Leading up to last Friday’s second Alaska Strategic and Critical Minerals Summit in Fairbanks, the Juneau Empire spoke with our very own Dan McGroarty, who had the honor to present alongside many distinguished members of Alaska’s State government and private sector representatives.
The Juneau Empire’s Russell Stigall has summarized their conversation in an article highlighting McGroarty’s emphasis on Alaska being the “single most important state when measured across the full range of hard rock metals,” and the state’s vast mineral potential. McGroarty also explained what constitutes a critical and strategic mineral – a definitional void that has proven problematic in the case of the U.S. government, where a cacophony of definitional approaches has gotten in the way of policy makers formulating a critical and strategic mineral strategy:
“A strategic mineral is used in advanced weapon system that does not have a second best metal to do the job — such as certain metals used in the making of smart bombs, McGroarty said.
Minerals are considered critical if there is a near-term, present or projected shortfall in the metal, McGroarty said. This can come from the geographic location of the mineral deposit or the fluctuations of the economy, he said. But minerals can become critical also if the U.S. is not comfortable sourcing, say, gold, tin or tungsten in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“If we shut those off successfully from our U.S. manufactures and users we may have created a critical metal out of tungsten,” McGroarty said.”
Unlike many in U.S. government, Alaska’s Parnell Administration understands the stakes, and has taken the lead in formulating a critical minerals strategy at the state level. Hopefully, last week’s conference has served to raise awareness of our critical mineral needs and domestic resource potential nationally – our strategic, national security and economic future depends on it.