American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
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  • Independence Day 2023 — As We Celebrate Our Freedoms, (Resource) Dependency Still Looms Large

    It’s back to the grind.

    The parades, barbecues, pool parties and fireworks to mark this year’s Independence Day are over.  There’s much to be thankful for, especially at a time when the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine, now in its second year, reverberates around the globe and geopolitical tensions continue to mount.

    ARPN has always used the occasion of Independence Day to remind ourselves that “while we cherish the freedom we are blessed with in so many ways, we must not become complacent, as there are areas where we’re increasingly becoming less independent” — with our reliance on foreign mineral resources being a case in point.

    Thankfully, stakeholders are increasingly aware of the urgency to strengthen critical mineral supply chains, and, on the heels of a global pandemic, ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, and growing resource nationalism, a flurry of activity has dominated the critical minerals space, ranging from domestic efforts over bilateral trade agreements to multilateral alliances.

    For the U.S., a notable example of domestic efforts is the series of DPA Presidential Determinations involving specific Critical Minerals, beginning with President Trump’s July 2019 designation of the Rare Earth permanent magnet supply chain being designated as “essential for the national defense,” followed by President Biden’s designation of what ARPN calls the “Battery Criticals” as DPA Title III eligible in March 2022, followed by Platinum and Palladium in a DPA Presidential Determination in June 2022.  Earlier this spring, two further Presidential Determinations (February 27, 2023 Presidential Determination, and DPA Presidential Determination (2023-5)), effectively created an entirely new category of critical minerals – the “defense criticals” and designated airbreathing engines, advanced avionics navigation and guidance systems, and hypersonic systems and their “constituent materials” as priority DPA materials.

    (for more on the Defense Criticals, read our post here.)

    Followers of ARPN are further aware of policy initiatives like the United States’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) or the European Union’s Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA), which are currently being followed by bilateral trade agreements, as well as U.S.-EU discussions to launch a “critical mineral club.”

    While the United States and our partners have taken several important steps to decouple critical mineral supply chains from China, Beijing, having systematically built out its dominance across the entire value chain from mining over processing to manufacturing, still has a chokehold on many key critical minerals, and particularly the EV battery supply chain.

    And for all of the recent U.S. policy efforts, the latest USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries report confirmed that our critical mineral dependencies still persist.

    There is momentum to change this, however, as we have previously argued:

    “Those familiar with the inner-workings of Washington, D.C. know all too well that particularly in an election year policy efforts can quickly lose steam or fizzle over attempts to placate certain constituencies. Against all affirmations to strengthen domestic supply chains, the not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) sentiment is still strong.”

    As followers of ARPN well know, the stakes are too high to let the momentum for comprehensive reform fizzle.

    With a new “Great Game” afoot in the global mineral resource realm (see our most recent post on the issue here), the U.S. must double down on its push to secure critical mineral supply chains from “soup to nuts” to borrow a term used by U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

    With the West’s resource dependence running deep, and Beijing’s determination to continue its global quest for resource dominance unbroken, the critical mineral arms race will continue to heat up.   Stakeholders here and elsewhere must gear up for the long haul.

    As ARPN stated in a previous post, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Neither was the United States of America.

    But built it was, challenges were overcome — and we are celebrating the men and women who have fought for and continue to safeguard our freedoms this week.

    Here’s hoping that one day we will be able to say the same for the critical mineral supply chains that anchor the technology economies of the 21st Century.

  • India Ups the Ante in New “Great Game,” Releases Critical Minerals List and Joins MSP

    As nations all across the globe scramble to secure critical mineral supply chains against the backdrop of surging demand in the context of the green energy transition and rising geopolitical tensions, India is stepping up its critical mineral resource policy game.

    This week, the Indian Ministry of Mines released a comprehensive Critical Minerals List, consisting of 30 metals and minerals deemed critical for India’s ambition for cleaner technologies in electronics, telecommunications, transport and defense, according to the government.

    The list comprises the group of 17 rare earth elements (REEs) and six platinum group metals (PGMs) as complexes. It also encompasses four of what ARPN has dubbed the “battery criticals” lithium, cobalt, graphite and nickel (India’s list does not include manganese which rounds out the five battery criticals), as well as antimony, beryllium, bismuth, gallium, germanium, hafnium, indium, molybdenum, niobium, phosphorous, potash, rhenium, silicon, strontium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, tungsten, vanadium, zirconium, selenium, and cadmium.

    Lastly, the list also includes copper, a mainstay metal and key component of the green energy transition which the United States has thus far failed to add to its own list of critical minerals in spite of numerous pushes for its addition.

    According to Indian web news hub Rediff.com, the government plans to encourage public and private investment in exploration, mining and processing to secure the country’s critical mineral supply chains, and will seek to “facilitate the adoption of advanced technologies and international collaborations to enhance efficiency and environmental sustainability in the extraction and processing of critical minerals.”

    One of the first such international collaborations was just made official during a state visit of India’s Prime Minister Narenda Modi to Washington, D.C. last week, where Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden announced the country’s joining of the Minerals Security Partnership alongside several bilateral and defense deals.

    The MSP is a partnership between the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and several other countries convened in June 2022 as an initiative to bolster supply chains while aiming “to ensure that critical minerals are produced, processed, and recycled in a manner that supports countries in realizing the full economic development potential of their mineral resources.”

    As the rest of the world aims to decouple its critical mineral supply chains from China, which has long dominated most of the critical minerals sector across all links of the supply chain, India is looking to harness its geopolitical wealth to become a “global hub for critical mineral production and reinforce its position as a major player in the global economy.”

    In keeping with that objective, India’s recent moves have global implications.

    At the beginning of this year, a New York Times piece called on G20 leaders gathering in Davos, Switzerland, to “pivot to the new reality provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the growth of extreme inequalities and aggressive Russian and Chinese autocracies.” 

    In the critical mineral realm, these recent events served as a catalyst for a new “Great Game,” which the geopolitics of mineral resource supply had triggered and which gained momentum with the adoption of the Paris agreement in 2015.

    India’s recent critical mineral moves are highly relevant in the context of this new “Great Game,” particularly as relations between India and China are strained by an ongoing border conflict and growing regional rivalry, both of which are shaping South Asia’s security landscape and strategic environment.

    With India having overtaken China as the world’s most populous country and set to become the third-largest economy in the coming years, India’s recent moves could be seen as a direct challenge by Beijing.

    As Frédéric Grere and Manisha Reuter outline for the European Council on Foreign Relations, “New Delhi still exerts a dominant role in South Asia and, specifically, the Indian Ocean, but as China consolidates its position in the region, its attitude towards India has become more assertive. India remains resolute about preventing Chinese hegemony in Asia, repeatedly stressing that a multipolar world starts with a multipolar Asia, and seeking partnerships with a variety of countries, including the US and the EU. Beijing is concerned about India’s growing military ties with the US and tends to consider India’s intentions through the lens of its own rivalry with the US.”

    The new Great Game may have just gotten Greater.

  • 2022 – ARPN’s YEAR IN REVIEW

      2022 surely was as fast-paced a year as they come. Didn’t we just throw overboard our New Year’s Resolutions?  We blinked, and it’s time for another review of what has happened in the past twelve months. So with no further ado, here is ARPN’s annual attempt to take stock of what has happened on the [...]
  • As Stakes Mount, U.S. Senators Lament Agencies’ Failure to Meet Timelines for Permitting Report Required by Federal Law

    While there has been a flurry of activity at the federal level to strengthen U.S. critical mineral supply chains against the backdrop of mounting global and domestic pressures, some of the early proponents of mineral resource policy reform on Capitol Hill are questioning the Biden Administration’s commitment to improving the federal mine permitting process “to help [...]
  • Energy Provisions in Inflation Reduction Act Spur Efforts to Build Out U.S. Battery Supply Chain, as States Step Up Their Own Efforts

    The energy provisions in the recently passed congressional Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are beginning to bear fruit.  Standing to get $35 million in government subsidies for every gigagwatt-hour of cell storage capacity produced, battery suppliers are stepping up their efforts in the United States. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Norwegian battery maker Freyr and energy conglomerate [...]
  • Specter of Cartelization in “Battery Criticals” Segment Should Kick Efforts to Bolster Domestic Supply Chains into High Gear — A Look at Nickel

    As global leaders direct their focus towards the COP27 climate change summit kicking off in Sharm El Sheikh this upcoming Sunday, pressures on critical mineral supply chains – particularly those for the “battery criticals”underpinning EV battery and energy storage technology — continue to mount. While for some time, much of the “battery critical” focus was primarily on lithium, [...]
  • A Frightening Graphic Just in Time for Halloween: Is the Anode Our Achilles Heel When it Comes to Building out a Battery Supply Chain Independent of China?

    It’s Halloween – time for trick or treating, spooky storytelling and scary visuals.  Here’s a real scary one if you’re still looking to frighten the policy wonks among your Halloween party guests. Courtesy of our friends at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, it’s an infographic that should send a serious chill down policy makers’ spines, and it’s not even gory: While [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • U.S. Department of Energy Announces Federal Grants to “Supercharge” U.S. EV Battery and Electric Grid Supply Chains

    The global push towards net zero carbon marches on, and with sales of EVs continuing to soar even as prices rise, analysts suggest that the “world could be nearing a critical electric vehicle sales tipping point, when volatile adoption trends are overtaken by mainstream demand.”  With skyrocketing demand, the mineral intensity of the green energy transition [...]