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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • DoE Chapter of 100-Day Supply Chain Report Calls for Immediate Investment in “Scaling up a Secure, Diversified Supply Chain for High-Capacity Batteries Here at Home”

    The Biden Administration made clear early on that it is committed to pursuing a low-carbon energy future, and battery technology is a key driver underpinning the shift away from fossil fuels. Just a few weeks ago, when touting his infrastructure package at Ford’s electric vehicle plant in Dearborn, President Joe Biden declared: “The future of the auto industry is electric. There’s no turning back.”

    Thus, it came as no surprise that President Biden’s February 2021 executive order launching a 100-day review of supply chain vulnerabilities for four key products targeted advanced batteries. The Department of Energy has now completed its review, with the findings released last week as part of a comprehensive 100-Day Supply Chain Report.

    As DoE points out:

    “Advanced, high-capacity batteries play an integral role in 21st-century technologies that are critical to the clean energy transition and national security capabilities around the world—from electric vehicles, to stationary energy storage, to defense applications. Demand for these products is set to grow as supply chain constraints, geopolitical and economic competition, and other vulnerabilities are increasing as well.”

    In its report chapter, DoE notes that

    “The rationale for supporting the U.S. supply chain now is clear: demand for EVs and energy storage is increasing, investors are increasing investment in the clean economy, and the pandemic has underscored the fragility of some U.S. supply chains. China and the European Union (EU) – in contrast to the U.S. approach – have developed and deployed ambitious government-led industrial policies that are supporting their success across the battery supply chain. China has also moved beyond conventional policy support with practices involving questionable environmental policies, price distortion through state-run enterprises to minimize competition, and large subsidies throughout the battery supply chain.”

    In other words, as ARPN expert panel member and Benchmark Mineral Intelligence managing director Simon Moores told members of Congress a while back:

    “We are in the midst of a global battery arms race.”

    Moores had told members of Congress that “[i]t is not too late for the US [to secure global supply chains post-COVID] but action is needed now.” — a sentiment DoE echoes in its report chapter:

    “However, the opportunity for the United States to secure a leading position in the global battery market is still within reach if the Federal Government takes swift and coordinated action.”

    While less explicit about the “all of the above” approach than the Department of Defense, DoE notes that:

    “With the global lithium battery market expected to grow by a factor of five to ten by 2030, it is imperative that the United States invests immediately in scaling up a secure, diversified supply chain for high-capacity batteries here at home. That means seizing a critical opportunity to increase domestic battery manufacturing while investing to scale the full lithium battery supply chain, including the sustainable sourcing and processing of the critical minerals used in battery production all the way through to end-of-life battery collection and recycling.

    Through strong collaboration across the federal government, with U.S. industrial stakeholders, the research community, and international allies, the U.S. must develop a durable strategy that invests and scales our potential industrial strengths to meet this challenge.”

    Among the Agency’s key recommendations for immediate and future action to strengthen the domestic advanced battery supply chain are:

      • Strengthening U.S. manufacturing requirements in federally-funded grants, cooperative agreements, and research and development (R&D) contracts.
      • Procuring stationary battery storage.
      • Providing financing to the advanced battery supply chain for electric vehicles.
      • Releasing the National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries by the Federal Consortium on Advanced Batteries (FCAB).
      • For Congress to catalyze private capital with new federal grant programs to support battery cell and pack manufacturing.
      • The electrification of the nation’s school bus fleet, and the acceleration of the electrification of the nation’s transit bus fleet.
      • Providing consumer rebates and tax incentives to spur consumer adoption of EVs.
      • Investing in the production of high-capacity batteries and products that use these batteries to support good-paying, union jobs.

    Developing strong environmental review permitting practices for the extraction of critical minerals.

    Under the sub-head “Mapping the Supply Chain,” while the Department zeroed in on the usual suspects — notably Lithium, Cobalt, Graphite, Manganese — all of which were officially deemed critical on the U.S. Government’s official 2018 Critical Minerals list — DoE also prominently features Nickel and Copper. For Nickel, DoE even notes that “if there are opportunities for the U.S. to target one part of the battery supply chain, this would likely be the most critical to provide short- and medium-term supply chain stability.”

    Which would make Nickel the most critical “non-Critical” – a status consistent with the word cloud we created based on the number of 100-Day Report mentions (footnotes included) of the metals and minerals that made the official U.S. Government Critical Minerals List of 2018 — and the two that didn’t but should have (Nickel and Copper).

    As we noted in our post earlier this week, the Biden Administration is right to give prominence to Nickel and Copper in its strategy.

    After all, as Reuters’s Andy Home has pointed out,

    “There is no domestic nickel processing capacity outside a limited amount of by-product salt production.

    Yet this particular battery metal is the one likely to experience the most significant demand increase over the coming years, the report says, with ‘market indications that there could be a large shortage of Class 1 nickel in the next 3-7 years.’

    Indeed, with nickel content rising in battery cathode design, not having enough of the right kind of nickel ‘poses a supply chain risk for battery manufacturing globally, not just in the United States.’”

    And for Copper, the latest IEA report has estimated that — largely driven by the EV revolution — demand will be 25 times greater in 2040 than it was in 2020.

    Thankfully, there are opportunities to alleviate our supply chain vulnerabilities and to begin the “sustainable sourcing and processing” here at home, both for Nickel and Copper, as well as for the other battery “Criticals,” and many other metals and minerals.

    With the Administration having endorsed an “All of the Above” strategy to secure our supply chains “soup to nuts,” as Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm phrased it earlier this week, here’s hoping that this broad-based approach will find swift application via policy, programs and projects.

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  • To-Be-Devised Rare Earths Policies Should Tie Into Broader “All of the Above” Approach to Critical Mineral Resource Policy

    As the Biden Administration doubles down on its ambitious climate and technology agenda, it becomes increasingly clear that the issue of material inputs underpinning a green energy transition must be addressed. Followers of ARPN know — not least since last year’s World Bank report or last week’s IEA report — that massive supplies of EV battery tech metals like lithium, graphite, nickel and cobalt, as well as mainstays like copper and aluminum will be required. However, beyond that, the Rare Earths, which aside their application in green energy technology also are key components of hi-tech defense applications will also play a prominent role on the critical minerals front going forward.

    Aware of the need to bolster critical mineral supply chains against the backdrop of a Chinese near-total supply and processing monopoly, the Biden Administration singled out Rare Earths as a target in a February 2021 presidential executive order designed to initiate a review of gaps in domestic supply chains.

    In a recent piece, CNBC’s Samantha Subin gives insight into the state of play and the challenges ahead. She cites Jane Nakano, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic International Studies’ Energy Security and Climate Change program, who said: “It’s technically possible to try and rebuild the entire supply chain because we once had it. (…) It’s not that we’re not experienced, it’s not that we have no idea of what the domestic supply chain may look like.” Nakano believes that factors like business, environmental and political may complicate any efforts, especially in the near-term.

    Detailing some of the current efforts underway (look for more on that on our blog tomorrow), Subin argues that “success is dependent on whether the U.S. can quickly scale up processing and refining after the mining of the resources, and compete on cost with a magnet-making and processing market that’s heavily dominated by China.”

    Nakano concludes that meeting projected without global supply chains, warrant the build-out of “massive levels of production” in the U.S., and the creation of an extraction and production chain that could well take up to a decade. She believes that the best course of action is to work with partners like the European Union to alleviate reliance on dominant players like China:

    “Once you achieve that, let’s say ten, twenty years from now, then everyone can start looking at making a truly domestic supply chain,” she told CNBC’s Subin.

    All of which brings us back to the “all of the above” approach to critical mineral resource policy experts at a recent virtual congressional policy forum agreed is warranted for U.S. policy: There is no immediate silver bullet, but focusing on building out domestic production and processing capabilities while at the same time fostering cooperation with close allies and scaling up research and development is a winning recipe for Rare Earths and beyond.

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  • ARPN’s McGroarty at Virtual Forum: “Apply an ‘All of the Above’ Approach to Critical Minerals — Both in Terms of Development and Federal Policy”

    Speaking at a virtual forum hosted by House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans on the role of critical minerals in geopolitics, renewable energy production and beyond earlier today, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty called on policy stakeholder to apply the “all of the above” approach that helped reverse decades of American dependence on foreign oil to the [...]
  • Infrastructure Reform Done Right Will “Recognize and Elevate the Importance of American-Produced Raw Materials”

    The crumbling state of our nation’s infrastructure is neither a secret, nor is addressing it a small task, as today’s infrastructure stretches far beyond bridges, roads and ports. As ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty phrased it a few years back: “It’s not your Grandfather’s infrastructure anymore.” U.S. President Joe Biden is right to call out and address [...]
  • The Road to “Building Back Better” is Paved with Critical Metals and Minerals

    Another round of COVID relief stimulus checks is hitting Americans’ bank account this week, and a vaccine schedule laid has been laid out. Time for the Administration and Congress to move on to the next key priority of the Biden Administration’s “Build Back Better” agenda: an economic recovery package that will “make historic investments in [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Sustainably Greening the Future – How the Mineral Resource Sector Seeks to Do Its Part to Close the Loop

    Merely days after assuming office U.S. President Joe Biden has already signed a series of executive orders on climate change and related policy areas, marking an expected shift in priorities from the preceding Administration. But even before, and irrespective of where you come down on the political spectrum, there was no denying that we find [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • U.S. Senator and AK Governor for The Hill: With China Having Taken Control of Critical Mineral Supply Chains, We Need to Act Now

    Beijing’s threat to withhold potentially life-saving medical supplies and medications in the middle of a global pandemic, during which China has “taken control of [respective] supply chains around the world as part of its quest for global domination,” were a wake up call, write U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) in [...]
  • Event Alert: Benchmark Webinar on Lithium Ion Battery, EV and Energy Storage Supply Chain Issues

    Against the backdrop of a new presidential executive order declaring a critical minerals “national emergency” for the United States, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence will host its “Washington DC Summit 2020 – Online” on Tuesday, October 20th, at 1p.m. EST. This year’s virtual summit will bring together U.S. Government representatives and industry stakeholders to discuss materials challenges [...]

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