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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • On National Miners Day, A Look at The Mining Industry’s Contributions to Sustainably Greening our Future

    “December 6 is National Miners Day… a fitting time to reflect on how much miners provide to allow for our modern way of life. (…)”  

    You might not recognize how mining plays a role in your daily life. Most people do not see the raw materials produced by mining, from metals and minerals to coal and stone, sand, and gravel. Instead, we use items every day that come from mined raw materials, never knowing that mining played an integral part in the development of the mobile devices we use, the roads we travel on, the cookware we use to make our meals, and the mined fertilizers that helped grow our food. These products, in addition to countless other necessities and conveniences, start with mining.”

    This is not an excerpt from a puff piece written by a trade association – it’s a snippet from the CDC website today, and many other U.S. government agencies, as well as Members of Congress have put out similar statements acknowledging the mining industry’s contributions to our modern way of life.

    Since 2009, when National Miners Day was first proclaimed by Congress to be observed every December 6, awareness of the importance of metals and minerals, and securing their supply chains, has steadily grown.

    Fueled by a global pandemic severing supply chains and compounded by mounting environmental and geopolitical pressures, and the realization that our green energy future will be mineral intensive, critical mineral supply chain security today is more than a buzz word, and stakeholders understand the need to — responsibly and sustainably — mine and process the metals and minerals that underpin the global push towards net zero carbon emissions and 21stCentury technology in the broader sense.

    Thankfully, the mining industry is ready to meet the challenge and is not only upping the ante on the ESG front in general, but is specifically leveraging the materials science revolution to sustainably develop and process the metals and minerals we need today and in the future.

    In recent years, ARPN has been showcasing initiatives by mining companies to sustainably green the future, ranging from overhauling supply chain policies to ensure suppliers conform to certain environmental and social standards to incorporating renewable power sources into their operations to offset some of the carbon costs for resource development.

    Perhaps most recently, in November of 2022, mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar announced a successful demonstration of its first battery electric large mining truck, going hand in hand with a “significant investment to transform its Arizona-based proving ground into a sustainable testing and validation hub of the future.”

    Many more initiatives are underway (several are featured here and here), and we will continue to feature them going forward.

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  • President Xi Jinping’s “Coronation” Adds Fuel to the Fire to Decouple Critical Mineral Supply Chains from China

    With pressures rising on critical mineral supply chains as nations rush to flesh out environmental initiatives before the COP27 climate change summit kicks off in Sharm El Sheikh next month, the stakes for the United States and its allies to “decouple” from adversary nations — in the new U.S. National Security Strategy, read:  China — may have gotten even higher with China’s Communist Party (CCP) confirming President Xi Jinping for another term in office this past Sunday.

    In what effectively amounted to a “coronation,” as the Wall Street Journal editorial board phrased it, the CCP’s move has effectively “confirm[ed] China’s combination of aggressive nationalism and Communist ideology that is the single biggest threat to world freedom.” 

    Mr. Xi’s confirmation to another term was hardly a surprise, but in his landmark speech addressing the CCP Congress, he emphasized the the need to increase China’s self-sufficiency in technology and supply chains, and reaffirmed China’s commitment to attaining control over Taiwan — a key point of contention in the country’s relations with the United States, which have already starkly deteriorated in recent years.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the “coronation” “all but guarantees an era of confrontation between China and the U.S.”

    Aware that “China has big footed a lot of the technology and supply chains that could end up making us vulnerable if we don’t develop our own supply chains,” as U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm phrased it earlier this summer, the United States and its partners have stepped up efforts to decouple from China.

    These may become all the more pressing in light of current fears, as Damon Kitney reports for The Australian, that China may seek to retaliate after the U.S. Department of Commerce announced sweeping limitations to semiconductor and chip-making equipment sales to Chinese customers this fall.

    Speaking to a private forum in Melbourne, earlier this month, Australia’s former Ambassador to the U.S. and federal Treasurer Joe Hockey told attendees:

    “In terms of critical minerals, my concern is – and there has started to be a few reports in the US suggesting this – is that after the midterm elections, and with a re-empowered (Chinese President) Xi Jinping, as of next year China will start to turn down the tap on the supply of critical minerals to the US and other places.”

    Followers of ARPN have long known that China is no stranger to playing politics with its near-total rare earths supply monopoly, and just last year, we saw the country threatening to limit rare earth shipments to U.S. defense contractors over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

    Thankfully, U.S. domestic efforts to bolster supply chains can be complemented with leveraging close cooperation with allied nations including Canada and Australia.

    Australia is ready to step up its rare earths game and challenge China in this segment.  As Phil Mercer writes for BBC News, Sydney“Australia, a superpower exporter of iron ore and coal with rich mining traditions believes it is well-placed to join the race to exploit minerals that provide critical parts for electric vehicles and wind turbines.” He cites John Coyne of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, who — while warning that China will not easily surrender its dominance of the sector — says:

    “Australia has the world’s sixth-largest reserves of rare earth minerals. However, they remain largely untapped with only two mines producing them.  There is significant potential in the establishment of multi-ore mineral-processing hubs in Australia. After all, there is no point in creating supply chain resilience for [rare earth] ores if miners must still send them to China for processing.”

    Mercer points to the U.S. Defense Department’s deal with Australian miner Lynas Rare Earths, which has been contracted to construct a REE processing facility in the U.S..

    In the same vein,  the Canadian government has inked an agreement with Rio Tinto to jointly invest $737 million to modernize the company’s Sorel-Tracy, Quebec metals processing plant, with  Rio Tinto’ chief executive Jakob Stausholm warning of the “excesses of globalization” in critical mineral supply chains. The move is said to strengthen “North America’s first production capacity for titanium metal, a lightweight but strong material important to aerospace and defense groups such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.” 

    Stateside, the U.S. Department of Energy has just announced the first round of funding under the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure act for projects aimed at “supercharging” U.S. manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles and electric grid — another important step in the decoupling from adversaries like China.

    With a newly-emboldened Mr. Xi reportedly seeing the possibility of a showdown with the West as “increasingly likely”in the context of his goal to “restore China to what he believes is its rightful place as a global player and a peer of the U.S,” as the Wall Street Journal writes, these efforts could not be more urgent.

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  • As Clean Energy Adoption Reaches “Tipping Point,” the Challenge of Untangling Critical Mineral Supply Chains Looms Larger than Ever

    “Solar power, electric cars, grid-scale batteries, heat pumps—the world is crossing into a mass-adoption moment for green technologies,” writes Tom Randall for Bloomberg.  Citing Bloomberg research, he argues that “clean energy has a tipping point, and 87 countries have reached it.”  The mass-adoption of green technologies, as followers of ARPN well know, requires drastically increased amounts of critical [...]
  • DoL “List of Goods Produced By Child Labor or Forced Labor” Zeroes in on Lithium-Ion Batteries, Adding Pressures for Already Strained Material Supply Chains

    Pressures on already strained battery material supply chains are mounting, and not just due to geopolitical tensions and rising demand in the context of the green energy transition. The U.S. Department of Labor has included lithium-ion batteries into its “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor” – a list of 158 goods from 77 [...]
  • European Union to Step Up its Critical Minerals Game against the Backdrop of Surging Demand Forecasts

    The Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent additional supply chain challenges have prompted the European Union — already grappling with strained supply chains in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic — to step up its critical minerals game. During her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen announced [...]
  • Critical Minerals Go Mainstream: ABC News Clip on Critical Minerals in the Climate Fight

    For years, ARPN and others in the mineral resource policy realm have lamented a lack of public focus on the importance of securing critical mineral supply chains.  Fast forward to a global pandemic prompting lockdowns, resulting supply chain shocks, Russia’s war on Ukraine and rising resource nationalism in the Southern Hemisphere, and the issue has gone [...]
  • Closing the Loop – An Important Tool in Our All-of-the-Above Toolkit

    In a recent piece for The Hill, Adina Renee Adler, deputy executive director of Silverado Policy Accelerator, a Washington, D.C.-area based think tank, calls for the increased harnessing of circular economy concepts in service to U.S. critical mineral resource policy. Acknowledging bipartisan efforts to strengthen U.S. critical mineral supply chains in the past year, for which [...]
  • “Critical” Without the Label? – A Look at Boron

    While critical mineral resource policy is finally receiving the attention it deserves against the backdrop of increasing supply chain challenges, a look at the materials stealing the spotlight would have you believe the list of metals and minerals deemed critical from a U.S. national and economic security perspective is much shorter than it is. The [...]
  • As Stakes Continue to Get Higher, Critical Minerals Challenge Goes Mainstream with Realization Issue Goes Beyond “Battery Criticals”

    Supply chain challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine, rising resource nationalism in the southern hemisphere, and now China’s Xi Jinping doubling-down on its zero-Covid policy this week which may lead to more lockdowns with serious economic and trade consequences – critical mineral supply chains can’t seem to catch a break. As [...]
  • 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 [...]

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