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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • U.S. Department of Energy Announces Federal Grants to “Supercharge” U.S. EV Battery and Electric Grid Supply Chains

    The global push towards net zero carbon marches on, and with sales of EVs continuing to soar even as prices rise, analysts suggest that the world could be nearing a critical electric vehicle sales tipping point, when volatile adoption trends are overtaken by mainstream demand.” 

    With skyrocketing demand, the mineral intensity of the green energy transition and supply chain challenges associated with our over-reliance on adversary nations, most notably China, has finally resonated with stakeholders. The passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the summer of 2021 represented an important step towards decoupling U.S. critical mineral supply chains from adversary nations.  Others have since followed.

    Today marks another key step: As part of the implementation of the 2021 infrastructure law, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the first round of funding under the Act for projects aimed at “supercharging”  U.S. manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles and electric grid.

    Awardees — a total of 20 companies — will receive a combined $2.8 billion “to build and expand commercial scale facilities in 12 states to extract and process lithium, graphite and other battery materials, manufacture components, and demonstrate new approaches, including manufacturing components from recycled materials.”

    According to the Department of Energy announcement, recipients will match the federal funds to leverage a total of more than $9 billion “to boost American production of clean energy technology, create good-paying jobs, and support President Biden’s national goals for electric vehicles to make up half of all new vehicle sales by 2030 and to transition to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.”

    The supported projects span the entire value chain, with funding going towards:

    • Developing enough battery-grade lithium to supply approximately 2 million EVs annually
    • Developing enough battery-grade graphite to supply approximately 1.2 million EVs annually
    • Producing enough battery-grade nickel to supply approximately 400,000 EVs annually
    • Installing the first large-scale, commercial lithium electrolyte salt (LiPF6) production facility in the United States
    • Developing an electrode binder facility capable of supplying 45% of the anticipated domestic demand for binders for EV batteries in 2030
    • Creating the first commercial scale domestic silicon oxide production facilities to supply anode materials for an estimated 600,000 EV batteries annually
    • Installing the first lithium iron phosphate cathode facility in the United States

    The map provides a snapshot of anticipated project locations:

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    More details and individual project information can be accessed here.

    According to DoE, the department “anticipates moving quickly on additional funding opportunities to continue to fill gaps in and strengthen the domestic battery supply chain,” and ARPN will continue to keep tabs on these efforts.

     

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  • Not Just the “Battery Criticals” — Green Energy Transition’s Mineral Intensity Requires Broader Focus: A Look at the “Solar Metals”

    Recent media coverage might have you believe critical mineral policy only revolves around the “battery criticals”lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt and manganese, and maybe the frequently referenced, though still somewhat obscure rare earths.  However, as followers of ARPN well know, this is far from the truth.

    The New South Wales Department of Planning and environment has taken a closer look at solar panels, which, just like EV batteries, are at the core of the green energy transition, and outlines the top four metals and minerals that make solar panels work: 

    Copper — a mainstay metal with perhaps unrivaled versatility, lending itself to a wide range of traditional and new applications,  and yields access to other critical minerals as a “gateway metal,” an indispensable component for advanced energy technology, ranging from EVs and wind turbines to the electric grid and solar panels.

    For some of our most recent coverage of Copper, click here.

    Silicon — the most abundant compound in the Earth’s crust, silicon takes the form of ordinary sand, quartz, rock crystal, amethyst, agate, flint, jasper, and opal. To produce pure silicon, the compound is hearted with carbon at extra high temperatures.  The material is used extensively in electronics because of its semiconducting properties. It is used in the manufacture of next-gen 5-nanometer (5nm) semiconductor chips, and is a key component of solar panels and photovoltaic cells.

    For ARPN’s recent coverage of Silicon, click here.

    Silver — By definition a “precious” metal like gold, it may come as a surprise to those who see silver primarily as shiny adornment or a means to store value that the biggest end users of silver may actually be specialized industries. More recently, the metal has evolved from “money metal to techno metal,” as North of 60 Mining News’s Shane Lasley termed it, with its true value lying in “more industrious properties that make it invaluable to high-tech applications such as solar panels, electric vehicles, and 5G networks.”

    For Shane Lasley’s Treatment of Silver in the 2021 issue of “Critical Mineral Alliances” click here.

    Zinc — primarily used in metallurgical applications, zinc is also a Gateway metal, yielding access to “criticals” Indium and Germanium. Today, zinc is also seeing greater application in green energy technology.

    For examples of ARPN coverage of Zinc, click here and here.

    These four may not make the top of the hour news at the moment, but silicon, for example, appears on the Australian and European Union’s critical minerals lists, while zinc, previously not on the U.S. Critical Minerals List, was afforded critical mineral status by the U.S. Government earlier this year, and is also deemed critical by the Canadian government.

    As for copper – which Canada considers a critical mineral – followers of ARPN well know that there are good reasons to include Copper into the U.S. Government’s Critical Minerals List, and ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty has consistently argued in favor of doing so via public comments during the draft process of both the initial 2018List and its 2022 iteration.

    See McGroarty’s public comments on the U.S. Critical Minerals Lists here and here.

    The bottom line is, while people appear to be laser focused on achieving the green energy transition via securing supply chains for the battery criticals and rare earths, the issue is bigger than this limited group of metals and minerals.  With the materials science revolution continuing to yield research breakthroughs at neck-breaking speeds, demand scenarios for metals and minerals will be subject to change.

    It is clear that in the words of Forbes contributor Wal van Lierop, “[w]ithout massive investments in base metals and key minerals, Europe and North America will fail to meet their carbon emission targets and face a new form of energy insecurity,” — but these investments have to be made in the context of a broad-based “all of the above” strategy.  

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  • Let’s Onshore Semiconductor Fabrication – But Not Without Strengthening Supply Chains at the Source… After All, “Supply Chain” begins with “Supply”

    Your mind may not immediately jump to semiconductors when you think about national security, but “a steady source of uninterrupted, trusted chips is necessary for the security of the nation – supporting the readiness of the U.S. military and protecting critical infrastructure like the electric grid,” writes Zachary A. Collier, Ph.D., an assistant professor of management at Radford University and a visiting scholar [...]
  • A Look Across the Pond: Material Inputs for Europe’s Quest for “Strategic Autonomy”

    It’s not exactly news to followers of ARPN that the global green energy transition will require vast amounts of critical minerals, however, against the backdrop of the raised geopolitical stakes in light of Russia’s war on Ukraine and rising resource nationalism in the southern hemisphere, new figures released by Belgium’s KU Leuven University underscore the [...]
  • Desperate Times, Desperate Measures? Persisting Semiconductor Supply Chain Challenge Warrants Comprehensive “All-of-the-Above” Approach – or, You Can Always Rip Apart New Washing Machines for Their Micro-Chips…!

    They say desperate times call for desperate measures, and if you needed any more indications that the state of supply chain security has reached crisis level, consider headlines like this one:  “Tech firms rip apart NEW washing machines so they can harvest their computer parts in a bid to beat the global microchip shortage”. The news [...]
  • “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 [...]
  • Report from The Yukon: Critical Minerals Challenge Brings “Geopolitical Backwater” Into Focus

    As we outlined in our last post, the Biden Administration’s strategy to secure critical mineral supply chains, as outlined in its just-released 100 Day Supply Chain Report, embraces an “all of the above approach.” While strengthening sustainable mining and processing domestically, the Administration will also rely on partnerships with our closest allies — and of [...]
  • Tesla’s 20 Million Vehicles by 2030 Goal in Context

    Innovation. Disruption. That’s what Elon Musk and Tesla have become synonymous for — and for good reason. A recent claim made that Tesla would be able to reach production of 20 million vehicles per year before 2030, however, may be more of a stretch goal than a realistic number, as staff at Mining.com has recently [...]
  • Hot Off the Press: “Groundbreaking” Reading Material – ARPN Expert Co-Authors Book Sounding Alarm on Over-Reliance on Foreign Minerals

    Scratch your holiday wish list – there’s a new book you’ll have to add. In the just-released “Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence” member of the ARPN expert panel Ned Mamula, an adjunct scholar in geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute, and “Rare Mettle”author Ann Bridges sound the alarm on the United States’ [...]
  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty Submits Public Comments on DoI Critical Minerals List

    Presidential Executive Order (EO) 13817 on a Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, was issued on December 20, 2017. Pursuant to the EO, the Department of Interior, in coordination with the Department of Defense, was tasked with compiling a list of Critical Minerals within 60 days. The DOI List was [...]

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