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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Industry Experts Lament Inclusion of Hardrock Mining Royalties and Fees in Reconciliation Spending Package

    Against the backdrop of the accelerating battery arms race, and a recent growing realization that our nation has become over-reliant on critical mineral imports from adversary nations, the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources committee has added language to the proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation spending package last week that could throw a serious wrench into any promising developments recently taken to secure U.S. critical mineral supply chains, say industry experts.

    Tucked into the massive spending package are provisions that would place an 8% gross royalty on already existing hardrock mines, while 4% would be placed on new ones. In addition, the proposed language would levy a 7 cent fee for every ton of rock moved in the mining process.

    In a q&a session with Real Clear Energy on the proposal earlier this month, the National Mining Association’s Rich Nolan said:

    “New royalties and fees (…) will crush the competitiveness of the industry when we know we need responsible, domestic production for everything from the energy transition to the EV revolution. The hardrock mining industry is already paying between 40% to 50% of earnings in federal, state and local royalties, taxes, and other fees. This punitive, partisan proposal (…) is just the opposite of what we need to reshore production and build secure supply chains.”

    Citing the sharply increased need for metals and minerals in the context of the green energy transition, as outlined in recent studies by the World Bank and International Energy Agency, he added:

     “There’s no getting to where we want to go without embracing the need and opportunity for increased domestic mining. President Biden’s recent EV executive order warned that China is cornering the global market on battery and EV production and using control of material supply chains to do it.

    Included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill are steps to improve mine permitting, to better leverage the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program to encourage mineral production. That’s the right path. We have to be working to support the competitiveness of U.S. mining, not undercut it.”

    It is estimated that the provisions, which would represent one of the most substantial changes to a 1872 law that has long governed U.S. hardrock mining, could raise about $2 billion in federal revenue over a decade.

    With the reconciliation package still having to move through the congressional process, it is unclear whether the provision will even make it out of the House, or be changed or removed by the U.S. Senate.

    However, against the backdrop of the ever-increasing mineral intensity of our green energy future, the potential impact of these provisions is significant, and we will keep tabs on this issue over the coming weeks.

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  • “Undoubtedly Good News for Industrial Metals” – a Look at the Senate-passed Infrastructure Package

    In a recent piece for Reuters, columnist Andy Home unpacks the U.S. Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure package.   While the bill has yet to make it through the U.S. House of Representatives and a likely conference committee, it is worth taking a look at what its passage could mean for the critical minerals sector.

    According to Home, the $1 trillion package, as passed by the Senate, “is undoubtedly good news for industrial metals,” as more funding for highway and railway systems as well as power grid upgrades “will mean more demand for steel, copper, and aluminium [as they say in the UK].”

    He adds that “when it comes to battery metals and critical minerals, the bipartisan bill is as much about boosting domestic supply as demand,” and its provisions mark a “broader investment drive across the full length of the metallic supply chain.”

    Home highlights the following provisions:

    • Building on the Department of Energy’s R&D efforts across the REE spectrum ranging form primary processing to recycling, the bill “hardens the commitment with a $140 million grant to build a facility ‘to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of a full-scale integrated rare earth element extraction and separation facility and refinery’” in the context of a public-private partnership.
    • The bill also earmarks $100 million annually for through 2024 for critical mineral development, processing and recycling, with a minimum of 30% designated for recycling projects.
    • U.S.-based projects will be prioritized and no project may export to a “foreign entity of concern.”
    • While the bill only allocates $7.5 billion for EV battery charging, Home says “the direction of electric travel is clear,” with President Biden having signed his executive order stipulating that 50% of all domestic new vehicle sales by 2030 should be EV battery powered.
    • To address rising demand for battery tech metals, the bill designates $3 billion for processing, and an additional $3billion for battery manufacturing projects.
    • Grants in this context will be only be awarded to applicants demonstrating “U.S. ownership, North American intellectual property rights and a commitment not to ‘use battery material supplied by or originating from a foreign entity of concern.’”
    • Acknowledging that Federal permitting process has served as “an impediment to mineral production and the mineral security of the United States,” the bill introduces performance metrics for approving critical mineral mines.

    Home sees a challenge in fast-tracking Federal permitting in light of the “growing push-back against ‘dirty’ mining.”  However, he sees an opportunity to bridge this “green-green divide” in new efforts by mining companies to re-think mine “waste,” — and essentially harness gateway/co-product metal relationships.

    He points to Rio Tinto’s Scandium operations in Quebec, Canada, as an example:

    “Companies such as Rio Tinto are now going back to re-examine what they’ve been throwing away. In the case of the company’s Canadian titanium business, they found scandium, designated a critical mineral by both the United States and Europe.

    A relatively modest $6 million investment will produce three tonnes per year of scandium oxide – around 20% of the global market – without the need for any additional mining.”

    As Home points out, the infrastructure bill embraces the “whole-concept” or “total mining” concept, instructing USGS to comprehensively survey national minerals resources, “using a whole ore body approach rather than a single commodity approach, to emphasize all of the recoverable critical minerals in a given surface or subsurface deposit”.

    Home sees provisions calling for USGS to “map and collect data for areas containing mine waste to increase understanding of above-ground critical mineral resources in previously disturbed areas,” as the ones that can help reconcile the “green-green” issue, because “building new mines will remain a headache for critical minerals planners everywhere so going back to the stuff already mined makes a lot of sense.”

    While changes to the bill must be reasonably expected in the coming weeks, the general thrust is clear, and it is encouraging to see that lawmakers are acknowledging and addressing the importance of critical minerals and the urgency of associated supply chain challenges.

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  • DoD Chapter of 100-Day Supply Chain Report Acknowledges Gateway/Co-product Challenge

    Friends of ARPN will know that “much of our work is grounded in a conviction that the Technology Age is driven by a revolution in materials science – a rapidly accelerating effort that is unlocking the potential of scores of metals and minerals long known but seldom utilized in our tools and technologies.” In this [...]
  • 100-Day Supply Chain Report — Striking a Balance Between Strengthening Domestic Resource Development and Cooperation With Allies

    In its just-released 100-Day Supply Chain Report, the Biden Administration has committed to an “all of the above” approach to critical minerals — a “wrap-around strategy” that includes recycling, substitution, as well as new mining, as Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told U.S. Senators earlier this month. While investing in “sustainable production, refining, and recycling [...]
  • The Mining Industry is Ready to Strengthen American Supply Chains

    With the release of its 100-Day Supply Chain Report, the Biden Administration has sent a strong signal that it is serious about stepping up U.S. efforts to secure domestic supply chains — especially for the four areas covered by the report: semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging; pharmaceuticals and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), and, of particular [...]
  • To-Be-Devised Rare Earths Policies Should Tie Into Broader “All of the Above” Approach to Critical Mineral Resource Policy

    As the Biden Administration doubles down on its ambitious climate and technology agenda, it becomes increasingly clear that the issue of material inputs underpinning a green energy transition must be addressed. Followers of ARPN know — not least since last year’s World Bank report or last week’s IEA report — that massive supplies of EV [...]
  • Infrastructure Reform Done Right Will “Recognize and Elevate the Importance of American-Produced Raw Materials”

    The crumbling state of our nation’s infrastructure is neither a secret, nor is addressing it a small task, as today’s infrastructure stretches far beyond bridges, roads and ports. As ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty phrased it a few years back: “It’s not your Grandfather’s infrastructure anymore.” U.S. President Joe Biden is right to call out and address [...]
  • “Sustainably Greening the Future” Roundup – Mining and Advanced Materials Industries Harness Materials Science in Green Energy Shift

    The Biden Administration has shifted focus to its next major legislative priority in the context of the president’s “Build Back Better” agenda — a multi-trillion dollar jobs and infrastructure package. Billed as a plan to make the economy more productive through investments in infrastructure, education, work force development and fighting climate change, the package will [...]
  • The Road to “Building Back Better” is Paved with Critical Metals and Minerals

    Another round of COVID relief stimulus checks is hitting Americans’ bank account this week, and a vaccine schedule laid has been laid out. Time for the Administration and Congress to move on to the next key priority of the Biden Administration’s “Build Back Better” agenda: an economic recovery package that will “make historic investments in [...]
  • Sec. Granholm, DoE Embrace Domestic EV Mineral Production “So Long As It Is Done Sustainably”

    With the “battery arms race” turbocharged by the coronavirus pandemic, observers are concerned that Lithium ion batteries could become “geopolitical hot potatoes.” In light of these developments, the latest statements from newly-confirmed Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, coupled with the recently-signed executive order on strengthening U.S. supply chains, are encouraging indications that the new Administration [...]

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