American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • A Look Beyond the United States — Realizing the Extent of Resource Dependencies, Countries Take Steps to Bolster Domestic Supply Chains

    Against the backdrop of mounting geopolitical and ongoing supply chain challenges, countries are left grappling with the the mineral intensity of the sought-after global transition towards a net zero carbon emissions future.

    In their quest to untangle complex critical mineral supply chains and reduce over-reliance on adversary nations, the extent of which was first brought to light in the coronavirus pandemic, nations are not only forming partnerships like the recently-announced Minerals Security Partnership (MSP), which Reuters’s Andy Home likens to the formation of a metallic NATO, they are also taking their own steps to secure supply chains for domestic manufacturers.

    In the following, we’re taking a look at resource related activities in countries beyond ARPN’s usual purview (which of course is focused on the United States but sometimes includes our close allies Canada and Australia):

    • Earlier in July, the United Kingdom released its first ever Critical Minerals Strategy, setting out, in the words of Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK’s “plan to secure our supply chains, by boosting domestic capability in a way that generates new jobs and wealth, attracting investment and playing a leading role in solving global challenges with our international partners.”

      The announcement comes only days after the launch of a Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre (CMIC), which seeks to “boost the country’s resilience and growth by providing up-to-date data and analysis on the supply of critical minerals,” and “develop evidence-based policies aimed at developing more robust critical mineral supply chains to the UK.”

    • Germany, too, is taking steps to decouple from adversaries and bolster its domestic supply chains emphasizing domestic production, processing and recycling over imports.  Upon taking office, the new Federal Government  set itself the ambitious goal of presenting a comprehensive National Security Strategy within its first year. The process was kicked off in March of 2022, a few weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which served as an eye opener for Germans and Europeans in terms of their dependence on Russian energy supplies, particularly oil and gas. Consequently, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has made clear that Germany must ensure that it cannot again fall victim to blackmail as it did over its dependence on Russian energy, and is looking for ways to reduce the country’s economic dependence on China, which is particularly high when it comes to supplies of Rare Earths.

      In the same vein, the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), in partnership with the German Resource Research Institute (GERRI) has released a research paper calling for a “rethink” for German resource policy. Outlining that German resource policy rests on three pillars — imports, domestic development and processing, and recycling — the authors of the report call for strengthening the second and third pillar over the first one going forward.

    • But it’s not just Western nations feeling the heat — South Korea, too, is starting to feel vulnerable over critical minerals.  The Korean National Assembly Research Service has said that “securing metal resources will be a key to energy security, and stressed the importance of plans to stockpile metal resources and diversify suppliers.”

      A founding member of the Mineral Security Partnership (MSP) led by the United States, South Korea is planning to “draw up related measures such as measures to stockpile more mineral resources,” after having neglected its resource policy over the past decade, according to researchers.

    These are only a few examples of mineral resource policy developments beyond ARPN’s usual purview, but they all make one thing abundantly clear:  With geopolitical tensions rising, countries are realizing that critical mineral resource supply chains are vulnerable to manipulation or weaponization, and are taking steps to shore up their domestic development and processing capabilities.  All-of-the-Above increasingly appears to be the order of the day.  Friend-shoring is an important pillar of any resource strategy, but must be embedded into a comprehensive approach from mine to manufacturing and across all segments of the value chain.

  • It’s Not Just Critical Mineral Development and Processing — China Also Has Leg Up When it Comes to Recycling

    Followers of ARPN are well aware that China has long dominated the global mineral resource wars on the development and processing fronts, and the United States in recent months has taken a series of unprecedented steps in an effort to decouple U.S. critical mineral supply chains from China.

    A recent paper published by the American Chemical Society (ACS) zeros in on recycling of Lithium-ion batteries and shows that untangling the web of mineral resource dependencies is even more complicated than it looks on the surface, as China is not only the fat spider in the net when it comes to resource development and processing, but also has a leg up on the United States when it comes to recycling.

    Writes Maria Virginia Olano in a recent piece discussing said paper for Canary Media:

    “China is the global leader in recycling of lithium-ion batteries, far outpacing all other nations. As of late 2021, China had more than three times as much existing and planned lithium-ion battery recycling capacity as the U.S..”

    Olano adds that China began promoting lithium-ion battery recycling via policy as early as ten years ago, and has since adopted a regulatory framework conducive to spurring the creation of an entire lithium-ion battery recycling sector, with a 2018 regulation requiring manufacturers to “collaborate with recycling companies to improve the recycling process.”

    Meanwhile, in the United States, according to Olano, “lithium-ion battery recycling is a nascent industry, but it’s starting to develop.” Policy efforts are underway, but measures “that would support or even super-charge the industry have not yet been adopted.”

    The Department of Defense’s report in response to last year’s Executive Order 14017, Securing America’s Supply Chains titled “Securing Defense-Critical Supply Chains” released this spring assessed supply chains in the defense industrial base and reached a similar conclusion:

    Building upon the Department of Energy’s 2021 National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries and last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law, the report stresses Beijing’s global supply chain dominance “in all aspects of the lithium battery market” and, according to a legal summary, “identified a standards gap that creates a barrier to successful DoD leveraging of the $515 billion in active global auto industry investment in advanced battery technology.” The report, according to the summary, further concludes that “domestic preferences and other incentives built into DoD acquisitions are insufficient to generate the type of demand required to benefit from domestic battery production.”

    Both the ACS study and the DoD report make clear that to succeed in the 21st century resource wars, we must be ready to engage on all fronts.

    A piecemeal approach that leverages only certain aspects of the policy spectrum or only focuses on “friend shoring” or research and development is insufficient to meet the challenge. As the stakes continue to rise, the only path forward lies in the context of a true “all-of-the-above” approach from mine to manufacturing and beyond, across the entire value chain.

    The mining industry, building on decades of innovation and the materials science revolution stands ready to meet the challenge. Now it is up to policy stakeholders to created the framework conducive to unleashing U.S. ingenuity and our nation’s resource potential.

  • Mapping of Domestic Critical Minerals Prioritized in Context of All-of-the-Above Approach to Supply Chain Security

    As the U.S. House of Representatives has passed its version of the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), another piece of legislation enacted earlier is beginning to bear fruit in the context of strengthening our nation’s critical mineral supply chains. Earlier this summer, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced it had set aside [...]
  • Independence Day 2022 – Are We Getting Closer to Critical Mineral Resource Independence? — As Stakes Rise, National Defense Stockpile Could Receive Boost Via NDAA

    It’s that time of the year again.   We’re gearing up to celebrate the men and women who have fought for, and continue to safeguard our freedoms.  It may not feel like it when the cost for the average July 4th cookout has drastically increased, but we have much to be thankful for, particularly at a time when geopolitical [...]
  • U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin Calls for Strengthening U.S.-Canadian Energy and Critical Minerals Partnership

    Along with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has long one of the lead champions of a more comprehensive approach to mineral resource security. On the heels of lamenting the delayed implementation of a set of critical mineral provisions included in the Energy Act of 2020 and the bipartisan infrastructure package [...]
  • Closing the Loop – An Important Tool in Our All-of-the-Above Toolkit

    In a recent piece for The Hill, Adina Renee Adler, deputy executive director of Silverado Policy Accelerator, a Washington, D.C.-area based think tank, calls for the increased harnessing of circular economy concepts in service to U.S. critical mineral resource policy. Acknowledging bipartisan efforts to strengthen U.S. critical mineral supply chains in the past year, for which [...]
  • As Stakes Continue to Get Higher, Critical Minerals Challenge Goes Mainstream with Realization Issue Goes Beyond “Battery Criticals”

    Supply chain challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine, rising resource nationalism in the southern hemisphere, and now China’s Xi Jinping doubling-down on its zero-Covid policy this week which may lead to more lockdowns with serious economic and trade consequences – critical mineral supply chains can’t seem to catch a break. As [...]
  • As Allies Take Steps to Unleash Mineral Potential, U.S. Must Not Become Complacent – “Friend-Shoring” Piece of the Puzzle, not Panacea

    As U.S. stakeholders grapple with the question of how to bolster U.S. supply chains for the battery criticals and other critical minerals amidst skyrocketing demand scenarios and growing geopolitical pressures, our allies are taking steps of their own to unleash their mineral potential. Looking north, in order to “secure Canada’s place in important supply chains with [...]
  • Desperate Times, Desperate Measures? Persisting Semiconductor Supply Chain Challenge Warrants Comprehensive “All-of-the-Above” Approach – or, You Can Always Rip Apart New Washing Machines for Their Micro-Chips…!

    They say desperate times call for desperate measures, and if you needed any more indications that the state of supply chain security has reached crisis level, consider headlines like this one:  “Tech firms rip apart NEW washing machines so they can harvest their computer parts in a bid to beat the global microchip shortage”. The news [...]
  • Invocation of Defense Production Act a Sign “America is Finally Taking the Battery Metal Shortage Seriously” – But Must be Embedded in True All-of-the-Above Strategy

    Last week, against the backdrop of mounting pressures on U.S. critical mineral supply chains, U.S. President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to encourage domestic production of the metals and minerals deemed critical for electric vehicle and large capacity batteries. The move is a sign that “America is finally taking the battery metal shortage seriously,” as the [...]