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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
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  • Congress “Net-Zeroes” in on Energy Security, Supply Chains for Critical Minerals – A Look at the Inflation Reduction Act

    As countries and corporations continue the global quest towards net zero carbon emissions, the U.S. Congress has passed what some consider landmark legislation to address climate change and bolster our nation’s economic and national security.

    The clean energy provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act negotiated by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) — which passed the U.S. Senate on August 7, 2022, was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on August 12, 2022 and is now headed for U.S. President Joe Biden’s desk – include combined investments of $369 billion aimed at reducing carbon emissions by roughly 40% by the end of this decade.

    A swath of significant clean energy tax credits aims at increasing domestic energy production while at the same time accelerating energy innovation abroad.

    Among them are:

    • $30 billion in production tax credits to accelerate domestic critical minerals processing as well as manufacturing of batteries, solar panels and wind turbines
    • $10 billion in investment tax credits to build manufacturing facilities for EVs, wind turbines and solar panels
    • $500 million to use the Defense Production Act to accelerate critical mineral production among other defense priorities
    • $2 billion in retooling grants for existing auto manufacturing facilities to transition to the manufacture of EVs
    • Up to $20 billion in loans for the construction of new clean vehicle manufacturing facilities
    • $2 billion in materials science research funding for the National Labs

    The package further includes funding for tax credits and rebates for consumers buying electric vehicles, installing solar panels or making other energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes, including, a credit of $4,000 for lower-and middle-income individuals purchasing used EVs, and up to $7,500 tax credits for EVs.  These represent a renewal of the existing $7,500 electric vehicle Federal tax credit starting in January of 2023, and carrying it through until the end of 2032. The former 200,000-vehicle cap is removed and all manufacturers will have access to the credits if they comply with the other requirements in the package.

    However – and of considerable interest for followers of ARPN — a new requirement is that qualified cars must be assembled in North America, and adhere to mandated “escalating levels of critical minerals to be sourced from the U.S. or a country with a free-trade agreement with the U.S.”

    Green Car Congress summarizes the escalating levels of sourcing requirements for applicable battery critical minerals (with the bill defining an extensive list of applicable minerals) as follows:

    “40% for a vehicle placed in service before 1 January 2024;

    50% for a vehicle placed in the service during calendar year 2024;

    60% for a vehicle placed in service during calendar year 2025;

    70% for a vehicle placed in service during calendar year 2026; and

    80% for a vehicle placed in service after 31 December 2026.

    The bill places similar restrictions on the percentage of value of the components, but leading up to a 100% requirement for vehicles placed in service after 31 December 2028.”

    While experts like John Adams, U.S. Army brigadier general (ret.), believe that the sourcing requirements for the battery materials contained in the package are key to addressing “emerging energy security vulnerabilities before they are intractable crises,” others have cautioned that because the auto industry is so heavily reliant on battery materials and components from China – as evidenced by the latest supply deals inked by Tesla – the requirement will represent an almost insurmountable challenge. Says Simon Moores, chief executive of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence:

    “Considering it takes seven years to build a mine and refining plant but only 24 months to build a battery plant, the best part of this decade is needed to establish an entirely new industry in the United States.” 

    The challenge is certainly real as, in the words of General Adams: “China has worked diligently to turn mineral supply chains into an economic leg up but also an enormous source of geopolitical leverage — not unlike how Russia has leveraged its energy trade with Europe.”  He maintains however, that “the mineral sourcing requirements in the reconciliation bill – coupled with other incentives to encourage domestic mining, mineral processing and recycling– are precisely the bold measures needed to address this alarming vulnerability.” 

    Also of note for followers of ARPN, the package places an emphasis on a concept which, as Reuters columnist Andy Home recently suggested, “could allow some to move beyond [carbon] neutrality to become net carbon negative:” a set of incentives to substantially expand carbon capture technologies that capture carbon dioxide and either store it underground or ship it for reuse.

    As ARPN previously pointed out“experts believe that harnessing the natural chemical reactions that convert captured CO2 into rock and store it underground, as currently done at large scale by carbon mineralization company Carbfix at its Coda Terminal in Iceland (see our piece on the issue here), could become an important asset in the push to meet global climate goals.”

    The emphasis on carbon capture in the package is consistent with the U.S. Department of Energy’s recent $2.2. million award to fund to a Rio Tinto-led project with joint-venture partner Talon Metals Corp. at the Tamarack Nickel Project in central Minnesota to achieve carbon capture by a process that mineralizes the carbon in rock – a process considered far more stable than methods that inject carbon, where it remains vulnerable to seepage and fracturing due to earthquakes.

    Some caution, however, that “while the new bill may appear helpful on a theoretical basis, both carbon capture and storage and direct air capture could face some serious headwinds over the course of the next decade and beyond,” possibly in the form of opposition to the construction of necessary pipelines.

    Any new law this wide-ranging will require federal guidance on the way to implementation – and spark follow-on efforts by resource development opponents to roll-back some elements even as resource development proponents look to build on this new legislative initiative.

    All of which is good reason to be hopeful that the bill’s requirements will help jumpstart a more comprehensive push towards domestic sourcing and processing, onshoring, friend-shoring, and harnessing the materials science revolution, which are important components of a comprehensive “all-of-the-above” resource development approach.

    As the bill proceeds to the president for signature, ARPN will continue to monitor what may well be, as General Adams phrases it“a critically important leap forward to build the secure, responsible industrial base our economy and national security needs.”

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  • U.S. Army Brigadier General (ret.): Congress Has Opportunity to Make “Critically Important Leap Forward to Build the Secure, Responsible Industrial Base our Economy and National Security Needs”

    In a new piece for RealClearEnergy, John Adams, U.S. Army brigadier general (ret.), argues that the newly proposed Inflation Reduction Act, negotiated by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) is not only the most ambitious climate bill in U.S. history, but also represents an opportunity to bolster our nation’s economic and national security. 

    General Adams points to the fact that the energy components of the package, in his words, “do far more than just tackle emissions.” In his view, the provisions aim to “use the energy transition to rebuild the nation’s industrial base and ensure that the energy and transportation jobs of tomorrow are American jobs.”

    The package would require that by 2024, 40% of the minerals used in EV batteries would have to be extracted, processed or recycled in the U.S. or by a free trade partner — a requirement that increases to 80% by 2027.

    General Adams believes that the sourcing requirements for the battery “criticals” contained in the package — lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and graphite — are key to addressing “emerging energy security vulnerabilities before they are intractable crises.”

    He credits Sen. Joe Manchin, who believes that “trading the ugly geopolitics of petro-dictators only to sleepwalk into complete dependence on a battery supply chain dominated by China is a mistake the country cannot make,” for zeroing in on the threat Chinese dominance of critical mineral supply chains poses to the nation’s energy security.

    Followers of ARPN well know that our clean energy future hinges on massive critical mineral inputs, and demand projections for the battery criticals, but also key clean energy metals like copper, are on an ever-high trajectory.  Meanwhile, our import reliance for critical minerals is significantly up from decades ago and has shown no signs of decreasing in the past few years, with China having cornered not just the extraction, but also the processing segment of the supply chain.

    As General Adams closes:

    China has worked diligently to turn mineral supply chains into an economic leg up but also an enormous source of geopolitical leverage — not unlike how Russia has leveraged its energy trade with Europe. What Senator Manchin recognizes is that our energy future is on a collision course with our mineral insecurity and China’s mineral dominance. 

    The mineral sourcing requirements in the reconciliation bill – coupled with other incentives to encourage domestic mining, mineral processing and recycling– are precisely the bold measures needed to address this alarming vulnerability. This legislation is a critically important leap forward to build the secure, responsible industrial base our economy and national security needs.”

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  • 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 [...]
  • New Report Warns: Looming Copper Shortfall Could Delay Global Shift Away From Fossil Fuels

    The mainstream media and parts of the political establishment may just now have begun to realize it — but followers of ARPN have long known that our nation’s critical mineral woes are real, and go beyond the often discussed battery criticals (lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, and manganese) and include one of the key mainstay metals: [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • A Look Across the Pond: Material Inputs for Europe’s Quest for “Strategic Autonomy”

    It’s not exactly news to followers of ARPN that the global green energy transition will require vast amounts of critical minerals, however, against the backdrop of the raised geopolitical stakes in light of Russia’s war on Ukraine and rising resource nationalism in the southern hemisphere, new figures released by Belgium’s KU Leuven University underscore the [...]
  • Desperate Times, Desperate Measures? Persisting Semiconductor Supply Chain Challenge Warrants Comprehensive “All-of-the-Above” Approach – or, You Can Always Rip Apart New Washing Machines for Their Micro-Chips…!

    They say desperate times call for desperate measures, and if you needed any more indications that the state of supply chain security has reached crisis level, consider headlines like this one:  “Tech firms rip apart NEW washing machines so they can harvest their computer parts in a bid to beat the global microchip shortage”. The news [...]
  • The Stakes Just Got Higher – The State of U.S. Critical Mineral Resource Security

    Set to deliver his first State of the Union address today (March 1, 2022), U.S. President Joe Biden will likely have to tweak the outline for his speech considering the latest developments in Ukraine, and the resulting implications for the United States, and the world as a whole. Against growing tensions, we recently highlighted mounting [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Another Look at Geopolitical Pressures on Mineral Resource Policy: China’s and Russia’s “No Limits” Partnership Spells More Trouble

    Earlier this month, during a meeting in Beijing hours before the kickoff of the Winter Olympics and against the backdrop of Russia amassing troops at its border with Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping issued a joint statement calling out what they see as “interference in the internal affairs” of other states by “some forces [...]

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