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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Measuring Criticality in Today’s Interconnected World

    Against the backdrop of the current U.S.-Chinese tensions over Rare Earth Elements and the global battery arms race, Morgan D. Bazilian, Professor of Public Policy and Executive Director of the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines, argues that the United States must “widen its consideration of critical materials past a limited understanding of security in a deeply interconnected world.”

    In a post for Scientific American, Bazilian retraces trends and events in the critical minerals sphere and points to the shortcomings of methodologies applied to date to measure criticality of metals and minerals. Writes Bazilian:

    “But how do we measure security or criticality in a meaningful way? The methodology used in the U.S. list essentially boils down to if it is deemed “essential” and if it is estimated to have a supply chain risk. Neither of those hurdles is precise, so proxies are used. That is typical in security assessments of all kinds.”

    Comparing various approaches used around the world and drawing from examples from the energy sector, he concludes:

    “The future will likely bring more globally interdependent markets and systems. As a result, it is useful to further encourage new quantitative and qualitative approaches to the issues of security and criticality—in both minerals and energy. Additionally, some of the tools developed during the early oil shocks, such as the development of the International Energy Agency, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and sending the Navy’s Fifth Fleet to protect key supply choke points (such as the Strait of Hormuz), are now being considered to protect access to critical materials.

    Finally, policy must take into consideration issues across the supply chain from raw materials through final manufacturing in an interconnected world. A narrow focus on domestic ‘dominance’ will not be sufficient, nor useful in addressing mineral criticality. The lessons from the energy sector are attractive as an analogy—a thoughtful application in a very different sector is required.”

    One should note that the piece was written before the release of the Commerce Department’s Critical Minerals Strategy in early June, which itself has made recommendations on how to improve assessments, such as to make supply chain networks more robust “so that domestically produced critical minerals can support our Nation’s economic security and national defense.”

    For example, the strategy calls for an “an interagency methodology to periodically assess market trends and competitiveness of the U.S. critical mineral industry and its downstream supply chains in order to recommend policies and strategies such as government investment in R&D, capacity expansion, stockpiling, and trade actions.”

    That not withstanding, Bazilian’s points of how to measure criticality – and particularly his emphasis on factoring in the degrees of interconnectivity in today’s globalized world remain valid – and provide some important food for thought as the debate over critical mineral resource security continues to heat up. 

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  • Commerce Department Releases Long-Awaited Interagency Report on Critical Minerals

    On Tuesday, June 4, the U.S. Department of Commerce released the “interagency report that was submitted to the President pursuant to Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.” 

    The report, which, according to the agency’s official announcement, “contains a government-wide action plan, including recommendations to advance research and development efforts, increase domestic activity across the supply chain, streamline permitting, and grow the American critical minerals workforce,” comes at a critical juncture in time. 

    Only hours before the Commerce Department report release, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) had announced it is studying proposals to impose export controls on rare earth elements to “protect and better use such ‘strategic resource.’” 

    The recent escalation of U.S.-Chinese trade tensions, along with growing concerns over mineral resource supply chains for the EV and energy storage sectors are shining a light on the United States’ over-reliance on foreign sources for our critical mineral needs – which Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak) has called our nation’s “Achilles heel.”

    Important first steps towards a comprehensive mineral resource strategy, which our country has been lacking, were made with Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, in December of 2017, and the release of a list of 35 metals and minerals deemed critical from an economic and national security perspective, but most subsequent legislative efforts to reduce our foreign mineral dependencies faltered in 2018. 

    Says Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on the release of the new report:

    “These critical minerals are often overlooked but modern life without them would be impossible. Through the recommendations detailed in this report, the Federal government will take unprecedented action to ensure that the United States will not be cut off from these vital materials.”

    Here’s hoping the report does not fall on deaf ears and helps generate new momentum to secure our nation’s critical mineral needs. 

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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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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. [...]
  • 2018 – A Year of Incremental Progress?

    In case you hadn’t noticed amidst holiday preparations, travel arrangements and the usual chaos of everyday life – 2019 is just around the corner, and with that, the time to reflect on the past twelve months has arrived. So here is ARPN’s recap of 2018: Where we began. Unlike previous years, we started 2018 with [...]
  • Mark Your Calendars for AEMA’s 124th Annual Meeting Dec. 2-7

    We blinked – and the holidays are upon us already. It’s a busy time of the year for everyone, but if you’re still looking for a worthwhile event to put on your calendar this December look no further: Our friends at the American Exploration and Mining Association (AEMA) will be holding their 124th Annual Meeting from [...]
  • ARPN Expert: To Counter China’s Mineral Resource Dominance, U.S. Apathy About Critical Minerals Must End  

    Followers of ARPN know that China is the big elephant in the room when it comes to the United States’ critical mineral resource supply issues.  As ARPN expert panel member Ned Mamula, an adjunct scholar in geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute, and “Rare Mettle” author Ann Bridges write in [...]
  • Soon To-Be-Released Defense Industrial Base Study May “Revolutionize Approach to Supply-Chain Security and  Strategic Materials”

    A good year ago, a presidential Executive Order (E.O. 13806) mandated the completion of a study to assess the “Manufacturing Capacity, Defense Industrial Base, and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States.” According to a well-informed administration source, this defense industrial base study is now nearing completion, reports Breaking Defense. However, as Sydney J. Friedberg [...]
  • McGroarty for IBD: “Time to Make the Connection Between Critical Minerals and National Defense”

    “For want of a nail … the kingdom was lost” Invoking the old proverb dating back to the 13th Century as a cautionary tale and reminder that “the most sophisticated defense supply chain is only as strong as our weakest link,” ARPN’s Dan McGroarty argues in a new piece for Investor’s Business Daily that the [...]

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