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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Summer Critical Mineral Import Data Provides Fresh Impetus for Comprehensive Resource Policy Reform

    In the wake of several eye-openers regarding our nation’s critical mineral supply chain woes — the coronavirus pandemic, increasing trade tensions with adversary nations like China, and reports underscoring the mineral intensity of our green energy future — the bipartisan infrastructure package passed by the U.S. Senate before the August recess contained a series of provisions that, in the words of analyst Andy Home, represent “undoubtedly good news for industrial metals” and mark a “broader investment drive across the full length of the metallic supply chain.”

    As lawmakers continue their work on the package, new data analysis provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence underscores why efforts to boost U.S. control of critical mineral supply chains and “overcoming reliance on other nations not only for supplies but for infrastructure and processing capacity,” must be prioritized:

    According to data collected earlier this summer, “U.S. imports of critical minerals increased 7.9% in the second quarter on a year-over-year basis, while staying relatively flat quarter over quarter.”

    S&P Global Market Intelligence notes that “the volume of critical minerals flowing into the country in the first half of 2021 surpassed the 316,108 tonnes imported in the first six months of 2020 by 41,209 tonnes.”

    As S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Camille Erickson argues, “China maintains a firm grip on the processing of several critical minerals.”  She points to International Energy Agency that have China processing roughly 90% of global REE supply (and 50% to 70% of global Lithium and Cobalt supply).  Erickson further notes a lack of “sufficient midstream infrastructure in the U.S.,” which “means critical minerals often must undergo various chemical processes — such as concentrating, refining and smelting — elsewhere.”

    While the bipartisan infrastructure package as passed by the U.S. Senate is looking to “bring back some of the crucial midstream components that we are very much lacking here in the U.S. and North America more broadly,” the American Exploration & Mining Association would like to see an even bigger, more comprehensive push, arguing (on Twitter) that “[e]fforts to rebuild the mineral supply chain are incomplete.  We need more mines and smelters, but we need efficient permitting too.”

    Here’s hoping that lawmakers — refreshed from their August recess — do justice to the “all of the above” approach to mineral resource policy as embraced by the Biden Administration in its 100-Day Supply Chain Review (see our report on it here).

    As critical minerals expert Morgan Bazilian recently wrote in a piece for The Hill, in which he embedded his call for a comprehensive mineral resource policy approach into the green energy transition context:

    “If the U.S. wants to get out from under China’s thumb while avoiding conflict, then it must create effective mineral policy by rebuilding innovation capabilities, partnering with industry, and leveraging the government’s role as a market actor. (…) As a nation we have spent so much time preparing for a better tomorrow that we may have neglected to get the materials we will need to actually build it. If the U.S. wants to take direct action to fight climate change and save the lives of its people, then it will need the mining and metals industry.”

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  • 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 those, most notably, Canada.

    In that context, a region that, in spite of its storied mining history — does the Klondike gold rush ring a bell? — and its vast mineral potential has rarely made headlines in the U.S. may come into focus going forward: The Yukon.

    Writes Yukon economist Keith Halliday in an opinion piece for Yukon News:

    “Yukoners have long been fortunate to live in a geopolitical backwater. The Yukon generally doesn’t make it into the President’s Daily Brief. If you run into a foreign correspondent with a sat-phone in Whitehorse, it’s because they’re going canoeing with friends on the Snake. (…)

    But could we actually benefit from today’s rising tensions, as China’s ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy prompts democratic countries to look for strategically secure sources of raw materials? After the recent G7 summit, where leaders discussed a more unified China strategy, both the Biden Administration and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen talked about the role Canadian resources could play.

    (…)

    There is the possibility that the Yukon could benefit from the desire among Canada’s allies to find secure sources of strategic minerals.”

    Indeed, the region’s mineral potential is vast, to the point that it made the top 10 of the Fraser Institute’s list of most attractive mining jurisdictions as recent as 2018.

    Halliday argues that the fact that Europe and the United States are looking to diversify their mineral resource supply chains away from China amidst growing geopolitical tensions “is good news for Yukon mining projects whose ores are on US and European lists.”

    “However,” as he notes, “that list does not include some of the most commonly mined minerals in the Yukon, such as copper or gold.”

    While it is true that Copper did not make the U.S. Government’s official list of critical minerals in 2018, the Biden Administration’s 100 Day Report acknowledges Copper as an integral component of Lithium-ion battery technology, both in the context of being what we have called a “gateway metal” to other critical materials, and for its “use across many end-use applications aside from lithium-ion cells, including building construction, electrical and electronic products, transportation equipment, consumer and general products, and industrial machinery and equipment.”

    With that, the Yukon’s appeal may be on the rise.

    As perhaps it should be, given geopolitical developments this week that put five Chinese companies operating in Xinjiang Province on the U.S. Government’s sanctions list for using forced labor at the province’s quartz mines to produce polysilicon for the solar power sector. With Yukon’s many quartz deposits, the territory may draw attention from companies in the solar sector seeking a new source of polysilicon, produced under Canada’s exacting environmental, health and safety standards.

    Whatever metals or minerals may come to define a new tech metals Yukon “gold” rush, Halliday cautions, though: “We should also remember that there are still many other countries who will be happy to host mining projects if Yukon properties get tied up in extensive permitting and approval processes.”

    And permitting is an area that has seen the territory drop in the Fraser Institute rankings in recent years, with the latest report citing a mining company executive as stating “Permitting approval processes in the Yukon are a major concern for investors.”

    Concludes Halliday:

    “If we don’t ensure our mining approval processes allow high-quality, environmentally-sound projects to be permitted in a timely way, we will end up missing out on both the economic benefits of strategic mining as well as the opportunity to help our allies secure their mineral supplies.”

    Suffice it to say, ARPN will add the Yukon to our watch list for critical mineral resource developments (pun intended). You should, too.

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  • DoD-led “100-Day” Supply Chain Assessment Concludes We Need “All of The Above” Approach to Critical Mineral Resource Security

    Last week, the Biden Administration released the findings of its 100-day supply chain review initiated by Executive Order 14017 – “America’s Supply Chains.” From a Critical Minerals perspective, there is a lot to unpack in the 250-page report, and we’ll be digging into the various chapters and issues over the next few days and weeks. [...]
  • ARPN Expert Panel Member: Create Framework to “Insulate Domestic Producers from Market Manipulation While Fostering Innovation” in Effort to Decouple From China

    In a recent piece for RealClearDefense Jeffery A. Green, president and founder of J.A. Green & Company, and member of the ARPN panel of experts, outlines a set of four main lines of efforts policy makers should focus on as they develop policy recommendations based on a recent executive order and House task force set [...]
  • Commentary: Fighting Global Climate Change Through Electrification is a Herculean Task

    In a new piece for Forbes, Jude Clemente, principal at JTC Energy Research Associates, LLC, outlines the size and scope of the ambitious climate goal of electrification to fight climate change, and discusses the underlying challenges associated with the shift. Clemente argues that the likely surge in electricity demand as the world seeks to decarbonize [...]
  • Podcast: Battery Tech Supply Chain Expert Simon Moores Discusses Lithium Challenge

    American Jobs Plan, Green New Deal … irrespective of whether these plans will get implemented fully or in part, the renewable energy transition is already here, and it’s here to stay. The renewable energy sector has been transforming at neck-breaking speed, and with that, demand for the metals and minerals underpinning the green energy shift [...]
  • With Asteroid Mining Likely Unattainable for the Time Being, U.S. Must Focus on Reducing Supply Chain Vulnerabilities – Here on Earth

    According to NASA, the Hubble Telescope earlier this month collected imagery of an asteroid “so rich in metals that its worth puts our global economy to shame.” Already discovered in 1852, the celestial body is located in the Solar System’s main asteroid belt, roughly 370 million km from Earth. The object, which has been called [...]
  • U.S. Senator and AK Governor for The Hill: With China Having Taken Control of Critical Mineral Supply Chains, We Need to Act Now

    Beijing’s threat to withhold potentially life-saving medical supplies and medications in the middle of a global pandemic, during which China has “taken control of [respective] supply chains around the world as part of its quest for global domination,” were a wake up call, write U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) in [...]
  • Critical Minerals and the Defense Industrial Base: Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Testifies Before Senate Armed Services Subcommittee

    Hours after President Donald Trump issued a new executive order declaring a national emergency on critical minerals, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support received testimony from Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord on the integrity of America’s critical minerals supply chains. Kicking off the hearing, [...]
  • Scandium Has Yet to Go “Ballistic” — Will Recent Developments Change the Material’s Odds to Shine?

    “This obscure metal is going to go ballistic in a few years,” John Kaiser of Kaiser Research told the Investing News Network a few years ago. The metal he was referring to is Scandium — a material that is “as strong as titanium, as light as aluminum, and as hard as ceramic.” It’s a material [...]

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