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  • Policy Makers Step Up Efforts to Secure Domestic Critical Mineral Supply Chains — U.S. Senators Introduce the “Critical Mineral Independence Act of 2022”

    As geopolitical tensions continue to mount, and China tightens its reins on its critical mineral supply chains, U.S. policy makers are stepping up their efforts to secure domestic supply chains.

    The latest case in point: Sen. Dan Sullivan’s (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) just-introduced Critical Mineral Independence Act of 2022,” legislation aimed at reducing the United States’ over-reliance on China for its critical mineral needs by strengthening provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which had previously given a boost to critical mineral mining and processing.

    Operating under the premise that “the U.S. cannot afford to allow the critical minerals used by the Department of Defense (DoD) to be mined or processed in adversarial countries, and it must urgently invest and build its capabilities to achieve critical mineral independence in coordination with allies,” the bill would:

    • “[d]irect the expansion of critical mineral mining and processing in the U.S. and allied countries to achieve critical mineral supply chain independence for the Department of Defense by 2027;
    • [r]equire the director of the Defense Logistics Agency to develop a strategy to expedite critical mineral mining and processing, and then requires the implementation of that strategy;
    • [and a]uthorize the use of the underlying $1 billion in the NDAA to execute the procurement strategy.”

    In a statement on the introduction of the bill, Sen. Sullivan highlighted the United States’ vast domestic mineral potential, much of which could be unleashed in the Senators home state of Alaska. He says:

    “We cannot continue to be dependent on China for critical minerals—resources that are crucial to our economy, and which we have in abundance in the U.S., particularly in Alaska like the significant copper and zinc resources in the Ambler Mining District that the Biden administration—remarkably—continues to delay.”  

    [To keep up with Alaska’s critical mineral potential and current developments, be sure to follow North of 60 Mining News’s Shane Lasley, whose work ARPN has featured on many occasions.]

    Sen. Sullivan adds:

    “If we are going to build out and support our domestic clean energy industries and national security initiatives, we need to get serious about a strategy for unleashing America’s national supply chains and processing capabilities. In doing so, we will create thousands of good-paying jobs, protect our national security interests, deny economic support for violators of basic human rights and build out America’s all-of-the-above energy sector.” 

    With the mid-term elections now in the rear view mirror and policy makers increasingly realizing the urgency of securing critical mineral resource supply chains to bolster our nation’s national security and economic wellbeing, momentum for mineral resource policy reform is building.  ARPN will track the “Critical Mineral Independence Act of 2022” along with other legislative efforts in the coming months.

  • Canada’s New Critical Mineral Investment Rules for State-Owned Entities Harden Already-Drawn “Geopolitical Battle-Lines in the Metals Sector”

    Within days of Canada outlining new investment stipulations for state-owned entities aimed at protecting the country’s critical minerals sector, the Canadian government last week told three Chinese resource companies to divest their interests in Canadian critical mineral firms.

    Basing the decision on “facts and evidence and on the advice of critical minerals subject matter experts, Canada’s security and intelligence community, and other government partners,” Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry declared in a statement:

    “While Canada continues to welcome foreign direct investment, we will act decisively when investments threaten our national security and our critical minerals supply chains, both at home and abroad. In accordance with the [Investment Canada Act], foreign investments are subject to review for national security concerns, and certain types of investment—such as those in the critical minerals sectors—receive enhanced scrutiny.

    Therefore, we reviewed a number of investments in Canadian companies engaged in the critical minerals sector, including lithium. These companies were reviewed via the multi-step national security review process, which involves rigorous scrutiny by Canada’s national security and intelligence community. As a result of that process, the Government of Canada has ordered the divestiture of the following investments by foreign investors in Canadian critical mineral companies: 

    • Sinomine (Hong Kong) Rare Metals Resources Co., Limited is required to divest itself of its investment in Power Metals Corp.
    • Chengze Lithium International Limited is required to divest itself of its investment in Lithium Chile Inc.
    • Zangge Mining Investment (Chengdu) Co., Ltd. is required to divest itself of its investment in Ultra Lithium Inc.”

    As Reuters columnist Andy Home observes, the new policy on critical mineral investment is both “wide ranging and far-reaching:”

    “It’s not just China’s state-owned players that will come in for extra scrutiny, but also any private investors ‘assessed as being closely tied to, subject to influence from, or who could be compelled to comply with extrajudicial direction from foreign governments.’”

    What’s more, he argues, “the policy covers not just mining but all stages of the minerals processing chain.”

    The ramifications of Canada’s move will stretch beyond our neighbors’ borders. For one, it hardens the already drawn “geopolitical battle-lines in the metals sector” between the West and adversary nations, i.e. China.

    It also places additional pressure on all segments of the already strained  U.S. critical minerals supply chain.

    The recently passed congressional Inflation Reduction Act contained sourcing requirements for EV credits.  Observers have outlined that, while sending an appropriate message, the requirements also represent an “almost insurmountable challenge” as “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 global push towards net zero carbon emissions, which has received fresh impetus with the COP 27 climate summit commencing today in Sharm El Sheik, will further up the ante.

    While we are still days and maybe weeks away from leaving the Congressional midterm election with all its theatrics in the rear view mirror, policymakers and other stakeholders would be well-advised to shift focus from politics to policy, and act swiftly and decisively to bolster North American supply chains.

  • As Global Environmental and Geopolitical Pressures Intensify, So Do Cooperative Efforts — A Look at the Canadian-South Korean Critical Minerals Partnership and the MSP

    While the coronavirus pandemic may no longer occupy the top of the hour slot in news broadcasts, the supply chain challenges it unearthed for many of the materials we rely upon are here to stay.  And as the global push towards net zero carbon emissions gets kicked into high gear, nations are increasingly realizing their own [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Europe’s Metal Sector CEOs Call for Fast and Comprehensive Action to Address “Existential Threat” to Industry Powering Energy Sector and Net Zero Carbon Transition

    As Europe’s already high energy prices continue to soar due to fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and EU energy ministers are gearing up to meet this Friday for an emergency summit, the corporate leaders of Europe’s non-ferrous metals sector have sounded the alarm in an open letter warning that the industry that underpins the energy sector [...]
  • Alaska Critical Minerals Conference: Stakeholders Welcome Progress Thus Far, Call for Federal Permitting Reform and More Predictability in the Mining Space

    Just as a new federal law – the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 – may send a much-needed investment signal to the underdeveloped critical mineral supply chains for EVs and other 21st  century technologies, many of which are rife with underinvestment, political risk and poor governance – lawmakers and policy experts gathered for a two-day two-day conference hosted by the [...]
  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty to Discuss Critical Mineral Policy at Alaska Critical Minerals Conference

    Mere months after widespread lockdowns in China over coronavirus outbreaks, factories in Sichuan province are shutting down again – this time over an intense heatwave and drought across China’s south.  Meanwhile, Russia’s war on Ukraine shows no signs of slowing down, and tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan continue to flare. As the [...]
  • A Look North – A Canadian Perspective on China’s “Encroachment” on the Critical Minerals Industry

    In a new piece for Canada’s Globe and Mail, Niall Mcgee discusses China’s quiet but systematic campaign to corner the critical minerals segment in Canada and stakeholder reactions in Ottawa, or more precisely, the lack thereof. Citing the 2019 acquisition of the Tanco Mine in Manitoba, known as one of the world’s few sources of cesium [...]
  • Latest Tesla Deals with Chinese Suppliers Underscore Critical Mineral Supply Chain Challenges

    As pressures continue to mount, U.S. stakeholders are beginning to realize the urgency of building supply chains “that are safer, more secure and not beholden to a country that has multiple human rights violations, predatory lending practices, and vast national security complications.”  For now, however, too often, automakers still have to turn to Chinese suppliers to meet [...]
  • It’s Not Just Critical Mineral Development and Processing — China Also Has Leg Up When it Comes to Recycling

    Followers of ARPN are well aware that China has long dominated the global mineral resource wars on the development and processing fronts, and the United States in recent months has taken a series of unprecedented steps in an effort to decouple U.S. critical mineral supply chains from China. A recent paper published by the American [...]