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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • critical minerals list

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  • 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 committee.

    The hearings were held against the backdrop of deteriorating diplomatic relations between Canada and China over the detention of two Canadian citizens which has laid bare China’s willingness to “inflict economic pain by restricting Canadian exports,” writes Jesse Snyder for the National Post.

    Pierre Gratton, head of Canada’s mining association, told policymakers:

    “For decades, China has held monopoly-like control over critical minerals production and distribution, rendering the rest of the world reliant on procurement and creating a level of risk that deters investors from entering these markets.”

    Gratton and others urged the creation of a “framework to develop and then protect Canadian supply chains for batteries and other products, and recommended the federal government establish a $250-million program over five years to incentivize investment in demonstration projects.” As China is increasingly demonstrating its willingness to play politics with its monopoly-like position in the critical minerals realm, experts also stressed the importance of strengthening ties with allies like Europe, the United States and Japan.

    Having faced criticism over its handling of Chinese takeovers of Canadian natural resource assets, Industry Minister Francois-Phillipe Champagne updated the guidelines and lowered the threshold for a national security review for such procedures. The move followed the release of Canada’s first critical minerals list – a list of 31 metals and minerals deemed critical “for the sustainable economic success of Canada and our allies—minerals that can be produced in Canada, are essential to domestic industry and security and have the potential to support secure and resilient supply chains to meet global demand.”

    Unlike its U.S. peer, Canada’s list, as we recently pointed out, acknowledges the importance of what we consider traditional mainstay metals like Copper, Nickel and Zinc — which, as followers of ARPN well know, are not only key components of 21st Century technology in their own right, but are also gateway metals that “unlock” a slew of other critical metals and minerals.

    With the Biden Administration having made significant investments in EV battery technology a central piece of its infrastructure overhaul plan, relations with close allies are taking center stage. And with the U.S. and Canada having long shared a special relationship and integrated defense industrial base, it only comes naturally that our first look faces North, as the U.S. steps up efforts to diversify critical mineral supply sources and processing away from China. Recent meetings between U.S. Department of Commerce representatives and miners and battery manufacturers to discuss “ways to boost Canadian production of EV materials” point towards increased U.S.-Canadian cooperation, as do increased consultations between the two countries’ Geological Surveys.

    For all of these reasons, we’ll keep tabs on resource-related developments in Ottawa and the buildout of the U.S.-Canadian integrated critical mineral supply chain as it begins to shape up, and will include examples from Canada in our forthcoming “Sustainably Greening the Future” roundups featuring mining companies’ efforts to “close the loop” and cut carbon emissions while supplying America’s mineral needs.

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  • 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 addressing its largely hollowed-out production capacity against the backdrop of surging critical materials needs.

    In an attempt to address current and future challenges, the European Commission earlier this month released its Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials, and an updated version of its List of Critical Raw Materials. The EU body also unveiled a foresight study on critical raw materials for strategic technologies and sectors from the 2030 and 2050 perspectives.

    As Andy Home, senior metals columnist for Reuters, writes in a column for the news agency, Europe’s strategy — and the underlying critical raw materials list — is similar to that of the United States, and “largely boils down to (…) find, mine, refine and recycle.”

    He adds:

    “However, as the United States is already learning with rare earths, building an entire supply chain from scratch is a tricky business.”

    Home uses lithium, newly added to the 2020 List of Critical Raw Materials, as an example, arguing that while the EU Commission estimates that by 2025, 80% of Europe’s lithium demand could be supplied from European sources, this target seems “highly ambitious given finding and mining the lithium is the (relatively) easy part. Refining it into chemical form and then making lithium-ion batteries is the hard part and the technical expertise currently resides in Asia, particularly China.”

    In order to address this challenge for lithium and other critical materials, strategic partnerships with friendly trading partners will have to be leveraged, and the EU has made clear that in this context, it will be looking primarily to Canada and Australia.

    The news of Europe shifting its supply chain overhaul into high gear should serve as another reminder for U.S. policy makers that we can’t admire the problem any longer because “we don’t have the luxury of time.”

    Partisanship in a highly contentious election year may make consensus on these issues even more challenging — but for the sake of our national security and economic wellbeing, prioritizing the re-shoring and securing of our critical mineral supply chains cannot wait.

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  • Tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 10 – U.S. House Committee to Hold Hearing on “Research and Innovation to Address the Critical Materials Challenge”

    On Tuesday, December 10 — close to the two-year anniversary of the White House’s executive order “to develop a federal strategy to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals” the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on “Research and Innovation to Address the Critical Materials Challenge.” The hearing comes against the backdrop of increased [...]
  • Are we Ready for the Tech Metals Age? Thoughts on Critical Minerals, Public Policy and the Private Sector

    Earlier this week, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty shared his views on the coming tech metal age and its policy implications at In the Zone 2019 – Critical Materials: Securing Indo-Pacific Technology Futures – a conference hosted in cooperation with the University of Western Australia to look at critical mineral resource issues through the prism of the [...]
  • Critical Mineral Uranium: No Import Quotas, But “Significant Concerns” Prompt Fuller Analysis of Nuclear Fuel Supply Chain

    Primarily known for its energy applications, (and thus falling under the purview of the Department of Energy) uranium may have not been much of a focal point for ARPN in the past.   However, the policy issues surrounding uranium – many of which have a familiar ring to followers of ARPN – increasingly warrant a [...]
  • Measuring Criticality in Today’s Interconnected World

    Against the backdrop of the current U.S.-Chinese tensions over Rare Earth Elements and the “global battery arms race,” Morgan D. Bazilian, Professor of Public Policy and Executive Director of the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines, argues that the United States must “widen its consideration of critical materials past a limited understanding of security in [...]
  • Commerce Department Releases Long-Awaited Interagency Report on Critical Minerals

    On Tuesday, June 4, the U.S. Department of Commerce released the “interagency report that was submitted to the President pursuant to Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.”  The report, which, according to the agency’s official announcement, “contains a government-wide action plan, including recommendations to advance research and development [...]
  • Paging the Department of Commerce – Australia Releases “Critical Minerals Strategy 2019”

    Last week, the Australian Federal Government released its “Critical Minerals Strategy 2019” – a blueprint aimed at positioning “Australia as a leading global supplier of the minerals that will underpin the industries of the future” – which according to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Sciences’s press release, includes the agritech, aerospace, defence, renewable energy and telecommunications industries. [...]
  • Release of USGS’s 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries Once More Underscores Need for Resource Policy Reform

    The partial shutdown of the federal government at the beginning of this year had delayed its release, but last week, USGS published its 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries. Followers of ARPN will know that we await the publication’s release with somewhat bated breath every year, as especially “Page 6” – the chart depicting U.S. Net Import [...]
  • Critical Minerals Alaska – A Look at Germanium

    In the twelfth and final installment of his “Critical Minerals Alaska” series for North of 60 Mining News, Shane Lasley takes a look at Germanium – a lesser known yet vital ingredient in fiber optic cables and high-efficiency solar cells.  Followers of ARPN may remember Germanium as one of the key co-products for the gateway [...]

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