American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 context we have long argued that while it is essential to focus on the metals and minerals that are driving headlines, such as the Rare Earths and battery tech metals like Lithium, Cobalt, Nickel, Manganese and Graphite, we must not forget about the inter-relationship between what we have been calling “gateway metals” and their “co-products.”

    Gateway metals – which include mainstay metals like Copper, Aluminum, Nickel, Tin, and Zinc, are not only critical to manufacturing in their own right, but “unlock” tech metals increasingly indispensable to innovation and development. For too long, these “unlocked” tech metals were dubbed “by-products,” or even “minor metals” — labels that don’t do these materials and their increasingly broad applications justice.

    Courtesy of the ongoing materials science revolution, both groups of metals and minerals are increasingly becoming the building blocks of 21st Century technology, which is why we believe the “by-products” should be referred to as “co-products.” Meanwhile, many of them are fraught with similar dependency issues like the news-grabbing Rare Earths or battery tech metals.

    As such, we were pleased to see that the DoD-led chapter of the White House’s 100-Day Supply Chain Report not only draws attention to this issue complex, but also appears to have embraced the “co-product” label – using it interchangeably with the term “byproduct.”

    Under the header “Byproduct and Coproduction Dependency,” the DoD chapter argues that “[b]yproduct production of strategic and critical materials can add significant value to an existing production operation and improve the business case for a nascent producer. However, some strategic and critical materials are derived exclusively from byproduct production, which means a fairly small market depends on the prevailing dynamics of a separate but much larger commodity market. (…) In some cases the concentration of supply can be so extreme that U.S. or global production is concentrated in a single source. (…) More generally, in DoD modeling of strategic and critical materials under national emergency conditions, a domestic sole-source provider exists for 29 of the 53 unclassified shortfall materials, and 18 materials have no domestic production at all.”

    This is a significant development, because unlike the recently released Canadian government’s official critical minerals list, the U.S. Government’s List of 35, released in 2018, did not acknowledge the connection between primary mining materials and their critical-co-products.

    With the gateway/co-product challenge finding its way into public discourse by way of the 100-Day Supply Chain report, there is hope that the drafters of a forthcoming updated U.S. Government Critical Minerals List will acknowledge the importance of Gateway Metals — and that policy makers will factor this issue complex into the “all of the above” approach. As yesterday’s “minor metals” become major materials in tech applications, America’s mineral resource security may well hinge on encouraging innovative sources of supply.

  • 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 capacity domestically,” the Administration will also seek to “diversify supply chains away from adversarial nations and sources with unacceptable environmental and labor standards” by working closely with allies and partners.

    With recent studies having made clear that the global shift towards a green energy future will require massive material inputs, it makes sense to see the goal of decoupling from “adversarial nations” like China in a North American context. U.S. domestic production and processing can and should be strengthened, but we are in the fortunate position to also leverage close relations with allied nations.

    Enter Canada — a resource-rich nation that is not only on our doorstep, but the linkage with which legally codified, at least in terms of national defense.

    As ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty outlined in a piece for Investors’ Business Daily:

    “The linkage [between the U.S. and our neighbors to the North] is enshrined in U.S. and Canadian law. Unlike any of America’s other allies, Canada has long been part of a special relationship, linking the two country’s defense industrial bases as one.

    The defense union dates back to the months preceding America’s entry into World War II: In 1941, FDR and Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King agreed to allow American-made war materiel produced in Canada to flow to embattled Britain under Lend-Lease. As the war wore on, Canadian aluminum production ramped up at the massive Saguenay, Quebec, complex, eventually accounting for 40% of all allied aluminum production.

    U.S.-Canada industrial collaboration continued through the Cold War and beyond. Twenty-five years ago, the U.S. federal code formally recognized Canada as a part of the U.S. National Technology and Industrial Base (NTIB) for national security and defense planning purposes.

    As a result, our two countries share the world’s most integrated defense industrial base. And in a nod to our long alliance, the Canadian air base at Bagotville, Quebec — built in 1942 to protect the aluminum production facilities during World War II — is today part of the joint U.S.-Canadian North-American Air Defense network, better known as NORAD.”

    While as such, our relations with Canada will be the most natural fit for critical mineral resource cooperation, the U.S. also has a strong ally in Australia, with whom the U.S. has also entered into cooperative agreements, and will able to leverage another framework for allied cooperation — the National Technology Industrial Base (NTIB), which originally established to strengthen technology links between the U.S. and Canada in 1993, which was expanded in 2016 to include the United Kingdom and Australia.

    As ARPN’s McGroarty noted in an opinion piece for The Hill in 2018, when discussing the findings of the DoD’s then-released Defense Industrial Base report:

    “This four-country economic colossus — with a combined GDP of more than $25 trillion — constitutes a vast reservoir of economic might to draw on for collective national security. With defense technology driven by the rapid development of materials science, the four NTIB nations also host production or known resources of all 35 of the minerals and metals on the U.S. Government’s newly-established Critical Minerals List. As the DIB report notes, Congress has ordered ‘DoD to [develop] a plan to reduce the barriers to the seamless integration across the National Technology and Industrial Base.’ Given the dangers of what the Pentagon Report calls China’s ‘economic aggression,’ it’s time to put this integration into overdrive.”

    Strengthening domestic resource production as well as processing and closer cooperation with our friends and allies should not be considered mutually exclusive strategies. Striking the right balance will be key as the Administration moves forward to implement the recommendations from its 100 Day Supply Chain Report.

    What ARPN’s McGroarty told members of Congress about a decade ago still rings true today:

    “We cannot maintain our modern economy without a steady supply of metals and minerals. Those we do not possess here at home, we must source from other countries. But those we possess but choose not to produce perpetuate a needless foreign dependence – leverage that other [adversarial] nations may well use to America’s disadvantage.”

  • 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 [...]
  • The Rise of the Urban Mine — Reconciling Resource Supply Needs and Sustainability

    The new Biden Administration has made clear that addressing the issue of climate change is a key priority for the next four years, and a flurry of first-week executive orders leave no doubt that the Administration intends to double down on the President’s ambitious goal to make the United States carbon neutral by 2050. As [...]
  • The Blessings of a New World

    The following is a modified re-post from 2012: Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving – a celebration of the blessings afforded by our forefathers as they overcame adversity in a new land, laboring to obtain from the resources around them the necessities of life: food, shelter, and warmth against winter’s cold. Since that first winter, the bounty [...]