American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • As Stakes Continue to Get Higher, Critical Minerals Challenge Goes Mainstream with Realization Issue Goes Beyond “Battery Criticals”

    Supply chain challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine, rising resource nationalism in the southern hemisphere, and now China’s Xi Jinping doubling-down on its zero-Covid policy this week which may lead to more lockdowns with serious economic and trade consequences – critical mineral supply chains can’t seem to catch a break.

    As the stakes continue to get higher and stakeholder pressure to take action mounts, it is encouraging to see that mainstream awareness of the issue is increasing.

    Case in point: CNN’s Fareed Zakaria dedicating a “Last Look” segment of his Global Public Square program to the new race for natural resources triggered by the green transition.

    Followers of ARPN will appreciate that unlike much of the coverage of the critical minerals challenge we’re seeing lately, which often might have you believe that concerns only revolve around the “battery criticals”lithium, graphite, cobalt, nickel, and manganese, Zakaria’s segment makes clear that the challenge is much bigger – and includes many other metals and minerals, including what we at ARPN have dubbed the “unsung hero of the green energy transition” and one of the “most critical non-criticals” (alluding to the fact that the U.S. official government critical minerals list has thus far not included it):


    As we previously argued, while less flashy and headline-grabbing that some of its tech metal peers, Copper deserves far more credit and attention than it has been getting — not least due to its versatility stemming from traditional uses and an increasing range of new applications.  Then there’s Copper’s Gateway Metal status, with the metal yielding access to Critical List co-products essential to “manufacturing the advanced technologies that will power or generations to come, such as Cobalt, Nickel, Tellurium, Molybdenum, Rhenium, Arsenic and REEs.

    In the context of advanced energy technology, Copper is an indispensable component for the manufacture of EVs, wind turbines, solar panels, and the electric grid.   The manufacturing process for EVs requires four times more Copper than gas powered vehicles, and the expansion of electricity networks will lead to more than doubled Copper demand for grid lines, according to the IEA – so it’s good to see mainstream media is including the material in its coverage.

    Zakaria rightly outlines the challenges stemming from the United States’ over-reliance on foreign supplies, and China’s having cornered the market not only in the supply, but also the processing segment – a challenge Laura Skaer, member of the board of directors of the Women’s Mining Coalition and former director of the American Exploration & Mining Association, outlined succinctly in a piece for Morning Consult a year ago, arguing that “China already refines 50 percent of the world’s copper and the United States only refines about 3 percent. National security experts have warned that relying on China for critical supply-chain materials like refined copper poses a serious threat to America’s national security interests.”

    While the U.S. has taken important steps to reduce our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals and the processing thereof, much more remains to be done.  Zakaria puts his finger on the crux of the issue stakeholders are currently grappling with.

    He says:

    “The minerals industry isn’t as popular as renewable energy – particularly on the Left. There are real environmental hazards. But if people want to protect the planet from climate change and authoritarian powers, they will have to get onboard with new mineral projects.”

    He continues:

    “So far the process very slow, according to the IEA. Even after mineral deposits are discovered somewhere, the average time to production is over fifteen years. Some of that is planning and construction, but governments can streamline the permitting process to get these projects moving.”

    While pointing to the importance of other components that ARPN has consistently highlighted as part of a comprehensive “all-of-the-above” approach to mineral resource security – recycling and closed-loop solutions as well as increased R&D in the materials science segment – Zakaria closes:

    “This will have to remain a priority for years and years to come. For the sake of the planet and international security, we will need to dig deep, quite literally.” 

    Watch the full segment:

    CNN, Fareed Zakaria, Global Public Square, Last Look: The green transition will trigger a new race for natural resources, 4/30/2022

  • Wind Turbine Makers’ Price Challenges Sign of Looming Raw Material Shortfalls

    As lawmakers on Capitol Hill are scrambling to finalize major federal spending legislation set to include several key provisions relating to natural resources, a recent Wall Street Journal piece on wind power underscores the urgency of our nation’s looming raw material shortfalls.

    Against the backdrop of surging demand in the context of the green energy transition, wind turbine makers, all of whom lost some of the “wind in their sails” in 2021 amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, are increasingly facing rising commodity prices.

    Writes WSJ’s aRochelle Toplensky:

     “Commodities such as steel, polymers, copper and rare earth elements make up about 19% of the total cost of onshore turbines and 13% of offshore ones, according to analysts at Bernstein. The price of steel—the most significant raw material—has nearly doubled this year.”

    It’s a sign of what’s to come as nations continue their accelerated push towards carbon neutrality. The mineral intensity of a low-carbon future has critical metals and minerals demand scenarios skyrocketing — and it’s not just battery materials (Lithium, Cobalt, Nickel and Graphite) and the Rare Earths, which appear to be grabbing all the headlines these days.

    As we recently pointed out, Copper — may well be the unsung hero of the green energy transition — and is, quite possibly, one of the most “Critical Non-Criticals.” As we note in ARPN’s recent report, Critical Mass:

     “Less flashy and headline-grabbing than some of its tech metal peers, this mainstay mineral deserves far more credit and attention than it is currently getting.  Followers of ARPN will know that we have long touted the versatility, stemming from its traditional uses, new applications and Gateway Metal status.

    Copper is also an irreplaceable component for advanced energy technology, ranging from EVs over wind turbines and solar panels to the electric grid.   The manufacturing process for EVs requires four times more Copper than gas powered vehicles, and the expansion of electricity networks will lead to more than doubled Copper demand for grid lines, according to the IEA.”

    We featured a recent graphic by Visual Capitalist depicting the Copper intensity of the energy transition with a view towards solar and onshore and offshore wind energy technology:


    Current developments in Washington, D.C., including some of the spending provisions contained in the reconciliation and infrastructure packages, as well as announcements of new EV goals and fuel efficiency standards — will only add to the critical material demand scenarios.  Rising prices for wind-critical materials like Copper, REEs and steel are just one indicator that the only way to moderate the mineral intensity of the low-carbon future is to develop more sources of supply.



  • The Mineral Intensity of a Carbon-Neutral Future – A Look at Copper

    Amidst the global push towards carbon neutrality, “Critical Minerals” has become a buzzword.  As the green energy transition has gone mainstream and electric vehicles and renewable energy sources dominate the news cycle, so has talk about growing demand for some of the specialized materials underpinning this shift — most notably the Rare Earths, and the battery [...]
  • Copper, Lithium, Antimony and Tellurium: Minerals Make Life Features Four Minerals as “Key to an Advanced Energy Future”

    As the number of countries pledging to reach net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of this century (or soon thereafter) continues to grow, and governments and other stakeholders work to transform the energy systems underpinning our economies, demand for critical metals and minerals is soaring. The rapidly-accelerating adoption of EV battery technology, along with plans [...]
  • Is Tellurium the “new gold?”

    A new piece in the New Scientist underlines the importance of strategic metals to our new economy — from tech toys like the iPad and smart phones to green-tech applications ranging from solar panels to wind turbines. The Tellurium in the title is an element critical to new solar panel applications. As New Scientist puts [...]