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  • Bearing Testimony to Its Importance to the Green Energy Shift, DOE Adds Copper to Department’s Critical Materials List

    Against the backdrop of mounting supply chain concerns for critical minerals, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has officially added copper to its critical materials list in the context of the agency’s 2023 Critical Materials Assessment.

    The annual report assesses the criticality of materials to the supply chains in the renewable energy technology sector and focuses on key materials with high risk of supply disruption.

    The incorporation of copper into this year’s list marks the first time a U.S. government agency has added the material on one of its official “critical” lists.

    While copper is included in several other national lists, including India’s, Canada’s, South Africa’s, and Brazil’s, as well as the European’s most recent critical minerals list, the official comprehensive U.S. Government Critical Minerals List, last updated in 2022, has yet to incorporate copper.

    This is not for the lack of pushes to afford the material “critical minerals” status — ranging from public comments submitted to USGS during the drafting process (see Daniel McGroarty’s submission here) over congressional lettersand legislation.

    As such the inclusion of the material in the DOE Critical Materials Assessment list represents an important acknowledgement of copper’s key role in 21st Century technology and the green energy transition.

    As Copper Development Association (CDA) CEO Andrew G. Kireta, Jr. said in a statement on the announcement:

    “Copper is a major contributor to US economic and national security, and with copper demand projections doubling by 2035, primarily due to plans for the clean energy transition, electrification and clean water infrastructure. The nation would be defenseless without electricity and copper’s vital role in its generation, transmission, and distribution.” 

    So copper is now a DOE Critical Material – but not (yet) a U.S. Government Critical Mineral: A bureaucratic distinction that ARPN will watch with interest, as copper demand in a net zero world continues to rise.

  • Bolstering the Battery Supply Chain – Leveraging Public-Private Sector Cooperation and Getting the States Involved

    The U.S. will not achieve complete lithium battery supply chain independence by 2030, but the country could capture 60% of the economic value consumed by domestic demand for lithium batteries by that year, generating $33 billion in revenues and creating 100,000 jobs, if it implements a series of recommendations put forth in its just-released action plan, says Li-Bridge, a public-private alliance convened by the Department of Energy and managed by Argonne National Laboratory.

    Created in 2021 and dedicated to accelerating the development of a robust and secure domestic supply chain for lithium-based batteries, the consortium released an action plan entitled “Building a Robust and Resilient U.S. Lithium Battery Supply Chain” containing 26 recommended actions to bolster the domestic lithium battery industry with the goal of putting the United States on a competitive path in the global battery value chain.

    According to the Argonne National Lab“the report complements a series of recent government initiatives designed to strengthen the country’s battery and semiconductor industries including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or BIL) and the CHIPS and Science Act, which together represent some of the most significant industrial policy initiatives in U.S. history.”

    Recommendations range from investments into R&D and, removing barriers to market-entry to strengthening partnerships with other countries, and Congressional action to accelerate U.S. domestic mineral mining and processing projects. The report goes on to argue that Li-Bridge should be formalized to execute on its recommendations, effectively creating a public-private partnership to coordinate efforts across state, local and federal governments with private enterprises.

    Deputy U.S. Energy Secretary David M. Turk believes that “[t]he public-private partnerships described in this report will be crucial to realizing that safer, cleaner future that will benefit generations of Americans to come.”

    With public-private sector cooperation having long both fueled and fed off the materials science revolution, which has been transforming the ways in which we use and obtain metals and minerals, placing a stronger emphasis on these cross-sector collaborations only makes sense.

    In part fueled by the above referenced government initiatives, new partnerships between the public and private sectors to bolster the battery supply chain have sprung up, especially at the state level.

    Recent cases in point:  the construction of battery plants in Coweta County, Georgia, and Van Buren Township, Michigan.  States like Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas have also attracted EV battery makers as automakers scramble to lock down supplies and policy stakeholders work to create frameworks conducive to attracting investment into these critical industries.

    ARPN has featured several of these efforts — along with other initiatives and projects specific to the individual battery criticals (graphite, manganese, cobalt, nickel and lithium) in a series of posts.

    As stakeholders step up their efforts, ARPN will continue to feature more examples of state level public-private cooperation or formalized public private partnerships (PPPs) to sustainably strengthen the domestic battery supply chain.

  • U.S. Department of Energy Announces Federal Grants to “Supercharge” U.S. EV Battery and Electric Grid Supply Chains

    The global push towards net zero carbon marches on, and with sales of EVs continuing to soar even as prices rise, analysts suggest that the “world could be nearing a critical electric vehicle sales tipping point, when volatile adoption trends are overtaken by mainstream demand.”  With skyrocketing demand, the mineral intensity of the green energy transition [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Biden Administration Announces Grant Program for Domestic Production and Recycling of EV Battery Components

    Acknowledging the vast material inputs required to power the EV revolution in the context of the push towards net zero carbon — as well as the significant supply chain challenges associated with the sought-after shift — the Biden Administration has announced a $3.1 billion funding program for U.S. companies producing and recycling lithium-ion batteries. According to Secretary [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: DoE Funds Carbon Capture Project in Minnesota

    As the global push towards a low carbon energy future intensifies, the mining industry has been taking significant steps towards reducing its carbon footprint. As friends of ARPN will appreciate, the catalyst is the materials science revolution redefining how the world uses scores of metals and minerals for technology applications unknown just a few years [...]
  • Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm Commits to “Soup to Nuts” Strategy, with Critical Minerals Being “Part and Parcel” of Renewable Energy Production

    During last week’s Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on President Joe Biden’s FY 2022 budget request for the Department of Energy, Senators questioned Secretary Jennifer Granholm on the Department’s view on the role of critical minerals in energy production. Watch the archived webcast here. Sec. Granholm stated that critical minerals are “part [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Amidst Big Policy Shifts, Signs for Continued Emphasis on Securing Critical Mineral Supply Chains at DoE

    Parents of young children will know: Transitions are hard. And what is true for toddlers, is also true for government. Observers of the critical mineral resource realm have been closely monitoring the transition from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration. There were early indications that, unlike some other areas, the critical mineral resource realm [...]
  • Russia Pushes for Global Rare Earth Market Share as U.S. Struggles to Move Forward With Critical Minerals Initiatives

    Russia is certainly making headlines this week.  Quite obviously, much of the media attention is focused around President Vladimir Putin’s declaration that Russia has approved a vaccine for the coronavirus (after less than two months of testing) — but developments in the critical minerals realm also warrant attention: A top Russian government official has told [...]