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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Independence Day 2020 – Critical Mineral Resource Policy in a Watershed Year

    It’s that time of the year again – Independence Day is upon us.  This year, things are different, though. If you’re like us, it kind of snuck up on you, and it took seeing the booths selling fireworks in the parking lots to realize it’s July already.  After all, we just came off the longest month of March ever, right?

    While parades and fireworks to honor the men and women who have fought for, and continue to safeguard our freedom today, have been canceled in many places, July 4th still provides us with an opportunity to pause and take stock of where we are as a nation — and this year, there is much to reflect on.

    From a critical mineral resource perspective, we at ARPN have always used the occasion of Independence Day to remind ourselves that “while we cherish the freedom we are blessed with in so many ways, we must not become complacent, as there are areas where we’re increasingly becoming less independent” — with our reliance on foreign mineral resources being a case in point. 

    Today, this statement rings more true than ever, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic having exposed the vast extent of our mineral resource supply chain vulnerabilities. As ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argued in a piece for Real Clear Politics in March, “[t]he rapid spread of the coronavirus is doing more than claim an alarming number of human hosts — it is burning through decades of bureaucratic inertia and plain inattention as the American economic ecosystem has become dangerously dependent on China.”

    As followers of ARPN know — and as our nation as a whole is increasingly realizing —the United States’ reliance on foreign non-fuel minerals has significantly increased over the course of the past 65 years, both in terms of number and type, as well as as a percentage of import reliance.  Along with the rise in import dependency came a drastic shift in provider countries.

    Whereas the number of non-fuel mineral commodities for which the United States was greater than 50% net import-dependent was 28 in 1954, this number increased to 47 in 2014.  And while the U.S. was 100% net import reliant for 8 of the non-fuel commodities analyzed in 1954, this total import reliance increased to 11 non-fuel minerals in 1984, and currently stands at 17.  In the latest USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries report, China continues to be the elephant in the data room, and is listed 25 times as one of the major import sources of metals and minerals for which our net import reliance is 50% or greater.

    This spells trouble, and this realization is going mainstream, as indicated by this week’s Wall Street Journal discussion of a report by consulting firm Horizon Advocacy, which (looking specifically at rare earths) warns that “China’s rare earths positioning both implicates and threatens the entire global system,” and that “China will not rule out using rare earth exports as leverage (…).”

    Thankfully, there are indications that policymakers on Capitol Hill, in Cabinet Departments and in the White House are taking the issue seriously, and, after years of inaction, a flurry of current policy initiatives aimed at alleviating our supply chain vulnerabilities points to the U.S. Government viewing strategic materials and critical minerals issues with a new seriousness.

    Underscoring the urgency of the situation largely from a battery tech minerals perspective, Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and a member of the ARPN panel of experts, told the committee that “(…) the consequences of a long-term cutoff of some of the critical materials that we’ve discussed today would just be disastrous for the U.S. economy. (…) The threat of China…is becoming more and more evident every day even during this pandemic.” 

    How we proceed forward over the next few months of 2020 could become a watershed moment for United States. Will we continue to tinker around the edges of policy reform, or will we finally take significant steps towards U.S. mineral resource independence? 

    As Moores concluded in his Senate testimony with regards to securing critical mineral resource supply chains:

    “It is not too late for the US but action is needed now.”

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  • Experts to U.S. Senators: It’s “Not Too Late for the U.S.” to Secure Mineral Supply Chains Post-COVID, “But Action is Needed Now”

    In a timely hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, witnesses discussed the urgency of securing U.S. mineral supply chains in a post-COVID context. 

    Committee Chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who has long been an advocate of comprehensive mineral resource policy reform set the stage arguing that “[t]he pandemic has brought home that we don’t produce many goods important to our country.” While pointing out that the mining industry may not have faced the same level of disruption as some other sectors, she said that it is “hard not to conclude that we have been lucky here, and luck usually isn’t a very good strategy.”  Invoking recent studies, such as the recent World Bank report released as part of the global lender’s “Climate Smart Mining” Initiative pointing to the mineral intensity of a low-carbon future she underscored that now is the time to address our nation’s over-reliance on foreign (and in particular, Chinese) supplies of critical minerals.

    Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the American Resources Policy Network (ARPN) panel of experts, who in prior testimony had warned that the U.S. had become a “bystander in the global battery arms race,” argued that while a new global lithium ion economy was being created, “any US ambitions to be a leader in this lithium ion economy continue to only creep forward and be outstripped by China and Europe.  In more stark terms: China is building the equivalent of one battery megafactory a week, the USA one every four months.”

    While warning that “[i]n the USA, progress is far too slow on building out a domestic lithium ion economy,” Moores did point to opportunities to alleviate what has become a dire outlook, but said that it would effectively require rebuilding a heavy industry from scratch — and “at a speed, at scale, and quality that will make most of corporate America uncomfortable.”

    He closed by invoking the U.S.’s successful creation of a widespread semiconductor industry in the 1980s:

    “The lead that the USA built in semiconductors and computing power due to companies like Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel Corporation has sustained the USA’s dominance in global computing for over 5 decades.

    Likewise, those who invest in battery capacity and supply chains today are likely to dominate this industry for generations to come.

    It is not too late for the US but action is needed now.”

    Other witnesses, which included Nedal Nassar of the U.S. Geological Survey, Joe Bryan of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, Mark Caffarey of Umicore USA, Inc., and Dr. Thomas J. Duesterberg of the Hudson Institute, echoed the sentiment. 

    Full written remarks of all witnesses can be viewed here, and archived video of the hearing, which includes a q&a session following the official statements, will be made available here.

     

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  • State Department Hopeful More Nations Will Join Energy Resource Governance Initiative in the Wake of COVID

    ***posted by Daniel McGroarty*** As demand for renewable energy continues to grow despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of State hopes to expand the Energy Resource Governance Initiative (ERGI) – an initiative launched last year by the United States and joined by ten other countries, including Canada, Australia and Brazil – aimed at improving supply chain security [...]
  • National Security Expert Calls for Securing Domestic Mineral Resource Supply Chains: “Crisis Borne from China’s Predation and Our Own Neglect No Longer Theoretical”

    After decades of watching “China become the world’s workshop as it snatches up industries, jobs and critical supply chains, [i]t’s time to restructure the global economy in our favor, and that means decisive action to shore up our most important industries,” writes Brig. Gen. John Adams (U.S. Army, retired), president of national security consulting firm Guardian Six [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty: “First Word in Supply Chain is ‘Supply’”

    Re-shoring is the word of the hour.  If the current coronavirus pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that we will need to rethink where we source and produce in the aftermath of COVID — an issue ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty zeroes in on in a new piece for The Economic Standard. Citing the excitement over the [...]
  • ARPN Expert Panel Member: U.S. Must Turn to Building Out Critical Mineral Supply Chains Securing Both Inputs and Outputs

    Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), long one of the leaders on Capitol Hill pushing for a comprehensive overhaul of our nation’s mineral resource policy, addressed the challenges of our nation’s over-reliance on foreign – and especially China-sourced critical metals and minerals against the backdrop of the current Coronavirus pandemic in a post [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty for The Economic Standard: Red Swan – a Leaked 2010 Cable on Critical Infrastructure/Key Resource Vulnerabilities Provided Warning Signs We Failed To Act On

    In a new piece for The Economic Standard, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argues that while the “intellectual shrug” of “who could have seen this coming” tends to be a common reaction to our new normal of sheltering in place and social distancing, there were warning signs for a coming crisis we failed to recognize for what they were, and act [...]
  • New Chart Unveils Supply Chain Weaknesses for Manganese, a Critical Input for EV Technology

    Testifying before the U.S Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in February 2019, ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores sounded the alarm on the supply chains of metals and minerals that are key components of battery technology and energy storage. Arguing that we were in the middle [...]
  • As China Looks to Move Past Coronavirus Pandemic, Resource War Theaters Come into Focus

    With much of the world still in lockdown, China appears to rev up its engine to move past the coronavirus.  The City of Wuhan, the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, has re-opened, factories have restarted their operations, stores are reopening and people are leaving their confined quarters to venture outside.  With coronavirus having exposed [...]
  • As Beijing Sees Coronavirus Pandemic as Opportunity to Weaken U.S. Position, America Should Bolster Domestic Mineral Supply Chains

    Earlier this month, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argued that while the current focus on ending the dangerous dependence on critical medicines needed to combat COVID-19 is more than warranted, Congress and the administration “may want to broaden their focus from critical medicines to critical minerals.” In a new piece published in the Duluth News Tribune, Michael Stumo, [...]

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