American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Invocation of Defense Production Act a Sign “America is Finally Taking the Battery Metal Shortage Seriously” – But Must be Embedded in True All-of-the-Above Strategy

    Last week, against the backdrop of mounting pressures on U.S. critical mineral supply chains, U.S. President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to encourage domestic production of the metals and minerals deemed critical for electric vehicle and large capacity batteries.

    The move is a sign that “America is finally taking the battery metal shortage seriously,” as the headline of the latest piece by Tsvetana Paraskova for OilPrice.com indicates.

    Amidst the cheer, some caution, however, that invoking the Defense Production Act does “nothing to streamline the permitting process,” which remains mired in redundancies and red tape.  Writes Joe Deaux for Bloomberg News:

    “It takes a about seven to 10 years to get a mine up and running in the U.S., compared to two to three years in neighboring Canada, according to the U.S. business group National Mining Association. The omission will frustrate mining companies when Biden is pushing to revive domestic production capacity while embracing a shift in the U.S. economy to less polluting energy.”

    Deaux cites National Mining Association President Rich Nolan, who told Bloomberg News via email that “[u]nless we continue to build on this action, and get serious about re-shoring these supply chains and bringing new mines and mineral processing online, we risk feeding the minerals dominance of geopolitical rivals. We have abundant mineral resources here. What we need is policy to ensure we can produce them and build the secure, reliable supply chains we know we must have.”

    Meanwhile, pointing to recent regulatory action taken by the Biden Administration to block a proposed copper mining project in Minnesota and to slow another one in Arizona, the Wall Street Journal editorial board this week laments contradictions in the White House’s energy policy, stating that “President Biden on Thursday invoked the Defense Production Act to subsidize the mining of certain minerals in the U.S. that his own Administration is using regulation to block.”

    All of which ultimately brings us back to the “inherent irony” or “paradox of the green revolution” Reuters columnist Andy Home has invoked in several instances when covering critical mineral resource supply chains for the very materials underpinning the green energy transition — the paradox that “public opinion is firmly in favour of decarbonisation but not the mines and smelters needed to get there.”

    With the political campaign season upon us, the Biden Administration’s balancing act to reconcile its green credentials with the acknowledged need for domestic resource development will likely not get any easier, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised the stakes for mineral resource security – already high in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic unearthing massive supply chain challenges – to a whole new level.

    As Ruth Demeter, Senior Director of Policy, Global Energy Institute at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce pointed out:

    “The war in Ukraine and sanctions imposed against Russia have once again underscored the precarious nature of America’s growing dependence on critical minerals—and lack of homegrown supply.” 

    Nonetheless, writes Bloomberg’s Deaux, “[t]he Defense Production Act would be a huge step in bringing legitimacy to U.S. companies with battery-metals projects seeking to attract more capital to expand businesses and help create a self-sustaining domestic industry.”

    To be leveraged most effectively, however, its invocation should be embedded into a truly comprehensive “all-of-the-above” approach across the entire value chain that ARPN and others have been calling for.

    We can, and should, harness partnerships with allies, expand recycling capabilities and work on “closed-loop solutions”– but, as we’ve stated elsewhere, we will not be able to meet vastly increasing mineral needs and safeguard our national and economic security without leveraging and expanding domestic production and processing capabilities.

  • Critical Minerals in Focus – U.S. Senate Full Committee Hearing on Domestic Critical Mineral Supply Chains

    Bearing testimony to a growing awareness of our nation’s critical mineral resource challenge, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a full committee hearing on domestic critical mineral supply chains earlier this week.

    The witness panel at the hearing, which E&E Daily described as “a largely pro-mining hearing that could serve as a blueprint for a potential deal on energy and critical minerals” featured three industry experts on the mining industry and two mining company representatives.

    As pressures on critical mineral supply chains are mounting, there appears to be a cross-party consensus that, as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said during the hearing, it is “essential” to increase domestic mineral resource production and “reduce our country’s dependence on foreign-produced minerals,” with this being “as much a national security issue as (…) an environmental one.”

    In her testimony, Securing America’s Future Energy’s Vice President, Critical Minerals Strategy Abigail Wulf highlighted the fact that “the 2020s will be a critical decade that will challenge the United States’ ability to consistently and effectively project its political, military, and economic strength. During this time,” she said,  “the production of batteries, electric vehicles (EVs), semiconductors, and other advanced technologies will take on increased geopolitical importance.”

    Underscoring the importance of strengthening both domestic mining and processing, she stressed that “[t]he nation that prevails in controlling the manufacturing and distribution of these key industries will lead the global transition to a new energy future and the next industrial revolution, adding that ”[t]he United States is lagging behind, risking our position of global economic leadership, leaving us vulnerable to supply disruptions and dependent on nations that do not share our values.”

    The hearing took place on the same day U.S. President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to encourage domestic production of the metals and minerals deemed critical for electric vehicle and large capacity batteries, a move which, according to  Bloomberg News affords mining companies access to $750 million under the Act’s Title III fund.

    Meanwhile, pointing to the still onerous and often redundant procedure for mining companies to obtain permits for their operations in the United States, Sen. John Barrasso (D-WY) cautioned during the hearing that “unless the President streamlines permitting, we should not expect to see any meaningful increase in American mineral production.”

    Increasing domestic mineral resource production will undoubtedly be met with opposition by environmentalists and Indigenous activists.  To alleviate some of their concerns, the Presidential Determination issued this week stated that subsequent actions “shall be conducted, to the extent consistent with the promotion of the national defense and applicable law, with strong environmental, sustainability, safety, labor, Tribal consultation, and impacted community engagement standards.”

    Furthermore, as E&E Daily reports“[t]he same day as the [Presidential Determination was issued], the Interior Department published a notice in the Federal Register outlining plans to hold hearings and take public comments about changing current mining laws and regulations, including ways to improve Indigenous consultation.”

    While much more remains to be done and valid concerns will need to be reconciled, the fact that Administration, Congress and other stakeholders are moving towards taking comprehensive steps to address our nation’s mineral resource challenge is encouraging.

    As Sen. Joe Manchin told committee members during his opening remarks:

    “Demand is increasing for minerals vital to clean energy and national security technologies, as well as for the everyday tools and comforts we take for granted. We must take action domestically or we’ll be putting our own security at risk by allowing China this power over our supply chains.”

  • Report from The Yukon: Critical Minerals Challenge Brings “Geopolitical Backwater” Into Focus

    As we outlined in our last post, the Biden Administration’s strategy to secure critical mineral supply chains, as outlined in its just-released 100 Day Supply Chain Report, embraces an “all of the above approach.” While strengthening sustainable mining and processing domestically, the Administration will also rely on partnerships with our closest allies — and of [...]
  • Tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 10 – U.S. House Committee to Hold Hearing on “Research and Innovation to Address the Critical Materials Challenge”

    On Tuesday, December 10 — close to the two-year anniversary of the White House’s executive order “to develop a federal strategy to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals” the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on “Research and Innovation to Address the Critical Materials Challenge.” The hearing comes against the backdrop of increased [...]
  • REEs Underscore Challenges of Erosion of Defense Industrial Base

    While policies stemming from the dominating free-trade ideology “have succeeded in generating great wealth for the U.S. economy, they have also led to a number of unintended consequences, including the erosion of the manufacturing segment of the defense industrial base,” argues Jeff Green, president of Washington, D.C.-based government relations firm J.A. Green & Company, and member of [...]
  • Defense Industrial Base Report “Clear Sign We Need to Act Urgently”

    In a new piece for The Hill’s Congress Daily Blog, retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John Adams argues the recently released Defense Industrial Base Report and its findings, which we previously discussed here and here, represent a call to action for Congress and other stakeholders, because it shows that “[j]ust when we should be retooling for [...]
  • “From Bad to Worse” – Why the Current Focus on Critical Minerals Matters

    Earlier this spring, the Department of the Interior released its finalized Critical Minerals List.  Jeffery Green, president and founder of government relations firm J.A. Green & Company and member of the ARPN panel of experts reminded us in a recent piece for Defense News why the current focus on our over-reliance on foreign mineral resources [...]
  • McGroarty for IBD: “Time to Make the Connection Between Critical Minerals and National Defense”

    “For want of a nail … the kingdom was lost” Invoking the old proverb dating back to the 13th Century as a cautionary tale and reminder that “the most sophisticated defense supply chain is only as strong as our weakest link,” ARPN’s Dan McGroarty argues in a new piece for Investor’s Business Daily that the [...]
  • Coalition of Congressional Members and Stakeholders Call on EPA to Reverse Pre-emptive Veto and Restore Due Process to U.S. Mine Permitting  

    Earlier this month, the Congressional Western Caucus led a coalition of Members of Congress and Stakeholders to call on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reverse a pre-emptive veto of the Pebble Mine project in Alaska. The veto stopped the project before it had formally applied to begin the permitting process — a unilateral expansion of [...]
  • Road to Regulatory Reform – NMA-Commissioned Poll Shows Voters in Favor of Domestic Mining Permitting Reforms

    Advances in materials science are altering and expanding the ways in which we use metals and minerals at neck-breaking speeds, and are drastically changing the supply and demand picture.  The United States was significantly less dependent on foreign supplies of metals and minerals in the 1970s — but today, we find ourselves import-reliant for scores [...]