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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Panelists at U.S. House Hearing Stress Dangers of America’s Growing Resource Dependence

    During yesterday’s oversight hearing on the subject of “Examining Consequences of America’s Growing Dependence on Foreign Minerals,” before the House Natural Resources Committee, panelists raised some of the key issues we have consistently highlighted on our blog.

    Panelists included:

    • Mr. Ronnie Favors, Administrator, U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, Strategic Materials, U.S. Department of Defense
    • Dr. Murray Hitzman, Associate Director for Energy and Minerals, United States Geological Survey
    • Dr. Richard Silberglitt, Senior Physical Scientist, Rand Corporation
    • Ms. Katie Sweeney, Senior VP, Legal Affairs and General Counsel, National Mining Association
    • and Ms. Carlotta Tilousi, Council Member, Havasupai Tribe, Sepia, Arizona

    Full written testimony along with the video of the hearing are available on the committee website, but we wanted to highlight some of the points raised by one of the panelists, Dr. Silberglitt.

    Invoking the example of Tungsten, and the findings of a “RAND Corporation Study entitled Critical Materials: Present Danger to U.S. Manufacturing,” Dr. Silberglitt argued that

    “Dependence on imports is not necessarily a problem, as long as manufacturers have access to a global supply chain with fair market prices. Concerns arise when supply chains are dominated by countries that have weak governance or exercise control over their materials production sector. In such cases, U.S. manufacturers are vulnerable to export restrictions that limit their access. This can result in lower prices for manufacturers in the producing country, thereby hindering the international competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and creating pressure to move manufacturing away from the United States and into the producing country.”

    The elephant in the room, according to Silberglitt, is – you probably guessed it – China, which as ARPN followers know is the biggest producer of global supplies for many metals and minerals we are dependent on — and is no stranger to export restrictions and other market distortion tools.

    According to Silberglitt,

    “Actions to increase resiliency can take two different forms: those that encourage diversified production and processing of critical materials and those that involve the development of alternative sources, such as secondary production or alternative inputs to manufacturing.”  

    Silberglitt said progress was being made in the former, but maintained that “the uncertainty created by a highly concentrated market is a barrier that must be overcome by actions at the local, national, regional and global levels to create a favorable and sustainable climate for the investments and time needed to bring diversified supplies into place.”

    Later in the hearing, the National Mining Association’s Katie Sweeney made the case for a merit-based review of federal land withdrawals, and stressed the issue of an onerous and duplicative permitting system hampering the United States’ ability to compete with jurisdictions like Canada and Australia – both of whom have equally high social and environmental standards when it comes to mining yet offer a significantly more streamlined permitting structure.

    Towards the end of the Q&A, Chairman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) entered into the record a study recently authored by the latest member of the ARPN expert panel – Dr. Ned Mamula’s “Strategic Minerals: The Embarrassment of Riches.” Most panelists agreed with the thrust of his report that the United States, which has vast mineral resources beneath our own soil, could and should do more to harness this potential.

    With a Senate hearing on the permitting processes at the Department of the Interior and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for energy and resource infrastructure projects also held yesterday, this week is a good week for mineral resource policy awareness on Capitol Hill. Here’s hoping policy makers mull over what they heard during the holidays and begin tackling the issues at hand in the new year.

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  • House Committee to Hold Hearing on Growing Resource Dependence on Tuesday

    On Tuesday of this week, the U.S. House Committee on Mineral Resources will be holding an oversight hearing on “Examining Consequences of America’s Growing Dependence on Foreign Minerals.”

    Witnesses at the hearing, which will begin at 2pm EST, include:

    Mr. Ronnie Favors, Administrator, U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, Strategic Materials, U.S. Department of Defense
    Dr. Murray Hitzman, Associate Director for Energy and Minerals, United States Geological Survey
    Dr. Richard Silberglitt, Senior Physical Scientist, Rand Corporation
    Ms. Katie Sweeney, Senior VP, Legal Affairs and General Counsel, National Mining Association
    and Ms. Carlotta Tilousi, Council Member, Havasupai Tribe, Sepia, Arizona

    At a time when many companies are facing increasingly tough realities – one need to look no further than the auto industry’s recent pledge to uphold ethical and socially responsible standards in materials sourcing – the growing realization among policy makers that we are indeed facing serious challenges associated with our increasing over-reliance on foreign mineral resources is a welcome one.

    We will follow the hearing in the hopes that it will provide impetus for efforts to promote a framework conducive to responsibly harnessing the United States’ vast mineral resource potential, and we’ll report back with some excerpts from witness testimony and additional commentary.

    If you’d like to follow the hearing live, a link should be posted on the committee website on Tuesday.

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  • “Materials Science Profiles of Progress” – REE Extraction From Coal

    In the fairy tale realm, Rumpelstilskin was able to turn straw into gold. Meanwhile, in the real world, as part of our feature series “Materials Science Profiles of Progress,” we’re taking a closer look at a recently-announced research partnership that may not be able to turn straw into gold, but promises to extract precious Rare [...]
  • Automakers Pledge to Uphold Ethical and Socially Responsible Standards in Materials Sourcing. Where Will the Metals and Minerals Come From?

    Late last month, international automakers made headlines when pledging “to uphold ethical and socially responsible standards in their purchases of minerals for an expected boom in electric vehicle production.” As Reuters reported, a group of 10 car manufacturers have formed an initiative to “jointly identify and address ethical, environmental, human and labor rights issues in [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: CMI Public-Private Partnership Studies New Ways to Capture Gateway Metals and Critical Co-Products

    As part of our latest feature series “Materials Science Profiles of Progress,” in the context of which we highlight positive steps towards the development of the comprehensive mineral resource strategy our country is so sorely lacking, we’re zeroing in on a promising public private partnership that recently celebrated its first birthday. In October of last [...]
  • The Blessings Of A New World

    The following is a re-post from 2012: Today is American Thanksgiving – a celebration of the blessings afforded by our forefathers as they overcame adversity in a new land, laboring to obtain from the resources around them the necessities of life:  food, shelter, and warmth against winter’s cold. Since that first winter, the bounty of [...]
  • Ned Mamula Joins American Resources Panel of Issue Experts

    We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Ned Mamula, a senior geoscientist with over 30 years of experience in energy and mineral research and resource policy issues, has joined the ARPN Panel of Issue Experts. Currently a scholar with the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, Mr. Mamula has spearheaded resource [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress – Researchers Turn to Bioengineered Bacteria to Recover REEs

    Followers of ARPN are well aware that we have been calling out policy makers and other stakeholders for their inaction when it comes to working towards the development of a coherent, forward-looking and comprehensive mineral resource strategy – and we frequently point to missed opportunities to work towards this goal. While we stand by our [...]
  • Nickel – The “Metal That Brought You Cheap Flights” Now “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution”

    Another week, another great infographic by Visual Capitalist – this time on the “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution” – Nickel. Long an important base metal because of its alloying capabilities, Nickel’s status as a Gateway Metal, yielding access to tech minerals like Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium – all of which are increasingly becoming [...]
  • “Time to Start Digging, America”

    In a recent piece for The Hill, William Murray, federal energy policy manager, and Ned Mamula, associate fellow for the Washington, D.C.-based R Street Institute, lament that while policy makers and stakeholders are increasingly focusing on energy security issues, leaders are failing to pay “the same attention to a national security risk at least as [...]

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