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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • An Early Christmas Present? New Executive Order Calls for National Strategy to Increase Domestic Resource Development

    Only one day after USGS released its new report “Critical Minerals of the United States” – a study which underscores the United States’ over-reliance on foreign minerals – a new executive order directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to publish within 60 days a list of critical minerals to be followed by a report (after another 120 days) outlining:

    (i)    a strategy to reduce the Nation’s reliance on critical minerals;

    (ii)   an assessment of progress toward developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies, and technological alternatives to critical minerals;

    (iii)  options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with our allies and partners;

    (iv)   a plan to improve the topographic, geologic, and geophysical mapping of the United States and make the resulting data and metadata electronically accessible, to the extent permitted by law and subject to appropriate limitations for purposes of privacy and security, to support private sector mineral exploration of critical minerals; and

    (v)    recommendations to streamline permitting and review processes related to developing leases; enhancing access to critical mineral resources; and increasing discovery, production, and domestic refining of critical minerals.

    The order caps off a year in which we have seen several relevant, but, in the grand scheme of things, small positive developments in various mineral resource policy areas, all of which we considered progress. However they still lacked a clear overarching strategic vision. Once implemented, the order could help change that.

    Said ARPN principal Dan McGroarty:

    “The Executive Order is a welcome sign that the U.S. Government is ready to take a strategic approach on the issue of critical metals and minerals, and the dangers of our deep dependency on foreign-sourced supply.

    We’ve had years of studies ringing alarm bells in the night, and [this week’s] USGS report drives home the point:  It is time to establish a list of strategic and critical minerals based on their importance to the national economy and national security – and develop a comprehensive federal action plan to encourage domestic resource production, through mining, recycling and reclamation.”

    The USGS list of 23 critical minerals released earlier this week as part of the agency’s Professional Paper 1802, which effectively updates a 1973 landmark report, contains several materials ARPN has frequently as part of our informational campaign to highlight the importance of “Co-Product Metals and Minerals” –  i.e. materials that are generally not mined as stand-alone metals but are mostly “unlocked” in the refining process of their “Gateway Metals.”

    As the Department of the Interior, along with other agencies develops its resource strategy, it would be well advised to incorporate ways to harness the interrelationship between Gateway Metals – which include mainstay metals like Copper, Aluminum, Nickel, Tin and Zinc  – and their Co-Products, many of which are increasingly becoming the building blocks of 21st Century technology.

    With the executive order, supported by several other positive developments we outlined here, the stage is set for meaningful mineral resource policy reform.

    Here’s hoping the momentum that has been building carries over into 2018. Our national security and economic wellbeing depends on it.

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  • Clear Your Holiday Reading List – USGS Releases “Critical Materials of the United States”

    Too much family? Too much rockin’ around the Christmas tree? If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays and sit down with a good book, look no further – USGS has you covered.

    The agency has just released a new study entitled “Critical Minerals of the United States“ which discusses 23 mineral commodities USGS deems critical to the United States’ national security and economic wellbeing.

    Weighing in at a hefty 852 pages, the metals and minerals covered include:

    antimony (Sb), barite (barium, Ba), beryllium (Be), cobalt (Co), fluorite or fluorspar (fluorine, F), gallium (Ga), germanium (Ge), graphite (carbon, C), hafnium (Hf), indium (In), lithium (Li), manganese (Mn), niobium (Nb), platinum-group elements (PGE), rare-earth elements (REE), rhenium (Re), selenium (Se), tantalum (Ta), tellurium (Te), tin (Sn), titanium (Ti), vanadium (V), and zirconium (Zr).

    The study is effectively an update to a widely-used USGS publication from 1973. As ARPN followers know, the ongoing revolution in materials science – and the applications it has spawned; the computer revolution, the Internet, cell phones to smart phones, electric cars, solar and wind power, hydro-carbon fracking (1973 was the peak of the Oil Crisis) — has drastically altered and expanded the ways in which we use metals and minerals, while technological advances have transformed and improved extraction methods. As such, today’s supply and demand picture differs greatly from the one in the 1970s for virtually all metals and minerals.

    For example, according to USGS:

    “[I]n the 1970s, rare-earth elements had few uses outside of some specialty fields, and were produced mostly in the United States. Today, rare-earth elements are integral to nearly all high-end electronics and are produced almost entirely in China.

    Since 1973, there has also been a significant increase in knowledge about geologic and environmental issues related to production and use. This report addresses the sustainable development of each mineral commodity in order that the current needs of the Nation can be met without limiting the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”

    The report comes at a critical juncture. At a time when our mineral resource dependencies are alarmingly high, we are finally seeing some positive developments that could help pave the way for long-overdue reforms.

    Acknowledging the seriousness of the issue of mineral resource dependence, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said:

    “I commend the team of scientists at USGS for the extensive work put into the report, but the findings are shocking. (…) The fact that previous administrations allowed the United States to become reliant on foreign nations, including our competitors and adversaries, for minerals that are so strategically important to our security and economy is deeply troubling. As both a former military commander and geologist, I know the very real national security risk of relying on foreign nations for what the military needs to keep our soldiers and our homeland safe.” 

    Hopefully the report can help carry the momentum over into the new year and help policy makers and other stakeholders develop a comprehensive mineral resource strategy our nation has been sorely lacking.

    ***With the report hot off the press, we at ARPN have not yet had the opportunity to fully review the report, but we will do so, and will discuss the findings in greater detail in the new year, so stay tuned for our updates.*** 

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  • 2017 – a Year of Mixed Signals: No Grand Strategy – But Some Signs We May Be Digging Out of Our Resource Dependency

    Amidst the chaos of Christmas shopping, holiday parties and travel arrangements, the end of the year is customarily the time to take stock of the last twelve months and assess where to go from here. Here is our recap of 2017: On the heels of a year that very much presented itself as a mixed [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • “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 [...]

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