We’ve seen a flurry of new studies focused on mineral resource security over the past few months, an encouraging signal that the issue is increasingly getting the attention it deserves. While we would be remiss not to include our Critical Metals Report and our Gateway Metals Report, two of the more recent studies were released by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and, just this week, the RAND Corporation.
While ALEC’s report is more narrowly tailored and focuses specifically on Rare Earths and Uranium mining potential in the United States, RAND’s “Critical Materials Present Danger to U.S. Manufacturing” study examines a broader set of minerals which are produced in one or just a few countries, and which meet the following criteria:
- The dominant producer is outside the United States.
- The United States has appreciable net imports.
- The dominant producers have shortfalls in their quality of governance, as measured by the Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) published by the World Bank.
China, being the dominant producer for a number of key critical minerals, has more than once demonstrated its willingness to resort to market distortions – policies which, according to RAND, suggest the need for two types of actions:
(1) those that can increase resiliency to supply disruptions or market distortions and
(2) those that can provide early warning of developing problems resulting from the concentration of production.
What better way to “increase resiliency” than diversifying sources of supply by developing the resources we have beneath our own soil?