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

  • 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 capacity domestically,” the Administration will also seek to “diversify supply chains away from adversarial nations and sources with unacceptable environmental and labor standards” by working closely with allies and partners.

    With recent studies having made clear that the global shift towards a green energy future will require massive material inputs, it makes sense to see the goal of decoupling from “adversarial nations” like China in a North American context. U.S. domestic production and processing can and should be strengthened, but we are in the fortunate position to also leverage close relations with allied nations.

    Enter Canada — a resource-rich nation that is not only on our doorstep, but the linkage with which legally codified, at least in terms of national defense.

    As ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty outlined in a piece for Investors’ Business Daily:

    “The linkage [between the U.S. and our neighbors to the North] is enshrined in U.S. and Canadian law. Unlike any of America’s other allies, Canada has long been part of a special relationship, linking the two country’s defense industrial bases as one.

    The defense union dates back to the months preceding America’s entry into World War II: In 1941, FDR and Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King agreed to allow American-made war materiel produced in Canada to flow to embattled Britain under Lend-Lease. As the war wore on, Canadian aluminum production ramped up at the massive Saguenay, Quebec, complex, eventually accounting for 40% of all allied aluminum production.

    U.S.-Canada industrial collaboration continued through the Cold War and beyond. Twenty-five years ago, the U.S. federal code formally recognized Canada as a part of the U.S. National Technology and Industrial Base (NTIB) for national security and defense planning purposes.

    As a result, our two countries share the world’s most integrated defense industrial base. And in a nod to our long alliance, the Canadian air base at Bagotville, Quebec — built in 1942 to protect the aluminum production facilities during World War II — is today part of the joint U.S.-Canadian North-American Air Defense network, better known as NORAD.”

    While as such, our relations with Canada will be the most natural fit for critical mineral resource cooperation, the U.S. also has a strong ally in Australia, with whom the U.S. has also entered into cooperative agreements, and will able to leverage another framework for allied cooperation — the National Technology Industrial Base (NTIB), which originally established to strengthen technology links between the U.S. and Canada in 1993, which was expanded in 2016 to include the United Kingdom and Australia.

    As ARPN’s McGroarty noted in an opinion piece for The Hill in 2018, when discussing the findings of the DoD’s then-released Defense Industrial Base report:

    “This four-country economic colossus — with a combined GDP of more than $25 trillion — constitutes a vast reservoir of economic might to draw on for collective national security. With defense technology driven by the rapid development of materials science, the four NTIB nations also host production or known resources of all 35 of the minerals and metals on the U.S. Government’s newly-established Critical Minerals List. As the DIB report notes, Congress has ordered ‘DoD to [develop] a plan to reduce the barriers to the seamless integration across the National Technology and Industrial Base.’ Given the dangers of what the Pentagon Report calls China’s ‘economic aggression,’ it’s time to put this integration into overdrive.”

    Strengthening domestic resource production as well as processing and closer cooperation with our friends and allies should not be considered mutually exclusive strategies. Striking the right balance will be key as the Administration moves forward to implement the recommendations from its 100 Day Supply Chain Report.

    What ARPN’s McGroarty told members of Congress about a decade ago still rings true today:

    “We cannot maintain our modern economy without a steady supply of metals and minerals. Those we do not possess here at home, we must source from other countries. But those we possess but choose not to produce perpetuate a needless foreign dependence – leverage that other [adversarial] nations may well use to America’s disadvantage.”

  • 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 [...]
  • With Rare Display of Bipartisanship in Congress and Resource Partnership Announcement With Allied Nations, Momentum Building for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    Late last week, we witnessed the formal announcement of a forthcoming roll out of an “action plan” to counter Chinese dominance in the critical minerals sector during Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s week-long state visit to the U.S.. According to news reports the plan will “open a new front against China in a widening technology and trade war by exploiting [...]