American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • New study sounds cautionary note on seabed mining prospects

    Much was made of a recent discovery of significant rare earth deposits on the seabed of the Pacific Ocean. Some were even heralding the beginning of the end of China’s rare earth near-total monopoly.
    Lending credibility to those cautioning against this sentiment, a new Canadian-led study published in the journal Geology concludes that “accessible supplies of deep-sea resources are not nearly as plentiful as previously believed,” reports the Vancouver Sun.

    The study was centered around a copper-gold extraction project proposed by Canada’s Nautilus Minerals on the bottom of the Bismarck Sea off the coast of Papua New Guinea. It found that while the deep seabed may hold massive amounts of minerals, accessible deposits of copper and zinc, for example, are “insufficient to satisfy a growing global demand for these metals.”

    Extrapolating from the findings, one of the researchers concluded that while he thinks that seabed mining will happen eventually, “the oceans – at least on the neo-volcanic zones where people are presently exploring – are not going to make a major impact on the total availability of metals.”

    Aside from the technical challenges of deep-seabed mining, there is the political challenge of clarifying who owns the seabed “commons,” as our very own Daniel McGroarty has pointed out. With a UN agency, the International Seabed Authority, exercising jurisdiction in a addition to nation-states nearest the claims, this is a scenario tailor-made for disputes and lawsuits.

    Discoveries of mineral deposits are certainly fascinating, and may hold some promise for the future, when technological progress makes them more accessible, and extraction more viable.  For now, however, the order of the day should be to develop a coherent strategy to secure access to critical resources by focusing on the vast mineral riches beneath our soil.

  • EPA Urged to Oppose Wind, Solar Power

    Well, you won’t see that headline atop of pieces like this one in the Alaskan press, but it’s a logical extension of policy actions like the one proposed to stop a copper/gold/molybdenum mine in Alaska.  In this case, we’re told that we can either allow the mine to proceed – or we can save the salmon.

    Is the choice really that stark and simple?  Is the situation so dire that EPA should step in to stop the permitting process, as at least one U.S. Senator now urges – or should we let the prescribed process run its course?  After all, it’s not as if the proposed mine is getting a free pass: As the article indicates, the current permitting process requires approvals from 67 different state and federal agencies.

    Two facts to inject here:

    1. As documented in the authoritative Behre Dolbear report, the U.S. currently ranks worst in the world – among the so-called mining nations – in the time it takes to permit a mine.
    2. Copper – the primary product in this instance – is a critical technology-metal, no less than exotic elements like the Rare Earths.

    Case in point:  A typical wind turbine uses between 3 and 4½ tons of copper.  That’s right: 3 to 4½ tons – per turbine.

    Copper is also the source for Selenium – a little know metal that is key to next-gen solar power systems.

    So would stopping a U.S. copper mine save salmon?  Or would it sacrifice wind and solar power we’re counting on to make the transition to a green economy?

    Like so many other metals and minerals that the U.S. is blessed to have but fails to mine, we’re dependent on foreign-sourced supply, with all the attendant strings attached.

    If U.S. mining companies operating under U.S. standards are sidelined, where will we get the metals and minerals we need for modern society?  As I testified in the U.S. House earlier this year, there are any number of countries that will be happy to feed our copper fix: We could buy copper from Russia, Angola, Afghanistan, DRC Congo, or China — including in all likelihood copper mined from reserves in the Tibet Autonomous Region.  There’s also copper in Pakistan and Iran.

    Are we OK with “blood copper” supporting our windmills, our solar panels and our cellphones?  Do we think these mines would pollute less or be policed more stringently than U.S. mines?

    This is the serious discussion we need to have – not feel-good policy-posturing.

  • U.S., EU and Japan to Hold “Rare Earths Supply Summit”

    Reuters reports that concern over the supply shortage of key Rare Earths elements has led policymakers in the U.S., the EU and Japan to schedule an early October meeting in Washington.  According to a U.S. Government source: Experts and officials will discuss …how to team up to develop high-tech goods – such as electric car [...]
  • American Resources Expert Column: Mineral riches ‘LoST’ at sea

    Citing a lack of technological and economic feasibility, experts, including American Resources expert Gareth Hatch, recently dispelled a myth created by some journalists that the solution to China’s stranglehold on rare earths lies in a REE discovery below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.  However, technical issues are just part of the story. Our very [...]
  • American Resources expert panel continues to grow

    We have been fortunate to be able to announce several additions to the American Resources panel of experts recently, and this week is no exception: Dr. Robert Latiff, a retired U.S Air Force Major General, is Research Professor and Director of the Intelligence and Security Research Center at George Mason University.  In May, Dr. Latiff [...]
  • Investors fear looming resource wars

    Arguing that China’s near-total rare earths monopoly is only the tip of the iceberg and an indicator of what’s to come, Michael A. Barry’s most recent edition of Morning Notes (a free subscription bulletin from DiscoveryInvesting), discusses “The Coming Resource Wars.” Barry quotes our very own Daniel McGroarty, who has said: But the Rare Earths [...]
  • What the Auto Industry, Rare Earth Elements have in Common

    In a June 27 piece from Business Insider, Jim Powell, a technology and strategic metals analyst with Laurentian Bank Securities, attempts to clear up the confusion over the future supply and demand of critical metals. His interview with The Critical Metals Report highlights the struggle between China and the rest of the world over Rare [...]
  • Dear Congress: Metals and minerals matter now

    It is easy to pity the U.S. policymaker, who has more than a few crises to cope with, but America can no longer afford to push aside the critical issue of metals and minerals.  Decisions made now — or inaction, which is a decision in itself — will shape our economic competitiveness and national security [...]