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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • ARPN Expert Panel Member: U.S. Must Turn to Building Out Critical Mineral Supply Chains Securing Both Inputs and Outputs

    Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), long one of the leaders on Capitol Hill pushing for a comprehensive overhaul of our nation’s mineral resource policy, addressed the challenges of our nation’s over-reliance on foreign – and especially China-sourced critical metals and minerals against the backdrop of the current Coronavirus pandemic in a post for the online discussion forum OurEnergyPolicy.org.”

    Citing ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores, who in 2019 testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which Sen. Murkowski chairs, lamented that the U.S. was so far merely a “bystander” in the “global battery arms race,” Sen.Murkowski wrote:

    “We have effectively surrendered the front end of the supply chain to other nations. If we fail to adjust course, we will continue to cede jobs and economic growth. We will face supply disruptions and price spikes for essential building blocks that we effectively choose not to produce. The Trump administration deserves credit for the steps it has taken to change our trajectory, and I have re-introduced my American Mineral Security Act to strengthen those efforts. (…)

    As our country begins to emerge from the current crisis and considers options to restore our economy, it is critical that we set a course for long-term resilience by addressing the supply chain vulnerabilities the pandemic has exposed. That should start with mineral security—and the modernization of federal policies that will serve to protect us going forward.”

    Invited to comment on Murkowski’s remarks, Moores took to OurEnergyPolicy earlier this week and noted that since his Senate testimony, “the US has fallen further behind in this global battery arms race.

    He elaborates: 

    “In February 2019, there were 70 battery megafactories in the pipeline of which 46 are in China and 5 in the USA. Today there are 136 of these super-sized electric vehicle battery plants in operation or being planned: 101 in China and 8 in the USA. China is building a battery gigafactory (megafactory) at the rate of one every week; the USA at one every four months. In 2019, China produced 72% of the world’s lithium-ion batteries whereas the USA only 9%.”

    What is key, he notes, is that China has “not just built an entire suite of super-sized battery megafactories for its auto industry, but the entire supply chain to feed them.”While only producing 23% of key battery raw materials combined, he points out, China produces 80% of battery chemicals, which represent the next step in the supply chain. Moores concludes: 
     

    “The world’s supply chain arrows point toward’s China for production of lithium-ion batteries as China understands that this is the enabling technology for the 21st-century auto industry and critical to our future energy needs via storage.

    This isn’t just making batteries for a niche auto, this is industrial infrastructure the 21st century and China holds the sway of power. The USA needs to ask itself when the last time it built a heavy industry from scratch? It’s likely to be before its leaders were born in 1933 and FDR’s New Deal. This is the scale of the challenge facing the world’s biggest economy: Building secure, local, hi-tech supply chains for a lithium-ion economy. In turn, this will create millions of jobs and put the USA at the forefront of this energy storage revolution.

    Now that the battery megafactories have arrived, Moores says the “focus must turn to building them within the USA and securing the inputs (raw materials) and outputs (recycling) to make this happen.”

    The time to end our “bystander” status in the global battery arms race (and beyond, because our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals does not end with battery tech) is now.  

    ***

    Read more from several ARPN expert panel members on critical mineral supply chain security challenges here:

    And for a visual introduction to the issue of our nation’s mineral over-reliance on China, check out these two clips by the Clear Energy Alliance. 

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  • Lawmakers Introduce New Legislation Aimed at Changing United States’ “Bystander” Status in Race for Critical Minerals

    As pressures mount for the United States to bolster its position as a non-fuel mineral raw materials producer amidst the ongoing battery tech revolution, a group of U.S. Senators have introduced legislation to boost domestic production of critical minerals.

    The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, would “codify the methodology used in a 2017 executive order that was signed by President Donald Trump ‘to designate a list of critical minerals and require that list to be updated at least every three years.’ The measure also would require a nationwide resource assessments for every critical mineral and the implementation of ‘several practical, common sense permitting reforms for the Department of the Interior (DOI) and Department of Agriculture Forest Service to reduce delays in the federal process.’”

    The bill was dropped on May 2nd, the same day government officials met with representatives of carmakers, mining companies and consultants to discuss the need to streamline U.S. mineral resource policy against a growing sense that the United States is becoming a “bystander” in the current battery arms race.

    The American Mineral Security Act, similar versions of which Sen. Murkowski had introduced in previous Congresses, would:

  • Codify the methodology used in Executive Order 13817 to designate a list of critical minerals and require that list to be updated at least every three years
  • Require nationwide resource assessments for every critical mineral;
  • Implement several practical, common sense permitting reforms for the Department of the Interior (DOI) and Department of Agriculture Forest Service to reduce delays in the federal process;
  • Reauthorize the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program for 10 years;
  • Authorize research and development for recycling and replacements for critical minerals, as well as chemistry, material science, and applied research and development for processing of critical minerals;
  • Require coordination and study of energy needs for remote mining deposits with microgrid research and small generation research programs across the Department of Energy’s applied offices; and
  • Require the Secretary of Labor, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation to conduct a study of the nation’s minerals workforce. 
  • Says Sen. Murkowski:

    “Our reliance on China and other nations for critical minerals costs us jobs, weakens our economic competitiveness, and leaves us at a geopolitical disadvantage. Our bill takes steps that are long overdue to reverse our damaging foreign dependence and position ourselves to compete in growth industries like electric vehicles and energy storage.”

    ARPN will keep tabs on this and other relevant bills as they move through Congress, so stay tuned for updates.

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  • U.S. Currently Bystander in Global Battery Arms Race, ARPN Expert Tells U.S. Senate Committee

    A key global player, the United States is not used to being a bystander. Yet this is exactly what is currently happening, says Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s Managing Director Simon Moores, addressing the full U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources this morning. Delivering his testimony on the outlook for energy and minerals market in [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: DoE’s New Research Center on Lithium Battery Recycling to Leverage Resources of Private Sector, Universities and National Laboratories

    Speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Energy Innovation Council last week, Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced the launch of a new research center on lithium battery recycling. The Battery Recycling R&D Center will focus on reclaiming and recycling “critical materials (e.g. cobalt and lithium) from lithium based battery technology used in consumer electronics, defense, energy [...]
  • European Union Pushes Ahead With Attempt to Create Battery Manufacturing Value Chain in Europe

    While the United States is finally taking steps to approach mineral resource policy in a comprehensive and strategic fashion, the European Union got a head start several years ago, and has since begun enacting mineral resource policy initiatives within the context of its raw materials strategy.  With its ambitious 2050 low-carbon vision, and the rise [...]
  • Move Over, Lithium and Cobalt, Graphite and Graphene are About to Take Center Stage – Courtesy of the Ongoing Materials Science Revolution

    Earlier this week, we pointed to what we called the “new kid on the block” in battery tech – Vanadium.  It appears that what held true for music, is true in this industry as well – “new kids on the block” arrive in groups. Now, all puns aside – as Molly Lempriere writes for Mining-Technology.com, [...]
  • The U.S. Hunt for Cobalt – a Rising Star Among Critical Minerals – Is On

    “Gold once lured prospectors to the American west – but now it’s cobalt that is sparking a rush,” writes the BBC in a recent feature story about Cobalt, which, as ARPN followers will know, is a “key component in the lithium-ion batteries that power electronic devices and electric cars.”  Once a somewhat obscure metal, Cobalt [...]
  • Chinese Worries over Critical Mineral Supply Should Provide Impetus for U.S. Policy Reforms

    Escalating trade tensions have brought the issue of China’s near-total supply monopoly for Rare Earth Elements back to the front pages of American newspapers. If that isn’t reason enough for policy makers to use the momentum that has been building for the formulation of a comprehensive critical mineral strategy and an overhaul of policies standing [...]
  • “Critical Minerals Alaska” – Rising Demand and Supply Side Complications Combine as Catalysts to Establish Domestic Sources of Cobalt

    In his latest installment of “Critical Minerals Alaska” – a feature series for North of 60 Mining News that “investigates Alaska’s potential as a domestic source of minerals deemed critical to the United States,” Shane Lasley takes a closer look at Cobalt, one of the key metals underpinning the current EV technology revolution. Once an [...]
  • Nickel – The “Metal That Brought You Cheap Flights” Now “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution”

    Another week, another great infographic by Visual Capitalist – this time on the “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution” – Nickel. Long an important base metal because of its alloying capabilities, Nickel’s status as a Gateway Metal, yielding access to tech minerals like Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium – all of which are increasingly becoming [...]
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