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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Rare Metal Find Brings Seabed Mining Back into Focus

    Japanese researchers have discovered a vast deposit of “rare and important” metals on the seabed off the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture, Japan.

    According to the Asahi Shimbun, “the cobalt-rich crust forms around rocks on the seabed” in an area of about 950 square kilometers to the East of Tokyo. The deposit is said to hold Iron, Manganese and other rare metals including Platinum and Cobalt. 

    For Japan, a country notoriously dependent on foreign imports to meet domestic mineral resource needs – ARPN followers may recall the tensions in the wake of China cutting off REE exports to Japan in 2010 – there is hope that finds like these “could possibly allow Japan to secure rare metal resources much closer to home than usual.”  

    A string of similar discoveries in recent years has set off a flurry of activity by countries trying to gain access to what is considered a “treasure trove of metals and minerals.” We may now only be a few short years away from the first ever attempt to extract minerals from the deep sea, as a Canadian company hopes to begin exploring the bottom of the Bismarck Sea near Papua New Guinea for Copper and Gold with giant remote-controlled bulk cutter robots in 2019.

    What once sounded like a chapter from a Jules Verne novel is becoming more and more feasible. Nonetheless, seabed mining efforts are still fraught with many challenges, ranging from environmental concerns over technological challenges to political ownership questions and economic viability. And while it would appear that commercial seabed mining on a grand scale is not a near-term scenario, it looks like the question of “if” we will tap into this “treasure trove” is increasingly becoming a question of “when.” 

    In the meantime, however, and until all these questions are sufficiently addressed, stakeholders in the U.S. would be well-advised to place an immediate focus on devising policies conducive to unleashing the vast mineral potential we have right beneath our own soil yet fail to harness. Dan McGroarty’s most recent congressional testimony provides some context on why and how we can and must make a comprehensive mineral resource strategy a focal point. 

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  • ARPN’s Dan McGroarty Delivers “Sobering” Testimony on Mineral Resource Challenge Before Senate Committee

    In his testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources earlier this week, ARPN Principal Dan McGroarty warned of the challenges of our growing dependence on foreign mineral resources. 

    McGroarty contrasted his mineral resource outlook with that of the energy side, where we are witnessing the a remarkable resurgence and “emergence of a vibrant oil and gas sector after generations of energy dependence” that is transforming the U.S. into an energy exporter. He alerted Senators and attendees to the latest USGS figures, which show that we are 100% import dependent for 20 metals and minerals – up from 19 in 2015, and has us more than 50% import-dependent for 50, amounting to “roughly half the naturally-occurring elements on the Periodic Table.”

    McGroarty said that:

    “[A]t a time when we are engaged in a serious national debate on how best to revive American manufacturing, we are increasingly dependent on foreign sources for the metals and minerals we need for major weapons platforms, alternative energy applications, and all manner of high-tech devices from smart phones to smart bombs.

    And this, in spite of the fact that the U.S. is resource-rich, blessed with known resources of dozens of the critical metals and minerals that are shaping our 21st Century.”

    To reinforce his point, McGroarty cited Graphite and Manganese, key elements of Lithium Ion battery technology, Rare Earths, and Indium as examples of metals and minerals with broad military and civilian applications for which we are 100% import dependent. He further referenced Gallium, Rhenium, Tellurium, and Cobalt – similarly critical materials with military and civilian uses, as metals and minerals for which we are more than 70% import dependent.  

    While McGroarty also listed some positive developments, including process improvements and new extracting technologies “arising out of necessity – the need to efficiently extract minerals from low-grade deposits,” Senator Sen. Angus King (I-ME) called his testimony “very sobering,” and his colleagues declared that the issue warranted follow-up. 

    Here’s hoping that these assertions are more than paying lip service. As followers of ARPN know, there are ways to address the challenge and mitigate the problems associated with our over-reliance on foreign mineral resources. Among them are streamlining of our nation’s onerous and outdated permitting process, as well as tackling the “co-product challenge: The fact that dozens of the critical metals and minerals needed for tech applications are not mined in their own right – but are recovered as ‘by-products,’ or given their rising importance, ‘co-products,’ of major industrial minerals not often thought of as critical.”

    However, actions speak louder than words. The global resource wars are heating up – and we cannot afford to sit idly by.

    As McGroarty concluded: 

    “If we are serious about ensuring U.S. military power and reviving American manufacturing, we must reverse the deep dependency on foreign metals and minerals, and treat American resource security with the same seriousness – and one would hope, the same success – as our approach to American energy security.”

    To read full testimony and watch this week’s hearing visit the committee’s website. Mr. McGroarty’s testimony starts 52:10 minutes into the hearing. 

     

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  • ARPN’s Dan McGroarty to Testify Before U.S. Senate Committee on Mineral Resource Security

    As ARPN followers know, our growing reliance on foreign mineral resources has serious implications for our national security, competitiveness and the resurgence of American manufacturing. Against this background, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will be holding a timely hearing to “Examine the Status & Outlook for U.S. and North American Energy [...]
  • Africa Taking Center Stage in China’s Quest for Resources

    It is “the single largest source of mineral commodities for the United States, particularly for resources like rare earth elements, germanium, and industrial diamonds,” according to the United States Geological Survey, which notes in its most recent Mineral Commodity Summaries report that “of the 47 mineral commodities that the United States is more than 50 [...]
  • Happy Independence Day! We’re Free, Yet So Dependent

    Happy Birthday, America! Another trip around the sun, and we’re back on the eve of the 4th of July gearing up for parades, barbecues and fireworks in honor of the men and women who have fought, and continue to safeguard our freedom today. Last year, we used this opportunity to point out that while we cherish [...]
  • Boron: Of “Slime,” Materials Science and Trade Balances

    If you have preschoolers or grade schoolers at home on summer break, chances are you’ve already had to make “slime.”   Researching the various recipes to make the latest kids’ craze, you will likely also have come across one often-used ingredient: Borax. While Borax has long been a traditional staple in American laundry rooms, borates are increasingly becoming [...]
  • Scandium – Ready to “Take Off”?

    Remember the Light Rider?  A few months ago, we highlighted this high-tech motorcycle, which, because it is held together by an intricate web of “Scalmalloy,” is perhaps the lightest motorcycle in the world. Scalmalloy is an “aluminum alloy powder ‘with almost the specific strength of titanium’ [used] to build incredible structures by fusing thin layers of the material together.” One [...]
  • Advances in Materials Science Warrant Rethink in Resource Policy

    We appreciate them for their traditional applications, but metals like Copper and Tin are far more than your mainstay materials.  We discussed their Gateway Metal status here, but it’s not just the fact that their development yields access to some of the most sought-after tech metals that makes them so indispensible – it’s advances in materials [...]
  • Rhenium: “Alien Technology” Underscores Importance of Gateway Metals and Co-Products

    At ARPN, we have consistently highlighted the importance of Gateway Metals, which are materials that are not only critical to manufacturing and national security in their own right, but also “unlock” tech metals increasingly important to innovation and technological development. With advancements in materials science, these co-products, many of which have unique properties lending themselves [...]
  • The Arctic – A Looming Battlefield for Resource Supremacy?

    While relations between Russia and the United States continue to make headlines on a daily basis, one particular aspect of this relationship – in spite of the fact that it may be one of the most contentious ones – has been largely flying under the radar. As Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin recently wrote: [...]

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