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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.

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  • Independence Day 2021 — Towards Greater Mineral Resource Independence?

    After a long wait — with many parades and fireworks honor the men and women who have fought for, and continue to safeguard our freedoms canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic — Independence Day 2021 is upon us. With many of the pandemic-related restrictions lifted, celebrating our freedoms this year feels a little more special.

    From a critical mineral resource perspective, we at ARPN have always used the occasion of Independence Day to remind ourselves that “while we cherish the freedom we are blessed with in so many ways, we must not become complacent, as there are areas where we’re increasingly becoming less independent” — with our reliance on foreign mineral resources being a case in point.

    If the coronavirus pandemic has made one thing clear, it’s that this statement rings more true than ever.

    As ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argued in a piece for Real Clear Politics last March, “[t]he rapid spread of the coronavirus is doing more than claim an alarming number of human hosts — it is burning through decades of bureaucratic inertia and plain inattention as the American economic ecosystem has become dangerously dependent on China.”

    The good news is that stakeholders have begun to realize the extent of our mineral resource supply chain vulnerabilities, which significantly increased over the course of the past 65 years.

    Whereas the number of non-fuel mineral commodities for which the United States was greater than 50% net import-dependent was 28 in 1954, this number increased to 47 in 2014. And while the U.S. was 100% net import reliant for 8 of the non-fuel commodities analyzed in 1954, this total import reliance increased to 11 non-fuel minerals in 1984, and currently stands at 17. In the latest USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries report, China continues to be the elephant in the data room, listed 24 times as one of the major import sources of metals and minerals for which U.S. net import reliance is 50% or greater. While the 2021 tally is down by one, that change is owed only to the fact that garnet has slightly dropped in import reliance.

    In spite of those numbers being largely unchanged from the previous year, 2020 yielded some important progress with regards to policies aimed at reducing our over-reliance on foreign, and especially Chinese metals and minerals. Executive Order 13953 declared a critical minerals national security emergency, with several key provisions of Executive Order later codified in the Energy Act of 2020. The National Defense Authorization Act included key critical mineral provisions, as we noted at the time. And while some were concerned that America’s hyper-partisan climate might put progress on the critical mineral front in peril, the Biden Administration has officially embraced an “all of the above” strategy, which, as ARPN has long held, will go far in promoting the innovation and investment required to advance American resource independence.

    One should note, however, that as we’re looking to secure our domestic supply chains, we’re not seeking full independence from our friends, but rather, from adversary nations. As such, strengthening domestic resource production as well as processing and closer cooperation with our friends and allies should not be considered mutually exclusive strategies. While promoting sustainable domestic resource development (and with best wishes for a happy Canada Day today) the U.S. can draw on its special relationship with our neighbors to the North, which we featured earlier this week, along with other close allies.

    As we noted earlier this week, striking the right balance will be key as the Administration moves forward to implement the recommendations from its 100 Day Supply Chain Report. As we celebrate Independence Day 2021, there is reason to be optimistic that we’re on the right path.

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  • Report from The Yukon: Critical Minerals Challenge Brings “Geopolitical Backwater” Into Focus

    As we outlined in our last post, the Biden Administration’s strategy to secure critical mineral supply chains, as outlined in its just-released 100 Day Supply Chain Report, embraces an “all of the above approach.” While strengthening sustainable mining and processing domestically, the Administration will also rely on partnerships with our closest allies — and of [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • A Look North: Challenges and Opportunities Relating to Canada’s Critical Mineral Resource Dependence on China

    Like the United States, Canada has subjected itself to an “increasingly uncomfortable reliance” on China for critical mineral supplies, but its wealth of metals and minerals beneath the country’s soil could, if properly harnessed, give Canada a significant strategic advantage in years to come, mining executives and experts recently told Canada’s House of Commons resource [...]
  • Canada’s Just-Released List of 31 Critical Minerals Includes Key Gateway Metals

    As demand for critical minerals is increasing in the context of the global shift towards a green energy future, Canada’s Minister of Resources Seamus O’Regan Jr. earlier this week announced the release of a Canadian list of 31 metals and minerals deemed critical “for the sustainable economic success of Canada and our allies—minerals that can [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Has Canada Just Jump-Started its Electric Vehicle Sector? – A Look at the Recent Ford Canada Labor Deal Through the Prism of an Integrated North American Value Chain

    From a U.S. perspective, arguably the biggest news in the critical minerals sector in recent weeks has been U.S. President Trump’s latest executive order on critical minerals, which, according to analysts, is the first one in this field “that has the potential to bring some meaningful changes.” Aside from calling on the Department of the [...]
  • 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 [...]

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