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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 2019 New Year’s Resolutions for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    Out with the old, in with the new, they say. It‘s new year‘s resolutions time. 

    With the end of 2017 having set the stage for potentially meaningful reform in mineral resource policy, we outlined a set of suggested resolutions for stakeholders for 2018 in January of last year.  And while several important steps  were taken in 2018, as we outlined in our end-of-year recap, most of the resolutions we spelled out remain valid 365 days later, though not without some tweaks or additions.

    Without further ado, here‘s our updated list of suggested new year‘s resolutions for resource policy stakeholders:

    Have a National Policy Conversation 

    The release of the DoI‘s Critical Minerals List and DoD‘s Defense Industrial Base Review in 2018 have helped publicly underscore the need for comprehensive reform. We also saw an uptick in resource resource policy related news making headlines in national publications. It’s a good starting point, because “while agency and department heads are in charge of rolling out a critical minerals strategy, what is needed in the coming months is a broad national conversation about our nation’s mineral needs and our over-reliance on foreign sources of supply, involving a broad variety of stakeholders from both the private and public sectors.”

    Read!

    The above referenced reports, along with the USGS’s “Critical Minerals of the United States” report released in late 2017 represent must-read materials for all stakeholders involved to develop an understanding of U.S. mineral resource needs and associated supply challenges and should form the basis for any meaningful policy discussions in 2019. As we said before: “ARPN knows how the Congress works; let’s hope Members delegate a key staffer or several to divvy up the USGS tome and really get familiar with it.

    Zero in on the Gateway/Co-Product Interrelationship

    We were happy to see that in 2018, perhaps in part thanks to our informational campaign to highlight the importance of “Co-Product Metals and Minerals,” which included the release of a new report,  awareness of the important inter-relationship of “Gateway Metals” and their “Co-Products,” is growing, and is becoming a part of the broader mineral resource policy conversation. (See for example Ned Mamula’s and Ann Bridges’s just-released book “Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence.) Harnessing the interrelationship between Gateway Metals – which include mainstay metals like Copper, Aluminum, Nickel, Tin and Zinc  – and their Co-Products, many of which are increasingly becoming the building blocks of 21st Century technology, should be a focal point of any critical mineral resource strategy.  

    Enact Legislation

    As we previously noted, “as important as Executive Orders are, they are not legislation, and history has shown that policy that is set and enacted by the stroke of the Presidential pen can just as easily be undone. Ultimately, for any real progress to grab hold and develop staying power, codification of any reforms yielded by these orders through Congressional action is highly desirable.” Some legislative progress was made in 2018 (see our recap), however Congress failed once more to pass key critical minerals provisions which were initially included in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, including the Amodei amendment ARPN followers will be familiar with. Congress should make an effort to finally pass these common sense provisions in 2019.

    Factor Resource Policy Into Trade Policy

    More than previous years, 2018 brought the inter-relationship between trade and resource policy to the forefront.  The U.S. Administration won agreement to replace NAFTA with the USMCA — the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement in November of 2018. The talks had opened a window to drop the so-called Section 232 tariffs — named for a seldom-used section of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act — on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico, which stand in the way of a fully integrated North American defense supply chain and, particularly with regards to Canada, “ignore nearly 80 years of deep defense cooperation with our northern neighbor.” Unfortunately, the provision remained intact in the November agreement, but, as ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty recently outlined in a piece for The Hill: “The opportunity is here, to use the momentum generated by the new USMCA agreement as a springboard to take the strategic North American alliance to a new level.” So for 2019, stakeholders should work towards removing Section 232 tariffs, and should ensure that resource policy challenges — especially when national security and defense industrial base issues are involved — are factored into trade policy decisions.

    In the grand scheme of things, once more, our 2019 resolutions come down to:  Discuss, Read – and Act.  Here‘s hoping that we can look back at 2019 as the year a new and comprehensive critical minerals strategy helped make the U.S. stronger and safer.

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  • Stakeholders and Experts Weigh in on DOI’s Finalized Critical Minerals List 

    Last week, the Department of the Interior released its finalized Critical Mineral list. In spite of calls to include various additional metals and minerals (see ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty’s public comments on the issue here) DOI decided to stick with its pool of 35 minerals deemed critical from a national security perspective.

    “With the list completed, the executive order now gives Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross 180 days to submit a strategy to reduce that reliance. The report will explore various options: increased trade with allies, recycling and reprocessing technology, and potential alternative materials to replace critical minerals,” writes Greenwire reporter Dylan Brown, who gathered early stakeholder and expert feedback for a piece published on Friday (subscription).

    Brown says that Commerce Secretary Wilbur’s report will, among other issues, zero in on what he calls the “No. 1 policy debate between the mining industry and environmentalists, and their Republican and Democratic allies in Congress” – the debate over how to reform the United States’ permitting framework for mining projects.

    Brown quotes National Mining Association spokeswoman Caitlin Musseman, who said:

    “More than a complex listing process, we need a simplified and efficient permitting system that unlocks the value of all our domestic mineral resources,” and argues that the list does not go far enough because of DOI’s “narrow view of criticality.”

    The piece also quotes ARPN’s Dan McGroarty, who, citing the example of Copper, underscored the importance and interrelationship of Gateway Metals and their Co-Products:

    “American Resources Policy Network President Daniel McGroarty pointed to copper, a ‘gateway’ to five minerals on the critical list.

    ‘The U.S. has a 600,000-metric-ton copper gap each year — the gap between what we consume and what we produce,’ he said. ‘The critical minerals list is a great starting point. The question now is how the U.S. government can match policy to the priority of overcoming our critical minerals deficit.”

    In the coming months, policymakers have the opportunity to shape mineral resource policy for the better – and to create a framework conducive to safely and efficiently harnessing our mineral resource potential to ensure our national security and competitiveness going forward.

    Here’s hoping they seize the momentum the recent increased focus on ‘critical minerals’ has generated.

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  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty Comments on DOI’s Release of Final Critical Minerals List

    The Department of the Interior released its final list of Critical Minerals today. The following is ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty’s statement on the list: “DOI issued its final list of Critical Minerals, unchanged at 35.  What we see is the degree of US dependency – the US is 100% import-dependent for 14 of the 35 [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: CMI Expands Collaborative Research Focus to Include Lithium and Cobalt

    The Critical Materials Institute (CMI), a Department of Energy research hub under the auspices of Ames Laboratory, is expanding its research on tech metals “as rapid growth in electric vehicles drives demand for lithium, cobalt.” According to a recent Ames Lab press release, the Institute will focus on maximizing the efficiency of processing, usage and [...]
  • McGroarty in The Hill: Copper Should Be Factored Into NAFTA “Auto Rules of Origin” Negotiations

    In a new piece for The Hill, American Resources Policy Network principal Daniel McGroarty zeroes in on the intersection between trade and resource policy. Against the backdrop of the current negotiations to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), McGroarty argues that one of the metals ARPN followers have come to know as a [...]
  • New Year’s Resolutions for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    If you’re one of nearly half of all Americans, you will have already made a few New Year’s resolutions for 2018.   Among the most popular are personal betterment goals like “losing weight,” and “exercising more.”  While we’re all for making personal resolutions, at ARPN, we’re more concerned with the goals our policy makers are [...]
  • An Early Christmas Present? New Executive Order Calls for National Strategy to Increase Domestic Resource Development

    Only one day after USGS released its new report “Critical Minerals of the United States” – a study which underscores the United States’ over-reliance on foreign minerals – a new executive order directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to publish within 60 days a list of critical minerals to be followed by a report (after another [...]
  • Happy Independence Day! We’re Free, Yet So Dependent

    Happy Birthday, America! Another trip around the sun, and we’re back on the eve of the 4th of July gearing up for parades, barbecues and fireworks in honor of the men and women who have fought, and continue to safeguard our freedom today. Last year, we used this opportunity to point out that while we cherish [...]
  • Scandium – Ready to “Take Off”?

    Remember the Light Rider?  A few months ago, we highlighted this high-tech motorcycle, which, because it is held together by an intricate web of “Scalmalloy,” is perhaps the lightest motorcycle in the world. Scalmalloy is an “aluminum alloy powder ‘with almost the specific strength of titanium’ [used] to build incredible structures by fusing thin layers of the material together.” One [...]
  • Rhenium: “Alien Technology” Underscores Importance of Gateway Metals and Co-Products

    At ARPN, we have consistently highlighted the importance of Gateway Metals, which are materials that are not only critical to manufacturing and national security in their own right, but also “unlock” tech metals increasingly important to innovation and technological development. With advancements in materials science, these co-products, many of which have unique properties lending themselves [...]

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