American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • A First Glimpse: Biden Administration Releases Findings of Extensive Supply Chain Review

    Earlier today, the White House released the findings of its 100-day supply chain review initiated by Executive Order 14017 – “America’s Supply Chains” and announced a set of immediate actions it is looking to take in an effort to strengthen U.S. supply chains “to promote economic security, national security, and good-paying, union jobs here at home.”

    The 250-page report contains review sections and policy recommendations for four technology sectors deemed critical: semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging; large capacity batteries, like those for electric vehicles; critical minerals and materials; and pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).

    The Biden Administration should be commended for acknowledging that “[f]or too many years, we’ve let our production capacity for critical goods migrate overseas rather than making investments to support U.S. manufacturing and U.S. workers,” as a senior Administration official told reporters earlier today, and for making good on its commitment to thoroughly review bottlenecks, supply risks and possible solutions.

    After several news reports that the President and his team would look primarily to America’s allies as sources of critical raw materials and, rather than looking into increasing production domestically, would focus on supporting domestic processing of such imported materials, it is encouraging to see that the White House report also sees a role for new domestic exploration, with the Administration planning to work to “identify new domestic sites where such critical minerals could be mined with environmental safeguards.”

    This would be consistent with ARPN’s call for an “all of the above” approach, most recently laid out before members of Congress during a virtual panel discussion by ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty.

    Of course, the devil is in the details, and ARPN will dig deeper into the full report in posts to come. But the topline is clear: In our Tech Metals Age, secure supply chains are essential to advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, public health and national security. And minerals and metals are the indispensable ingredients in each case.

  • 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.

  • A Look North: Challenges and Opportunities Relating to Canada’s Critical Mineral Resource Dependence on China

    Like the United States, Canada has subjected itself to an “increasingly uncomfortable reliance” on China for critical mineral supplies, but its wealth of metals and minerals beneath the country’s soil could, if properly harnessed, give Canada a significant strategic advantage in years to come, mining executives and experts recently told Canada’s House of Commons resource [...]
  • China’s Saber-Rattling over Rare Earths Card Getting Louder

    After months of rumblings, it appears that China is gearing up to play its “rare earths card” again. Citing people involved in a government consultation, the Financial Times reports that Beijing is gauging exactly how badly companies in the United States and Europe, including U.S. defense contractors, would be affected by plans to restrict exports [...]
  • Don’t Abandon Those New Resolutions Just Yet: ARPN’s Look Ahead for Domestic Resource Development in 2021

    “Out with the old, in with the new” goes the old adage, and — particularly against the backdrop of a rabidly partisan climate in Washington, DC, the Biden Administration, which begins tomorrow, will likely be pressured to swiftly undo many policy changes the outgoing Trump Administration made per executive action. Yet as this Constitutionally-mandated date [...]
  • Critical Mineral Developments Continue in the Waning Days of 2020 — and Into the Early Days of the New Year

    If you’ve read our Year in Review post last month, you know 2020 was a busy year on the mineral resource policy front — so much so that even the last few days of December had several important developments. Most notably, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. While most of the media’s attention [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Has Canada Just Jump-Started its Electric Vehicle Sector? – A Look at the Recent Ford Canada Labor Deal Through the Prism of an Integrated North American Value Chain

    From a U.S. perspective, arguably the biggest news in the critical minerals sector in recent weeks has been U.S. President Trump’s latest executive order on critical minerals, which, according to analysts, is the first one in this field “that has the potential to bring some meaningful changes.” Aside from calling on the Department of the [...]
  • “It’s Complicated.”   Reckoning with the Unique Material Inputs of the 5G Rollout

    As diplomatic and trade relations between the United States and China continue to deteriorate against the backdrop of the current coronavirus pandemic, the buildout of 5G technology is quickly becoming the new frontier in the tech war between the two global players.  5G is considered vital not only for 21st century telecommunications but also self-driving [...]
  • Time to “Decouple and Control” our Critical Mineral Resource Supply Chains

    The ongoing coronavirus pandemic tearing through our communities is more than a health crisis — it has “exposed the fragility and flaws of globalized supply chains and extensive offshore production, especially drugs and medical gear,” writes Austin Bay in a new column for Townhall with a special emphasis on China.   Hopes that China would liberalize in the [...]