American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • McGroarty: Tech Wars Heat Up – Administration Invokes Defense Production Act to Spur Domestic REE Development

    ARPN’s Dan McGroarty discusses President Trump’s decision to invoke the Defense Production Act to spur domestic REE development for The Economic Standard:

    The Tech Wars Heat Up: U.S. Makes National Security Declarations to Spur Rare Earths Development

    Forget the trade war – the tech war is heating up.  After weeks of Chinese threats that it could cut off U.S. access to the essential technology materials known as rare earths, the Trump Administration today took a counter-action of its own.

    Jennifer Dlouhy has the story at Bloomberg News:  “Trump invoked the 69-year-old Defense Production Act — once used to preserve American steelmaking capacity — to remedy what he called ‘a shortfall’ in production of the super-strong magnets made with rare-earth minerals neodymium and samarium.”  In fact, the White House published five separate Title III declarations, carefully identifying each category of rare earths plus the powerful permanent magnets — and the smart bombs and precision-guided munitions — they make possible.

    The Defense Production Act dates to the early months after North Korea’s invasion of South Korea in 1950.  Title III of the act requires the specific finding made today by the president:

    “domestic production capability for separation and processing of Heavy Rare Earth Elements is essential to the national defense.

    Without Presidential action…, United States industry cannot reasonably be expected to provide the production capability for separation and processing of Heavy Rare Earth Elements adequately and in a timely manner.”

    How will China respond to the new U.S. action?  And how quickly can the U.S. close the rare earths gap — with production today at zero, even as known U.S. rare earth resources exist — before China loses its leverage over materials the U.S. Government has deemed critical to “the national economy and national security?”

  • China’s Grand Strategy to Exploit United States’ “Soft Underbelly” Goes Beyond Rare Earths

    Much is being made of China’s recent threats to cut off Rare Earth exports to the United States, and the issue has – finally – helped bring the issue of mineral resource policy reform to the forefront. 

    However, as Ian Easton, research fellow at the Project 2049 Institute and author of The Chinese Invasion Threat, writes in a new piece for The National Interest, “[t]he game is far bigger and the stakes higher than even many national-security experts seem to realize.” 

    Easton argues:

    “Beijing’s monopolization of the global rare earths industry gives it far more than a card to play in an escalating trade war. (…)

    In the minds of Chinese strategists, this issue is ultimately about which nation, China or America, wins the central struggle of the twenty-first century, the race for world leadership. Obviously, they intend to win and to win big.”

    He references official Chinese propaganda which underscores the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) position that REEs are “‘strategic resources’ for the ‘six new technology groups’ that Beijing sees as engines of China’s future strength,” and points to a 2015 publication by the Chinese military to underscore that China has “long viewed rare earths as a domain of strategic competition.

    In fact, as ARPN’s principal Dan McGroarty pointed out as early as 2010, Chinese high regard for REEs and their potential dates back as far as almost 30 years ago, when former Prime Minister Deng Xiaoping reportedly said:
    “There is oil in the Middle East. There are rare earths in China. We must take full advantage of this resource.” 
    The 2015 Chinese military publication Easton cites darkly stated:  “Now the struggle between nations for these strategic resources is becoming increasingly fierce. So we must . . . strengthen our protection and control over these strategic mining resources.”
    In his article, which is well-worth a read in its entirety, Easton outlines how “China’s authoritarian leaders have successfully executed a series of centralized plans to lock up the global rare earths market.”

    Easton argues that is has been a combination of China’s ability to leverage “predatory economic policies” that exploit the openness of the international system, and a “great wall of protectionism” that has helped the country gain the upper hand on the Rare Earths front. 

    The results, as followers of ARPN well know, have been “jaw-dropping,” – a near-total supply monopoly, and, as a fresh look at recent patent filings shows, an increasing monopoly on the know-how and processing methodologies. As James Kennedy, president of a St. Louis, Missouri-based consultancy found, China had filed for 25,911 patents on all the rare earth elements, as of October 2018, which is “far ahead of 9,810 by the US, 13,920 by Japan and 7,280 by the European Union since 1950 when the first US filing was made.” 

    Easton argues that China is ready to leverage the same basic strategy it has successfully implemented in the REE field “across all the drivers of future military, technological, and economic growth, from pharmaceuticals to aviation and artificial intelligence to 5G communications.”

    Easton’s bottomline should be a wake up call for U.S. policy makers:

    “With minerals, China has found a soft underbelly to exploit. (…)

    It is imperative for the continued security and prosperity of the United States that Washington wakes up to China’s strategic successes (and its own policy shortcomings) and begins to act accordingly.

    So far, little has been done to ensure America is able to supply its own rare earth mineral needs. This leaves the nation, and especially the military, in a precarious situation. The Chinese government views the United States as an enemy and has demonstrated that it will go to great lengths to undermine American national-security interests. So, too, should American leaders be willing to take all necessary measures to break free of Beijing’s iron grip. Prioritizing American rare earths mining and encouraging domestic investment, production, and stockpiling is the place to start.”

  • Critical Mineral Uranium: No Import Quotas, But “Significant Concerns” Prompt Fuller Analysis of Nuclear Fuel Supply Chain

    Primarily known for its energy applications, (and thus falling under the purview of the Department of Energy) uranium may have not been much of a focal point for ARPN in the past.   However, the policy issues surrounding uranium – many of which have a familiar ring to followers of ARPN – increasingly warrant a [...]
  • Moving Beyond the Report Stage? – Specter of REE Supply Disruptions Prompts Congressional Action on Critical Minerals

    The U.S. and China have resumed trade talks after last month’s meeting between U.S. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka broke a deadlock — but key issues remain far from settled. Against the backdrop of both sides preparing for a protracted battle, Jeff Green, president [...]
  • Mamula and Bridges: Hardrock “Modernization” Bills Could Do More Harm Than Good

    “Does America stand for self-reliance and innovative discovery of critical minerals for our economy and national defense and security? Or will Congress drive the fatal stake through the heart of our struggling domestic metals mining industry?” According to a new Washington Examiner piece by Cato Institute Adjunct Scholar in Geosciences and ARPN expert panel member [...]
  • Measuring Criticality in Today’s Interconnected World

    Against the backdrop of the current U.S.-Chinese tensions over Rare Earth Elements and the “global battery arms race,” Morgan D. Bazilian, Professor of Public Policy and Executive Director of the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines, argues that the United States must “widen its consideration of critical materials past a limited understanding of security in [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty: Trade War Between U.S. And China One Front in Larger Tech War for Dominance of 21st Century Technology Age

    “The specter of using rare earths as an economic weapon makes clear that the current trade war between the U.S. and China is in fact one front in a larger tech war – a competition to see which country will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age,” says ARPN principal Dan McGroarty in a new piece [...]
  • Global Times: REE Supply Restrictions Likely for U.S. Military Equipment Firms

    The specter of China playing the “rare earths card” is looming larger this week.   According to the Global Times’s twitter feed, U.S. military equipment firms will likely face restrictions of Chinese Rare Earth supplies in the near future, as China’s economic planners will “study and roll out policies on rare earths as soon as possible.”     [...]
  • CBS’s 60 Minutes Airs Updated Rare Earths Segment Featuring ARPN’s McGroarty

    Bearing testimony to the significance of the looming specter of China playing the “rare earths card,” CBS’s 60 Minutes this weekend aired an update to its 2015 segment on rare earths featuring ARPN principal Dan McGroarty.  You can watch the segment on the CBS website, which also features a written transcript. There is hope that the [...]
  • Commerce Department Releases Long-Awaited Interagency Report on Critical Minerals

    On Tuesday, June 4, the U.S. Department of Commerce released the “interagency report that was submitted to the President pursuant to Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.”  The report, which, according to the agency’s official announcement, “contains a government-wide action plan, including recommendations to advance research and development [...]