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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • A Visual Reminder: Breaking Down the EV Battery

    In case anyone needed a visual reminder of how the EV revolution is adding fuel to the fire of the overall critical minerals challenge we’re facing, Visual Capitalist has put together a handy graphic depicting the material inputs for EV batteries.

    Here’s a snippet – for the full graphic and context, click here.

    Screen Shot 2022-05-09 at 12.37.58 PM

    The infographic uses data from the European Federation for Transport and Environment, which bases the mineral content on the ‘average 2020 battery’ — the weighted average of battery chemistries on the market in 2020.  Friends of ARPN will recognize familiar elements:  graphite, copper, manganese, nickel, aluminum, cobalt and, of course, lithium.  (All of which – with the exception of copper – are U.S.-Government designated “Criticals.”  To revisit our case for copper as a “Critical,” see HERE and HERE.)

    As Visual Capitalist notes,

    “The EV battery market is still in its early hours, with plenty of growth on the horizon. Battery chemistries are constantly evolving, and as automakers come up with new models with different characteristics, it’ll be interesting to see which new cathodes come around the block.”

    Of course, as ARPN has consistently argued, the issue goes well beyond the “battery criticals,” and we’re thankful to see that as mainstream awareness is rising, so is the realization that our critical minerals challenge extends across vast swatches of the periodic table, and encompasses both sourcing and processing of many metals and minerals.

    Some steps have been taken, but much more remains to be done. Against the backdrop of ever-increasing stakes, the time for stakeholders to act decisively to implement an all-of-the-above strategy on critical mineral security is now.

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  • As Stakes Continue to Get Higher, Critical Minerals Challenge Goes Mainstream with Realization Issue Goes Beyond “Battery Criticals”

    Supply chain challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine, rising resource nationalism in the southern hemisphere, and now China’s Xi Jinping doubling-down on its zero-Covid policy this week which may lead to more lockdowns with serious economic and trade consequences – critical mineral supply chains can’t seem to catch a break.

    As the stakes continue to get higher and stakeholder pressure to take action mounts, it is encouraging to see that mainstream awareness of the issue is increasing.

    Case in point: CNN’s Fareed Zakaria dedicating a “Last Look” segment of his Global Public Square program to the new race for natural resources triggered by the green transition.

    Followers of ARPN will appreciate that unlike much of the coverage of the critical minerals challenge we’re seeing lately, which often might have you believe that concerns only revolve around the “battery criticals”lithium, graphite, cobalt, nickel, and manganese, Zakaria’s segment makes clear that the challenge is much bigger – and includes many other metals and minerals, including what we at ARPN have dubbed the “unsung hero of the green energy transition” and one of the “most critical non-criticals” (alluding to the fact that the U.S. official government critical minerals list has thus far not included it):

    Copper.

    As we previously argued, while less flashy and headline-grabbing that some of its tech metal peers, Copper deserves far more credit and attention than it has been getting — not least due to its versatility stemming from traditional uses and an increasing range of new applications.  Then there’s Copper’s Gateway Metal status, with the metal yielding access to Critical List co-products essential to “manufacturing the advanced technologies that will power or generations to come, such as Cobalt, Nickel, Tellurium, Molybdenum, Rhenium, Arsenic and REEs.

    In the context of advanced energy technology, Copper is an indispensable component for the manufacture of EVs, wind turbines, solar panels, and the electric grid.   The manufacturing process for EVs requires four times more Copper than gas powered vehicles, and the expansion of electricity networks will lead to more than doubled Copper demand for grid lines, according to the IEA – so it’s good to see mainstream media is including the material in its coverage.

    Zakaria rightly outlines the challenges stemming from the United States’ over-reliance on foreign supplies, and China’s having cornered the market not only in the supply, but also the processing segment – a challenge Laura Skaer, member of the board of directors of the Women’s Mining Coalition and former director of the American Exploration & Mining Association, outlined succinctly in a piece for Morning Consult a year ago, arguing that “China already refines 50 percent of the world’s copper and the United States only refines about 3 percent. National security experts have warned that relying on China for critical supply-chain materials like refined copper poses a serious threat to America’s national security interests.”

    While the U.S. has taken important steps to reduce our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals and the processing thereof, much more remains to be done.  Zakaria puts his finger on the crux of the issue stakeholders are currently grappling with.

    He says:

    “The minerals industry isn’t as popular as renewable energy – particularly on the Left. There are real environmental hazards. But if people want to protect the planet from climate change and authoritarian powers, they will have to get onboard with new mineral projects.”

    He continues:

    “So far the process very slow, according to the IEA. Even after mineral deposits are discovered somewhere, the average time to production is over fifteen years. Some of that is planning and construction, but governments can streamline the permitting process to get these projects moving.”

    While pointing to the importance of other components that ARPN has consistently highlighted as part of a comprehensive “all-of-the-above” approach to mineral resource security – recycling and closed-loop solutions as well as increased R&D in the materials science segment – Zakaria closes:

    “This will have to remain a priority for years and years to come. For the sake of the planet and international security, we will need to dig deep, quite literally.” 

    Watch the full segment:

    CNN, Fareed Zakaria, Global Public Square, Last Look: The green transition will trigger a new race for natural resources, 4/30/2022

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  • The Reorganization of the Post-Cold War Geopolitical Landscape and its Impact on Critical Mineral Supply – A Look at Copper

    Pandemic induced supply chain shocks, increasing resource nationalism in various parts of the world, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exactly one month ago have brought the stakes for securing critical mineral resource supply chains to a whole new level. The emerging geopolitical landscape has sent countries scrambling to devise strategies to not only ensure steady [...]
  • Geopolitical Pressures on Mineral Resource Policy: A Look at Central and South America and the Rise of Resource Nationalism

    Against the backdrop of the global push to net carbon zero, supply chains for the critical metals and minerals underpinning this shift are facing immense pressures. As followers of ARPN well know, China, which not only holds the pole position when it comes to sourcing critical minerals, but has also cornered the downstream supply chain, [...]
  • USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries 2022 — Amidst Greater Focus on Supply Chain Security, Mineral Resource Dependence Persists

    We’ve named it the year of the Supply Chain, noting that others said “2021 is the year ‘supply chain’ went from jargon to meme.” While an increased focus on the supply chain was undoubtedly a critical development in the mineral resource realm, and several steps to increase supply chain security for critical minerals were taken in [...]
  • Two For Four — New Critical Minerals Draft List Includes Two of Four Metals Recommended For Inclusion by ARPN in 2018

    With the addition of 15 metals and minerals bringing the total number up to 50, this year’s draft updated Critical Minerals List, for which USGS just solicited public comment, is significantly longer than its predecessor. This, as USGS notes, is largely the result of “splitting the rare earth elements and platinum group elements into individual entries [...]
  • USGS Seeks Public Comment on Draft Revised Critical Minerals List

    On November 9, 2021, the U.S. Geological Survey announced it is seeking public comment, on a draft revised list of critical minerals.  The revised list is the latest development in a broader move towards a more comprehensive mineral resource policy on the part of the U.S. Government — a long-overdue shift that began to gain steam in [...]
  • The Mineral Intensity of a Carbon-Neutral Future – A Look at Copper

    Amidst the global push towards carbon neutrality, “Critical Minerals” has become a buzzword.  As the green energy transition has gone mainstream and electric vehicles and renewable energy sources dominate the news cycle, so has talk about growing demand for some of the specialized materials underpinning this shift — most notably the Rare Earths, and the battery [...]
  • Copper, Lithium, Antimony and Tellurium: Minerals Make Life Features Four Minerals as “Key to an Advanced Energy Future”

    As the number of countries pledging to reach net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of this century (or soon thereafter) continues to grow, and governments and other stakeholders work to transform the energy systems underpinning our economies, demand for critical metals and minerals is soaring. The rapidly-accelerating adoption of EV battery technology, along with plans [...]
  • DoE Chapter of 100-Day Supply Chain Report Calls for Immediate Investment in “Scaling up a Secure, Diversified Supply Chain for High-Capacity Batteries Here at Home”

    The Biden Administration made clear early on that it is committed to pursuing a low-carbon energy future, and battery technology is a key driver underpinning the shift away from fossil fuels. Just a few weeks ago, when touting his infrastructure package at Ford’s electric vehicle plant in Dearborn, President Joe Biden declared: “The future of [...]

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