pointed out years ago“we can’t admire the problem any longer” because “we don’t have the luxury of time.” However, we are dealing with Washington, D.C., and the question is whether Congressional stakeholders will finally be able to put policy over politics in an election year.

  • As China Ratchets Up Weaponization of Trade, Analysts Call for Massive Investments to Counter Beijing in Critical Minerals Arms Race

    Beijing’s recent decision to impose export restrictions on gallium and germanium – key components of semiconductor, defense and solar technologies — has ruffled feathers around the world and, as ARPN noted, ratchets up the weaponization of trade in the context of the Tech Wars between China and the West.

    While some chipmakers have played down fears of shortages, former Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wei Jianguo’s comments to the China Daily newspaper “that countries should brace for more should they continue to pressure China, describing the controls as a ‘well-thought-out heavy punch’ and ‘just a start,’” have prompted fears that more export curbs on critical materials, including on rare earths could be on the menu.

    With China controlling roughly 90 percent of the global refined output of rare earths, and the specter of more Chinese export controls looming large, analysts suggest that the United States and its partners must kick their efforts to reduce their reliance on Chinese into high gear.

    According to Goldman Sachs analysts, “China is the source of more than 70 percent of the world’s [neodymium and praseodymium] and accounts for over 90 percent of the downstream metal and magnet segment.”

    To replicate China’s annual output of 50,000 tons, the West would have to invest anywhere between $15 billion and $30 billion, Goldman says.

    The Goldman analysis brings into focus the immense challenges associated with decoupling from China — most notably perhaps permitting:

    The analysts note that while demand for NdPr could exceed supply from 2028 onward in light of surging demand in the EV and wind turbine segment, “out of more than 20 projects outside China that could produce some 20,000 tons of NdPr annually, (…) only two to three of these projects can get off the ground this decade.”

    Both the United States and the European Union have resolved to make permitting reform a key priority. In the U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) just told his colleagues that the push would be a focus in the weeks leading up to the August recess, while the European Union’s recently released Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) calls for streamlining the permitting process for raw materials projects.

    However, as followers of ARPN well know, all affirmations of a desire to strengthen domestic supply chains aside, the perennial not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) sentiment is still strong – not just in the United States, but also in Europe.

    Meanwhile, the urgency for reform cannot be overstated, as Beijing will not slow down its global quest for resource dominance, and the critical minerals arms race in the context of the Tech Wars will continue to heat up.

  • Independence Day 2023 — As We Celebrate Our Freedoms, (Resource) Dependency Still Looms Large

    It’s back to the grind. The parades, barbecues, pool parties and fireworks to mark this year’s Independence Day are over.  There’s much to be thankful for, especially at a time when the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine, now in its second year, reverberates around the globe and geopolitical tensions continue to mount. ARPN has always used [...]
  • Chile’s Plans to Take Control over Country’s Lithium Industry Part of Larger Resource Nationalism Trend

    As the cliché goes, the global economy is inextricably interconnected.  Easy to say, but still surprising to see it unfold in front of us – especially when the nation illustrating the truism is the world’s 44th largest economy, with a GDP roughly the size of Indiana. But small size belies the multiplier effect of Critical Minerals, which [...]
  • Video Clip: U.S. Lags in Most Steps of the EV Battery Making Process – Decoupling “Herculean” Task

    In a new video clip, the Wall Street Journal explores one of the areas of competition between the two superpowers that is emerging as a key theater of the 21st century tech wars: EV battery supply chains. Followers of ARPN know all too well, and our friends at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence clearly visualized this fact in [...]
  • Nature Magazine Column Calls on U.S. to “Embrace Tough Trade-Offs” and “Get Serious” About Domestic Mining to Support Green Energy Shift

    The time has come for the United States to get “serious about mining critical minerals for green energy,” writes Saleem H. Ali for Nature. Ali points to the inherent irony of the green energy transition — renewable technologies requiring vast and increasing amounts of metals and minerals like lithium, copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese and REEs, but [...]
  • 2022 – ARPN’s YEAR IN REVIEW

      2022 surely was as fast-paced a year as they come. Didn’t we just throw overboard our New Year’s Resolutions?  We blinked, and it’s time for another review of what has happened in the past twelve months. So with no further ado, here is ARPN’s annual attempt to take stock of what has happened on the [...]
  • DoL “List of Goods Produced By Child Labor or Forced Labor” Zeroes in on Lithium-Ion Batteries, Adding Pressures for Already Strained Material Supply Chains

    Pressures on already strained battery material supply chains are mounting, and not just due to geopolitical tensions and rising demand in the context of the green energy transition. The U.S. Department of Labor has included lithium-ion batteries into its “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor” – a list of 158 goods from 77 [...]
  • Mapping of Domestic Critical Minerals Prioritized in Context of All-of-the-Above Approach to Supply Chain Security

    As the U.S. House of Representatives has passed its version of the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), another piece of legislation enacted earlier is beginning to bear fruit in the context of strengthening our nation’s critical mineral supply chains. Earlier this summer, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced it had set aside [...]
  • The Newest Frontier in the Global Resource Wars: Virtual Weaponized NIMBYism

    Geopolitical tensions, Russia’s war on Ukraine, rising resource nationalism in the Southern hemisphere – against the backdrop of ever-increasing stakes it appears that a new theater in the global resource wars has opened up: Cyber warfare, and more specifically, according to Defense One, “weaponized NIMBYism.” The U.S. Department of Defense has announced that it is investigating a recently-unearthed disinformation [...]