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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Release of USGS’s 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries Once More Underscores Need for Resource Policy Reform

    The partial shutdown of the federal government at the beginning of this year had delayed its release, but last week, USGS published its 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries. Followers of ARPN will know that we await the publication’s release with somewhat bated breath every year, as especially “Page 6” – the chart depicting U.S. Net Import Reliance – gives us a window into where we stand as a nation in terms of mineral resource security.

    We’re not overly surprised, though, to see that there are no major changes compared to last year. The number of metals and minerals for which we are 100% import-dependent may have dropped slightly (from 21 to 18), but a closer look into the footnotes of our favorite chart reveals that for two of the minerals previously included in the 100% import-reliance category, Quartz Chrystal (Industrial) and Thallium USGS states that “not enough information is available to calculate the exact percentage of import dependence” this year. For the third mineral to drop out of the 100% import-reliance category, Yttrium, numbers have dropped to 95% with production in California’s Mountain Pass mine having restarted in the first quarter of 2018. That is a positive development, but hardly a seismic shift in domestic resource development.

    The number of metals and minerals for which we are 50% or more than 50% import-dependent is still at 49, down one from 50 – but with the above-referenced caveat of lacking data for two materials – so it may in fact be higher than last year.

    The fact of the matter is that U.S net import reliance remains too high, and has – with implications for our economy and national security. USGS’s comparing its net import reliance numbers with the Department of the Interior’s Critical Minerals List, released for the first time in 2017, underscores this:

    14 of the 18 mineral commodities with 100% net import reliance were considered “critical” by DOI. 15 of the 30 remaining mineral commodities with imports greater than 50 percent of annual consumption were also reflected on DOI’s list. Aluminum, listed at exactly 50 percent import-reliance on the 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries, also has “critical mineral” status as per DOI.

    Hopefully these findings provide fresh impetus for mineral resource policy reform, for which we saw incremental progress in 2018 – but are still awaiting further steps, including the release of the — by now long-overdue — report by the Department of Commerce subsequent to the 2017 presidential executive order on critical minerals outlining a “broader strategy” and recommending specific policy steps to implement it.

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  • 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 Copper used in OLED technology to lower the cost to light up TVs and smart phones.

    Perhaps more importantly in light of the current debate over a shift towards renewable energy, Copper is also one of the key building blocks of our green energy future.

    In that, however, as we have previously argued, lies an inherent irony: Proponents of a green energy shift for the United States tend to vehemently oppose the domestic development of the very metals and minerals that make said shift possible.  However, as ARPN expert Ned Mamula recently indicated, that needn’t be the case.

    Advances in technology harnessed by the modern mining industry make it possible to restore a balance between mining and environmental protection – a position recently outlined by Fleming Voetman, VP for Public Affairs at the International Copper Association.

    In a piece for GreenBiz, Voetman outlines how “[i]ndustries are responding by recognizing their responsibility and trying to meet the increased expectations of consumers, society and governments,” and notes several positive trends that are currently underway.   These range from consumer electronics companies like Ericsson and mining companies like Rio Tinto overhauling their supply chain policies to ensure suppliers conform to certain environmental and social standards, to companies like consumer electronics maker Phillips and mining company Teck supporting local communities.

    Concludes Voetman: 

    “As the demand for copper and other materials necessary for the development of a low carbon society increases, the importance of these responsible sourcing actions grows. Responsible sourcing is a way of extending the benefits of this demand in materials to local communities.

    With global copper demand expected to grow alongside the roll out of energy-efficiency measures and uptake of renewable-energy sources, it is clear that we as an industry collectively need to address societal expectations. The World Bank’s 2017 report on the growing role of minerals and metals states, ‘The shift to low carbon energy will produce global opportunities with respect to a number of minerals,’ and that limiting climate change to a global increase of 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius will require radical changes to drive this increased demand.”

    Industry understands that reconciling mining and environmental protection is both necessary and feasible. It is time for our policy makers to realize this, too, and devise a policy framework conducive to the responsible harnessing of the metals and minerals beneath our own soil. 

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  • 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 [...]
  • ARPN Expert Panel Member Explains How a Look to the Past Could Help Us Move Forward on Green Energy Transition

    In his latest piece for The Hill, Ned Mamula, member of the ARPN panel of experts and adjunct scholar in geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute, zeroes in on what we have called the “inherent irony” of the Green New Deal – the fact that a green energy transition requires large quantities [...]
  • Today: Three Members of ARPN Expert Panel to Discuss Battery Tech Materials and Supply Chains at Miller Thomson’s PDAC 2019

    Bearing testimony of the immense importance of the issue of battery tech materials and their supply chains, three members of the ARPN panel of issue experts will be presenting their viewpoints at a seminar hosted by Miller Thomson as part of their PDAC 2019 Series hosted in Toronto, Canada today. Simon Moores, Managing Director of [...]
  • Section 232 Tariffs on Aluminum and Steel on the Way Out?

    News headlines these days are full of doom and gloom. As the Guardian writes, “whether or not the world really is getting worse, the nature of news will interact with the nature of cognition to make us think that it is.” Against this backdrop, it’s nice to see a little – albeit cautious – optimism [...]
  • “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, [...]
  • Green New Deal’s Inherent Irony: Renewable Energy Sources Rely Heavily on Critical Minerals, the Domestic Development of Which Proponents Oppose

    There is much talk about the so-called “Green New Deal,” a concept originally floated by the Green Party and now championed by newly-elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).  Amidst much of the information (and misinformation) that is being spread with regards to the plan that seeks to implement a sweeping transition to green renewable energy, one aspect has [...]
  • McGroarty Warns of Real World Problem for 21st Century American Warrior

    In a new commentary for Investor’s Business Daily, ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty warns of “America’s unilateral disarmament in the resource wars.”  Invoking the world of Marvel comics, in which Vibranium is the imaginary metal used for Captain America’s shield, IronMan’s exoskeleton, and Black Panther’s energy-absorbing suit, McGroarty argues that the 21st Century American warrior (perhaps [...]
  • U.S. Currently Bystander in Global Battery Arms Race, ARPN Expert Tells U.S. Senate Committee

    A key global player, the United States is not used to being a bystander. Yet this is exactly what is currently happening, says Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s Managing Director Simon Moores, addressing the full U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources this morning. Delivering his testimony on the outlook for energy and minerals market in [...]

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