American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • As Europe Votes to Further Critical Mineral Resource Security, U.S. Must Not Let Momentum for Reform Slip

    Earlier this moth, the European Parliament’s industry committee voted to endorse the EU’s draft Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA – see our coverage here) which sets benchmarks to increase domestic capacity for critical minerals extraction in an effort to reduce the EU’s over-reliance on supplies from China and other countries.

    The vote is a timely one and came on the same day 19 companies sent a joint letter to EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen urging immediate action to strengthen the European battery value chain.

    The joint letter, signed by companies like battery maker Northvolt, battery materials maker Umicore, recycler Li-Cycle, as well as miners and industry bodies including Recharge and Eurometaux, urges the creation of an equivalent to the EU Hydrogen Bank for the critical minerals sector. Acknowledging European efforts including the above-referenced CRMA and the Net Zero Industrial Act aimed at clean tech manufacturing, the signers argue these efforts aren’t targeted enough. While the U.S., they say, “is fast catching up with its mammoth investment package under the Inflation Reduction Act, (…) Europe’s investment climate has been further worsened from the ongoing Ukraine conflict.”

    While Europeans often point to accelerated efforts in the U.S. to strengthen critical mineral supply chains, U.S. observers question whether the U.S. is in fact doing enough to reduce its own over-reliance, pointing to challenges associated with both the Inflation Reduction Act provisions, as well as some other policy avenues that have recently been pursued particularly against the backdrop of ever-increasing material demand scenarios.

    The latest case in point: a new CSIS White Paper arguing that for all recent efforts, the U.S. government is currently lacking a coherent approach that truly acknowledges “[m]ining’s strategic importance in ensuring decarbonization, strengthening national security, and contributing to economic development.” 

    The paper argues that failure to enact a comprehensive and bipartisan mineral resource strategy may only worsen the mineral-related imbalance in which the country finds itself, and recommends several steps to correct course, which range from broadening the definition of what constitutes a critical mineral (see our recent discussions of copper, which recently made a Department of Energy list of critical materials but has yet to be incorporated into the overall U.S. Government’s critical mineral list), over designating a lead agency to formulate strategy, to increasing domestic extraction and processing and developing a more comprehensive narrative around the issue of mineral resource security (see ARPN’s latest post on grassroots involvement). 

    As U.S. lawmakers return to the capital to work on unresolved policy issues this month, there are rumblings that momentum to tackle some of the mineral resource related agenda items has been waning, particularly a push to further permitting reform.  Perhaps a look across the pond to Europe, where stakeholders aim to kick mineral resource supply chain security efforts into high gear, can serve as the nudge U.S. stakeholders need to push forward with an all-of-the-above approach to mineral resource security, as the global race for resources will only continue to heat up.

  • Lawmakers Seek Critical Mineral Designation for Copper via Federal Legislation

    Two weeks after the U.S. Geological Survey rebuffed a bipartisan call from members of Congress for an “out-of-cycle”addition of copper to the U.S. Government’s official List of Critical Minerals, House Republicans from Western mining states are pushing to achieve the “critical mineral” designation for copper via legislation.

    Arguing that changing copper’s designation would allow the federal government to more efficiently ensure reliable and secure supplies of the material in the future, Representative Juan Ciscomani (R-Ariz.) is introducing the “Copper is Critical Act.”  The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Jim Baird (R-Indiana), and David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), and Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.)

    The bill would amend section 7002 of the Energy Policy Act of 2020, and represents the first time this process is used in an attempt to broaden the scope of the U.S. Critical Minerals List.

    As followers of ARPN well know, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty has called for the designation of copper as a critical mineral on several occasions, and has submitted public comments to USGS to this effect.

    Policy experts agree.

    In a recent piece, Cullen S. Hendrix with the Peterson Institute for International Economics argues that while copper is widely mined and processed relative to listed critical minerals on the U.S. government’s list, “the security of diffuse global supply chains and production in US-friendly economies is still vulnerable to disruptions in producer countries. The ability and willingness of copper producing countries to keep supplying copper can change rapidly.”

    He points to current trends in Peru, a key copper mining country, where resource nationalism has reared its head, as well as developments in neighboring Chile, that may indeed affect both countries’ “ability and willingness” to supply copper to the global market and elaborated that “designating copper as critical to national and economic security would lead to enhanced scrutiny from the USGS, which tracks minerals markets, production, and reserves. Industry advocates also believe that the designation might lead to streamlined permitting processes that would facilitate more domestic production.” 

    With copper’s long list of applications growing in the context of the materials science revolution and with long-term demand scenario surging, ARPN will monitor the Copper is Critical Act as it moves through the legislative process.

  • Tackling the “Single Point of Failure” – Inside the Push to Bolster the U.S. Domestic Nickel Supply Chain

    Against the backdrop of the accelerating global push to net zero carbon emissions, a volatile overall geopolitical climate and a new EPA proposal to tighten tailpipe emission standards U.S. stakeholders are looking for ways to secure critical mineral supply chains. The expectation is that with the proposed EPA rules requiring automakers to reduce carbon emissions [...]
  • Tech Arms Race to Heat Up as Western Nations Take Steps to Counter China on Semiconductors, Critical Minerals

     Semiconductors have become indispensable components for a broad range of electronic devices. They are not only “the material basis for integrated circuits that are essential to modern day life” – the “‘DNA’ of technology” which has “transformed essentially all segments of the economy,” they are also essential to national security, where they enable the “development and fielding of advanced weapons systems and [...]
  • New Push to Bolster Critical Mineral Supply Chains to Shore Up Industrial Base Focuses on Permitting, Banning “Bad Actors”

    In a guest editorial for the Pennsylvania-based Patriot News, Gen. John Adams, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general, president of Guardian Six Consulting and a former deputy U.S. military representative to NATO’s Military Committee, writes that the war in Ukraine, following on the heels of a pandemic that unearthed massive supply chain challenges across many [...]
  • As U.S. Chinese Tensions Soar, Congressional Witnesses Call for Strengthening U.S. Defense Industrial Base and Domestic Critical Mineral Supply Chains During Armed Services Committee Hearing

    If we needed any more reminders about the high-stakes nature of our ongoing (see ARPN’s post on the latest USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries report here) deep over-reliance on Chinese-sourced (and/or processed) critical minerals, the shooting down of a Chinese spy balloon in U.S. airspace and the subsequent downing of three other unidentified flying objects over Alaska [...]
  • New Year, New Congress, New Impetus for Critical Mineral Policy Reform?

    Two weeks into the new year, it appears that 2023 will continue the fast-paced tempo we got used to in 2022 when it comes to developments on the critical minerals front. With Congressional leadership elections – finally – behind us, policy makers in Washington are gearing up to delve into the issues, and, if the [...]
  • Winning the “Energy Battle of the Twenty-First Century” Will Take More Than “Myopic” Policy Approach

    Earlier this week, the Biden Administration unveiled a road map for reducing the transportation sector’s carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. Two weeks into the new year, the green energy transition continues to gain steam.  However, as Morgan D. Bazilian of the Colorado School of Mines and Gregory Brew from the Jackson School of Global Affairs at Yale [...]
  • 2022 – ARPN’s YEAR IN REVIEW

      2022 surely was as fast-paced a year as they come. Didn’t we just throw overboard our New Year’s Resolutions?  We blinked, and it’s time for another review of what has happened in the past twelve months. So with no further ado, here is ARPN’s annual attempt to take stock of what has happened on the [...]
  • 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 [...]