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  • India Ups the Ante in New “Great Game,” Releases Critical Minerals List and Joins MSP

    As nations all across the globe scramble to secure critical mineral supply chains against the backdrop of surging demand in the context of the green energy transition and rising geopolitical tensions, India is stepping up its critical mineral resource policy game.

    This week, the Indian Ministry of Mines released a comprehensive Critical Minerals List, consisting of 30 metals and minerals deemed critical for India’s ambition for cleaner technologies in electronics, telecommunications, transport and defense, according to the government.

    The list comprises the group of 17 rare earth elements (REEs) and six platinum group metals (PGMs) as complexes. It also encompasses four of what ARPN has dubbed the “battery criticals” lithium, cobalt, graphite and nickel (India’s list does not include manganese which rounds out the five battery criticals), as well as antimony, beryllium, bismuth, gallium, germanium, hafnium, indium, molybdenum, niobium, phosphorous, potash, rhenium, silicon, strontium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, tungsten, vanadium, zirconium, selenium, and cadmium.

    Lastly, the list also includes copper, a mainstay metal and key component of the green energy transition which the United States has thus far failed to add to its own list of critical minerals in spite of numerous pushes for its addition.

    According to Indian web news hub Rediff.com, the government plans to encourage public and private investment in exploration, mining and processing to secure the country’s critical mineral supply chains, and will seek to “facilitate the adoption of advanced technologies and international collaborations to enhance efficiency and environmental sustainability in the extraction and processing of critical minerals.”

    One of the first such international collaborations was just made official during a state visit of India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi to Washington, D.C. last week, where Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden announced the country’s joining of the Minerals Security Partnership alongside several bilateral and defense deals.

    The MSP is a partnership between the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and several other countries convened in June 2022 as an initiative to bolster supply chains while aiming “to ensure that critical minerals are produced, processed, and recycled in a manner that supports countries in realizing the full economic development potential of their mineral resources.”

    As the rest of the world aims to decouple its critical mineral supply chains from China, which has long dominated most of the critical minerals sector across all links of the supply chain, India is looking to harness its geopolitical wealth to become a “global hub for critical mineral production and reinforce its position as a major player in the global economy.”

    In keeping with that objective, India’s recent moves have global implications.

    At the beginning of this year, a New York Times piece called on G20 leaders gathering in Davos, Switzerland, to “pivot to the new reality provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the growth of extreme inequalities and aggressive Russian and Chinese autocracies.” 

    In the critical mineral realm, these recent events served as a catalyst for a new “Great Game,” which the geopolitics of mineral resource supply had triggered and which gained momentum with the adoption of the Paris agreement in 2015.

    India’s recent critical mineral moves are highly relevant in the context of this new “Great Game,” particularly as relations between India and China are strained by an ongoing border conflict and growing regional rivalry, both of which are shaping South Asia’s security landscape and strategic environment.

    With India having overtaken China as the world’s most populous country and set to become the third-largest economy in the coming years, India’s recent moves could be seen as a direct challenge by Beijing.

    As Frédéric Grere and Manisha Reuter outline for the European Council on Foreign Relations, “New Delhi still exerts a dominant role in South Asia and, specifically, the Indian Ocean, but as China consolidates its position in the region, its attitude towards India has become more assertive. India remains resolute about preventing Chinese hegemony in Asia, repeatedly stressing that a multipolar world starts with a multipolar Asia, and seeking partnerships with a variety of countries, including the US and the EU. Beijing is concerned about India’s growing military ties with the US and tends to consider India’s intentions through the lens of its own rivalry with the US.”

    The new Great Game may have just gotten Greater.

  • 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.

  • Copper – A Mainstay Metal, Gateway Metal and Energy Metal, But Not a Critical Mineral? Some Think it’s Time to Change This

    As a highly versatile key mainstay metal, copper has been a building block of humanity’s progress. As a gateway metal, it yields access to critical minerals.  It also is an energy metal — an indispensable component for advanced energy technologies, ranging from EVs and wind turbines to the electric grid and solar panels. But for all its traditional and new applications [...]
  • Not Just the “Battery Criticals” — Green Energy Transition’s Mineral Intensity Requires Broader Focus: A Look at the “Solar Metals”

    Recent media coverage might have you believe critical mineral policy only revolves around the “battery criticals”lithium, graphite, nickel, cobalt and manganese, and maybe the frequently referenced, though still somewhat obscure rare earths.  However, as followers of ARPN well know, this is far from the truth. The New South Wales Department of Planning and environment has taken a [...]
  • Scandium and Beyond: Materials Science Allows for Harvesting of Mine Tailings

    As nations and industries grapple with the global push towards net zero carbon emissions, researchers  from India’s Bengaluru Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) have discovered a new material called “single-crystalline scandium nitride (ScN)” that is able to “emit, detect, and modulate infrared light with high efficiency making it useful for solar and thermal energy harvesting [...]
  • Let’s Onshore Semiconductor Fabrication – But Not Without Strengthening Supply Chains at the Source… After All, “Supply Chain” begins with “Supply”

    Your mind may not immediately jump to semiconductors when you think about national security, but “a steady source of uninterrupted, trusted chips is necessary for the security of the nation – supporting the readiness of the U.S. military and protecting critical infrastructure like the electric grid,” writes Zachary A. Collier, Ph.D., an assistant professor of management at Radford University and a visiting scholar [...]
  • Nickel and Zinc “Only Two New Additions” to Draft Revised Critical Minerals List — A Look at the Government’s Reasoning

    This week we continue our coverage of the just-released draft revised Critical Minerals List, for which the US Geological Survey (USGS) began soliciting public comment last week — this time via Andy Home’s latest.  In a new column for Reuters, Home zeroes in on the “only two new additions” to the draft list. (As ARPN outlined [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]