American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Happy Birthday, Air Force – Ready For The Next Seventy Years?

    As the Air Force celebrates its 70th birthday this week, now is not only the time to commend this branch of our military for its dedication to defending America and safeguarding our freedoms. It is also an opportune time to evaluate the state of the Force and look ahead.

    Doing just that at the Annual Air and Space Conference in Washington, DC, earlier this week, Air Force Secretary Heather A. Wilson outlined recent accomplishments, while “detailing changes designed to drive the Air Force forward and priorities that include restoring readiness and cost-effectively modernizing the force.” 

    Stressing the importance of personnel and training, Wilson emphasized that cost-effectively modernizing to increase the “lethality of the force” was a key priority:

    “The average age of our aircraft is 28 years old. We have to be able to evolve faster, to respond faster than our potential adversaries. We’ve got a bow wave of modernization coming across the board for the Air Force over the next 10 years — it’s bombers, it’s fighters, it’s tankers, it’s satellites, it’s helicopters and it’s our nuclear deterrent.”

    She further added that to modernize, it was incumbent on the force to get “acquisition right – being a good buyer for what warfighters need,” and stressed the importance of research and development. 

    Against the backdrop of growing external threats – Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are just the most recent examples of flash points – Wilson’s remarks tie into the overall context of increasing the U.S. military’s defensive readiness.  

    However, as Dan McGroarty recently stressed in a commentary for Investor’s Business Daily, the issue runs deeper than making sound acquisition decisions or focusing on “scenarios in which ‘there is only one U.S. company that can repair’ certain equipment. – Our metals and minerals dependency on foreign sources of supply is great and growing.” 

    A recent Presidential Executive Order requiring cabinet department heads to report to the President policy recommendations for strengthening the U.S. industrial base is a welcome development in this area, particularly as it acknowledges “all the interconnections between a strong manufacturing base, a strong industrial base, a strong workforce … that strengthen our tax base which … allows us to buy the material and weapons.”

    As McGroarty points out, this is “[a] fine and expansive statement, to which we should make a one-word amendment: Instead of buying the strategic materials used in U.S. weapons platforms, whenever we can, we should be mining that material here at home. And that requires reversing the slide that has seen the U.S.’s share of global mining exploration investment in steady decline the past two decades, even as the length of the federal permitting process has doubled.”

    Devising a comprehensive mineral resource strategy, components of which McGroarty outlines in his commentary, will be a critical step to increase not just the Air Force’s, but all other branches’ readiness to – in the words of Wilson“lead and support the Joint Force in defending our Homeland, owning the high ground and projecting power with our allies.”

  • Graphene-fed Spiders and Our Web of Resource Dependencies 

    A material long hailed as being on the cutting edge of materials science, Graphene is making headlines again. And, fitting for fall and people gearing up for Halloween, it involves everyone’s favorite creepy crawlies – arachnids. 
    Researchers at the University of Trento in Italy have found that spiders fed with graphene and carbon nanotubes, which had been added to their drinking water, produced silk that was five times stronger, making the webs they built as strong as carbon fibers and Kevlar, which are considered the strongest materials on Earth, according to a recent article in Futurism.   

    The unique properties and versatility of Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, prompted the European Commission to designate the material an FET – a “Future & Emerging Technologies” Flagship, dedicating a 10-year, 1 billion Euro research and innovation initiative to Graphene.  

    The Italian researchers’ discovery is another case in point of how Materials Science is finding new uses for materials, thus shifting the paradigms of resource supply and demand. 

    Graphite, from which Graphene is derived is also a key material we will need for next-gen energy storage systems. Meanwhile, the U.S. currently produces zero Graphite, with the last American Graphite mine having closed 25 years ago. Once again, the U.S. finds itself 100% import dependent, relying to a great extent on Chinese supplies of Graphite to meet domestic needs. 

    We may not be trapped in webs built by Graphene-doped spiders anytime soon, but the possibilities of harnessing the potential of this discovery seem endless. We are, however, already entangled in a web of foreign mineral resource dependencies, which represent a “clear and present danger” for the U.S., as ARPN’s Dan McGroarty recently outlined in his commentary for Investor’s Business Daily.  It’s time our policy makers took note. 

  • New Report Zeroes in on Geopolitics of Renewable Energy 

    While the geopolitics of fossil fuels are well established, we at ARPN have long lamented the lack of awareness regarding the geopolitical implications of non-fuel mineral resource supply and demand. For that reason, we were very pleased to see a recently released study co-authored by Meghan L. O’Sullivan of Harvard University’s Kennedy School, Indra Overland [...]
  • China Jockeys for Pole Position in EV Industry

    ARPN followers know it’s the elephant in the room. China. Already vast and resource-rich, the country has demonstrated an insatiable appetite for the world’s mineral resources and has pursued an aggressive strategy to gain access to the materials needed to meet the world’s largest population’s resource needs. Thus, it comes as no surprise that China [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty for Investor’s Business Daily: U.S. Mineral Resource Dependence a “Clear and Present Danger”

    Against the backdrop of growing threats to U.S. security – recent flash points involve Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea – a new Presidential Executive Order “On Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States,” zeroes in on defense readiness. The E.O. requires heads from various [...]
  • Lithium – A Case In Point for Mining Policy Reform

    In a recent op-ed for the Reno Gazette Journal, professor emeritus of mining engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, Jaak Daemen makes the case for comprehensive mining policy reform.   Citing the arrival of electric vehicles in which “battery technology is catching up with the hype,” he cautions that benefits benefits associated with the [...]
  • Why Cobalt Should be High on Your Radar

    In a recent article, the Financial Times zeroes in on one of the metals followers of ARPN will know is becoming increasingly indispensable to 21st Century clean energy technology: Cobalt.  Once an obscure metal you rarely heard about, this co-product of Nickel and Copper is increasingly afforded “critical mineral status” – primarily because of its [...]
  • Geopolitical Movements in Resource-Rich Arctic Begin to Draw Attention

    Recent developments in a geographic region ARPN followers have come to know as one of the sites of looming battles and territorial disputes in the resource war theater – the Arctic – are drawing the attention of domestic military commanders. Speaking at a recent event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in [...]
  • AEMA Website Gets Fresh Look

    Our friends at the American Exploration and Mining Association (AEMA), headed up by Laura Skaer, have overhauled their website.  The “122-year old, 2,000 member, national association representing the minerals industry” and the “entire mining life cycle” shares news about its mission and advocacy efforts, and provides information about annual meetings as well as facts about [...]
  • Critical Materials Institute Meets “Stretch Goal” to Produce REE Magnet Domestically

    Meeting one of its “stretch goal[s] to demonstrate that rare-earth magnets could be produced from mine to manufacturer, here in the United States,” the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub, has announced that the has fabricated magnets made entirely of domestically sourced and refined REEs.  This success was achieved in [...]