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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 other countries and [to] implement a just and sustainable Critical Minerals Strategy,” the Trudeau government 2022 budget blueprint released earlier this month proposes up to $3.8 billion over eight years beginning in the fiscal year 2022-23 in “significant investments, while working closely with affected Indigenous groups, to contribute to the development of a domestic zero-emissions vehicle chain.”  

    Meanwhile, across the globe, the Australian Federal Government announced its 2022 Critical Minerals Strategy in March of this year, building on the first Critical Minerals Strategy initially published in 2019.  According to the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the revised strategy “has a vision to put Australia at the centre of meeting the growing demand for critical minerals. It will underpin our prosperity and security by improving access to reliable, secure and resilient supplies of critical minerals.” By de-risking projects, creating an “enabling” environment and strengthening international partnerships, the Australian government aims to make Australia a “global critical minerals powerhouse by 2030, delivering stable supply, sovereign capability and regional jobs and growth to Australia.”

    In keeping with the Biden-Administration’s emphasis on leveraging international partnerships with close allies, the United States has continued to work closely with Canada and Australia to strengthen and formalize mineral resource cooperation. Most recently, Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo met in Washington, D.C. at the end of March for the inaugural Australia-US Strategic Commercial Dialogue (AUSSCD) to discuss the accelerating green energy transition and related mineral resource challenges.  The executive-level roundtable highlighted the importance of developing shared approaches to ESG and traceability standards and working with other like-minded partners to build resilient supply chains.

    These developments are encouraging, but tempting as it may be – particularly in light of the pervasive nature of the “paradox of the green revolution”, as Reuters columnist Andy Home called the paradox that “public opinion is firmly in favour of decarbonisation but not the mines and smelters needed to get there” – we must not be complacent and rely too much on friend-shoring.

    With the advent of political campaign season, the balancing act to reconcile green credentials with the acknowledged need for domestic resource development will not get any easier for the Biden Administration.  “Friend-shoring” is certainly an important pillar of the “all-of-the-above” concept, but, in light of mounting demand and ever higher stakes with Russia’s war on Ukraine and rising resource nationalism, it is insufficient to alleviate our overall problem.

    Thankfully, as ARPN has consistently argued“[t]he good news is that courtesy of the materials science revolution, industry can harness new technologies to do expand our mining infrastructure responsibly and sustainably – (…) and as even Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm acknowledged [last] summer during a U.S. Senate hearing:  ‘This is the United States. We can mine in a responsible way. And many places are doing it. And there are some places where there are more challenges, but we can do this.’” 

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  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]

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