American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • A Look Beyond the United States — Realizing the Extent of Resource Dependencies, Countries Take Steps to Bolster Domestic Supply Chains

    Against the backdrop of mounting geopolitical and ongoing supply chain challenges, countries are left grappling with the the mineral intensity of the sought-after global transition towards a net zero carbon emissions future.

    In their quest to untangle complex critical mineral supply chains and reduce over-reliance on adversary nations, the extent of which was first brought to light in the coronavirus pandemic, nations are not only forming partnerships like the recently-announced Minerals Security Partnership (MSP), which Reuters’s Andy Home likens to the formation of a metallic NATO, they are also taking their own steps to secure supply chains for domestic manufacturers.

    In the following, we’re taking a look at resource related activities in countries beyond ARPN’s usual purview (which of course is focused on the United States but sometimes includes our close allies Canada and Australia):

    • Earlier in July, the United Kingdom released its first ever Critical Minerals Strategy, setting out, in the words of Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK’s “plan to secure our supply chains, by boosting domestic capability in a way that generates new jobs and wealth, attracting investment and playing a leading role in solving global challenges with our international partners.”

      The announcement comes only days after the launch of a Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre (CMIC), which seeks to “boost the country’s resilience and growth by providing up-to-date data and analysis on the supply of critical minerals,” and “develop evidence-based policies aimed at developing more robust critical mineral supply chains to the UK.”

    • Germany, too, is taking steps to decouple from adversaries and bolster its domestic supply chains emphasizing domestic production, processing and recycling over imports.  Upon taking office, the new Federal Government  set itself the ambitious goal of presenting a comprehensive National Security Strategy within its first year. The process was kicked off in March of 2022, a few weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which served as an eye opener for Germans and Europeans in terms of their dependence on Russian energy supplies, particularly oil and gas. Consequently, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has made clear that Germany must ensure that it cannot again fall victim to blackmail as it did over its dependence on Russian energy, and is looking for ways to reduce the country’s economic dependence on China, which is particularly high when it comes to supplies of Rare Earths.

      In the same vein, the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), in partnership with the German Resource Research Institute (GERRI) has released a research paper calling for a “rethink” for German resource policy. Outlining that German resource policy rests on three pillars — imports, domestic development and processing, and recycling — the authors of the report call for strengthening the second and third pillar over the first one going forward.

    • But it’s not just Western nations feeling the heat — South Korea, too, is starting to feel vulnerable over critical minerals.  The Korean National Assembly Research Service has said that “securing metal resources will be a key to energy security, and stressed the importance of plans to stockpile metal resources and diversify suppliers.”

      A founding member of the Mineral Security Partnership (MSP) led by the United States, South Korea is planning to “draw up related measures such as measures to stockpile more mineral resources,” after having neglected its resource policy over the past decade, according to researchers.

    These are only a few examples of mineral resource policy developments beyond ARPN’s usual purview, but they all make one thing abundantly clear:  With geopolitical tensions rising, countries are realizing that critical mineral resource supply chains are vulnerable to manipulation or weaponization, and are taking steps to shore up their domestic development and processing capabilities.  All-of-the-Above increasingly appears to be the order of the day.  Friend-shoring is an important pillar of any resource strategy, but must be embedded into a comprehensive approach from mine to manufacturing and across all segments of the value chain.

  • Independence Day 2022 – Are We Getting Closer to Critical Mineral Resource Independence? — As Stakes Rise, National Defense Stockpile Could Receive Boost Via NDAA

    It’s that time of the year again.   We’re gearing up to celebrate the men and women who have fought for, and continue to safeguard our freedoms.  It may not feel like it when the cost for the average July 4th cookout has drastically increased, but we have much to be thankful for, particularly at a time when geopolitical tensions are mounting and the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine is being felt around the globe.

    From a critical mineral resource perspective, we at ARPN have always used the occasion of Independence Day to remind ourselves that “while we cherish the freedom we are blessed with in so many ways, we must not become complacent, as there are areas where we’re increasingly becoming less independent” — with our reliance on foreign mineral resources being a case in point.

    The good news is that on the back of the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine and growing resource nationalism in the Southern hemisphere, stakeholders have begun to realize the extent of our mineral resource supply chain vulnerabilities, which significantly increased over the course of the past 65 years.

    A case in point:  the U.S. Congress is taking aim strengthening critical mineral supply chains via the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

    A provision in the Senate’s annual defense authorization bill, advanced by the Armed Services Committee earlier this month, contains a provision which would authorize $1 billion in funding for the National Defense Stockpile Transaction Fund for “the acquisition of materials determined to be strategic and critical materials required to meet the defense, industrial, and essential civilian needs of the United States.”

    The fund includes many of the metals and minerals considered essential to national defense supply chains, including rare earth elements, titanium, tungsten, cobalt and antimony, a metal we recently discussed as it has its own provisions incorporated in this year’s senate and house bills, which will need to be reconciled and voted on later this year.

    According to Defense News, the S1 billion senate-sought allocation would cover not only the $253.5 million requested by the Department of Defense (DoD)for FY 2023, but would also allow for the backfilling of multiple funding requests by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), a combat-support agency of the DoD, which manages the fund.

    At its peak in 1952, the fund was valued at $42 billion in today’s dollars, but has subsequently been depleted to dip to its current level of $888 million, with lawmakers fearing the National Defense Stockpile becoming insolvent by FY2025 absent congressional action.

    With the end of the Cold War in 1989, Congress authorized the sale of excess stockpile materials with proceeds transferred to DoD or other federal programs.  However, as Maya Clark points out in a Heritage Foundation report from earlier this year, “the threat environment today is more similar to the Cold War than to the 1990s.”

    Clark cites the National Defense Strategy Commission which stated in a 2018 report that “[t]he United States confronts more numerous – and more severe – threats than at any time in decades.”  Fast-forward to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and other geopolitical challenges we’ve discussed over the past few months, and the threat environment is even more severe than it was a mere four years ago.

    The push to boost the United States’ National Defense Stockpile Transaction Fund ties into the overall realization that our nation’s critical mineral woes can no longer be ignored. Additional promising initiatives tying into an overall comprehensive “all-of-the-above” approach are currently being pursued by members of Congress as well as the Administration, and range from increasing cooperation with allies to secure critical mineral resources over leveraging “closed-loop” solutions to boosting domestic production and processing.

    However, as we have previously argued:

    “Those familiar with the inner-workings of Washington, D.C. know all too well that particularly in an election year policy efforts can quickly lose steam or fizzle over attempts to placate certain constituencies. Against all affirmations to strengthen domestic supply chains, the not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) sentiment is still strong.”

    As followers of ARPN well know, the stakes are too high to let the momentum for comprehensive reform fizzle.

    At the beginning of this year, we posited the question of whether 2022 could be the year that strengthening tech metal supply chains can move from rhetoric to reality.  As we mark Independence Day 2022, with efforts galvanized by heightened national and economic security concerns, it certainly appears that we are getting closer to that goal.

  • Beyond the Rare Earths and Battery Criticals – U.S. Armed Services Committee Seeks to Address Supply Chain Challenges for Antimony

    Underscoring the growing awareness that our nation’s overreliance on foreign supplies of critical minerals underpinning 21st century technology stretches beyond the much-discussed Rare Earths and battery criticals lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, and manganese, the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services has released draft legislation to address China’s stranglehold on the supply chain for antimony. Used [...]
  • From OPEC to OMEC — From Footnote to Public Policy?

    Against the backdrop of the accelerating global push towards net zero carbon emissions, the authors of a May 2021 KPMG study on “geographical and geopolitical constraints to the supply of resources critical to the energy transition” and the associated “call for a circular economy solution” titled the first chapter of their report “From OPEC to ‘OMEC’: the new global energy ecosystem.” In a [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Russia’s War on Ukraine and Rising Resource Nationalism to Reshape Global Post-Cold War Order and Resource Supply Chains – A Look at Cobalt

    With a single electric vehicle battery requiring between 10 and 30 pounds of cobalt content, the lustrous, silvery blue, hard ferromagnetic, brittle nickel and copper co-product has long attained “critical mineral” status. However, with most global supplies of the material coming from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where mining conditions often involve unethical labor standards and [...]
  • Post-Petro Geopolitics in the Tech Metals Age

    The sands of geopolitics are shifting. As Anumita Roychowdhury, Snigdha Das, Moushumi Mohanty, Shubham Srivastava outline in a multipart series for India’s Down to Earth magazine, global competition, cooperation and conflicts are less about arms and oil, and more about critical technologies as the world is experiencing a “Fourth Industrial Revolution, an age of advanced [...]
  • As China Looks to Move Past Coronavirus Pandemic, Resource War Theaters Come into Focus

    With much of the world still in lockdown, China appears to rev up its engine to move past the coronavirus.  The City of Wuhan, the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, has re-opened, factories have restarted their operations, stores are reopening and people are leaving their confined quarters to venture outside.  With coronavirus having exposed [...]
  • Against Backdrop of Tech Wars, Russia Seeks to Boost Footprint in Africa

    As the tech wars deepen, the United States is — finally — taking important first steps to secure critical mineral resource supply chains both domestically and through cooperative agreements with allied nations like Australia and Canada.  But while the U.S. gears into action, the global scramble for resources is in full swing.  Case in point:  [...]
  • McGroarty for the Economic Standard: In the Arctic Resource Wars, Greenland is a Hot Property

    In a new piece for The Economic Standard, ARPN’s Dan McGroarty puts the current controversy over President Trump’s quip about wanting to buy Greenland from Denmark in context. Invoking President Truman’s offer to purchase Greenland in 1946 as well as Secretary of State William Henry Seward’s 1867 purchase of Alaska — for which he received [...]