-->
American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • To Lead in EV Revolution, We Must Ramp Up U.S. Mineral Production

    “The U.S. has for too long ceded control of the front end of our manufacturing supply chains to foreign nations, assuming the materials we require will be there when we need them,” writes National Mining Association president and CEO Rich Nolan in a recent Boston Herald piece. In doing so, the U.S. has allowed China to establish “dominance of key mineral supply chains that it has now leveraged into stunning dominance of battery manufacturing, the very technological heart of EVs and home to so many of the auto jobs of tomorrow.”

    Followers of ARPN are well aware of the “battery arms race” (see our recent post on the issue here) which has led to almost 150 planned for or operational lithium-Ion battery megafactories in China versus fewer than a dozen lined up in the U.S.

    Nolan laments that “[d]espite vast domestic resources, the U.S. has one operational lithium mine and just one rare earth mineral mine that must export its production to China for processing. Conversely, China controls 80% of the global rare earth mineral market and 60% of the lithium market. China’s control of other key battery metals like cobalt and graphite is nearly as complete.”

    Thankfully, stakeholders in the U.S. after several wake up calls are beginning to realize the urgency of the situation (see our post from earlier this week here) — and the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure passage contains several relevant critical mineral provisions.

    However, Nolan is concerned that while there is a sense of urgency within the Biden Administration for accelerating EV deployment to reduce emissions, the “urgency to build a secure, responsible and homegrown material supply chain has yet to materialize.”

    Nolan makes a clear appeal for an all-of-the-above approach aligned with the Biden Administration’s 100-Day Supply Chain Review (see our report on it here):

    “The scale of the demand coming our way is too large and growing far too quickly for half measures. We must be active participants in securing U.S. EV supply chains, and we must take an all-of-the-above approach to ensure mineral supply chains become an enabler of U.S. EV deployment and American climate action, not an impediment.

    Working with allies to source our mineral needs and standing up a robust material recycling sector should be critical pieces of this effort, but they are at best complements to vastly expanding domestic mineral production and processing by American workers under world-leading environmental and labor standards. It’s essential we recognize that U.S. mining policy is now foundational to energy and climate policy. We can be a global leader in the EV revolution, but it won’t happen if we supercharge domestic mineral demand while failing to ramp up U.S. mineral production.”

    As lawmakers get back to business after Labor Day, we will look for signs that that the U.S. Government is ready to do more than pay lip service to all of the above, and embrace policy, programs and projects that address the deep shortfalls in Critical Mineral supply — across the entire value chain and with the entire arsenal at its disposal.

    Share
  • Summer Critical Mineral Import Data Provides Fresh Impetus for Comprehensive Resource Policy Reform

    In the wake of several eye-openers regarding our nation’s critical mineral supply chain woes — the coronavirus pandemic, increasing trade tensions with adversary nations like China, and reports underscoring the mineral intensity of our green energy future — the bipartisan infrastructure package passed by the U.S. Senate before the August recess contained a series of provisions that, in the words of analyst Andy Home, represent “undoubtedly good news for industrial metals” and mark a “broader investment drive across the full length of the metallic supply chain.”

    As lawmakers continue their work on the package, new data analysis provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence underscores why efforts to boost U.S. control of critical mineral supply chains and “overcoming reliance on other nations not only for supplies but for infrastructure and processing capacity,” must be prioritized:

    According to data collected earlier this summer, “U.S. imports of critical minerals increased 7.9% in the second quarter on a year-over-year basis, while staying relatively flat quarter over quarter.”

    S&P Global Market Intelligence notes that “the volume of critical minerals flowing into the country in the first half of 2021 surpassed the 316,108 tonnes imported in the first six months of 2020 by 41,209 tonnes.”

    As S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Camille Erickson argues, “China maintains a firm grip on the processing of several critical minerals.”  She points to International Energy Agency that have China processing roughly 90% of global REE supply (and 50% to 70% of global Lithium and Cobalt supply).  Erickson further notes a lack of “sufficient midstream infrastructure in the U.S.,” which “means critical minerals often must undergo various chemical processes — such as concentrating, refining and smelting — elsewhere.”

    While the bipartisan infrastructure package as passed by the U.S. Senate is looking to “bring back some of the crucial midstream components that we are very much lacking here in the U.S. and North America more broadly,” the American Exploration & Mining Association would like to see an even bigger, more comprehensive push, arguing (on Twitter) that “[e]fforts to rebuild the mineral supply chain are incomplete.  We need more mines and smelters, but we need efficient permitting too.”

    Here’s hoping that lawmakers — refreshed from their August recess — do justice to the “all of the above” approach to mineral resource policy as embraced by the Biden Administration in its 100-Day Supply Chain Review (see our report on it here).

    As critical minerals expert Morgan Bazilian recently wrote in a piece for The Hill, in which he embedded his call for a comprehensive mineral resource policy approach into the green energy transition context:

    “If the U.S. wants to get out from under China’s thumb while avoiding conflict, then it must create effective mineral policy by rebuilding innovation capabilities, partnering with industry, and leveraging the government’s role as a market actor. (…) As a nation we have spent so much time preparing for a better tomorrow that we may have neglected to get the materials we will need to actually build it. If the U.S. wants to take direct action to fight climate change and save the lives of its people, then it will need the mining and metals industry.”

    Share
  • 100 Day Supply Chain Report Inspires New Developments in Critical Minerals Realm

    Released at the beginning of June, the White House’s 100 Day Supply Chain report assessed risks and vulnerabilities in the supply chains for four key industrial sectors, making recommendations on how to alleviate them appears to have already inspired several new developments in the critical minerals realm: As the Australian Financial Review’s U.S. correspondent Matthew [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Sec. Granholm, DoE Embrace Domestic EV Mineral Production “So Long As It Is Done Sustainably”

    With the “battery arms race” turbocharged by the coronavirus pandemic, observers are concerned that Lithium ion batteries could become “geopolitical hot potatoes.” In light of these developments, the latest statements from newly-confirmed Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, coupled with the recently-signed executive order on strengthening U.S. supply chains, are encouraging indications that the new Administration [...]
  • China’s Saber-Rattling over Rare Earths Card Getting Louder

    After months of rumblings, it appears that China is gearing up to play its “rare earths card” again. Citing people involved in a government consultation, the Financial Times reports that Beijing is gauging exactly how badly companies in the United States and Europe, including U.S. defense contractors, would be affected by plans to restrict exports [...]
  • Amidst Big Policy Shifts, Signs for Continued Emphasis on Securing Critical Mineral Supply Chains at DoE

    Parents of young children will know: Transitions are hard. And what is true for toddlers, is also true for government. Observers of the critical mineral resource realm have been closely monitoring the transition from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration. There were early indications that, unlike some other areas, the critical mineral resource realm [...]
  • USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries: Mineral Resource Dependencies Continue in 2020

    2020 may go down in history as the year in which our world changed drastically, but one thing remained largely steady, according to the latest USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, one of our favorite reports which is hot off the press: Our nation’s mineral resource dependencies. However, as followers of ARPN will know, that is hardly [...]
  • 2020 – A Watershed Year for Resource Policy

    ARPN’s Year in Review — a Cursory Review of the United States’ Critical Mineral Resource Challenge in 2020 It feels like just a few weeks ago many of us quipped that April 2020 seemed like the longest month in history, yet here we are: It’s mid-December, and we have almost made it through 2020. It’s [...]
  • As Troop Withdrawals Make Headlines, U.S. Trailing in War Most Americans Are Not Even Aware Of: The Tech War With China

    According to news reports, the Pentagon earlier this month confirmed a further withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, as National Defense Magazine editor-in-chief Stew Magnuson writes in a new piece for the publication, the U.S. is engaged in a war most Americans were not even aware of — the “Tech War” with China. [...]

Archives