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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 ARPN may recall, the agency’s 2014 decision represented an unprecedented early action to derail the development of the so-called Pebble Deposit.  In spite of the fact that no permit application or specific plans had been submitted, the agency released a cursory review of the Bristol Bay Watershed in Alaska which sounded the alarm on the possible impact of hypothetical mining – even though previous EPA assertions of such preemptive power had been rebuffed in federal court.

    The EPA’s decision to preemptively veto the project before any application had been filed represented a unilateral expansion of EPA powers under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act.

    According to the EPA press release, “the agency can continue its focus on fulfilling its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act to work with the Army Corps to review the permit.”

    The release goes on to say:

    “Today’s action does not approve Pebble’s permit application or determine a particular outcome in the Corps’ permitting process. Instead, it allows EPA to continue working with the Corps to review the current permit application and engage in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.”

    As ARPN’s principal Dan McGroarty stated last year

    “With the growing recognition that the U.S. is dangerously dependent on foreign supply for scores of critical minerals and metals, the need for a predictable permitting process has never been greater. The pre-emptive veto of the Pebble Project casts a chilling effect over resource development in the U.S.  […]to allow a pre-emptive veto to stand is ‘contrary to the spirit of our environmental protection laws, to due process, and to basic fairness.”  

    Thus, seeing the preemptive determination revoked is a positive development that will allow due process and a rigorous review to take its course. 

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  • 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 for a 20-year term, and renewed several times.  The Obama administration had rejected the latest renewals in 2016, but officials in the current administration questioned the government’s legal power to reject the renewal and thus reversed this decision.

    It’s a timely move: formally a copper/nickel/gold/platinum-palladium deposit – the project site has Critical Mineral potential via the Platinum Group Metals, at a time when critical mineral and metal co-products factor into the U.S. Government’s focus on alleviating critical mineral import-dependencies.

    Minnesota Congressmen Emmer (MN-06) and Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08) applauded the signing of the leases.

    Said Congressman Emmer: 

    “Following the Interior’s announcement today, I am pleased that the Trump Administration acknowledges that we can responsibly develop our state’s resources – bringing jobs back to this region – while preserving the forests, lakes and streams that all Minnesotans hold dear,” said Congressman Emmer. “Our state and local economies deserve to prosper, and we can ensure that, while also protecting Minnesota’s beauty for future generations. When it comes to protecting the environment and developing our economic assets, nobody does it better than Minnesota.”

    Congressman Stauber added

    “In northern Minnesota, mining is our past, our present, and our future. With 21st century technology, we can responsibly develop the resources needed for the modern world and unleash the economic engine of northeastern Minnesota. (…) Unfortunately, misinformed policies of the past have not only prevented the responsible development of our resources but have even prohibited companies like Twin Metals from even submitting a proposed mining plan. I applaud Secretary Bernhardt and the Trump Administration for putting politics aside and rightfully giving our miners the opportunity to meet or exceed all environmental standards.”

    The BLM’s Environmental Assessment released in December of 2018 includes updated language to ensure compliance with laws and regulations that have been put in place since the leases were initially granted. 

    With the leases renewed, the permitting process will move into the next phase, during which Twin Metals must submit formal mine plan of operations triggering an extensive scientific and environmental review by the federal government.  

    With copper increasingly becoming a key building block of not just mainstay industries but also our green energy future, this is a welcome development we will continue to follow. 

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  • 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, [...]
  • Copper and the 2018 Critical Minerals List – Considerations for Resource Policy Reform

    While we’re still waiting for policy makers and other stakeholders to take further action, in 2018 an important step was taken to set the stage for mineral resource policy reform with the release of the Department of Interior’s List of 35 Minerals Deemed Critical to U.S. National Security and the Economy. Throughout the drafting stage [...]
  • Critical Minerals Alaska – Rhenium Riches in Alaska Could Help Alleviate Supply Issues

    The BBC has dubbed Rhenium — another metal included in the Department of the Interior’s Final List of 35 Minerals Deemed Critical to U.S. National Security and the Economy — a “super element” with standout properties that can be likened to “alien technology.” Thus, it comes as no surprise that Shane Lasley, writing for North of 60 Mining [...]
  • Squaring the Circle – The Circular Economy, Urban Mining and Mineral Resource Policy

    As Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission for energy policy outlined earlier this month in a video clip, pursuing the vision of a closed-loop circular economy is one of the core tenets of EU resource policy. The concept of a circular economy — a system which thrives on sustainability and focuses mainly on refining [...]

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