***Posted by Daniel McGroarty***
“The current coronavirus pandemic has exposed significant supply chain challenges associated with our over-reliance on foreign (and especially Chinese) raw materials,” — writes ARPN’s Sandra Wirtz in a new piece for The Economic Standard:
“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 U.S. supply chains. And, in spite of the fact that the United States is rich in mineral resources, we have maneuvered ourselves into a situation where we often find ourselves at the mercy of China.”
Outlining the genesis and extent of our over-reliance on largely Chinese-sourced mineral resources, Wirtz argues that while the main focus has been on rare earths, our supply chain vulnerabilities stretch far beyond, as evidenced most recently by the findings of the new World Bank report on “The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition.”
With COVID as the catalyst, that message is resonating with U.S. policymakers, in the Cabinet Departments and at the White House. Wirtz outlines several current policy initiatives aimed at alleviating our supply chain vulnerabilities:
- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s Onshoring Rare Earths Act of 2020, or ORE Act, which defines ‘critical minerals’ as the 17 Rare earths plus four key minerals underpinning battery tech;
- the expansion of the Department of Energy’s “target list” for project proposals to develop next gen extraction, separation and processing technologies for five rare earths plus cobalt, lithium, manganese and natural graphite; and
- two new Executive Orders which would promote domestic mineral resource development.
“All of which is to say that, after long period of inaction, the U.S. Government seems to be viewing strategic materials and critical minerals issues with a new seriousness. That’s a welcome development. COVID, with its sudden disruption of supply chains, should be the last warning the U.S. needs to bolster our mineral resource security going forward.”
Read the full piece here.