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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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.

  • New IEA Report Underscores Material Inputs of Net Zero Energy System By 2050, Indicates Support for “All of the Above” Approach to Mineral Resource Security

    2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum
    Touting his infrastructure package at Ford’s electric vehicle plant in Michigan last week, President Joe Biden declared: “The future of the auto industry is Dearborn,electric. There’s no turning back.”  Against the backdrop of the Biden Administration’s push for a low carbon energy future and a global push to reduce greenhouse gases, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a new study modeling scenarios for carbon neutrality by 2050.  Reading the IEA Report in light of the president’s comment, there’s “no turning back” to prior levels of demand for energy-critical minerals and metals either.

    “The world has a viable pathway to building a global energy sector with net-zero emissions in 2050, but it is narrow and requires an unprecedented transformation of how energy is produced, transported and used globally,” say the authors of “Net Zero by 2050: a Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector.” 

    Sure to cause a stir and ruffle some feathers, the agency portrays the report as “the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net zero energy system by 2050 while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access, and enabling robust economic growth.”

    While calling for an “immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies, combined with a major global push to accelerate innovation,” the report also makes clear that this shift will not be feasible without the mining sector, because it will require massive material inputs on the critical minerals front:

    “Minerals are essential components in many of today’s rapidly growing clean energy technologies – from wind turbines and electricity networks to electric vehicles. Demand for these minerals will grow quickly as clean energy transitions gather pace.”

    Meanwhile, according to Faith Birol, executive director of the IEA, “[t]he data shows a looming mismatch between the world’s strengthened climate ambitions and the availability of critical minerals that are essential to realising those ambitions.”

    In order to achieve a framework for mineral resource security strong enough to underpin a net zero transition by 2050, the IEA study has identified six pillars of a broad approach to complement countries’ existing initiatives, ranging from ensuring adequate investment in the mineral supply chain (which could include bolstering national geological surveys, streamlining permitting procedures to shorten lead times, or providing financing support to de-risk projects) to promoting research and development and tech innovation all across the value chain, from extraction to recycling.

    To those engaged in the current political discourse over critical mineral resource security who seem to see recycling as the holy grail or panacea, the IEA report throws a curveball, stating that “recycling of end-of-life lithium-ion batteries to recover the valuable minerals, and to a smaller extent their reuse as second-life batteries, can reduce combined primary supply requirements for these minerals by around 10%.”

    While that number is certainly not negligible, the bottom line of the IEA study is in line with the consensus held by panelists at a virtual policy forum put on by U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans last week — which was that the United States must pursue an “all of the above” approach to critical mineral resource security.

    [For more information on the policy forum, and a link to re-watch it in its entirety, click here.]

    As John Adams, U.S. Army Brigadier General (ret.) wrote for Inside Sources:

    “We have come to understand all too well the dangers of overreliance on OPEC and unstable regions of the world for oil. The lessons learned from 20th-century energy security are clear and the same mistakes must not be repeated with critical minerals.

    Now is the moment to take a whole-of-government approach to address this challenge head-on. As the IEA report makes clear, doing so will require increased recycling of materials and strengthened cooperation with allied producer nations, but it will also require an energetic commitment to encourage responsible new domestic mineral production to meet the enormous demand now on the horizon. The sooner we recognize the importance of mining and critical materials to every dimension of our national security and economic agenda, the better off we will be.”

    Photo credit: Ford

  • Panelists at Virtual Forum Agree on Need for Holistic “All of The Above” Approach to Critical Mineral Resource Policy

    During a virtual congressional policy forum on critical minerals hosted by House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans earlier this week, experts agreed that the United States must adopt a holistic “all of the above” approach to critical mineral resource policy. Panelists at the event, which can be re-watched in its entirety here, included: Daniel McGroarty, (…) more

  • 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 (…) more

  • 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 (…) more

  • Commentary: Fighting Global Climate Change Through Electrification is a Herculean Task

    In a new piece for Forbes, Jude Clemente, principal at JTC Energy Research Associates, LLC, outlines the size and scope of the ambitious climate goal of electrification to fight climate change, and discusses the underlying challenges associated with the shift. Clemente argues that the likely surge in electricity demand as the world seeks to decarbonize (…) more

  • Lawmakers on Capitol Hill Zero In on Critical Mineral Supply Chain Security

    The coronavirus pandemic has served as an eye-opener to many Americans with regards to our critical mineral resource dependencies. This, coupled with the green energy transition fueling vastly increased demand for a score of critical minerals, has prompted a flurry of activity in Washington, DC, as policymakers scramble to diversify our critical mineral sources away (…) more

  • As Renewable Energy Push on Capitol Hill Intensifies, Inherent Irony of Green New Deal is Apparent

    As the Biden Administration intensifies its efforts to promote its ambitious renewable energy agenda, energy analyst David Blackmon recently took aim in a piece for Forbes at what we previously called the “Green New Deal’s inherent irony”: the fact that “the same green lobby that advocates for the ‘Green New Deal’ is perhaps the largest (…) more

  • Podcast: Battery Tech Supply Chain Expert Simon Moores Discusses Lithium Challenge

    American Jobs Plan, Green New Deal … irrespective of whether these plans will get implemented fully or in part, the renewable energy transition is already here, and it’s here to stay. The renewable energy sector has been transforming at neck-breaking speed, and with that, demand for the metals and minerals underpinning the green energy shift (…) more

  • Mining Industry Expert: “A Serious Conversation About Infrastructure and Clean Energy Must Start at the Beginning of the Supply Chain. It’s Time to Boost Domestic Supply of Copper”

    As was to be expected, President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address to both chambers of Congress to tout his American Jobs Plan, which has been billed as comprehensive package to make the economy more productive through investments in infrastructure, education, work force development and fighting climate change. And while nobody can (…) more

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