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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Happy 4th of July! The Road to Resource Independence

    Another trip around the sun, and once again we find ourselves stocking up for barbecues, fireworks and parades in honor of the men and women who have fought on our behalf, and continue our safeguard our freedom today.

    We’ve always used the occasion of Independence Day to remind ourselves that “while we cherish the freedom we are blessed with in so many ways, we must not become complacent, as there are areas where we’re increasingly becoming less independent” – with our reliance on foreign mineral resources being a case in point.

    For decades, our reliance on foreign non-fuel mineral resources has significantly increased  both in terms of type and percentage of import reliance.  This year’s USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries showed no drastic change — the number of metals and minerals for which we are 100% import-dependent may have dropped slightly (from 21 to 18), but a closer look into the footnotes reveals that this is largely owed to a lack of hard data for at least two of the metals dropping out of the 100% import dependence category. 

    The number of metals and minerals for which we are 50% or more than 50% import-dependent is still at 49, down one from 50 – but with the above-referenced caveat of lacking data for two materials – so it may in fact be higher than last year.

    Thankfully, there are indications that the tide is turning. 

    A year ago today, already, our Independence Day eve post struck a more optimistic tune than previous ones, arguing that the momentum for meaningful resource policy reform that might bring us closer towards greater resource independence has been growing.  This trend has continued, as followers of ARPN know.

    Against the backdrop of Chinese-U.S. tensions over REEs and underlying tech war and the global battery arms race, the level of awareness of the challenges associated with our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals is perhaps higher than ever, which is great news.  However, so are the stakes, especially for the United States.

    As we mark this year’s Independence Day, here’s hoping that momentum will be turned into action and policy makers heed Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s acting manager Simon Moores’s warning that “[t]here is no doubt that if the US acts now and invests wisely in partnerships, it can catch up, (…) [b]ut it really needs to act now.” 

  • 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 a deeply interconnected world.”

    In a post for Scientific American, Bazilian retraces trends and events in the critical minerals sphere and points to the shortcomings of methodologies applied to date to measure criticality of metals and minerals. Writes Bazilian:

    “But how do we measure security or criticality in a meaningful way? The methodology used in the U.S. list essentially boils down to if it is deemed “essential” and if it is estimated to have a supply chain risk. Neither of those hurdles is precise, so proxies are used. That is typical in security assessments of all kinds.”

    Comparing various approaches used around the world and drawing from examples from the energy sector, he concludes:

    “The future will likely bring more globally interdependent markets and systems. As a result, it is useful to further encourage new quantitative and qualitative approaches to the issues of security and criticality—in both minerals and energy. Additionally, some of the tools developed during the early oil shocks, such as the development of the International Energy Agency, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and sending the Navy’s Fifth Fleet to protect key supply choke points (such as the Strait of Hormuz), are now being considered to protect access to critical materials.

    Finally, policy must take into consideration issues across the supply chain from raw materials through final manufacturing in an interconnected world. A narrow focus on domestic ‘dominance’ will not be sufficient, nor useful in addressing mineral criticality. The lessons from the energy sector are attractive as an analogy—a thoughtful application in a very different sector is required.”

    One should note that the piece was written before the release of the Commerce Department’s Critical Minerals Strategy in early June, which itself has made recommendations on how to improve assessments, such as to make supply chain networks more robust “so that domestically produced critical minerals can support our Nation’s economic security and national defense.”

    For example, the strategy calls for an “an interagency methodology to periodically assess market trends and competitiveness of the U.S. critical mineral industry and its downstream supply chains in order to recommend policies and strategies such as government investment in R&D, capacity expansion, stockpiling, and trade actions.”

    That not withstanding, Bazilian’s points of how to measure criticality – and particularly his emphasis on factoring in the degrees of interconnectivity in today’s globalized world remain valid – and provide some important food for thought as the debate over critical mineral resource security continues to heat up. 

  • 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 (…) more

  • Podcast: ARPN’s Dan McGroarty Discusses U.S.-Chinese Trade Tensions Over REEs

    As the world looks towards Osaka, Japan, where world leaders will gather for the 2019 G20 Summit and Ministerial meetings later this week, former Missouri Speaker of the House Tim Jones discusses the current trade conflict between the United States and China and the implications of the looming supply disruptions for U.S. domestic industries as (…) more

  • U.S. to Cooperate with Canada and Australia To Encourage Responsible Resource Development for New Energy Technology

    Amidst growing concerns over the availability of metals and minerals underpinning the EV revolution, the United States, Canada and Australia have joined forces to encourage the responsible development of said materials. As the Financial Times reported earlier last week, the US state department and its Canadian and Australian counterparts “will work to help countries discover and (…) more

  • 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.”     (…) more

  • Resource Alert:  North of 60 Mining News Has Launched “Critical Minerals Alaska” Magazine and Dedicated Webpage

    Over the past few weeks, China’s threat to play the “rare earths card” has generated quite a buzz and, along with growing concerns over supply chains for battery tech, has directed much-needed attention to our nation’s over-reliance on foreign mineral resources.  As followers of ARPN know, many of these issues are in fact home-grown, as the United (…) more

  • Tesla May Get Into Mining Business, Says Elon Musk, A Visionary Rooted in the Reality of Resources

    If you looked up the definition of “visionary entrepreneur” in the dictionary, chances are you’d stumble over Elon Musk’s name.  Perhaps like no other CEO today, Tesla’s innovator-in-chief has had his finger on the pulse of time, and has arguably “revolutionized many industries.” And while he continues his “mission is to help save Earth for humanity through sustainable (…) more

  • 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 (…) more

  • 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 (…) more

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