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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 U.S. administration’s latest effort to pressure Tehran over its “funding and support for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist groups and networks, campaigns of regional aggression, and military expansion” in the Middle East.

    Iran may – thankfully – not rank as a top supplier for U.S. domestic consumers of the targeted metals.  However, these latest developments should serve as another reminder that securing domestic supplies of mineral resources should be a top priority.

    ARPN’s Dan McGroarty invoked Iran in his first testimony before Congress on behalf of ARPN in 2011:

    “Now, to be sure, we live in a globalized economy, and indeed — if the U.S. were to simply stop mining copper today – there are known copper prospects in a number of countries. We might turn to Chile, Peru and the Philippines for increased copper supply. Then again, world demand might be met via development of known copper reserves in Russia, Angola, Afghanistan, DRC Congo, or China – including decisions taken in Beijing to exploit copper reserves in the Tibet Autonomous Region. And there is copper in Pakistan and Iran. With the exception of Pakistan — rated “Partly Free” — all of the latter group are rated “Not Free” in the current Freedom House index. So while the world copper market does offer choices, we may well find many of those choices unpalatable from a policy perspective.”

    Removing obstacles to a greater degree of resource independence should be the order of the day, but while we’ve seen some incremental progress, efforts to make substantial changes to our nation’s mineral resource policy framework have in the past been largely derailed or put off.

    The current global race for the metals and minerals underpinning the EV battery revolution and green energy transition have reignited the debate, and new and revived efforts aimed at promoting domestic mineral resource development sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, and Rep. Mark Amodei.

    Here’s hoping that stakeholders see the current trade tensions and their implications as yet another reason to finally formulate a comprehensive mineral resource strategy. 

    In McGroarty’s words:

    “We cannot maintain our modern economy without a steady supply of metals and minerals. Those we do not possess here at home, we must source from other countries. But those we possess but choose not to produce perpetuate a needless foreign dependence – leverage that other nations may well use to America’s disadvantage.”

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  • Profiles of Progress: Public and Private Sectors to Collaborate on World Bank “Climate-Smart Mining Facility”

    Evolving out of its 2017 report “The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low Carbon Future”, which found that the sought-after transition to a “low-carbon future will be significantly more mineral intensive than a business as usual scenario,” the World Bank developed its “Climate-Smart Mining” initiative, which ARPN discussed a few weeks ago.

    Against this backdrop, earlier this month, representatives from public and private sectors from all over the world met in Washington, D.C. for the “Minerals for Climate Action” conference, to launch the World Bank’s “Climate-Smart Mining Facility.”  This multi-donor trust fund has the stated goal of “help[ing] resource-rich developing countries benefit from the increasing demand for minerals and metals, while ensuring the mining sector is managed in a way that minimizes the environmental and climate footprint.”

    According to the World Bank

    “[t]he Facility supports the sustainable extraction and processing of minerals and metals to secure supply for clean energy technologies by minimizing the social, environmental, and climate footprint throughout the value chain of those materials by scaling up technical assistance and investments in resource-rich developing countries.”

    Initial support for the trust fund, which will support specific projects aimed at helping developing countries and emerging economies devise and implement “sustainable and responsible strategies and practices across the mineral value chain,” comes from the German government, as well as private sector companies Rio Tinto and Anglo American.

    According to the World Bank’s press release, “[t]he Facility will also assist governments to build a robust policy, regulatory and legal framework that promotes climate-smart mining and creates an enabling environment for private capital.”

    As followers of ARPN know from our Materials Science Profiles of Progress blog series , public-private partnerships are fueling the materials science revolution which is transforming the ways in which we use and obtain metals and minerals. In the context of the series, we have been featuring a number of domestic public-private partnerships develop practical solutions to critical minerals issues.  

    Seeing these types of partnerships further the goal of sustainably greening the future by responsibly harnessing metals and minerals on an international level is a welcome development, and we’ll be keeping tabs on the “Climate Smart Mining Initiative.”

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  • 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 [...]
  • Aluminum and the Intersection of Trade and Resource Policy: U.S. Senator Discusses Need to Remove Sec. 232 Tariffs

    In an interview with Fox and Friends, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa) discusses the path to what he terms a major trade victory for the U.S.  In order for this to happen, he believes removing the Sec. 232 tariffs from the USMCA, the new and yet-to-be-ratified U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal to replace NAFTA struck in [...]
  • U.S. Should Revisit R&D Spending Priorities, But Reform Cannot Occur in Vacuum 

    Followers of ARPN have long known that China is the big elephant in the room.  In a piece for the Wall Street Journal, Ezekiel Emanuel, Amy Gadsden and Scott Moore lament that while there is a growing  awareness that China may be the – in the words of Sec. of State Mike Pompeo “greatest challenge that [...]
  • Mineral Resource Policy Reform Through the Prism of Our Nation’s Crumbling Infrastructure

    In the past few months, we have seen indications for a growing awareness of the need for mineral resource policy reform. Much emphasis has —rightfully — been placed on the national security aspects of our over-reliance on foreign mineral resources, as well as the nascent realization that the pursuit of the green energy transition is [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • U.S. To Pursue National Electric Vehicle Supply Chain

    ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores must have struck a nerve when he called the U.S. a “bystander” in the current battery arms race during a recent Congressional hearing. His message  —  “Those who control these critical raw materials and those who possess the manufacturing and processing know how, will [...]
  • Paging the Department of Commerce – Australia Releases “Critical Minerals Strategy 2019”

    Last week, the Australian Federal Government released its “Critical Minerals Strategy 2019” – a blueprint aimed at positioning “Australia as a leading global supplier of the minerals that will underpin the industries of the future” – which according to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Sciences’s press release, includes the agritech, aerospace, defence, renewable energy and telecommunications industries. [...]
  • 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 [...]

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