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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 from defence to the economy, and today (…) making headway in crafting a continental approach to fighting climate change and improving labour standards,”Jacobson argues that “the strong relationship between the two countries is even more important as we face a potential crisis on the horizon (…)  — North America’s lack of the supply chain necessary for the extraction and refining of ‘critical minerals.’”

    Former ambassadors are understandably diplomatic, but followers of ARPN will understand that we don’t see this crisis as “on the horizon” – but as a clear and present danger, to borrow a famous phrase.

    Ambassador Jacobson draws parallels to the 1970s oil embargo, which resulted in global market disruptions, and says that “if a minerals crisis occurred to similar effect as the oil crisis, every technology, job, business or sector that depends on a battery, a computer chip, or high-tech alloys would be at risk.”

    His bottom line:

    “The good news is a solution exists, right beneath our feet. There are deposits of cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite and many other critical minerals across North America, including in California, Nevada, Minnesota, Northern Ontario and Quebec. But we have not exercised the resolve to extract them or to develop the supply chain necessary to refine them here rather than ship raw materials overseas only to ship finished products back again.

    It’s not just about securing the supply. Canada and the U.S. stand to see a huge benefit from these increasingly valuable resources while keeping the economic growth and job opportunities at home not just in mining and refining but, more importantly, in making all the products that rely on these critical minerals.”

    It’s time to harness the special relationship between the two countries – which indeed is “more than metaphorical” as ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty phrased it in a 2018 piece for Investors Business Daily— as well as frameworks for allied cooperations such as the National Technology Industrial Base (NTIB), which, originally established to strengthen technology links between the U.S. and Canada in 1993, was expanded in 2016 to include the United Kingdom and Australia.

    Jacobson is right when he says: “We are in a race against time, and we cannot always count on the competition to play fair. Americans and Canadians have historically pulled together for the good of both nations in times of challenge. Such times are coming. Let’s once again plan for, face and beat this new challenge by together establishing our place in the global supply chain.”

    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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  • 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:

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    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.

     

     

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  • To Lead in EV Revolution, We Must Ramp Up U.S. Mineral Production

    “The U.S. has for too long ceded control of the front end of our manufacturing supply chains to foreign nations, assuming the materials we require will be there when we need them,” writes National Mining Association president and CEO Rich Nolan in a recent Boston Herald piece. In doing so, the U.S. has allowed China [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • “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 [...]
  • DoD Chapter of 100-Day Supply Chain Report Acknowledges Gateway/Co-product Challenge

    Friends of ARPN will know that “much of our work is grounded in a conviction that the Technology Age is driven by a revolution in materials science – a rapidly accelerating effort that is unlocking the potential of scores of metals and minerals long known but seldom utilized in our tools and technologies.” In this [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]

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