American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
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  • ARPN Expert Zeroes in on Issues Surrounding Uranium – an “Underappreciated Energy Source”

    In a new series for Capital Research Center, Ned Mamula, member of the ARPN expert panel, adjunct scholar in geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute, and co-author of “Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence,” takes a closer look at Uranium – an “underappreciated energy source.” 
    In the four-part-part series, Mamula outlines the main properties  of uranium, provides a snapshot of the United States’ vast uranium resources—and why these resources remain largely untapped, and zeroes in on how Russia’s cornering the market affects the U.S. 
    Mamula raises an important point:

    “America in the 21st century runs on electricity, which is why this issue is rightfully discussed within the context of national security. As the nation approaches 100 percent reliance on foreign uranium, there is always the possibility for an embargo or partial restriction of exports to the U.S. by one or more countries. Such action may not be as dramatic as a rare earth-related or other critical-mineral embargo, because the U.S. does have alternative forms of energy to supply power. But that reasoning seems to ring hollow in terms of the great value America places on its comprehensive approach to provide reliable and affordable energy to the nation. The U.S. previously declared ‘energy independence’ and now the current administration policy is ‘energy dominance.’ Neither will come to pass if we abandon the American uranium industry.

    Thus, a key question remains. Why does the U.S. rely on adversaries and unstable countries for uranium supplies, especially when uranium is in relative abundance in our own land? Ostensibly, the U.S. could mine and produce many tens of millions of pounds a year, relying on friendly countries for the remainder.”

    He provides an answer himself:

    “Answer: Because uranium import over-reliance and uranium mining underperformance are locked together—each is caused by the other—and the cycle continues to spiral downward in a race to the bottom.”

    In the final installment of the series, Mamula shares his take on how the Russian purchase of a North American uranium producer could have “dire effects on the nation’s energy supply, the economy, and national security by threatening America’s uranium mining industry.”

    Primarily known for its energy applications, (and thus falling under the purview of the Department of Energy) Uranium may have not been much of a focal point for  ARPN in the past.  However the policy issues surrounding it — many of which will have a familiar ring to them to followers of ARPN —  may warrant a closer look in the future. 
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: DoE’s New Research Center on Lithium Battery Recycling to Leverage Resources of Private Sector, Universities and National Laboratories

    Speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Energy Innovation Council last week, Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced the launch of a new research center on lithium battery recycling.

    The Battery Recycling R&D Center will focus on reclaiming and recycling “critical materials (e.g. cobalt and lithium) from lithium based battery technology used in consumer electronics, defense, energy storage, and transportation applications,” and will be led by Argonne National Laboratory along with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    Said Sec. Perry:

    “America’s dependence on foreign sources of critical materials undermines our energy security and national security. (…) DOE will leverage the power of competition and the resources of the private sector, universities, and the National Laboratories to develop innovative recycling technologies, which will bolster economic growth, strengthen our energy security, and improve the environment.

    A commendable effort, the initiative is a direct response to Presidential Executive Order 13817, which, issued in December of 2017, calls for “developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies” embedded into a broader strategy to “ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals.” 

    While we applaud the launch of the new research hub, DoE’s reference of the “broader strategy to ‘ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals’” in its press release is important. As followers of ARPN will know, recycling will not obviate the need for traditional mining and is as such not a panacea for mineral resource supply woes – and we are still waiting for the release of the — by now long-overdue — report by the Department of Commerce subsequent to 13817 outlining said “broader strategy” and recommending specific policy steps to implement it. 

    In the meantime, however, with innovations in the field and concerted efforts to not only improve extraction technologies, but to also develop products and materials in ways that lend themselves to easier reclamation of metals, recycling does represent a viable opportunity to alleviate pressures, and we look forward to following the efforts of the Center.

  • “Materials Science Profiles of Progress” – REE Extraction From Coal

    In the fairy tale realm, Rumpelstilskin was able to turn straw into gold. Meanwhile, in the real world, as part of our feature series “Materials Science Profiles of Progress,” we’re taking a closer look at a recently-announced research partnership that may not be able to turn straw into gold, but promises to extract precious Rare [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: CMI Public-Private Partnership Studies New Ways to Capture Gateway Metals and Critical Co-Products

    As part of our latest feature series “Materials Science Profiles of Progress,” in the context of which we highlight positive steps towards the development of the comprehensive mineral resource strategy our country is so sorely lacking, we’re zeroing in on a promising public private partnership that recently celebrated its first birthday. In October of last [...]
  • 2016 – A Mixed Bag for Mineral Resource Policy

    It’s that time of the year again.  And as people are gearing up for the New Year, we are taking the opportunity to take stock of the last twelve months, and want to highlight a few select notable developments of relevance to ARPN followers. From a mineral resource policy perspective, we saw some positive developments [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Rio Tinto Partners with Critical Materials Institute (CMI) in Research Partnership to Recover Wide Range of Gateway Metals from Domestic Resources

    For the past few months, the American Resources Policy Network has highlighted the concept of “Gateway Metals” and “Co-Products” in the context of our “Through the Gateway”-campaign.  It would appear that people in government and the business community are taking note:  The Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI) has just announced it will join with global mining and minerals company Rio [...]
  • White House solar panel installation fraught with irony

    With August generally being the slower part of the news cycle, one of the bigger stories last week was that the installation of solar panels on the roof of the White House had begun. Administration officials say in retrofitting the White House building to make it more energy efficient, the President is delivering on a [...]
  • Environmentalists push energy efficiency but block development of mineral resources required for clean energy transition

    The issue of the White House blocking several Department of Energy regulations was raised at a recent Congressional hearing, the New York Times reports. The rules in question would require greater energy efficiency for appliances, as well as building and lighting. Critics argue that in spite of a 1993 executive order requiring the White House [...]
  • DoE social media event elaborates on agency’s new critical minerals research hub

    Earlier this week, the Department of Energy hosted a social media web event, or “Hangout,” to provide further details on its latest research effort to “address supply disruptions for rare earths and other critical materials” at Ames Laboratory. During the event, David Sandalow, DoE’s Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, and Alex King, the [...]
  • DoE awards funding for new Critical Materials Institute (CMI) at Ames Laboratory

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) is stepping up its research efforts in the field of critical and strategic materials. As announced on January 9, the Department is funding the establishment of an “Energy Innovation Hub” through Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. Named the Critical Materials Institute (CMI), the new research center will “bring together [...]