American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Through the Gateway: “Fairy Dust” Supply Woes Loom

    As we continue our look Through the Gateway, comes a stern reminder by way of Canada that the geopolitics of resource supply represents a complex issue warranting comprehensive policy approaches.  

    And it literally concerns a metal that touches us — more precisely, we touch it — every day, too many times to count.

    decision to close metallurgical operations at the Kidd Creek Copper-Zinc-Silver deposit in Ontario, Canada, will effectively remove more than ten metric tons of Indium – a co-product metal the Gateway Metals to which include Zinc and Tin – from the global market.   As MetalBulletin points out, the mine is not closing per se, but concentrates from the mine will be taken to a different smelter without Indium processing capabilities, meaning the Indium is effectively going to be lost.

    While ten metric tons does not sound like much, this is significant, as we’re talking about Indium here, which is one of the rarer tech co-product metals. USGS pegs total global refinery production of Indium at 755 metric tons in 2015.  With the United States not producing any Indium – making us 100% import-dependent — and Canada – which is our biggest supplier of Indium – accounting for 66 metric tons, removing more than ten metric tons from the global market is a big deal just in terms of numbers.

    But why is this relevant? Aside from being a key component for the construction of CIGS (i.e. Copper, Indium, Gallium, Selenide solar panels) Indium happens to be the “fairy dust” that turns a regular computer, tablet or smart phone screen into a touch screen.   The majority of newer smart phone and tablet makers have turned to ITO (Indium Tin Oxide) to form the conductive layer, which is used to monitor changes in electrical state as you touch and swipe the screen.” AZoMaterials has a great write-up and quick video explaining the technology.

    Rumors that new IGZO (Indium, Gallium, Zinc Oxide) semiconductor technology has found its way into the displays of the just-released iPhone 7 (we discussed this a few weeks ago here  have not yet been confirmed, but the bottom line is that Indium is one of the tech metals that is growing in importance. 

    Last year, the United States consumed 124 metric tons of refined Indium. With Canada removing a significant percentage of Indium from the global market, the United States may now be forced to turn to China to meet demand even more than before – a daunting proposition. 

    Meanwhile, there is a serious disconnect with regards to resource policy.  Most policy makers – and candidates for political office for that matter – fail to connect the dots – everyone is in favor of strengthening our manufacturing base, but they fail to acknowledge that we need “stuff” to make “stuff.”  Maybe if their touchscreens stopped working all of a sudden they’d get the memo, and would focus on devising a comprehensive mineral resource strategy.  Word of a potential Indium shortage may cause our eyes to glaze over — but if we lose touch with our touch-screens, maybe then we’ll get a feel for the role co-product metals play in our 21st Century lives.

  • Through the Gateway: Aluminum – Fueling the Renaissance of American Manufacturing

    Aluminum is not only one of the most sustainable materials these days, it is also making headlines – most recently during the North American Leaders Summit, also dubbed “Three Amigos Summit” held at the end of June in Ottawa, Canada.  Invoking challenges associated with China’s trade policy, President Obama called for the North American countries to work together to “ensure a level playing field for the steel and aluminum industries here in North America.”

    The stakes are high, and with demand on the rise for durable, lightweight and sustainable materials, the Aluminum industry’s contribution to the U.S. economy — and with that, to the renaissance of U.S. manufacturing — is significant.

    And that significance is measurable.  According to an April 2016 study conducted by economic research firm John Dunham & Associates, the U.S. aluminum industry provides 161,000 direct jobs, and accounts for nearly 551,000 additional jobs created through multiplier effects. Expressed in dollar figures, that means the U.S. aluminum industry’s direct contribution to the U.S. economy has reached $75 billion. When accounting for induced impacts, that number shoots up to $186 billion — more than one percent of national GDP. The Aluminum Association has a great infographic on this:


    While the U.S. is home to significant bauxite deposits, from which aluminum is sourced, we import a significant percentage of the aluminum consumed domestically.  Unlike with other metals and minerals, this represents a marked decrease in geopolitical risk, as most of our aluminum imports are sourced from one of our closest trading partners, Canada. In fact, in 2015, Canadian-sourced imports accounted for 65% of crude aluminum, 21% of semimanufactures, 64% of scrap, and 54% of total aluminum imports.

    In other words, viewed in isolation and from the upstream end of the supply chain at the minesite, the U.S. is increasingly import-dependent for the aluminum it needs.  But in the context of an integrated North American supply chain between the two trading partners, a look at USGS’s 2014 Minerals Yearbook reveals that Canada is helping the U.S. close a 3.4 million ton domestic aluminum production shortfall by supplying more than 2.2 million tons of crude ingot and 227,000 tons of semifabricated aluminum.

    The geopolitics of resource supply are complex and constantly changing.  Trade gives us a more complete picture — but the fundamental fact remains that in our tech-dependent era, manufacturing might is rooted in reliable resource supply.

  • McGroarty/Reaugh: Time to Do Away with Uptick Rule to Unleash Canada’s Resource Sector

    The new year typically is the time for people to reflect on the preceding twelve months and make resolutions for the new year.  In an exclusive to the Vancouver Sun, our very own Daniel McGroarty, who serves on the advisory board of mining company American Manganese, joins ARPN expert and CEO of American Manganese, in reviewing 2015 as [...]
  • Strategic mineral issues debated in Toronto

    Early this week, strategic mineral experts gathered in Toronto, Canada, for the second annual Technology Metals Summit hosted by our friends at ProEdgeWire. We were honored that our very own Daniel McGroarty and several other American Resources experts were included in the impressive lineup of distinguished speakers. According to ProEdgeWire publisher Tracy Weslosky, the conference [...]
  • Fraser Institute to host third Mining Business Risks Summit in November

    The Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think tank and the intellectual home for three of our policy experts, has teamed up with CRU Group, the leading independent business analysis and consultancy group focused on metals and mining, again to host their third Mining Business Risks Summit, to be held in Toronto, Canada, 1-2 November [...]
  • U.S. Department of Defense Studies Alaska’s Rare Earths Potential

    As the Canadian daily Chronicle Herald reports, the U.S. Department of Defense is conducting a study of Canadian mining company Ucore’s rare earth-rich Bokan Mountain property in southeast Alaska. Under the auspices of the Defense Logistics Agency, the study will “focus on the possible development of Bokan Mountain to meet defence department requirements for an [...]
  • Fraser Institute Scholar joins American Resources Expert Panel

    We’re thrilled to announce that Alana Wilson, a senior research analyst with the Canada-based Fraser’s Institute’s Global Centre for Mining Studies, has joined the American Resources panel of issue experts. Ms. Wilson is spearheading the Institute’s most recent project, a website called MiningFacts.org, which offers timely research and articles examining the often-misunderstood “economic, environmental, and [...]
  • Expert View: Resource Nationalism and Quebec’s Plan Nord

    In a new opinion piece for the Montreal Gazette, American Resources policy expert and associate director of the Fraser Institute’s Global Natural Resource Policy Centre Jean Francois Minardi discusses the issue of resource nationalism in the context of Quebec’s Plan Nord – the Canadian province’s plan to develop its northern reaches in both strategic and [...]
  • Resource Wars: EU zeros in on Arctic mineral riches

    While many of us in the continental U.S. are enjoying record-breaking temperatures this March, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton probably needed her down coat as she embarked on her new mission: laying the groundwork for a common EU policy on the Arctic. Traveling near the North Pole earlier this month, Ashton made a case [...]
  • Proposed Canadian federal budget emphasizes need to expedite resource development

    Contrasting sharply with the current U.S. domestic mineral policy environment, Canada’s federal budget to be released by the Harper Administration next week will reflect its stated commitment to removing barriers to investment and resource development. Specific legislative language has yet to be introduced; however, according to the Canada Free Press, the budget outline will emphasize [...]