American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Policy Makers Step Up Efforts to Secure Domestic Critical Mineral Supply Chains — U.S. Senators Introduce the “Critical Mineral Independence Act of 2022”

    As geopolitical tensions continue to mount, and China tightens its reins on its critical mineral supply chains, U.S. policy makers are stepping up their efforts to secure domestic supply chains.

    The latest case in point: Sen. Dan Sullivan’s (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) just-introduced Critical Mineral Independence Act of 2022,” legislation aimed at reducing the United States’ over-reliance on China for its critical mineral needs by strengthening provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which had previously given a boost to critical mineral mining and processing.

    Operating under the premise that “the U.S. cannot afford to allow the critical minerals used by the Department of Defense (DoD) to be mined or processed in adversarial countries, and it must urgently invest and build its capabilities to achieve critical mineral independence in coordination with allies,” the bill would:

    • “[d]irect the expansion of critical mineral mining and processing in the U.S. and allied countries to achieve critical mineral supply chain independence for the Department of Defense by 2027;
    • [r]equire the director of the Defense Logistics Agency to develop a strategy to expedite critical mineral mining and processing, and then requires the implementation of that strategy;
    • [and a]uthorize the use of the underlying $1 billion in the NDAA to execute the procurement strategy.”

    In a statement on the introduction of the bill, Sen. Sullivan highlighted the United States’ vast domestic mineral potential, much of which could be unleashed in the Senators home state of Alaska. He says:

    “We cannot continue to be dependent on China for critical minerals—resources that are crucial to our economy, and which we have in abundance in the U.S., particularly in Alaska like the significant copper and zinc resources in the Ambler Mining District that the Biden administration—remarkably—continues to delay.”  

    [To keep up with Alaska’s critical mineral potential and current developments, be sure to follow North of 60 Mining News’s Shane Lasley, whose work ARPN has featured on many occasions.]

    Sen. Sullivan adds:

    “If we are going to build out and support our domestic clean energy industries and national security initiatives, we need to get serious about a strategy for unleashing America’s national supply chains and processing capabilities. In doing so, we will create thousands of good-paying jobs, protect our national security interests, deny economic support for violators of basic human rights and build out America’s all-of-the-above energy sector.” 

    With the mid-term elections now in the rear view mirror and policy makers increasingly realizing the urgency of securing critical mineral resource supply chains to bolster our nation’s national security and economic wellbeing, momentum for mineral resource policy reform is building.  ARPN will track the “Critical Mineral Independence Act of 2022” along with other legislative efforts in the coming months.

  • China Tightens Reins On Its Critical Mineral Supply Chains

    As geopolitical tensions continue to mount and supply chain challenges loom large across many sectors, Beijing is tightening reins on its critical mineral supply chains.

    According to news reports, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced plans to increase its supervision of China’s lithium battery supply chain, which, according to the ministry, is “severely unbalanced.”

    While China accounts for roughly 60% of the world’s lithium chemical supply and has secured a “position of strength within the industry” and “we [i.e. the West] have been very slow to react to that,” as American Lithium CEO Simon Clark has phrased it, Chinese EV producers have been registering financial losses in the face of increasing battery costs.   In an effort to counterbalance the undercutting of their profits, the ministry is looking to “curb hoarding, price gouging and unfair competition” in the supply chain – a move that is welcomed by China’s state-owned automakers, who have been calling for a government crackdown on the hoarding of battery materials.

    China’s moves in the lithium sector align with other policy shifts in the resource space.  Earlier this summer, Beijing established a new state-owned group to serve as a consolidated hub for the country’s iron ore trade with a registered capital of 20 billion yuan ($3 billion).  China Mineral Resources Group’s mandate covers mining, ore processing and trading.  As mining.com outlines, the company’s creation was “encouraged and closely monitored” by senior government officials in Beijing.   These Chinese officials have repeatedly accused the United States and its allies of “ganging up to try to suppress China’s global rise,” and consider the formation of a consolidated trading platform a “way to strengthen the country’s negotiating position in an unfriendly international environment.”  

    Is China’s iron ore vertical a sign of things to come in the Critical Minerals world?  Watch this space, as ARPN tracks Chinese government developments in 2023.  But it’s already clear that both moves to further tighten government control over segments of the critical minerals sector tie into newly emboldened Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call for China to increase its self-sufficiency in technology and supply chains during his re-confirmation speech in October of this year. The Wall Street Journal had called Mr. Xi’s re-confirmation for another term in office in October a “coronation,” which effectively “confirm[ed] China’s combination of aggressive nationalism and Communist ideology that is the single biggest threat to world freedom.” 

    As ARPN has previously pointed out, efforts to decouple supply chains from China may become “all the more pressing in light of current fears that (…) China may retaliate after the U.S. Department of Commerce announced sweeping limitations to semiconductor and chip-making equipment sales to Chinese customers this fall.”  With Mr. Xi reportedly seeing the possibility of a showdown with the West as “increasingly likely” in the context of his goal to “restore China to what he believes is its rightful place as a global player and a peer of the U.S.,” America and its close allies would be well advised to move critical mineral supply chain security to the top of their priority lists.

  • Canada’s New Critical Mineral Investment Rules for State-Owned Entities Harden Already-Drawn “Geopolitical Battle-Lines in the Metals Sector”

    Within days of Canada outlining new investment stipulations for state-owned entities aimed at protecting the country’s critical minerals sector, the Canadian government last week told three Chinese resource companies to divest their interests in Canadian critical mineral firms. Basing the decision on “facts and evidence and on the advice of critical minerals subject matter experts, Canada’s [...]
  • A Frightening Graphic Just in Time for Halloween: Is the Anode Our Achilles Heel When it Comes to Building out a Battery Supply Chain Independent of China?

    It’s Halloween – time for trick or treating, spooky storytelling and scary visuals.  Here’s a real scary one if you’re still looking to frighten the policy wonks among your Halloween party guests. Courtesy of our friends at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, it’s an infographic that should send a serious chill down policy makers’ spines, and it’s not even gory: While [...]
  • President Xi Jinping’s “Coronation” Adds Fuel to the Fire to Decouple Critical Mineral Supply Chains from China

    With pressures rising on critical mineral supply chains as nations rush to flesh out environmental initiatives before the COP27 climate change summit kicks off in Sharm El Sheikh next month, the stakes for the United States and its allies to “decouple” from adversary nations — in the new U.S. National Security Strategy, read:  China — may have gotten even [...]
  • As Clean Energy Adoption Reaches “Tipping Point,” the Challenge of Untangling Critical Mineral Supply Chains Looms Larger than Ever

    “Solar power, electric cars, grid-scale batteries, heat pumps—the world is crossing into a mass-adoption moment for green technologies,” writes Tom Randall for Bloomberg.  Citing Bloomberg research, he argues that “clean energy has a tipping point, and 87 countries have reached it.”  The mass-adoption of green technologies, as followers of ARPN well know, requires drastically increased amounts of critical [...]
  • Pentagon Waiver for REE Magnets Used in F-35 Combat Jet Engines Underscores Critical Mineral Dependency Conundrum

    With the coronavirus pandemic and growing geopolitical tensions having shone a light on U.S. over-reliance on foreign sources across our nation’s critical mineral value chains and its implications for our national and economic security, domestic stakeholders have stepped up their efforts to decouple U.S. supply chains from reliance on our adversaries. While for “battery criticals” [...]
  • U.S. Senator Demands Information From Department of Energy over Potential Chinese Ties Relating to Nevada Mining Project

    As geopolitical tensions between China and the West are on the rise, and critical mineral supply chain pressures continue to mount against the backdrop of the accelerating green energy transition, U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm demanding information from her department regarding recent reports that the Department of [...]
  • European Union to Step Up its Critical Minerals Game against the Backdrop of Surging Demand Forecasts

    The Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent additional supply chain challenges have prompted the European Union — already grappling with strained supply chains in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic — to step up its critical minerals game. During her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen announced [...]
  • A New “Great Game” is Afoot – Are We Able to Keep the Focus on Diversifying Critical Mineral Supply Chains Away from Adversaries

    In a new piece for Canada’s Globe and Mail, columnist Robert Muggah zeroes in on the geopolitics of mineral resource supply, which have, in his view, triggered a new “Great Game” – a term coined by British writer Rudyard Kipling to describe the “fierce competition between Victorian Britain and Tsarist Russia, both of which sought to control South Asia [...]