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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Materials Science Revolution Vs. Coronavirus: Copper-Infusion to Turn Common Cotton Fibers Into a “Defensive Wall”?

    Last week, we discussed the antimicrobial properties of copper, the re-introduction of which experts argue could help the fight against Coronavirus and future pandemics — particularly in hospitals and other public spaces. 

    Taking the notion of a new idea often being an old one further, an Israeli scientist has taken the mainstay material copper, and developed a proprietary cotton embedded with accelerated copper oxide particles, and combined it with a nanofiber textile that blocks pathogens to create a “reusable, washable, breathable antiviral facemask.”  Textile engineer Jeff Gabbay, who has a background in pathology and infectious diseases, has likened the process he discovered to beneficially infuse cotton to “commercial pasta-making on steroids.”

    His company, which, according to news reports should be nearing completion of the production of the first 20,000 facemasks this month and has plans to expand production to a wide variety of fabric products, recently completed testing at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School sponsored by the Centers of Disease Control.  

    The tests found that by changing patients’ gowns and bedding to the company’s “self-sterilizing copper-infused textiles,” healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) could be reduced by 25%, and multi-drug resistant organisms could be reduced by 40%. These numbers could be even more staggering if copper-infused textiles were used for “all things hospital” gear – including hospital staff uniforms, lab coats, scrubs and robes.

    We have frequently discussed the neck-breaking speed with which materials science is changing the application of metals and minerals.  Here’s a real-life example of how an old school material’s new applications could potentially save countless lives. 

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  • COVID-19 Requires Rethink – Time to Bring Back Copper in Public Spaces?

    Rock beats scissors. Scissors beat paper. Copper beats coronavirus.

    It sounds flippant, but at this moment of utmost seriousness, there’s a truth to it. 

    In a new piece, senior writer for Fast Company Mark Wilson discusses the thesis of Bill Keevil, professor of environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton, whose research has led him to conclude that copper — recognized by ancient civilizations as vital for our health for more than 5,000 years for its antimicrobial properties, but replaced in many 20th century building applications by new materials — should be brought “back in public spaces, and hospitals in particular.”

    Writes Wilson:

    “When influenzas, bacteria like E. coli, superbugs like MRSA, or even coronaviruses land on most hard surfaces, they can live for up to four to five days. But when they land on copper, and copper alloys like brass, they die within minutes. ‘We’ve seen viruses just blow apart,’ says Bill Keevil, professor of environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton. ‘They land on copper and it just degrades them.’”

    Wilson recounts that medical researcher Phyllis J. Kuhn critiqued the disappearance of copper from hospitals as early as 1983, noting that while sleek and shiny stainless steel can look “reassuringly clean,” tarnished brass, while looking dirty and contaminating, actually kills bacteria. Decades later, Bill Keevil and other researchers have furthered Kuhn’s findings.

    Wilson cites a 2015 study grant issued by the Department of Defense comparing infection rates at three hospitals. Researchers found that “when copper alloys were used in three hospitals, it reduced infection rates by 58%.”  A similar study conducted in 2016 focused on a pediatric intensive care unit drew similar conclusions and found an equally impressive reduction rate in infections courtesy of copper alloys. 

    As for cost, Wilson points out:

    “Copper is always more expensive than plastic or aluminum, and often a pricier alternative to steel.  But given that hospital-borne infections are costing the healthcare system as much as $45 billion a year—not to mention killing as many as 90,000 people—the copper upgrade cost is negligible by comparison.”

    The current COVID-19 pandemic will require creative thinking on many levels. As Wilson, summing up Keevil’s findings, writes:

    “In the face of an unavoidable future full of global pandemics, we should be using copper in healthcare, public transit, and even our homes. And while it’s too late to stop COVID-19, it’s not too early to think about our next pandemic.”

     Copper may have been around for thousand of years — but sometimes a new idea is really an old one, and bringing copper back into public spaces may prove to be another weapon in battling the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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  • Renewable Energy Transition Continues to Fuel Copper Demand

    Rare earths and lithium-Ion technology metals and minerals may be the talk of the town these days — and for good reason — and stakeholders are finally pursuing policies aimed at facilitating secure access for them.   However, as a new analysis by Wood Mackenzie shows, we should not forget about the more traditional mainstay [...]
  • EPA Withdrawal of Preemptive Veto of Alaska Strategic Mineral Mining Project Positive Development for Due Process

    Amidst a recent uptick in government actions aimed at increasing domestic mineral resource development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this month withdrew its preemptive proposed determination to restrict use of one of the largest domestic deposits of key strategic mineral resources (Copper, Molybdenum, Gold, Silver and Rhenium) in Southwestern Alaska.  As followers of [...]
  • DoI Grants Hardrock Mineral Lease Renewals in Superior National Forest in Minnesota

    As the global race for mineral resources heats up, the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management renewed two hardrock mineral leases in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, opening the area up to copper mining. The leases granted to Twin Metals Minnesota LLC over heavy opposition from environmentalist groups, were first issued in 1966 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Sustainably Greening the Future: Mining’s Growing Role in the Low-Carbon Transition

    At ARPN, we’ve long made the case that the current push towards a lower-carbon future is not possible without mining, as green energy technology relies heavily on a score of critical metals and minerals. In 2017, the World Bank World Bank published “The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low Carbon Future”, which echoed [...]
  • Sustainable Sourcing to Support Green Energy Shift – A Look at Copper

    Followers of ARPN will know that Copper is more than just an old school mainstay industrial metal.   We’ve long touted its versatility, stemming from its traditional uses, new applications and Gateway Metal status. Courtesy of the ongoing materials science revolution, scientists are constantly discovering new uses – with the latest case in point being [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress – Advances in Metals and Minerals Research May Yield Breakthrough in Quest for Fusion Power

    “Thousands of years ago, humans discovered they could heat rocks to get metal, and it defined an epoch. Later, we refined iron into steel, and it changed the course of civilization. More recently, we turned petroleum into plastic, with all that implies. Whenever we create new materials that push the limits of what’s possible, we [...]
  • “Something Does not Come from Nothing” – Formulation of Mineral Resource Strategy Should be a Precursor to Green Energy Debate

    “Something does not come from nothing. That fact can be easily forgotten when it comes to seemingly abstract concepts like ‘energy,’” writes Angela Chen in a new piece for technology news and media network The Verge. Chen zeroes in on four key metals and minerals that have become indispensable components of green energy technology – Neodymium, [...]
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