-->
American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Mineral Resource Policy Reform Through the Prism of Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure

    In the past few months, we have seen indications for a growing awareness of the need for mineral resource policy reform. Much emphasis has —rightfully — been placed on the national security aspects of our over-reliance on foreign mineral resources, as well as the nascent realization that the pursuit of the green energy transition is not feasible without critical minerals.

    In a recent piece for the Rockland County Times, Tom Madison, executive director of the Cornell Program in Infrastructure Policy zeroes in on the issue from another angle. He writes:

    “Mining may not always be front of mind when thinking about roadways and water systems, but addressing our infrastructure challenges simply cannot be accomplished without an efficient, responsive U.S. mining industry. The minerals and metals necessary to improve our vast array of infrastructure is truly dizzying: Millions of tons of steel to reinforce highways and erect towering bridges, silver to support aging water treatment systems, copper to conduct power across a vast web of transmission lines, and molybdenum to strengthen and enhance structural alloys. Minerals, metals, aggregates, and other resources from American mines are the essential ingredients that comprise and support the construction supplies and methods that build and maintain our infrastructure.”

    While not new — ARPN’s Dan McGroarty explored the issue in a 2017 piece for Investor’s Business Daily explaining that “there’s more to the infrastructure story than cement trucks and Jersey Barriers” — it is an angle that should not be forgotten in the current discourse.

    Striking a theme familiar to followers of ARPN, the comparison with fellow mining nations Canada and Australia, Madison argues that permitting reform for mining projects should be high on Congress’s priority list:

    “Securing a new mining permit in Canada and Australia—nations with environmental safeguards comparable to our own—takes just two to three years. The U.S. average is seven years or more. It’s no wonder that, despite America’s incredible $6.2 trillion in mineral reserves, mining investment is fleeing to other nations. In 1990, 20 percent of all global mining investment flowed into the U.S. Today, it’s only 8 percent. (…)

    Addressing America’s crumbling infrastructure simply can’t wait any longer. We need fundamental changes to the way we fund, finance, supply, and deliver projects. Including meaningful mine permitting reforms in upcoming infrastructure legislation will be enormously beneficial.”

    And while national security and renewable energy are known to invite partisan bickering, the understanding that there is an urgent need to tackle infrastructure reform transcends party lines – or, as Dan McGroarty phrased it, “[i]n a time of when partisan rancor has reached record levels, infrastructure stands alone as a bipartisan refuge — one issue both parties can agree on.”

    As Madison concludes:

    “Let’s leverage this opportunity to self-supply a majority of the raw materials we need to rebuild our infrastructure, stanch the flow of foreign mineral imports, and keep American taxpayer dollars here at home.”

    Share
  • U.S. Senators Introduce Legislation in Push to Re-Establish U.S. Domestic REE Supply Chain

    Bearing testimony to a nascent – and long-overdue – broader awareness of our nation’s over-reliance on foreign mineral resources, three U.S. senators have introduced new legislation aimed to reduce U.S. dependence on Chinese imports of rare earth elements (REEs).

    REEs are key components of a wide range of high-tech products across all walks of life – ranging from consumer electronics over industrial over wind turbines to electric vehicles and guided missiles. Meanwhile, the U.S. is nearly 100 percent import-reliant on REEs, a market almost exclusively cornered by the Chinese.

    ARPN and members of the ARPN panel of experts have long pointed out the dangers of this over-reliance. In the words of Jeff A. Green, “[w] have gifted China robust trade leverage should they chose to use it.” Pointing to a 2010 example of China’s previous politicking with this leverage he continued:

    “China could easily cripple American supply chains and significantly limit our ability to produce advanced radar and weapon systems by limiting or disrupting the supply of any one of these minerals. Allowing a non-allied foreign nation to control such a broad swathe of critical minerals is a significant security threat to the U.S. and its warfighters.”

    Introduced by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the “Rare Earth Element Advanced Coal Technologies Act (REEACT),”seeks to change that. It aims to provide federal funds for projects — run under the auspices of the Department of Energy — to develop domestic technology for REE extraction from coal and coal byproducts in order to re-establish a U.S. domestic supply chain.

    According to the press release issued by Sen. Murkowski’s office, “[t]he National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) began studying the potential of extracting rare earth elements from coal and coal byproducts in 2010, and expanded its REE research efforts in 2014. In 2016, NETL’s Rare Earth Elements (REE) from Coal and Coal Byproducts RD&D Program awarded two grants to West Virginia University for researchers to evaluate the potential use of REEs from coal byproducts in the region. In July 2018, West Virginia University, in collaboration with NETL, opened a pilot scale rare earth extraction facility to continue its research towards commercialization. REEACT authorizes an annual appropriation of $23,000,000 per year to the Department of Energy through 2027.”

    Says Sen. Capito:

    “Rare earth elements are essential to our economy and national security, but the United States is currently dependent on foreign suppliers—particularly China—for this valuable resource. “As it turns out, rare earth elements can be extracted from coal and its byproducts, including fly ash and acid mine drainage, and extracting these materials provides a financial incentive for cleaning up legacy mine sites. This legislation would help support the research and development of these technologies, a win-win-win for Appalachia’s economy, the environment, and our national defense.”

    The bill ties into the broader effort to strengthen the United States’ mineral and economic security, in the context of which Sen. Murkowski is expected to “introduce standalone legislation aimed at streamlining the permitting process for lithium and other mines, bolstering state and federal studies of domestic supplies of critical minerals and encouraging mineral recycling, among other topics,” according to government sources.

    Of course, ARPN will be keeping tabs on all these efforts, so check back for updates in the coming weeks and months.

    Share
  • U.S. To Pursue National Electric Vehicle Supply Chain

    ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores must have struck a nerve when he called the U.S. a “bystander” in the current battery arms race during a recent Congressional hearing. His message  —  “Those who control these critical raw materials and those who possess the manufacturing and processing know how, will [...]
  • Paging the Department of Commerce – Australia Releases “Critical Minerals Strategy 2019”

    Last week, the Australian Federal Government released its “Critical Minerals Strategy 2019” – a blueprint aimed at positioning “Australia as a leading global supplier of the minerals that will underpin the industries of the future” – which according to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Sciences’s press release, includes the agritech, aerospace, defence, renewable energy and telecommunications industries. [...]
  • ARPN Expert Panel Member: Congress Must Resume Push Towards Greater Independence from Foreign Sources of Oil and Key Minerals

    “Electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids are the future, but getting past our current reliance on internal combustion engines will require secure, domestic sources for a plethora of important minerals, such as rare earth metals,” writes Major General Robert H. Latiff, a retired Air Force general with a background in materials science and manufacturing technology — and [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Section 232 Tariffs on Aluminum and Steel on the Way Out?

    News headlines these days are full of doom and gloom. As the Guardian writes, “whether or not the world really is getting worse, the nature of news will interact with the nature of cognition to make us think that it is.” Against this backdrop, it’s nice to see a little – albeit cautious – optimism [...]
  • Critical Minerals Alaska – A Look at Germanium

    In the twelfth and final installment of his “Critical Minerals Alaska” series for North of 60 Mining News, Shane Lasley takes a look at Germanium – a lesser known yet vital ingredient in fiber optic cables and high-efficiency solar cells.  Followers of ARPN may remember Germanium as one of the key co-products for the gateway [...]
  • “Something Does not Come from Nothing” – Formulation of Mineral Resource Strategy Should be a Precursor to Green Energy Debate

    “Something does not come from nothing. That fact can be easily forgotten when it comes to seemingly abstract concepts like ‘energy,’” writes Angela Chen in a new piece for technology news and media network The Verge. Chen zeroes in on four key metals and minerals that have become indispensable components of green energy technology – Neodymium, [...]
  • 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 [...]

Archives