Earlier this month, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argued that while the current focus on ending the dangerous dependence on critical medicines needed to combat COVID-19 is more than warranted, Congress and the administration “may want to broaden their focus from critical medicines to critical minerals.”
In a new piece published in the Duluth News Tribune, Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, echoes this sentiment.
Arguing that “[t]he coronavirus pandemic has revealed that globalized supply chains cause more risk than Wall Street has led us to believe,” Stumo says that developing its own mineral and metal supply chains “through smart, safe environmental practices, (…) could limit Beijing’s strategic dominance, particularly when China’s practices include forced labor and a disregard for environmental standards.”
This is all the more important, he argues, as Beijing sees the current coronavirus pandemic as a golden opportunity. He writes:
“Party officials in China are already looking to turn crisis into opportunity. Horizon Advisory reports that Beijing hopes the pandemic can ‘reverse any progress that the U.S. has made in countering China’s co-option of global industry.’”
As ARPN’s McGroarty argues:
“It would be one thing if the U.S. had no geological presence of these metals and minerals, and was consigned to be an importer from supplier nations. But the U.S. is resource rich, geologically blessed with known resources of at least 32 of the 35 critical minerals [on the U.S. Government Critical Minerals List], with deposits of heavy rare earths in Texas, graphite in Alaska, manganese in Arizona – not to mention innovative methods to recycle and recover critical minerals from spent EV batteries, rhenium for jet fighter engines from copper waste in Utah, and all manner of critical minerals from coal waste in Pennsylvania that’s never been considered as a potential supply source.
As these examples suggest, American innovation is ready to ‘work the problem’ of critical minerals supply. What remains is for American political leadership to make U.S. production a priority, and align public policy with a pressing national need. With the coronavirus reaching pandemic proportions, America’s political leaders are right to focus on the dangers of reliance on a Chinese supply chain for critical medicines. But the danger is no less real when it comes to reliance on Chinese supply of the critical minerals that power our 21st century tech economy – along with every advanced weapons platform in the American arsenal.”