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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • U.S. Allies Take Steps to Secure Critical Mineral Resource Supply Chains

    The toilet paper shortage of 2020 may be a thing of the past – or perhaps an annual event… –  but roughly a year and half since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, consumers continue to feel the pinch of supply chain challenges across all industry sectors.  For ARPN, with due appreciation of the dislocations and the very real privations they cause, this heightened supply chain scrutiny is serving up a “teachable moment:”

    These challenges, coupled with the accelerating global push towards a net zero carbon future, have set off a global scramble for critical minerals and for strategies on how to best secure their stable supply across all levels of the supply chain.

    While the United States took several promising steps culminating in the release of the Biden Administration’s comprehensive 100 Day Supply Chain review, policy makers in Congress are currently struggling to find agreement on how to advance meaningful critical mineral resource policy reforms (and stop unhelpful provisions) as part of larger federal spending packages.

    But policymaking, like nature, abhors a vacuum, so even as U.S. lawmakers try to resolve their differences on Capitol Hill, we are learning that both the European Union and Australia are taking their own steps to bolster critical mineral resource supply chains:

    • The European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) earlier this month released its Action Plan to secure access to Rare Earth Elements for European industry. Entitled Rare Earth Magnets and Motors: A European Call for Action, the report outlines current and projected European demand for Rare Earth Elements and steps which should be taken to secure their supply.  The Alliance is working on a second Action Plan covering materials for energy storage and conversion, such as batteries, fuel cells, solar and hydrogen and other alternative energy storage and conversion systems.
    • Meanwhile, Down Under, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced at the end of September that the country will set up a A$2 billion ($1.5 billion) loan facility to help finance critical mineral projects in the country and get them off the ground.

    Of course, neither of these developments is bad new for the United States — especially since both the European Union and Australia are considered close allies, and, particularly the U.S. and Australia have recently reiterated their commitment to work together to secure critical material supply chains, both bilaterally and in the context of the Quad discussions.

    However, both initiatives underscore the need for U.S. policymakers to put policy over politics and embrace a comprehensive “all of the above” critical mineral resource strategy, and take immediate steps to reduce our critical mineral import reliance and secure our supply chains from mining to materials processing.

     

     

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  • Close Allies Map Critical Mineral Cooperation

    “Do I have to draw you a map?”

    As idioms go, that phrase is much nicer than the message it intends – but it’s apt for a new exercise linking the collective expertise of the geological surveys of Australia, Canada and the U.S.: an interactive world map of deposits of rare earths and other critical metals and minerals. The Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative was established in December 2019.

    The now-released online portal contains “the world’s largest dataset of minerals such as cobalt, lithium and rare earth elements and has more than 7,000 mineral samples from over 60 countries which could help identify new areas of critical minerals.” This tool and its underlying data “can be used by governments to identify options to diversify their critical minerals sources and by companies to better target their exploration strategies.”

    The critical minerals map is of a piece with the Biden Administration’s recently-released 100-day supply chain report, which issued a clear signal that it intends to pursue an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to securing critical mineral supply chains. Alleviating concerns that the Administration would adopt a more selective approach, the report and subsequent statements by Administration officials have made clear that the approach encompasses both investing in “sustainable production, refining, and recycling capacity domestically,” AND working to “diversify supply chains away from adversarial nations and sources with unacceptable environmental and labor standards” by cooperating closely with allies and partners.

    Acknowledging China’s role as the world’s leading processor of battery tech metals and our nation’s dependency on Beijing, the White House stressed that “[t]he United States cannot and does not need to mine and process all critical battery inputs at home. It can and should work with allies and partners to expand global production and to ensure secure global supplies.”

    As part of the U.S.’s cooperative efforts with close friends and allies, Canada and Australia have taken center stage — for obvious reasons, as we have pointed out in a recent post. As supply chain dependencies command more attention, cooperation between the three countries with regards to critical minerals — the deepening of which began even before the coronavirus pandemic — is likely to grow.

    For followers of ARPN, there’s certainly no need for us to draw you a map when it comes to the following statement. With demand for critical minerals expected to soar in the context of the global pursuit of a low-carbon energy future, this is a welcome additional asset – a field guide for a comprehensive “all of the above” strategy to address our deep critical mineral shortfalls.

    All the same, it’s great to have a global guide to potential deposits of the minerals and metals shaping the Tech Metals Age.

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  • 100-Day Supply Chain Report — Striking a Balance Between Strengthening Domestic Resource Development and Cooperation With Allies

    In its just-released 100-Day Supply Chain Report, the Biden Administration has committed to an “all of the above” approach to critical minerals — a “wrap-around strategy” that includes recycling, substitution, as well as new mining, as Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told U.S. Senators earlier this month. While investing in “sustainable production, refining, and recycling [...]
  • Event Alert: “Critical Minerals Forum 2021” – A February Webinar Series on Critical Mineral Research

    It’s 2021, and the wild ride 2020 has taken us on continues. There were quite a few developments in the critical minerals realm over the past few months (for a recap see our two summary posts here and here, but if you thought things were about to slow down, you might be wrong. While emphases [...]
  • Europe Comes to Terms with Mineral Supply Challenges, Unveils Action Plan

    As the U.S. explores its options when it comes to diversifying our critical minerals supply chains away from China in the wake of COVID-19, Europe is coming to grips with its own mineral supply challenges. According to European metals association Eurometaux, the region “has reached a critical fork in the road,” as it grapples with [...]
  • Russia Pushes for Global Rare Earth Market Share as U.S. Struggles to Move Forward With Critical Minerals Initiatives

    Russia is certainly making headlines this week.  Quite obviously, much of the media attention is focused around President Vladimir Putin’s declaration that Russia has approved a vaccine for the coronavirus (after less than two months of testing) — but developments in the critical minerals realm also warrant attention: A top Russian government official has told [...]
  • Australia to Implement Reforms to Support Critical Minerals Partnership With U.S.

    Earlier last month, Australia’s Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan touted the recently-formalized critical minerals partnership with the United States to counter China’s stranglehold on mineral resource supply in an op-ed for The Australian. In it, he stressed the importance of “developing mature and diverse supply chains of minerals critical to modern life”: [...]
  • U.S. and Australia Formalize Critical Minerals Partnership

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has signed a project agreement with its Australian counterpart, GeoScience Australia, to jointly develop a “better understanding of both countries’ critical mineral reserves.”  The agreement is the result of ongoing agency-level talks between the United States and Australia and the recent announcement of a forthcoming formal roll out of an “action [...]
  • India and the Tech Wars: Ripple Effects of the Confrontation over Who Will Dominate the 21st Century Tech Age

    While most of the headlines regarding the trade war between the United States and China — and, for ARPN followers, the underlying tech war over who which country will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age — focus on the main players in Washington, DC and Beijing, the ripple effects of this confrontation can be felt [...]
  • Are we Ready for the Tech Metals Age? Thoughts on Critical Minerals, Public Policy and the Private Sector

    Earlier this week, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty shared his views on the coming tech metal age and its policy implications at In the Zone 2019 – Critical Materials: Securing Indo-Pacific Technology Futures – a conference hosted in cooperation with the University of Western Australia to look at critical mineral resource issues through the prism of the [...]

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