American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Critical Minerals Alaska – Rhenium Riches in Alaska Could Help Alleviate Supply Issues

    The BBC has dubbed Rhenium — another metal included in the Department of the Interior’s Final List of 35 Minerals Deemed Critical to U.S. National Security and the Economy — a “super element” with standout properties that can be likened to “alien technology.”

    Thus, it comes as no surprise that Shane Lasley, writing for North of 60 Mining News, has included Rhenium in his feature series “Critical Minerals Alaska.” 

    Citing Rhenium’s high resistance to both heat and wear, which makes it a “vital element in superalloys,” Lasley says it’s these properties coupled with extreme scarcity that “helps boost it onto the list of 35.

    After outlining the demand scenario for Rhenium based on USGS figures, Lasley zeroes in on the supply side.  Porphyry Copper-Molybdenum deposits, from which most Rhenium is derived, tend to be low in concentration, but the “large tonnage mined from this type of deposit makes it possible to recover economically viable quantities of the critical mineral.”

    According to Lasley, the Pebble deposit in Alaska holds large amounts of Rhenium and could not only supply significant quantities of Rhenium, but also be “indicative of Alaska’s larger potential for this super alloy metal.”  He writes:

    “Calculations completed in 2011 estimates the measured and indicated resource contains roughly 0.45 g/t rhenium, which equates to around 2.9 million kilograms, or roughly US$6.4 billion, of the critical superalloy metal.

    This is enough rhenium to supply the world’s needs for more than four decades at 2017 consumption levels and does not account for the rhenium contained in the 4.45 billion metric tons of inferred resource outlined at Pebble.”

    This, according to USGS, “suggests that there is the potential for significant rhenium resources in undiscovered porphyry copper deposits in Alaska” – good news, given that the U.S. currently imports 80% of the rhenium it requires each year.

    As followers of ARPN know, turning that potential into actual production — in the case of rhenium and its fellow “criticals” — will take a policy framework that rewards the risks inherent in resource development.

  • Beyond Golf Clubs and Aircraft – “Critical Minerals Alaska” Zeroes in on Titanium 

    In the latest installment of his “Critical Minerals Alaska” series for North of Sixty Mining News, Shane Lasley zeroes in on Titanium – an “abundant element that has become an important industrial commodity only within the past 150 years,” according to USGS.

    As Lasley writes, “Titanium conjures images of the durable and lightweight metal used to build aircraft, replacement hips, high-end bicycle frames and even quality golf clubs.”  And while its strength and durability are probably the metal’s main properties followers of ARPN have come across on our blog (specifically as part of the light-weighting revolution, Titanium is different from other metallic elements “in that it is mined primarily to satisfy demands for a chemical product – titanium dioxide for pigment – rather than for the metal itself,” as USGS has pointed out. High on the refractive index, Titanium oxide is able to impart durable white color to paint, paper, plastic, rubber, and wallboard.

    The metal is considered a “critical and strategic mineral because of the unique properties of both titanium metal (and its alloys) and TiO2 pigment.”Writes USGS:

    “There are no completely satisfactory substitutes for titanium, especially titanium metal (Towner and others, 1988). Titanium metal’s combination of corrosion resistance, excellent weight-to-strength ratio, and very high melting point is not found with other metals. Substitutes for TiO2 pigment, such as zinc oxide, lithopone (a mixture of barium sulfate and zinc sulfide), and calcium carbonate, generally result in an inferior product and are less environmentally safe.”

    From a defense perspective, however, it is the metal’s light weight, strength and durability coupled with its alloying capabilities that make it indispensable. As Lasley points out:

    “In addition to being lightweight and strong on its own, titanium alloys with aluminum, iron, nickel, molybdenum, vanadium and other metals – which makes it ideal for a wide array of aircraft parts and military equipment.

    The airframes, landing gear and fasteners used in many commercial and military aircraft today are made from titanium or a titanium alloy.

    The ability to withstand temperatures from subzero to above 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, also makes titanium an increasingly useful metal for jet engine parts.”

    Meanwhile, the U.S. only accounts for roughly 4 percent of global production of Titanium minerals and is “heavily dependent” on imports to meet domestic needs, with net import reliance for Titanium mineral concentrates pegged at 91 percent for 2017.

    As Lasley argues, “the sparse quantities of titanium mined in the United States, however, belies the amount of resource found here.”He continues:

    “Rich deposits of this critical mineral are found along the East Coast of the United States, a region known as the eastern North America titanium province. The deposits in this province extend from New York to the Gulf of Mexico, with the bulk of the resource in this highly populated region found in heavy-mineral concentrations in beach, bar, dune, and stream sands along the Atlantic and Gulf.

    In total, about 111.9 million metric tons of titanium dioxide has been identified in 20 U.S. states.

    Alaska is not among the 20 states that report a titanium resource but that could soon change. This is because Alaska Mental Health Trust, which was granted 1 million acres of land to earn money to provide mental health care in the state, is exploring titanium enriched beach sands along the Gulf of Alaska coast.”

    While there are opportunities to reduce our reliance on foreign Titanium imports, whether or not we can harness them will depend on whether policy makers make the necessary policy changes to create a framework that favors domestic resource development.

    The inclusion of Titanium in DOI’s list of 35 metals and minerals deemed critical from a U.S. national security perspective, as well as the fact that Titanium is mentioned in the recently-released Defense Industrial Base report as an important material for military aircraft only underscore the urgency of the situation.

  • A Non-Flashy Yet Essential Critical Mineral – Barite   

    If you haven’t had of Barite, you’re excused – even for avid followers of ARPN Barite is not among the first that come to mind of when you think of critical minerals. It has, however, attained that status with its inclusion in the Department of Interior’s list of 35 metals and minerals considered critical to [...]
  • “Critical Minerals Alaska:” A Familiar Scenario for Tungsten – Chinese Domination and U.S. Prospects

    Pop quiz: Which metal has “the highest melting point of all the elements on the periodic table, (…) is a vital ingredient to a wide-range of industrial and military applications,” has made the Department of Interior’s final list of 35 metals deemed critical to U.S. national security, “yet none of this durable metal is currently [...]
  • “Critical Minerals Alaska” – Rising Demand and Supply Side Complications Combine as Catalysts to Establish Domestic Sources of Cobalt

    In his latest installment of “Critical Minerals Alaska” – a feature series for North of 60 Mining News that “investigates Alaska’s potential as a domestic source of minerals deemed critical to the United States,” Shane Lasley takes a closer look at Cobalt, one of the key metals underpinning the current EV technology revolution. Once an [...]
  • Coalition of Congressional Members and Stakeholders Call on EPA to Reverse Pre-emptive Veto and Restore Due Process to U.S. Mine Permitting  

    Earlier this month, the Congressional Western Caucus led a coalition of Members of Congress and Stakeholders to call on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reverse a pre-emptive veto of the Pebble Mine project in Alaska. The veto stopped the project before it had formally applied to begin the permitting process — a unilateral expansion of [...]
  • “Critical Minerals Alaska” – North of 60 Mining News Publishes Series on Alaska’s Resource Potential

    Against the backdrop of an increased focus on critical minerals at the federal level, North of 60 Mining News — an Alaska-based trade publication covering mineral resource issues for Alaska, northern British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut — has started a new series of articles ARPN followers may wish to bookmark. As Lasley pointed [...]
  • 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: [...]
  • EPA Overreach: Headed for Congressional Push-Back?

    The EPA’s unilateral expansion of its authority appears to be heading for some Congressional push-back. Witness a column written by Alaska’s senior Senator, Lisa Murkowski, for Alaska’s Anchorage Daily News, in which Murkowski asks: “What would Alaskans say if a federal agency retroactively vetoed permits for development of Prudhoe Bay, declaring it never should have [...]
  • Witnesses lament EPA overreach during Congressional hearing

    The government shutdown notwithstanding, mining experts took to Capitol Hill this week to share their concerns about the roadblocks they encounter in the form of often unnecessary and costly regulations, and even – in some cases – abusive actions on the part of the Obama Administration, with members of Congress. During Thursday’s House Natural Resources [...]