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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • A Look North: Challenges and Opportunities Relating to Canada’s Critical Mineral Resource Dependence on China

    Like the United States, Canada has subjected itself to an “increasingly uncomfortable reliance” on China for critical mineral supplies, but its wealth of metals and minerals beneath the country’s soil could, if properly harnessed, give Canada a significant strategic advantage in years to come, mining executives and experts recently told Canada’s House of Commons resource committee.

    The hearings were held against the backdrop of deteriorating diplomatic relations between Canada and China over the detention of two Canadian citizens which has laid bare China’s willingness to “inflict economic pain by restricting Canadian exports,” writes Jesse Snyder for the National Post.

    Pierre Gratton, head of Canada’s mining association, told policymakers:

    “For decades, China has held monopoly-like control over critical minerals production and distribution, rendering the rest of the world reliant on procurement and creating a level of risk that deters investors from entering these markets.”

    Gratton and others urged the creation of a “framework to develop and then protect Canadian supply chains for batteries and other products, and recommended the federal government establish a $250-million program over five years to incentivize investment in demonstration projects.” As China is increasingly demonstrating its willingness to play politics with its monopoly-like position in the critical minerals realm, experts also stressed the importance of strengthening ties with allies like Europe, the United States and Japan.

    Having faced criticism over its handling of Chinese takeovers of Canadian natural resource assets, Industry Minister Francois-Phillipe Champagne updated the guidelines and lowered the threshold for a national security review for such procedures. The move followed the release of Canada’s first critical minerals list – a list of 31 metals and minerals deemed critical “for the sustainable economic success of Canada and our allies—minerals that can be produced in Canada, are essential to domestic industry and security and have the potential to support secure and resilient supply chains to meet global demand.”

    Unlike its U.S. peer, Canada’s list, as we recently pointed out, acknowledges the importance of what we consider traditional mainstay metals like Copper, Nickel and Zinc — which, as followers of ARPN well know, are not only key components of 21st Century technology in their own right, but are also gateway metals that “unlock” a slew of other critical metals and minerals.

    With the Biden Administration having made significant investments in EV battery technology a central piece of its infrastructure overhaul plan, relations with close allies are taking center stage. And with the U.S. and Canada having long shared a special relationship and integrated defense industrial base, it only comes naturally that our first look faces North, as the U.S. steps up efforts to diversify critical mineral supply sources and processing away from China. Recent meetings between U.S. Department of Commerce representatives and miners and battery manufacturers to discuss “ways to boost Canadian production of EV materials” point towards increased U.S.-Canadian cooperation, as do increased consultations between the two countries’ Geological Surveys.

    For all of these reasons, we’ll keep tabs on resource-related developments in Ottawa and the buildout of the U.S.-Canadian integrated critical mineral supply chain as it begins to shape up, and will include examples from Canada in our forthcoming “Sustainably Greening the Future” roundups featuring mining companies’ efforts to “close the loop” and cut carbon emissions while supplying America’s mineral needs.

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  • China’s Saber-Rattling over Rare Earths Card Getting Louder

    After months of rumblings, it appears that China is gearing up to play its “rare earths card” again.

    Citing people involved in a government consultation, the Financial Times reports that Beijing is gauging exactly how badly companies in the United States and Europe, including U.S. defense contractors, would be affected by plans to restrict exports of rare earth elements.

    According to Chinese media, REE exports had already dropped by more than 20 percent following the passage of a new broad export control law restricting sales of items relating to Chinese national security that went into effect on December 1, 2020. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has since proposed more specific language to impose controls on REE production and exports.

    The development ties into the overall context of a deterioration of Chinese-American diplomatic and trade relations against the backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the buildout of 5G technology having emerged as a new frontier in the deepening tech war between the two global players.

    With China controlling more than 70% of global REE output, the specter of China weaponizing its position — yet again — is a serious threat to our national security and economic wellbeing. This is especially true when one considers that, while crucial, rare earths are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when considering our overall critical mineral resource dependencies — a fact for which USGS has just provided the annual reminder with the release of its Mineral Commodity Summaries 2021, which lists China 24 times as one of the major import sources of metals and minerals for which our net import reliance is 50% or greater.

    2020 has underscored the urgency of shoring up our domestic critical mineral resource supply chains, and has yielded important progress with regards to policies aimed at reducing our over-reliance on foreign, and especially Chinese metals and minerals.

    While the Biden Administration is — understandably — reviewing the preceding Administration’s policies, it is important that stakeholders realize that we can’t admire the problem anymore. We don’t have the luxury of time.

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  • 2020 – A Watershed Year for Resource Policy

    ARPN’s Year in Review — a Cursory Review of the United States’ Critical Mineral Resource Challenge in 2020 It feels like just a few weeks ago many of us quipped that April 2020 seemed like the longest month in history, yet here we are: It’s mid-December, and we have almost made it through 2020. It’s [...]
  • As Troop Withdrawals Make Headlines, U.S. Trailing in War Most Americans Are Not Even Aware Of: The Tech War With China

    According to news reports, the Pentagon earlier this month confirmed a further withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, as National Defense Magazine editor-in-chief Stew Magnuson writes in a new piece for the publication, the U.S. is engaged in a war most Americans were not even aware of — the “Tech War” with China. [...]
  • China’s New Export Control Legislation Raises Specter of REE Ban

    Three weeks ago, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring a critical minerals national emergency aimed at expanding domestic production of rare-earth and other critical minerals in an effort to reduce dependence on China. Among other things, the order directs the Department of the Interior to explore the application of the Defense Production [...]
  • U.S. Over-Reliance on Critical Minerals — Are the Chickens Coming Home to Roost?

    The current coronavirus pandemic has shed a light on an inconvenient truth. We have become over-reliant on foreign (and especially Chinese) raw materials. As we previously outlined, “PPE has become the poster child, but whether it’s smart phone technology, solar panels, electric vehicles, or fighter jets — critical minerals are integrated into all aspects of [...]
  • “It’s Complicated.”   Reckoning with the Unique Material Inputs of the 5G Rollout

    As diplomatic and trade relations between the United States and China continue to deteriorate against the backdrop of the current coronavirus pandemic, the buildout of 5G technology is quickly becoming the new frontier in the tech war between the two global players.  5G is considered vital not only for 21st century telecommunications but also self-driving [...]
  • Scandium and the Formula 1 – Of Speed, Lightweight and Supply Challenges

    Formula 1 racing isn’t for everyone, but those who love it will say it’s the pinnacle of engineering and speed.   And of course, it’s true — while Formula 1 race cars in 1977 achieved a top speed of 195 mph, today’s top speeds range north of 230 mph, with much of the speed gain being attributable [...]
  • Amidst Growing Tensions Between Washington, D.C. and Beijing, U.S. House of Representatives Launches Bipartisan “Critical Materials Caucus”

    As diplomatic and trade relations between the United States and China continue to deteriorate, members of the U.S. House of Representatives from both sides of the political aisle have joined forces to launch a bipartisan caucus to “focus on ways to increase domestic production of specialized minerals used to make missiles, cell phones and other high-tech [...]
  • Time to “Decouple and Control” our Critical Mineral Resource Supply Chains

    The ongoing coronavirus pandemic tearing through our communities is more than a health crisis — it has “exposed the fragility and flaws of globalized supply chains and extensive offshore production, especially drugs and medical gear,” writes Austin Bay in a new column for Townhall with a special emphasis on China.   Hopes that China would liberalize in the [...]

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