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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • U.S. Senator and AK Governor for The Hill: With China Having Taken Control of Critical Mineral Supply Chains, We Need to Act Now

    Beijing’s threat to withhold potentially life-saving medical supplies and medications in the middle of a global pandemic, during which China has “taken control of [respective] supply chains around the world as part of its quest for global domination,” were a wake up call, write U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) in an op-ed for The Hill. Medical supplies and medications, however, they say, “aren’t the only products the Chinese control that the United States depends on.” With China having effectively consolidated the global supply chain for critical minerals, including rare earth elements, we are now faced with the gargantuan task of “jumpstarting an industry that barely exists.”

    Thankfully, as Sen. Cruz and Gov. Dunleavy point out, the Trump administration began taking steps towards prioritizing critical mineral resource policy and re-shoring these supply chains in 2017, and has stepped up its efforts once more with the signing of a new presidential executive order declaring a critical minerals national emergency at the end of September of this year.

    The task, as the authors point out, is “exponentially more difficult” than keeping existing supply chains in the United States, because China recognized the importance of critical minerals for high-tech economies well before other global players, and has been jockeying for the global pole position in the space ever since. Write Cruz and Dunleavy:

    “Bringing the supply chain to the United States requires granular knowledge of the industry, because investors are sitting on the sidelines of the critical minerals industry for different reasons than they’re sitting on the sidelines of the pharmaceutical industry. To fix this, we have to convince investors to get into a market where they are justifiably afraid China will undermine them at every point of the supply chain.”

    They point to Sen. Ted Cruz’s ORE Act and Gov. Dunleavy’s executive action to provide financing for REE mining projects in Alaska as examples of market-based incentives which, coupled with regulatory reform can jump-start the much-needed buildout of our nation’s crucial mineral supply chains.

    The ORE ACT provides tax incentives for buying American mined rare earths and battery minerals and metals; strengthens requirements for the Pentagon to source these critical mined materials from the U.S.; and establishes grants for pilot programs to develop these materials in the U.S.”

    Sen. Cruz and Gov. Dunleavy insist that “the entire country has a role to play” in the effort to build out a comprehensive domestic critical minerals supply chain – “from the reclamation of mines and reprocessing of mine waste rock in Appalachia, to mines in Texas, Alaska, California and Wyoming. In Alaska alone, 30 of the 35 critical minerals identified by President Trump are available for extraction, as well as tremendous amounts of commercial-grade graphite, lead, zinc and copper.”

    Efforts like the ORE Act are gaining traction in Congress, and Alaska – rich in metals and minerals (with 30 of the 35 deemed critical by the Department of the Interior in 2018 available for extraction) — is assuming a leadership role at the state level.

    We don’t have a moment to waste. As Sen. Cruz and Gov. Dunleavy argue:

    “At any time, China could cut off our access to rare earth elements and critical minerals. We need to act now to establish a critical mineral supply chain in the United States, and to make sure we can manufacture defense technologies and support our military. Our national security depends on it.”

    Click here to read the full op-ed.

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  • Russia Pushes for Global Rare Earth Market Share as U.S. Struggles to Move Forward With Critical Minerals Initiatives

    Russia is certainly making headlines this week. 

    Quite obviously, much of the media attention is focused around President Vladimir Putin’s declaration that Russia has approved a vaccine for the coronavirus (after less than two months of testing) — but developments in the critical minerals realm also warrant attention:

    A top Russian government official has told Reuters that Russia plans an investment of $1.5 billion in rare earth minerals in its quest to become the biggest REE producer after China by 2030.

    The move comes at a time when other countries, including the United States, are trying to curb their over-reliance on foreign critical minerals against the backdrop of growing tensions with China, which has long held the pole position in the race to control the global REE supply chain.

    According to Reuters, Russia is looking to attract investors for eleven projects designed to increase the country’s share of global REE output to 10% by 2030, allowing for Russia to “become almost self-sufficient in rare earth elements by 2025 and start exports in 2026.”

    While it appeared that U.S. efforts to promote domestic critical mineral resource development were finally gaining traction in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic having laid bare our mineral resource supply chain challenges and over-reliance on foreign (and especially Chinese) supplies, policy may once more become the victim of politics in this watershed election year. 

    Reform-minded lawmakers have put forth several legislative initiatives, and have even formed a bipartisan “Critical Materials Caucus.”  However, while critical minerals provisions were added to the latest round of COVID relief stimulus packages, chances of their passage have been dwindling as partisan tensions continue to flare.
    As attempts to keep the momentum for resource-related policy reform appear to have come to an impasse in Congress, researchers are forging ahead to provide innovative solutions that not only transform the way we use certain metals and minerals, but have the potential to help alleviate our over-reliance issues. 

    The Department of Energy has stepped up its efforts to promote collaboration between its research hubs and the private sector to look for ways to diversify mineral resource supply, develop substitutes and drive recycling of critical minerals and rare earth elements. Some recent initiatives include “using a high-speed shredder that turns old computer hard drives into scrap containing significant amounts of REE content,” and “recovering nickel, cobalt and manganese from disassembled electric vehicle battery packs.”

    Meanwhile, in the private sector, a rare earths pilot plant processing facility situated in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, which will focus on group separation on REEs in to heavy, middle, and light rare earths, has received the required permits and officially opened. According to media reports“USA Rare Earth’s pilot plant is the second link in a 100% US-based rare earth oxide supply chain, drawing on feedstock from its Round Top deposit.”

    Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit,  the U.S. had begun to enter into cooperative agreements with allied nations to ensure future supplies of critical materials, specifically with Canada and Australia. 

    Against the backdrop of the upcoming 2020 elections, finding policy consensus may be more than an uphill battle.  However, for the sake of our national security and economic wellbeing, lawmakers would be well-advised to reach out across the political aisle to foster a policy environment that promotes an all-of-the-above approach on critical minerals and harnesses the United States’ vast domestic mineral potential.   

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  • U.S. Senate To Take Up Comprehensive Bipartisan Legislation Containing Critical Minerals Provisions As Early As This Week

    The U.S. Senate may cast a vote on a comprehensive bipartisan energy legislation package that contains provisions pertaining to critical mineral resource supply issues as early as this week.   S. 2657 is the legislative vehicle for the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA), a package consisting of several pieces of legislation, which reflect the “priorities of [...]
  • Moving Beyond the Report Stage? – Specter of REE Supply Disruptions Prompts Congressional Action on Critical Minerals

    The U.S. and China have resumed trade talks after last month’s meeting between U.S. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka broke a deadlock — but key issues remain far from settled. Against the backdrop of both sides preparing for a protracted battle, Jeff Green, president [...]
  • Mamula and Bridges: Hardrock “Modernization” Bills Could Do More Harm Than Good

    “Does America stand for self-reliance and innovative discovery of critical minerals for our economy and national defense and security? Or will Congress drive the fatal stake through the heart of our struggling domestic metals mining industry?” According to a new Washington Examiner piece by Cato Institute Adjunct Scholar in Geosciences and ARPN expert panel member [...]
  • ARPN Expert Panel Member in The Hill: U.S. Must Stop Shunning the Importance of Its Mineral Wealth

    In a new piece for The Hill, ARPN expert panel member and author of the recently-released “Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence” Ned Mamula laments the United States’ long-standing ignorance and even shunning of “the importance of its mineral wealth.”  In spite of the fact that, as he says, mining is “the one economic sector that meets the [...]
  • Trade Tensions Underscore Need for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    While 2018 brought the inter-relationship between trade and resource policy to the forefront, this trend is continuing in 2019.   Last week, the White House announced sanctions on Iranian metals, which represent the Tehran regime’s biggest source of export revenue aside from petroleum.  The sanctions on Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors represent the [...]
  • Lawmakers Introduce New Legislation Aimed at Changing United States’ “Bystander” Status in Race for Critical Minerals

    As pressures mount for the United States to bolster its position as a non-fuel mineral raw materials producer amidst the ongoing battery tech revolution, a group of U.S. Senators have introduced legislation to boost domestic production of critical minerals. The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and [...]
  • U.S. Senators Introduce Legislation in Push to Re-Establish U.S. Domestic REE Supply Chain

    Bearing testimony to a nascent – and long-overdue – broader awareness of our nation’s over-reliance on foreign mineral resources, three U.S. senators have introduced new legislation aimed to reduce U.S. dependence on Chinese imports of rare earth elements (REEs). REEs are key components of a wide range of high-tech products across all walks of life [...]
  • ARPN Expert: Partisan Politics Aside, New Congress Holds Opportunity to Strengthen Defense Industrial Base

    In a new piece for Defense News, Jeff Green, president of Washington, D.C.-based government relations firm J.A. Green & Company, and member of the ARPN panel of experts, calls on lawmakers on Capitol Hill to work towards overcoming partisan divides and “find common ground to support the defense-industrial base.” One of the first analysts to [...]

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