American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Heavy-Handed Government Protectionism Could Backfire as Nations Continue Push towards Net-Zero Carbon Emissions

    Against the backdrop of surging demand for critical minerals and mounting geopolitical pressures, countries all over the world have stepped up their involvement in the critical minerals sector as the green energy transition charges on.

    Followers of ARPN are aware of rising resource nationalism in Latin and South America, parts of Asia, and now Africa (see our most recent coverage of the issue here).  While some of these developments can be chalked up to a historically penchant for resource nationalism, more recently, government involvement in the critical minerals sector is on the rise even in the Western world.

    As ARPN outlined earlier, while modern Western democracies are typically hesitant to embrace more state intervention in the critical minerals sector, many believe that in order to succeed, the United States and its allies need to learn “how to stomach more state intervention [themselves].” 

    While state involvement has taken different forms depending on the geographical region, type of government and prevailing political leanings in a given country, a general trend towards more government intervention in this field cannot be dismissed, prompting PHP Group Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Mike Henry to warn that some of these efforts could backfire, and in fact undermine the global push towards net zero carbon emissions.

    Speaking at an industry conference in Brisbane, Australia, he told attendees that it was “‘understandable’ that nations were scrambling to secure domestic supply of the metals needed in renewable energy and electric vehicles, but warned against an excessively domestic focus and over-reliance on the ‘sugar hit’ of state-provided subsidies,” as Yahoo Finance reports.

    Said Henry:

    “Governments striving to secure their own critical mineral supplies must ensure they don’t undermine the outcome the world needs to achieve – where in fact a combination of pragmatic international cooperation and competition can jointly accelerate the energy transition,” 

    Speaking specifically in reference to Australia’s just-released critical minerals strategy, which had left some disappointed as they had hoped for more subsidies, permitting reforms and additions to the country’s critical minerals list, he added:

    “There’s a big movement underway in the U.S. right now towards permitting reform. Australia needs to do that,” and “[w]hat governments here – federal and state – should focus on are those things within their control to make investment fundamentally more attractive,” i.e. focus on better productivity and fiscal settings.

    Henry’s comments should give policy stakeholders pause as they rush towards protectionism.

    For a prudent all-of-the-above mineral resource policy to succeed, governments should avoid a heavy-handed approach and rather focus on providing well-structured frameworks conducive to unleashing their countries’ mineral potential and securing critical mineral supply chains without stifling the progress that stems from market innovation.

  • Is the U.S. Ready for the Coming “Coop-etition” for Critical Minerals?

    As geopolitical tensions continue to mount all over the globe, leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries gathering in Hiroshima, Japan last week reaffirmed the need to “manage the risks caused by vulnerable minerals supply chains and build more resilient sources.”   Buried in the boilerplate consensus common to G-7 sessions is real interest in cooperation among the world’s richest democracies – with an undercurrent of concern that competition for scarce resources may pit allies against one another.

    During the meeting, the United States and Australia announced a “Climate, Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Transformation Compact” to “enhance individual action and deepen (…) bilateral and multilateral cooperation to expand and diversify sources of clean energy and its inputs.”

    The Compact is the latest in a series of bilateral and multilateral initiatives and partnerships undertaken and entered into by the Biden Administration in a push to strengthen critical mineral supply chains and reduce vulnerabilities through diversification of sources.

    However, as the New York Times points out“(…) figuring out how to access all of the minerals the United States will need will still be a challenge. Many mineral-rich nations have poor environmental and labor standards. And although speeches at the G7 emphasized alliances and partnerships, rich countries are still essentially competing for scarce resources.”

    Call it “coop-etition:” A wary realization that the need to coordinate Critical Mineral policy coexists with the growing awareness that even increased supply of essential metals and minerals may not keep pace with rising demand.  How the U.S. and its allies navigate this new resource relationship – multiplied across several score of Critical Minerals – may be one of the principal commercial, diplomatic and national security challenges of this century.

  • Tech Arms Race to Heat Up as Western Nations Take Steps to Counter China on Semiconductors, Critical Minerals

     Semiconductors have become indispensable components for a broad range of electronic devices. They are not only “the material basis for integrated circuits that are essential to modern day life” – the “‘DNA’ of technology” which has “transformed essentially all segments of the economy,” they are also essential to national security, where they enable the “development and fielding of advanced weapons systems and [...]
  • Go West – A Look at the Western World in the Context of the Post-Cold War Critical Mineral Realignment

    As world leaders continue to deliberate on the new realities of the post-Cold War world order in Davos this week,  ARPN takes a second look at the realignment underway in the minerals sector.  In this post, we shift our focus to the West, where the “Three Amigos Summit,” as the trilateral North American Leaders’ Summit between the prime minister [...]
  • President Xi Jinping’s “Coronation” Adds Fuel to the Fire to Decouple Critical Mineral Supply Chains from China

    With pressures rising on critical mineral supply chains as nations rush to flesh out environmental initiatives before the COP27 climate change summit kicks off in Sharm El Sheikh next month, the stakes for the United States and its allies to “decouple” from adversary nations — in the new U.S. National Security Strategy, read:  China — may have gotten even [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]