American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty Submits Public Comments on DoI Critical Minerals List

    Presidential Executive Order (EO) 13817 on a Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, was issued on December 20, 2017. Pursuant to the EO, the Department of Interior, in coordination with the Department of Defense, was tasked with compiling a list of Critical Minerals within 60 days. The DOI List was published on February 16, 2018, with a public comment period running through March 19, 2018.

    ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty filed two sets of comments, the first identifying a group of “gateway” metals critical for defense applications but absent from the DOI List, and the second articulating the gateway/co-product relationships between metals and minerals on the DOI List. The articulation exercise revealed four metals and minerals absent from the DOI List which are gateways to minerals that are on the List.

    The DOI list as published on February 16, 2018, includes the following 35 minerals:

    • Aluminum (bauxite), used in almost all sectors of the economy
    • Antimony, used in batteries and flame retardants
    • Arsenic, used in lumber preservatives, pesticides, and semi-conductors
    • Barite, used in cement and petroleum industries
    • Beryllium, used as an alloying agent in aerospace and defense industries
    • Bismuth, used in medical and atomic research
    • Cesium, used in research and development
    • Chromium, used primarily in stainless steel and other alloys
    • Cobalt, used in rechargeable batteries and superalloys
    • Fluorspar, used in the manufacture of aluminum, gasoline, and uranium fuel
    • Gallium, used for integrated circuits and optical devices like LEDs
    • Germanium, used for fiber optics and night vision applications
    • Graphite (natural), used for lubricants, batteries, and fuel cells
    • Hafnium, used for nuclear control rods, alloys, and high-temperature ceramics
    • Helium, used for MRIs, lifting agent, and research
    • Indium, mostly used in LCD screens
    • Lithium, used primarily for batteries
    • Magnesium, used in furnace linings for manufacturing steel and ceramics
    • Manganese, used in steelmaking
    • Niobium, used mostly in steel alloys
    • Platinum group metals, used for catalytic agents
    • Potash, primarily used as a fertilizer
    • Rare earth elements group, primarily used in batteries and electronics
    • Rhenium, used for lead-free gasoline and superalloys
    • Rubidium, used for research and development in electronics
    • Scandium, used for alloys and fuel cells
    • Strontium, used for pyrotechnics and ceramic magnets
    • Tantalum, used in electronic components, mostly capacitors
    • Tellurium, used in steelmaking and solar cells
    • Tin, used as protective coatings and alloys for steel
    • Titanium, overwhelmingly used as a white pigment or metal alloys
    • Tungsten, primarily used to make wear-resistant metals
    • Uranium, mostly used for nuclear fuel
    • Vanadium, primarily used for titanium alloys
    • Zirconium, used in the high-temperature ceramics industries

    Daniel McGroarty: Public Comment DOI-2018-0001-0126 posted on March 6, 2018 concerning Secretary Zinke’s Draft Critical Minerals list

    I want to commend the Department of Interior for its work to establish a unified Critical Minerals List (the “DOI List”), and to open the list for comment. Any list is a moment-in-time exercise, based on many factors, not least of which are technology development and industrial demand, which without question contribute to our evolving understanding of what is and is not a critical mineral or metal.I have testified on critical minerals before various House and Senate committees, I serve on the advisory boards of several U.S. companies developing critical minerals and metals projects, both mining and reclamation/recycling, and I am founder of the American Resource Policy Network, a virtual think-tank that educates and informs on resource dependencies and their impacts.

    I offer here four additional metals, in rank order, that I believe merit inclusion on the DOI List, largely from a national security perspective.

    From a national security perspective, the single best unclassified source for metals and minerals dependency assessments remains the Reconfiguration of the National Defense Stockpile Report to Congress (2009) and its appendices, which offer a rare view into defense scenarios which may be adversely impacted by lack of timely access to critical metals and minerals. While these studies are nearly a decade old, most of the weapons platforms dependent on critical metals/minerals remain in service today, and in many instances, U.S. foreign supply dependencies have only grown more acute.Many of the DOI List metals/minerals figure repeatedly in the Reconfiguration Report. Detailed here are several additional metals and minerals that are not on the DOI List, and should be added, based on relevant defense criteria.Cause of Significant Weapons System Delay. Appendix C of the Reconfiguration Report, Table 1, lists a declassified study, based on classified scenarios, that indicates that lack of access to various metals and minerals has “already caused some kind of significant weapon system production delay for DoD.”

    Of the 21 metals/minerals found to have caused a significant delay, 16 are on the Department of Interior List; 5 are not:

    • Copper
    • Molybdenum
    • Zinc
    • Nickel
    • Cadmium

    Shortfall Scenarios. Appendix C of the Report, Table 1, lists a declassified study, based on classified scenarios, that assesses the likelihood of a shortfall of various metals and minerals during 1) a National Security Emergency, and 2) a Peacetime Supply Disruption scenario. Of the 25 metals/minerals found to be in shortfall during a National Security Emergency or Peacetime Supply Disruption, 17 are on the DOI List, while 8 are not:

    • Copper
    • Zinc
    • Quartz
    • Lead
    • Mercury
    • Nickel
    • Silicon carbide
    • Silver

    Defense Use by Volume. Appendix B of the Report, Table ES-1, lists DoD defense materials, usage by volume. 6 of the Top 10 materials in the table are included on the DOI List; 4 are not:

    • Copper
    • Lead
    • Zinc
    • Nickel

    Three metals are present in each of these snapshots: Copper, Zinc and Nickel, while Lead appears twice.The first three are also the primary “gateway” to co-product metals/minerals not typically mined in their own right. Copper is the practical access point to at least 4 minerals on the DOI List (Cobalt, Rhenium, Tellurium and potentially the Rare Earths [100% dependency]). Zinc is the gateway to DOI Listed minerals Indium, Gallium (100% dependencies) and Germanium, while Nickel is gateway to Cobalt and the Platinum Group Metals. Lead is gateway to Antimony, Bismuth and Tellurium.Gateway/Co-Product issues have a significant impact on the DOI List.To cite just one example, such is the dependence of cobalt, for instance, on copper and nickel mining, according to a February 2018 report by the Columbia (University) Center on Sustainable Investment:

    “…The survival of a cobalt project therefore largely depends on nickel and copper prices. If the prices of these two metals are unfavorable, then it is highly unlikely that a mining project will undergo development, regardless of how high cobalt prices are.”

    Recommended Expansion of the DOI List:For these reasons, I recommend that the DOI Critical Minerals List be expanded to include, in this rank order:

    1. Copper
    2. Zinc
    3. Nickel
    4. Lead

    I would be pleased to provide additional detail upon request.# # #

    Daniel McGroarty: Public Comment DOI-2018-0001-0303 posted on March 14, 2018
    Primary Minerals, Gateways & Co-Products – Articulated Chart of DOI’s 35 Critical Minerals

    ***Supplementing Public Comment DOI-2018-0001-0126 posted on March 6, 2018

    The DOI Critical Minerals List (released Feb. 16, 2018) contains 35 minerals/metals. What the alphabetized list does not convey are the relationships of the various metals/minerals – most importantly, the fact that, as a practical matter, many of the metals/minerals are not mined in their own right, but obtained as “co-products” of primary metal mining.

    The attached chart articulates the 35 metals and minerals into Primary and/or “Gateway” Minerals and Co-Product minerals, indicating which Primaries are typically “gateways” to DOI Listed co-products.

    Two additional categories are depicted:

    • “Hybrids” (metals/minerals that, depending on the deposit, are primary mining products or co-products of other metals/minerals)

    • “Recovered” (3 of the 35 DOI Listed minerals, that are neither mined nor co-products of primary mining, but recovered by individualized processes)

    Working back from the Listed Co-Products to their “gateway” metals/minerals indicates that there are 4 “gateway” metals/minerals that are not on the DOI List:

    Copper, Gold, Nickel and Zinc (see comment below)

    I offer to the DOI review team several observations based on the chart:

    Encouraging Co-Product Production is Key to Meeting Strategic/Critical Mineral Needs.

    As is shown, 13 of the 35 DOI Listed minerals are Co-Products – more than 1/3 of the entire List – essentially only accessible via primary mining of other metals/minerals.

    Important Metals/Minerals are Missing from the DOI List.

    A depiction of Gateway/Co-Product relationships shows that 4 metals/minerals missing from the DOI List — Copper, Gold, Nickel, Zinc – access 7 unique minerals that are deemed Critical.

    Copper is Gateway to Critical Co-Products.

    Of the Gateway metals/minerals, Copper is the most “versatile” – with 5 potential Co-products on the List.

    # # #

    For a full size pdf version of the chart click here.

  • 2018 – A Tipping Point For U.S. Resource Policy and Related Industries?

    The following is a guest post by ARPN expert panel member Chris Berry, Founder, House Mountain Partners. His expertise focuses on, but is not limited to, energy metals including Lithium, Cobalt, Graphite, Vanadium and Rare Earths.

    The Executive Order recently signed by President Trump to prioritize domestic natural resource development couldn’t have come at a better time. Though the idea of foreign dependence on critical raw materials such as rare earth elements, lithium, and cobalt is not a new one, globally synchronized economic growth and a new Administration in Washington have many thinking that “this time could be different” and a new approach and attitude towards domestic raw material extraction and processing has increased in importance.

    Technology has traditionally been a deflationary “force for good” specifically in the energy industry (think about how hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the oil and gas business has put OPEC on its heels and allowed a US-based oil and gas business to compete anew). The leadership that the US has shown in this industry is in no small part due to the research and development funding from the US Government in past decades. It is not a stretch to expect the same deflationary phenomenon to affect the mobility and energy storage industries underpinned by lithium ion batteries.

    Technologically-driven cost deflation can be seen in other industries such as the lithium ion battery business where the cost per kilowatt-hour (KWh) has fallen by roughly 10 to 14% per year since 2000. This has massive implications for both the energy industry (renewable energy deployment and grid integration) and automobile industry (electric vehicle adoption). Most experts expect cost parity between a full electric vehicle and a traditional internal combustion engine early in the next decade. What are we in the United States doing to get ready for this massive shift with respect to security of supply of raw materials?

    We are clearly at a tipping point for these industries, as their increasing need for critical minerals and metals intersects with an aggressive China, making security of supply of raw materials a small but highly significant Achilles Heel of supply chain management. The United States has numerous well known deposits of critical minerals, such as lithium and cobalt, many of which at today’s prices are economic to extract and process. So what are we waiting for? What we have lacked historically is the political will to find a balance between national security, commerce, and environmental concerns. President Trump’s Executive Order is a welcome, though controversial, first step in reckoning with this challenge that has profound consequences for US competitiveness and job creation going forward.

  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Moores’ Law: The Rise of Lithium Ion Battery Megafactories and What it Means for Critical Mineral Resource Supply

    Earlier this month, Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of experts testified before the full U.S. Senate Energy Committee on opportunities and risks in the energy storage supply chain.   We’re titling his observations as Moores’ Law — which is his for the taking, given the placement [...]
  • Senate Energy Committee Zeroes in on Energy Storage Revolution – Where Will the Battery Megafactories Get the Minerals and Metals They Need?

    Just last week, we highlighted the surge in EV technology and its implications for mineral resource supply and demand.  A timely subject – as evidenced by the fact that the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy held a “Full Committee Hearing “to Examine Energy Storage Technologies” this week. Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 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 [...]
  • North Korean Brinkmanship Highlights Nexus Between Resource Policy and Geopolitics

    At ARPN, we have long highlighted the important but oft-overlooked nexus between resource policy and geopolitics.   The latest case in point is South Korea, which, as ARPN President Daniel McGroarty points out in his latest opinion piece for Fox News, is navigating murky waters “talking sunshine and Rare Earths as North Korean war clouds gather.” For decades, [...]