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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Nickel and Zinc “Only Two New Additions” to Draft Revised Critical Minerals List — A Look at the Government’s Reasoning

    This week we continue our coverage of the just-released draft revised Critical Minerals List, for which the US Geological Survey (USGS) began soliciting public comment last week — this time via Andy Home’s latest.  In a new column for Reuters, Home zeroes in on the “only two new additions” to the draft list. (As ARPN outlined last week, the bulk of the expansion of the list from 35 to 50 minerals and metals is owed to the fact that the Rare Earths and Platinum Group Metals will now be listed individually).

    Arguing that the additions of Nickel and Zinc “reflect… an evolution of the methodology used to determine whether a mineral is critical to the well-being of the U.S. economy,” Home provides a window into the drafters’ reasoning for including them.

    For Nickel, he writes that while a “relatively benign supply profile kept nickel off” in the past, there are two reasons for including it on the updated List.

    Pointing to the only domestic operating Nickel mine in the U.S. and a single producer of Nickel sulphate (which only produces Nickel as a co-product), Home says “the USGS has expanded its criticality criteria to look beyond trade dependency to domestic supply, particularly what it calls ‘single points of failure.’”

    The second reason, according to Home, is “nickel’s changing usage profile from alloy in stainless steel production to chemical component in electric vehicle batteries.”  The rapid uptake of EVs as a key to the net-zero carbon transition has propelled Nickel onto the Critical List.

    While for Zinc, the U.S. domestic supply chain is “less fragile,” according to Home, “the country’s refined zinc import dependency is relatively high,” and “[g]lobal supply trends make this problematic.”

    Homes closes by noting that neither of “…these industrial metals feature on the European Union’s critical minerals list. In part that’s a reflection of Europe’s domestic production base both at the mining and smelting level.  But in part it may be because the USGS is ahead of its European peers in analysing global supply patterns and the resulting potential threats to critical minerals availability.

    Nickel and zinc may not spring to mind when most people think of critical minerals, but as far as the United States is concerned, they both are.”

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  • Canada Takes Steps Towards A North American Battery Supply Chain

    Canada is currently in the process of positioning itself as “a cornerstone of the North American battery supply chain,” writes James Frith in a recent piece for Bloomberg.

    Pointing to two battery cell manufacturers choosing Canada as a future site of operation —UK-headquartered Britishvolt and Canadian-headquartered Stromvolt — Frith argues that “Canada is now on course to create a strong domestic battery supply chain” — which, in light of increasing EV demand in North America, could grow to “challenge the dominance of China, and it is quickly catching up with the growing industry in Europe.”

    From south of the border, these developments are highly relevant in the context of an emerging North American integrated supply chain for critical minerals, with Canada and the United States being able to leverage a long history of close cooperation and trade, as well as the USMCA free trade agreement — under which “batteries produced in Canada can be sold to the EV supply chain in the U.S.”

     Both countries have in recent years explored ways to cooperate in their efforts to secure critical mineral supply chains, but in the past few months, against the backdrop of starkly rising demand scenarios for the metals and minerals underpinning the green energy transition, calls for a further deepening of cooperation between the two countries have been getting louder.  Most recently, former U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson made the case for tackling “this new challenge by together establishing our place in the global supply chain.”

    At ARPN, we’re all in on collaboration — however, it should not distract us from responsibly building out our own domestic mining and processing capabilities for critical minerals.  As we’ve said before:

    “Let’s do it. Let’s build out an integrated North American supply chain for critical minerals where possible — but let’s also not forget that closer cooperation with our friends and allies AND strengthening domestic resource development should not be considered mutually exclusive strategies.”

     

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  • Strengthening U.S.-Canadian Critical Mineral Resource Cooperation in the Context of an All-of-the-Above Strategy

    Against the backdrop of a new government having been elected in Canada, former U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson makes the case for the United States and Canada to deepen cooperation in the realm of critical mineral resources in a recent piece for the Globe and Mail. Highlighting the longstanding “long and productive partnership on everything [...]
  • Summer Critical Mineral Import Data Provides Fresh Impetus for Comprehensive Resource Policy Reform

    In the wake of several eye-openers regarding our nation’s critical mineral supply chain woes — the coronavirus pandemic, increasing trade tensions with adversary nations like China, and reports underscoring the mineral intensity of our green energy future — the bipartisan infrastructure package passed by the U.S. Senate before the August recess contained a series of [...]
  • 100-Day Supply Chain Report — Striking a Balance Between Strengthening Domestic Resource Development and Cooperation With Allies

    In its just-released 100-Day Supply Chain Report, the Biden Administration has committed to an “all of the above” approach to critical minerals — a “wrap-around strategy” that includes recycling, substitution, as well as new mining, as Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told U.S. Senators earlier this month. While investing in “sustainable production, refining, and recycling [...]
  • DoD-led “100-Day” Supply Chain Assessment Concludes We Need “All of The Above” Approach to Critical Mineral Resource Security

    Last week, the Biden Administration released the findings of its 100-day supply chain review initiated by Executive Order 14017 – “America’s Supply Chains.” From a Critical Minerals perspective, there is a lot to unpack in the 250-page report, and we’ll be digging into the various chapters and issues over the next few days and weeks. [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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. [...]

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