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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Close Allies Map Critical Mineral Cooperation

    “Do I have to draw you a map?”

    As idioms go, that phrase is much nicer than the message it intends – but it’s apt for a new exercise linking the collective expertise of the geological surveys of Australia, Canada and the U.S.: an interactive world map of deposits of rare earths and other critical metals and minerals. The Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative was established in December 2019.

    The now-released online portal contains “the world’s largest dataset of minerals such as cobalt, lithium and rare earth elements and has more than 7,000 mineral samples from over 60 countries which could help identify new areas of critical minerals.” This tool and its underlying data “can be used by governments to identify options to diversify their critical minerals sources and by companies to better target their exploration strategies.”

    The critical minerals map is of a piece with the Biden Administration’s recently-released 100-day supply chain report, which issued a clear signal that it intends to pursue an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to securing critical mineral supply chains. Alleviating concerns that the Administration would adopt a more selective approach, the report and subsequent statements by Administration officials have made clear that the approach encompasses both investing in “sustainable production, refining, and recycling capacity domestically,” AND working to “diversify supply chains away from adversarial nations and sources with unacceptable environmental and labor standards” by cooperating closely with allies and partners.

    Acknowledging China’s role as the world’s leading processor of battery tech metals and our nation’s dependency on Beijing, the White House stressed that “[t]he United States cannot and does not need to mine and process all critical battery inputs at home. It can and should work with allies and partners to expand global production and to ensure secure global supplies.”

    As part of the U.S.’s cooperative efforts with close friends and allies, Canada and Australia have taken center stage — for obvious reasons, as we have pointed out in a recent post. As supply chain dependencies command more attention, cooperation between the three countries with regards to critical minerals — the deepening of which began even before the coronavirus pandemic — is likely to grow.

    For followers of ARPN, there’s certainly no need for us to draw you a map when it comes to the following statement. With demand for critical minerals expected to soar in the context of the global pursuit of a low-carbon energy future, this is a welcome additional asset – a field guide for a comprehensive “all of the above” strategy to address our deep critical mineral shortfalls.

    All the same, it’s great to have a global guide to potential deposits of the minerals and metals shaping the Tech Metals Age.

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  • USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries: Mineral Resource Dependencies Continue in 2020

    2020 may go down in history as the year in which our world changed drastically, but one thing remained largely steady, according to the latest USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, one of our favorite reports which is hot off the press: Our nation’s mineral resource dependencies. However, as followers of ARPN will know, that is hardly a good thing, as our degree of import reliance for critical minerals in recent years has consistently been too high for comfort.

    A look at the chart depicting U.S. Net Import Reliance — or the “Blue Wall of Dependency,” as we have dubbed it based o the many blue bars showing 100% import dependence, reveals that we are still 100% import dependent for 17 of the metals and minerals included in the USGS report, unchanged from the previous year. However, the number marks a stark contrast to our import reliance for metals and minerals in 1984, when we were 100% import reliant for just 11 commodities.

    The number of metals and minerals for which we are 50% or more than 50% import dependent is unchanged over last year — the report pegs it at 47.

    Of note, while we had seen a drop in dependency for foreign supply of lithium (down to >25%) last year, that number has gone up again to >50%. This is particularly relevant as lithium is one of the key components of green energy technology, the importance of which is only set to grow under the new Biden Administration.

    China continues to be the elephant in the data room, and is listed 24 times as one of the major import sources of metals and minerals for which our net import reliance is 50% or greater. That is down by one, however that change is owed only to the fact that garnet has slightly dropped in import reliance (to 48%, and not to a diversification of sources away from China.

    This may change going forward, as 2020 has underscored the urgency of strengthening our domestic supply chains, and has yielded some important progress with regards to policies aimed at reducing our over-reliance on foreign, and especially Chinese metals and minerals. Executive Order 13953 declaring a critical minerals national security emergency, several key provisions of which were later codified in the Energy Act of 2020, as well as parts of the National Defense Authorization Act come to mind here.

    However, meaningful change takes time, and whether we will see significant changes in the numbers on our favorite chart going forward, will depend largely on the extent to which stakeholders will act on these provisions and implement policies that bring us closer to an all-of-the-above approach on critical minerals.

    Click here to read this year’s Mineral Commodity Summaries.

    For previous iterations, click here.

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  • Event Alert: “Critical Minerals Forum 2021” – A February Webinar Series on Critical Mineral Research

    It’s 2021, and the wild ride 2020 has taken us on continues. There were quite a few developments in the critical minerals realm over the past few months (for a recap see our two summary posts here and here, but if you thought things were about to slow down, you might be wrong. While emphases [...]
  • U.S. Over-Reliance on Critical Minerals — Are the Chickens Coming Home to Roost?

    The current coronavirus pandemic has shed a light on an inconvenient truth. We have become over-reliant on foreign (and especially Chinese) raw materials. As we previously outlined, “PPE has become the poster child, but whether it’s smart phone technology, solar panels, electric vehicles, or fighter jets — critical minerals are integrated into all aspects of [...]
  • New USGS Methodology Identifies 23 Mineral Commodities at Greatest Risk to Supply Disruption

    A new risk tool developed by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners identifies 23 metals and minerals relevant to U.S. manufacturing that are at greatest risk to supply disruption. The methodology, entitled “Evaluating the Mineral Commodity Supply Risk of the U.S. Manufacturing Sector” and published in Science Advances was developed to help meet the [...]
  • 2020 Mineral Commodity Summaries:  Domestic Mineral Resource Production Increases While Foreign Dependencies Continue

    Last week, USGS released its 43rd Mineral Commodity Summaries – a comprehensive snapshot of global mineral production which gives us a window into where we stand as a nation in terms of mineral resource security.   Perhaps most instructive from an ARPN perspective is the chart depicting U.S. Net Import Reliance — previously casually referred to as [...]
  • U.S. and Australia Formalize Critical Minerals Partnership

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has signed a project agreement with its Australian counterpart, GeoScience Australia, to jointly develop a “better understanding of both countries’ critical mineral reserves.”  The agreement is the result of ongoing agency-level talks between the United States and Australia and the recent announcement of a forthcoming formal roll out of an “action [...]
  • Release of USGS’s 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries Once More Underscores Need for Resource Policy Reform

    The partial shutdown of the federal government at the beginning of this year had delayed its release, but last week, USGS published its 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries. Followers of ARPN will know that we await the publication’s release with somewhat bated breath every year, as especially “Page 6” – the chart depicting U.S. Net Import [...]
  • McGroarty Warns of Real World Problem for 21st Century American Warrior

    In a new commentary for Investor’s Business Daily, ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty warns of “America’s unilateral disarmament in the resource wars.”  Invoking the world of Marvel comics, in which Vibranium is the imaginary metal used for Captain America’s shield, IronMan’s exoskeleton, and Black Panther’s energy-absorbing suit, McGroarty argues that the 21st Century American warrior (perhaps [...]
  • Metals in the Spotlight – Aluminum and the Intersection between Resource Policy and Trade

    While specialty and tech metals like the Rare Earths and Lithium continue to dominate the news cycles, there is a mainstay metal that has – for good reason – been making headlines as well: Aluminum.  Bloomberg recently even argued that “Aluminum Is the Market to Watch Closely in 2019.”  Included in the 2018 list of 35 [...]

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