American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • On National Miners Day, A Look at The Mining Industry’s Contributions to Sustainably Greening our Future

    “December 6 is National Miners Day… a fitting time to reflect on how much miners provide to allow for our modern way of life. (…)”  

    You might not recognize how mining plays a role in your daily life. Most people do not see the raw materials produced by mining, from metals and minerals to coal and stone, sand, and gravel. Instead, we use items every day that come from mined raw materials, never knowing that mining played an integral part in the development of the mobile devices we use, the roads we travel on, the cookware we use to make our meals, and the mined fertilizers that helped grow our food. These products, in addition to countless other necessities and conveniences, start with mining.”

    This is not an excerpt from a puff piece written by a trade association – it’s a snippet from the CDC website today, and many other U.S. government agencies, as well as Members of Congress have put out similar statements acknowledging the mining industry’s contributions to our modern way of life.

    Since 2009, when National Miners Day was first proclaimed by Congress to be observed every December 6, awareness of the importance of metals and minerals, and securing their supply chains, has steadily grown.

    Fueled by a global pandemic severing supply chains and compounded by mounting environmental and geopolitical pressures, and the realization that our green energy future will be mineral intensive, critical mineral supply chain security today is more than a buzz word, and stakeholders understand the need to — responsibly and sustainably — mine and process the metals and minerals that underpin the global push towards net zero carbon emissions and 21stCentury technology in the broader sense.

    Thankfully, the mining industry is ready to meet the challenge and is not only upping the ante on the ESG front in general, but is specifically leveraging the materials science revolution to sustainably develop and process the metals and minerals we need today and in the future.

    In recent years, ARPN has been showcasing initiatives by mining companies to sustainably green the future, ranging from overhauling supply chain policies to ensure suppliers conform to certain environmental and social standards to incorporating renewable power sources into their operations to offset some of the carbon costs for resource development.

    Perhaps most recently, in November of 2022, mining equipment manufacturer Caterpillar announced a successful demonstration of its first battery electric large mining truck, going hand in hand with a “significant investment to transform its Arizona-based proving ground into a sustainable testing and validation hub of the future.”

    Many more initiatives are underway (several are featured here and here), and we will continue to feature them going forward.

  • Sustainably Building Out Domestic Supply Chains — Auto and Battery Makers Rethink Their Value Chains in Wake of Recent Regulatory Changes and Intensifying Competition

    In recent months, and in particular in the wake of the recently-passed congressional Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), we have seen a long overdue uptick in efforts to build out a secure North American critical minerals supply chain.

    Not surprisingly, many of these efforts are focused on what ARPN has dubbed the “super-criticals” – the five battery materials, plus a sub-set of five rare earths required for permanent magnets (neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, terbium and samarium), which altogether comprise a group of 10 Criticals within the 50 Critical Minerals on the official U.S. Government list.

    With the new sourcing requirements in the energy provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act mandating that to be eligible for the EV tax credits contained in the package, qualified cars must be assembled in North America, and adhere to “escalating levels of critical minerals to be sourced from the U.S. or a country with a free-trade agreement with the U.S,” car and battery makers are being forced to rethink their supply chains.

    LG Energy Solutions’s (LGES) just-signed offtake agreement for the purchase of battery-grade lithium carbonate from U.S.-based Compass Minerals is a case in point for companies adapting to “recent regulatory changes and intensifying competition over key battery raw materials.”

    The companies have entered into a six-year term agreement under which LGES would receive 40% of Compass Minerals’s anticipated annual production from its lithium brine development project located on the Great Salt Lake in Ogden, Utah.

    With Compass Minerals having adopted a low-carbon profile for its operations — the company recently announced it will rely on Energy Source Minerals’s direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology to remove lithium with superior absorption and minimal environmental impact, using a solar evaporation process projected to produce significantly lower rates of greenhouse gas emissions — the partnership will tie into the overall push towards net zero carbon emissions.

    As ARPN has frequently pointed out, the mineral intensity of the green energy transition dictates that the pathway to net zero carbon leads through the mining sector — which, thankfully, is ready to meet the challenge of striking a balance between modern mining practices and environmental protections.

    In this context, the LGES and Compass Minerals partnership is another example of the mining sector harnessing advances in materials science and technology to do its part to sustainably green the future while securing critical mineral supply chains underpinning 21st Century technology.

    For more examples of initiatives by mining companies to significantly reduce carbon emissions or even “close the loop,” take a look herehere and here.

  • A Look at the Inflation Reduction Act and Its Potential to “Reclaim Critical Mineral Chains”

    In a comprehensive new piece for Foreign Policy, director of the Payne Institute and professor of public policy at the Colorado School of Mines Morgan Bazilian, and postdoctoral fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University Gregory Brew take a closer look at the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act’s energy provisions, which in their [...]
  • As Automakers Scramble to Build Out EV Manufacturing, Calls for Mine Permitting Reform Get Louder

    Against the backdrop of ongoing supply chain challenges around the globe, the urgency of untangling and securing critical mineral supply chains essential to a net zero carbon emissions future is becoming increasingly clear. Following on the heels of the Biden Administration invoking the Defense Production Act for the “Battery Criticals” – lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel and manganese [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • New Report Warns: Looming Copper Shortfall Could Delay Global Shift Away From Fossil Fuels

    The mainstream media and parts of the political establishment may just now have begun to realize it — but followers of ARPN have long known that our nation’s critical mineral woes are real, and go beyond the often discussed battery criticals (lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, and manganese) and include one of the key mainstay metals: [...]
  • As Stakes Continue to Get Higher, Critical Minerals Challenge Goes Mainstream with Realization Issue Goes Beyond “Battery Criticals”

    Supply chain challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine, rising resource nationalism in the southern hemisphere, and now China’s Xi Jinping doubling-down on its zero-Covid policy this week which may lead to more lockdowns with serious economic and trade consequences – critical mineral supply chains can’t seem to catch a break. As [...]
  • Time to Address the “Gaping Hole” in America’s Efforts to Secure Critical Mineral Supply Chains

     “The historic shift to electric vehicles will give the U.S. a fresh chance to achieve energy independence, but it will require complex strategic moves that won’t pay off for years,” writes Joann Muller in a new piece for Axios. A look at the numbers reveals that despite a noticeable push towards strengthening U.S. supply chains (we’ve featured [...]
  • Critical Minerals Challenge Could Delay E-Mobility, Automaker Says

    As the global push for net carbon zero accelerates in the wake of last year’s UN Global Climate Summit in Glasgow, another leading automaker draws attention to the critical raw materials challenge: In a recent interview with German paper Die Zeit, Mercedes-Benz Group (previously Daimler AG) Chief Executive Ola Kaellenius warned that EV battery raw material scarcity [...]
  • Time for a Reckoning at “Ferrari Supercar Speeds” – It’s Not Just Battery Materials: A Look at Aluminum

    In recent months, industry news has been dominated by headlines like “carmakers face raw material bottleneck.” And while, rightfully, against the backdrop of the accelerating green energy transition and EV revolution, much of the coverage focuses primarily on supply chain challenges arising for the battery criticals Lithium, Cobalt, Nickel, Graphite and Manganese, it’s not just the [...]