American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Why Tungsten should be on your critical minerals watch list

    In a comprehensive interview with The Metals Report, analyst Mark Seddon explains why Tungsten should be on people’s watch list, or, as the interview headline suggests: “Why you should look twice at an ugly duckling metal.”

    Like some of the other critical metals and minerals we have covered on our blog – Antimony and Cobalt come to mind – Tungsten lacks the sex appeal that made investors fall for the rare earth story.”  Says Seddon:

    “One of the big differences between tungsten and REEs is their applications. Tungsten is a very industrial metal. It’s mainly used as a carbide or “hard metal” in drilling and cutting tools used in heavy industry. Tungsten is not sexy in that sense. It’s a very solid industrial market. This contrasts with REEs, which are used in a lot of newer, high-tech applications that are much easier for the investment community to make into an exciting story.”

    While Tungsten may be used in industrial applications that don’t get people as excited as, say, green technologies, there are no viable substitutes at this point.

    Meanwhile, there is a strong geopolitical aspect factoring into the Tungsten narrative:  As is the case with Rare Earths, most of the world’s Tungsten comes from China, which accounts for roughly 80 percent of global Tungsten output, a fact that invites similar challenges as the ones manufacturers relying on REES have seen in the past.

    Further complicating the supply picture for domestic manufacturers is the fact that Tungsten from the Eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and surrounding regions, another main source of supply, has been labeled a conflict mineral and subjected to a series of (confusing) reporting requirements under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law and respective rules handed down by the SEC in 2012.

    A partial solution to at least some of the challenges may lie in the domestic development of our Tungsten supplies, which would allow for reducing our overreliance on foreign minerals and allow for “conflict-free” sourcing.  In any case, however, the Tungsten narrative once more shows that critical resource policy cannot occur in a vacuum, as the strategic implications of our supply issues stretch far beyond the now often-discussed Rare Earths story.

  • A plea for mineral permitting reform

    If you think hard enough, you can find something wrong with anything. Case in point: If there’s anything remotely wrong with having an op-ed appear in the Wall Street Journal, it’s that, for some topics, sometimes 750 words just isn’t enough.

    So I’ll step back here to the Internet for a bit of prequel and sequel to the piece WSJ was gracious enough to run.

    For me, the catalyst for the piece was my immediate reaction to the White House’s laudable goal to double the speed of U.S. manufacturing. Knowing that U.S. mine permitting is easily twice as slow – and more than that in many cases – as in other mining nations, I pictured the prospect of a manufacturing push derailed by the basic inability to source the metals and minerals necessary to make it work. Adjust for Moore’s Law (as amended by David House), with computing capacity doubling every 18 months, and the 7 to 10 years it takes to bring the average U.S. mine through the permitting process is roughly 4 to 6 high-tech “lifetimes.”

    Put another way, how can a typical U.S. technogeek design system 1.0 when the metals and minerals needed to fabricate it won’t come out of an American mine til he’s on version 4-, 5-, or 6.0?

    The real-world answer is: he won’t. Or at least not for production here in the U.S. He’ll source his material – maybe even site his fab plant – in a country where mining happens faster.

    Judging by the pick-up, posts and reprintings, people understood the problem.

    The question is, what will we do about it?

    Because if we do no more than commiserate about our balky resource development system, we’ll miss the main point. What we need now is to generate momentum for reform – a shift in public policy that parallels the dynamism of the private sector which is ready to advance resource development. If we let it.

    I didn’t have the space in the WSJ to point out that Australia permits mines in 18 to 24 months, while Canada does it in about one-third to half the time it takes in the U.S.. Neither country ranks as an environmental scofflaw. Indeed, Sweden — where extractive industries account for roughly 1/5th of its annual exports — is at once ranked as one of the world’s 5 most “sustainable countries,” at the very moment it ranks second in a study of countries that place the least obstacles in the path of mine development.

    You’d think that means we’re ready for a sober, science-based round of permitting reform.

    And you’d be wrong.

    Propose even a modest change to the U.S.’s never-ending permitting story, and a certain sort of anti-mining activist will howl about industry rubber-stamps and environmental short-cuts — as if this bureaucratically barnacled maze we have now is the Platonic ideal for mine permitting. Underneath that position is a decidedly non-scientific belief that when it comes to reviewing a mine, long is good, longer is better, and right time to permit a mine of any kind is… never.

    That doesn’t bode well for the U.S. in a world where capital flows freely to projects with the lowest risk and greatest certainty in terms of public policy. Mines delayed here will simply be built elsewhere. Metals that remain in the ground here will simply provide “price support” for metals mined elsewhere, and sold to us at a profit – or perhaps, in times of crisis, denied to us, if that happens to advantage the supplier country.

    If we stagger forward with our current system, let’s be honest and open-eyed about the outcome: We will perpetuate foreign dependencies that will impair our ability to bring the manufacturing supply-chain home to American cities and towns, forfeiting jobs and GDP and adding to our outbound balance of trade transfers. We will hand to nations who do not always wish us well leverage over our economy and – in the case of the many metals required for our advanced weapons systems – our national security. And we will surrender a large portion of the innovation-driven advances in high-tech and green-tech to nations that can offer access to metals and minerals the U.S. in many instances possesses but makes it impossible to mine.

    If we’re serious about reviving American manufacturing, if we’re serious about restoring American jobs, if we’re serious about making sure the high-tech and green-tech dreams of the future are Made In America, if we’re serious about safeguarding our national security – we need a new resource development strategy. And we need it now.

  • American Resources Principal discusses mineral resource supply issues in context of White House initiatives in Wall Street Journal

    In a column for the Wall Street Journal, American Resources Policy Network president Dan McGroarty acknowledges some positive signs coming from the Obama Administration indicating an increased focus on access to critical metals and minerals, but underscores that the “situation is actually more acute.” Citing General Electric as an example of a manufacturer that uses [...]
  • Op-ed: America’s Growing Minerals Deficit

    The following op-ed by American Resources Principal Dan McGroarty was published in the Wall Street Journal on January 31, 2013. The original text can be found here. America’s Growing Minerals Deficit The U.S. is now tied for last, with Papua New Guinea, in the time it takes to get a permit for a new mine. By [...]
  • American Resources principal discusses critical and strategic minerals with Juneau Empire

    Leading up to last Friday’s second Alaska Strategic and Critical Minerals Summit in Fairbanks, the Juneau Empire spoke with our very own Dan McGroarty, who had the honor to present alongside many distinguished members of Alaska’s State government and private sector representatives. The Juneau Empire’s Russell Stigall has summarized their conversation in an article highlighting [...]
  • Dan McGroarty featured on Lars Larson Show, PayneNation

    American Resources Principal Dan McGroarty appeared on the Lars Larson show and Charles Payne’s PayneNation to discuss the EPA’s latest bid to stop the prospective Pebble Mine in Alaska before the project has a chance to be reviewed. Check out the interviews below.
  • Dan McGroarty appears on PayneNation

    Dan McGroarty appeared on XM radio show PayneNation yesterday to discuss Rare Earths with Fox News contributor Charles Payne. Listen below.
  • American Resources leader Dan McGroarty appears on CNBC

    American Resources Policy Network leader appeared on CNBC’s Squawkbox yesterday to discuss rare earths and critical metals. Among other things, he said: “If you look at President Obama’s goal…of moving more quickly to…renewable energy sources…you’ve already touched on the fact that [they] require rare earths. The better way…than trying to sue China to force them [...]
  • Copper Month is over but copper’s rise continues

    American Resource’s Copper Month may have ended, but copper demand continues to show strength, in spite of a global economy that is anemic at best.  Reuters reports a rapid depletion of current copper stocks, contrary to the macro-economic news of slowing global growth.  American Resources will leave month-to-month fluctuations in copper and other metals markets [...]
  • U.S. Army War College scholar joins American Resources expert panel

    We’re thrilled to announce that Dr. Kent Butts, a scholar at the U.S. Army War College, has joined the American Resources Policy Network’s panel of issue experts. Dr. Butts serves as both Professor of Political Military Strategy and Director of the National Security Issues Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership, U.S. Army War College.  His [...]