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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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  • Time to Address the “Gaping Hole” in America’s Efforts to Secure Critical Mineral Supply Chains

     “The historic shift to electric vehicles will give the U.S. a fresh chance to achieve energy independence, but it will require complex strategic moves that won’t pay off for years,” writes Joann Muller in a new piece for Axios.

    A look at the numbers reveals that despite a noticeable push towards strengthening U.S. supply chains (we’ve featured some recent developments here“there is still a gaping hole in America’s efforts” according to JB Straubel, a co-founder of Tesla who has moved on to head up Redwood Materials, a battery component company planning to invest more than $2 billion to start building battery components as early as this year.

    Muller cites Jigar Shah, head of the Department of Energy’s Loan Program’s office, who says that the U.S. currently only possesses about 5% of the manufacturing capacity required to hit President Joe Biden’s ambitious declared goal of 50% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. being electric by 2030.

    Simon Moores, CEO of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and Morgan Bazilian, Director of the Payne Institute and Professor of Public Policy at Colorado School of Mines, dig deeper into the numbers in a recent piece on the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Blog, pointing out that while in 2015, 40% of the cost of a lithium ion battery was raw materials, that percentage has shot up to 80% in 2022.  Their conclusion: “[I]f EVs mean lithium ion batteries, EVs must now mean critical minerals and mining.”  Industry leaders like Tesla’s Elon Musk are openly mulling throwing their hats into the mining ring – but, as Moores and Bazilian write: 

    “OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] are right to be fearful and hesitant to want to ‘become miners’.

    Echoes of an ill-fated venture by Henry Ford to build rubber plantations in Brazil in the 1920s after the industry ran out of rubber tyres loom large. One hundred years on the industry faces an eerily similar problem.

    The reality is that this global EV blueprint is yet to be built out to a scale needed to reach surging consumer demand and increasing aggressive OEM and government targets… We are nowhere close.”

    Moores and Bazilian see the recent invocation of the Defense Production Act Title III by the Biden Administration to strengthen battery supply chains as a “major step forward” and “a move that it hopes will drag the finance community in to 21st century mining.” But as they conclude, the proof is in the pudding, and it goes back to a truly comprehensive “all-of-the-above” approach across the entire value chain that ARPN and others have been calling for.  The Administration has been embracing partnership with allies, and expanding recycling and closed-loop solutions, but has been guarded at best when it comes to domestic mining. According to Moores and Bazilian, that must change:

    “Big talk on EVs must now mean equally as big statements on mining. After all, a Gigafactory without secure raw materials is as useful to an OEM as a grain silo.” 

    As ARPN has said many times, the first word in supply chain…. is supply.

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  • Presidential Determination Invokes Title III of Defense Production Act to Encourage Domestic Production of Battery Criticals

    A confluence of factors — pandemic-induced supply chain shocks, increasing resource nationalism in various parts of the world, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine extending into its second month — has completely altered the Post-Cold War geopolitical landscape and mineral resource security calculus. Responding to the resulting growing pressures on critical mineral supply chains and skyrocketing [...]
  • U.S. Senators to President Biden: With Stakes Raised, Time to Invoke the Defense Production Act to Secure Critical Mineral Supply Chains

    Already severely strained by the coronavirus pandemic, global critical mineral resource supply chains have taken another hit with Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine.  With no de-escalation of hostilities in sight, Western nations, including the United States, are stepping up their efforts to bolster domestic supply chains, not only for oil and gas, but also for non-fuel [...]
  • Securing the Supply Chain — “If Tesla’s Got Troubles, Everyone Should Worry”

    Every December, editors of the English-speaking world’s dictionaries release their choices for Word of the Year, a “word or expression that has attracted a great deal of interest over the last 12 months.” Unsurprisingly, for 2020, the honorees were coronavirus-related terms, with Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com bestowing the honor on the word “Pandemic,” whereas the Collins Dictionary Word of the [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Tesla’s 20 Million Vehicles by 2030 Goal in Context

    Innovation. Disruption. That’s what Elon Musk and Tesla have become synonymous for — and for good reason. A recent claim made that Tesla would be able to reach production of 20 million vehicles per year before 2030, however, may be more of a stretch goal than a realistic number, as staff at Mining.com has recently [...]
  • Europe Forges Ahead With Battery Gigafactory Buildout As U.S. Still Struggles to Get Off Starting Block

    The current coronavirus pandemic may have thrown a wrench into the gears of many industries, but — against the backdrop of skyrocketing materials supply needs in the context of the green energy transition — Europe continues to forge ahead with the buildout of its large-scale battery gigafactory capacity.  According to London-based Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, whose [...]
  • Demand for Certain Metals and Minerals to Increase by Nearly 500%, According to New World Bank Study

    At ARPN, we have long argued that the current push towards a lower-carbon future is not possible without mining, as green energy technology relies heavily on a score of critical metals and minerals. The World Bank’s latest report, entitled “The Mineral Intensity of the Clean Energy Transition,” published earlier this week in the context of the [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty for The Economic Standard: Red Swan – a Leaked 2010 Cable on Critical Infrastructure/Key Resource Vulnerabilities Provided Warning Signs We Failed To Act On

    In a new piece for The Economic Standard, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argues that while the “intellectual shrug” of “who could have seen this coming” tends to be a common reaction to our new normal of sheltering in place and social distancing, there were warning signs for a coming crisis we failed to recognize for what they were, and act [...]

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