American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • “A case study in critical metals inaction” – ARPN’s McGroarty on Rhenium

    In a new piece for Investor Intel, our very own Dan McGroarty sounds the alarm on a little-noticed but troubling passage in the U.S. House-passed Defense Authorization Act for 2014.  Said section in Title III acknowledges the importance of Tungsten and Molybdenum powders, including Tungsten Rhenium (WRe) wire to a variety of Department of Defense (DoD) applications. Noting that there is no suitable substitute for WRe wire, the bill directs the Secretary of Defense to determine whether there is sufficient supply of WRE wire to meet DoD requirements, and to submit a mitigation plan in case of a negative determination.

    As McGroarty argues, “in the case of Tungsten, the U.S. currently produces more than half of the metal it uses each year. Which makes Rhenium the weak link in the WRe chain.”

    The reason?  In spite of the fact that Rhenium is critical for high-temperature superalloys used in the turbines of the Joint Strike Fighter-35 and other fighter aircraft, there is no Rhenium in the U.S. National Defense Stockpile and the U.S. currently imports 78% of the Rhenium it uses.

    With Rhenium being a byproduct of Copper production, the non-specified military applications could be met if the proposed Resolution Copper mine project in Arizona – expected to increase U.S. Rhenium production by more than 200% – was realized.

    However, that project remains in limbo with a necessary land swap bill having met ferocious (and largely baseless) opposition by mining opponents.

    Concludes McGroarty:

    “U.S. policymakers have a choice to make. They can put in place a strategic resource development policy that would help produce more U.S. supply of critical metals like Rhenium – and, while they’re at it, the 18 other metals for which the U.S. is currently 100% import-dependent – or they can stick with our current faith-based resource policy on the theory that other countries will happily sell us the metals and minerals we fail to mine in the U.S.

    Until then, Rhenium will remain an example of the leverage the U.S. places in other country’s hands to provide – or withhold – metals critical to U.S. national security.”

    Click here to read the full piece. 

  • America’s Mineral Resources: Creating Mining & Manufacturing Jobs and Securing America

    Testimony presented by Daniel McGroarty – Oversight Hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Sub-Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources, March 21, 2013

    Chairman Lamborn, my thanks to you and your colleagues on the House Sub-Committee on Energy and Mineral Resources for the opportunity to testify today. I am Daniel McGroarty, President of the American Resource Policy Network, a non-profit think tank and experts organization dedicated to informing the public — and the ongoing policy debate — on the importance of developing U.S. mineral and metals resources — and reducing America’s dangerous dependency on foreign sources of supply.

    I am also an officer and director of U.S. Rare Earths, a publicly-held company currently developing Rare Earths properties in three states, with the aim of adding to the domestic supply of metals critical to our high-tech and green-tech sectors, as well as the U.S. military’s advanced defense systems. The subject before this sub-committee this morning – America’s Mineral Resources:
    Creating Mining & Manufacturing Jobs and Securing America – is critical to so many of the pressing policy issues before the Congress today, whether it’s the restoration of American manufacturing prowess, or restoring our economy to sustainable growth, or supporting our high-tech sector and our green-tech transition – and of course, as the last portion of our title today suggests: “Securing America.”

    As a significant first step towards aligning our public policy with the goal of strengthening our resource sector, I want to focus on one of the bills before this Committee and this Congress: HR 1063, the ‘‘National Strategic and Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013,’’ introduced by Chairman Lamborn.

    As the bill notes – and I quote — “the United States has vast mineral resources but is becoming increasingly dependent on foreign sources.” The bill buttresses this statement with data on the degree to which the U.S. is 100% foreign-dependent on certain metals and minerals – 18 at present — up from six 25 years ago. Last year, when my organization, American Resources, did a risk screen for metals and minerals used in defense applications, we derived a “risk pyramid,” with 46 metals on it – with China being the single largest supplier. But as we looked further at known resources located in the United States, we found that the U.S. is home to resources for 40 of the 46 metals and minerals on our risk pyramid.

    In other words, if we are foreign-dependent for a wide range of hard rock resources, it is a dependency that is largely self-inflicted.

    As I see it, the Lamborn bill takes three steps that would help the U.S. formulate a targeted policy to reduce — and in the case of many metals, eventually eliminate – our foreign dependence.

    First – via Section 4 – the bill strengthens our assessment capability. We can’t begin to systematically address our resource dependence if we lack current, comprehensive data on the depth of that dependence. And that assessment, in turn, requires solid data on the extent to which potential resources might be found on federal lands – including lands withdrawn from mineral exploration and development – as well as the uses to which various metals are put across our economy and in our defense sector – and finally, a review of our current foreign suppliers, with an assessment of the likelihood of shortfalls or supply disruptions. Because in a world of resource nationalism, foreign dependence for critical metals can be used as leverage – commercial, but also military – that can induce economic shock to the American system.

    And yet even before the U.S. Government begins collecting data, the agencies involved must begin by sorting through a half-dozen conflicting definitions of critical and strategic metals – one so tight that it produced a single strategic metal to the exclusion of all others – and some so vague that the entire Periodic Table might be eligible for inclusion.

    The second key section in the Lamborn legislation concerns eliminating needless duplication in the mine permitting process – a process that today, in the leading independent study, earns the U.S. worst-in-the-world ranking, tied for last with Papua New Guinea, with the average mine permitting process in the U.S. taking 7-10 years. And this metric is getting worse, not better: Just 4 years ago, in 2009, the same study found the U.S. process took an average of 5 to 7 years.

    And little wonder why. One day, the DoD releases a study showing 23 metals and minerals in potential shortfall, while the DoE declares a dozen minerals critical to the green-tech and clean-energy transition. But at the very same time the U.S. EPA moves to stop a proposed American copper mine – a metal whose short supply, DoD tells us, has already caused “a significant weapon system production delay” – before the permitting process has even begun.

    So with so many mixed signals coming from the federal government, let’s ask ourselves: If you were an American manufacturer, dependent on metals and minerals engineered into your products, could you risk waiting for a reliable source of American supply? Or would you build your new facility where the metals are – in China, perhaps – exporting jobs and Intellectual Property, sacrificing GDP and feeding a negative balance of trade as we buy back products that could have been, should have been, made here in America?

    Mr. Chairman, we need to recognize that Made in America often begins with Mined in America. The Lamborn bill puts us back on that track.

    The third feature in HR 1063 that I want to mention today is the requirement for a National Mineral Assessment, updated at 2-year intervals. Critical metals are technology-dependent; and as technology evolves over time, so too will our tool-kit of critical metals. In Roman times, sodium chloride – salt – was a critical mineral, essential to preserving food for armies on the move. In Adam Smith’s time, he classed gunpowder and sailcloth as critical materials, and the father of free-market theory warned Britain against being dependent on foreign sources of supply. In our Moore’s Law world, as technology cycles are measured in months, not years, we will need to constantly update our understanding of what metals and minerals deserve to be called critical.

    The Lamborn bill is a solid test of our seriousness on this issue. If enacted, it would provide the fact-base for a data-driven assessment of our domestic resource potential, our vulnerability to foreign supply, and the obstacles that stand between us and a greater degree of resource independence.

    I commend the Chairman for his leadership on the critical issue of critical metals, and for the Committee’s focus today on the various bills that are the focus of this hearing. America has the good fortune to be a resource-rich nation. Sound policy can help ensure that our resources will be used to support our economic strength and our national security – and reduce the dangers of resource dependence in our uncertain world.

    Thank you.

  • Mineral Resources and the Presidential Election

    American Resources Principal Daniel McGroarty addresses the issue of the United States mineral dependencies against the background of mounting Presidential campaign pressures in a piece for The Hill’s Congress Blog. Here’s an excerpt: When it comes to our mineral dependence, President Obama has talked about Rare Earths, talked about strengthening manufacturing, and talked about the [...]
  • Time for a “strategy to bring more U.S. minerals mining operations online”

    National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn had a great piece in the Washington Times last week striking a tune that will be familiar to readers of our blog. Quinn argued that it’s time for the United States “to develop a strategy to bring more U.S. minerals mining operations online.” Here are some of [...]
  • Awareness of rare earths supply issues rising on Capitol Hill

    Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey (D) had a piece up on The Hill’s Congress Blog last week which highlighted China’s near-total rare earths supply monopoly and resulting challenges for our domestic industries. Among other things, it also called for increased domestic rare earths production. Writes Casey: While I hope to see quick action from China, we [...]
  • Rep. Coffman, Congress Launch Rare Earths Caucus

    On Wednesday, December 14, I attended the first-ever meeting of the Congressional Rare Earths Caucus. The brainchild of Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman, a leader on the issue of rare earths and resource dependency, the new caucus will push for rare earths supply chain.  The U.S. Magnetic Materials Association’s Jeff Green conducted the briefing, focusing on [...]
  • Will the U.S. Congress take on resource development regulatory reform?

    Those of us who follow how public policy impacts private-sector efforts to develop domestic mineral resources need to tune in to the current Capitol Hill debate on jobs and economic growth. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) recently introduced the Public Lands Job Creation Act, a bill that he says “will streamline the permitting process for energy [...]
  • Rep. Denham: “Exploring U.S. natural resources key to solving problems”

    In a passionate delivery on the House of Representatives floor, California Congressman Jeff Denham delivered a message about natural resources and American jobs. In his closing, Denham said, “We won’t solve CA’s energy problems or the nation’s job issue without addressing our natural resources.” Watch the short video below to hear his full plea to [...]
  • ARPN Expert Commentary: Congressional Action on REE Policy is Needed

    ARPN expert Lisa Reisman has a very insightful post on her website “MetalMinerTM” this week. Adding her own commentary, Reisman discusses rare earth and specialty metals lobbyist Jeff Green’s take on the current public policy debate regarding rare earth metals and critical minerals, as well as related legislation in pending in Congress.  Below is an [...]
  • U.S. House subcommittee focuses on America’s resource dependency

    On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, I testified on behalf of American Resources Policy Network before the House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, which held a hearing on the issue of “domestic minerals supplies and demands in a time of foreign supply disruption.” (Read my testimony here and watch my remarks [...]