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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 – ranging from consumer electronics over industrial over wind turbines to electric vehicles and guided missiles. Meanwhile, the U.S. is nearly 100 percent import-reliant on REEs, a market almost exclusively cornered by the Chinese.

    ARPN and members of the ARPN panel of experts have long pointed out the dangers of this over-reliance. In the words of Jeff A. Green, “[w] have gifted China robust trade leverage should they chose to use it.” Pointing to a 2010 example of China’s previous politicking with this leverage he continued:

    “China could easily cripple American supply chains and significantly limit our ability to produce advanced radar and weapon systems by limiting or disrupting the supply of any one of these minerals. Allowing a non-allied foreign nation to control such a broad swathe of critical minerals is a significant security threat to the U.S. and its warfighters.”

    Introduced by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the “Rare Earth Element Advanced Coal Technologies Act (REEACT),”seeks to change that. It aims to provide federal funds for projects — run under the auspices of the Department of Energy — to develop domestic technology for REE extraction from coal and coal byproducts in order to re-establish a U.S. domestic supply chain.

    According to the press release issued by Sen. Murkowski’s office, “[t]he National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) began studying the potential of extracting rare earth elements from coal and coal byproducts in 2010, and expanded its REE research efforts in 2014. In 2016, NETL’s Rare Earth Elements (REE) from Coal and Coal Byproducts RD&D Program awarded two grants to West Virginia University for researchers to evaluate the potential use of REEs from coal byproducts in the region. In July 2018, West Virginia University, in collaboration with NETL, opened a pilot scale rare earth extraction facility to continue its research towards commercialization. REEACT authorizes an annual appropriation of $23,000,000 per year to the Department of Energy through 2027.”

    Says Sen. Capito:

    “Rare earth elements are essential to our economy and national security, but the United States is currently dependent on foreign suppliers—particularly China—for this valuable resource. “As it turns out, rare earth elements can be extracted from coal and its byproducts, including fly ash and acid mine drainage, and extracting these materials provides a financial incentive for cleaning up legacy mine sites. This legislation would help support the research and development of these technologies, a win-win-win for Appalachia’s economy, the environment, and our national defense.”

    The bill ties into the broader effort to strengthen the United States’ mineral and economic security, in the context of which Sen. Murkowski is expected to “introduce standalone legislation aimed at streamlining the permitting process for lithium and other mines, bolstering state and federal studies of domestic supplies of critical minerals and encouraging mineral recycling, among other topics,” according to government sources.

    Of course, ARPN will be keeping tabs on all these efforts, so check back for updates in the coming weeks and months.

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  • Hot Off the Press: “Groundbreaking” Reading Material – ARPN Expert Co-Authors Book Sounding Alarm on Over-Reliance on Foreign Minerals

    Scratch your holiday wish list – there’s a new book you’ll have to add. In the just-released “Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence” member of the ARPN expert panel Ned Mamula, an adjunct scholar in geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute, and “Rare Mettle”author Ann Bridges sound the alarm on the United States’ over-reliance on foreign mineral resources and make a convincing call to break with old failed policy approaches and take steps to finally harness our nation’s vast mineral resource potential.

    Followers of ARPN will find many familiar themes in Mamula’s and Bridges’s book, but as the National Mining Association has pointed out, “[w]hile others have told important parts of the story, Mamula and Bridges have woven together myriad threads to give us the startling implications of our failed minerals policies.”

    As Paul Driessen, senior fellow with the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, who also authored the foreword for the book, recently wrote in a preview piece for the Canada Free Press:

    “[The book provides] reasons why we must reexamine the policies that brought us to this untenable and unsustainable point in American history. In concise, plain language, geologist Ned Mamula and Silicon Valley expert Ann Bridges explain why we must literally break ground in these areas… and drill down to find out what minerals are in them. Their key points must be pondered, absorbed and acted on by all who care about our security and prosperity.”

    Groundbreaking! is offered in print and eBook formats wherever books are sold.

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  • Post-Thanksgiving Rut? Back to Basics on Resource Policy Issues

    If you’re still struggling to get your bearings after the long Thanksgiving weekend, you’re not alone. A New York Times piece from this Monday provides a good snapshot of what we are going through –  and offers “4 Ways to Stay Motivated When You’re in a Rut:”  Writes the NYT: “It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, and we’re all [...]
  • Mamula & Moore: Current Federal Policy Efforts Opportunity for “Huge Turnaround for Reducing Dangerous Mineral Imports Through Responsible Mining”

    In a new piece for National Review, geoscientist Ned Mamula, who is an adjunct scholar at the Center for the study of Science at the Cato Institute and a member of the ARPN panel of experts and Heritage Foundation senior fellow Stephen Moore offer up their take on the current – and long overdue – [...]
  • A Look at Gateway Metal Import Dependence: Copper – 25 Years of Rising Dependence

    If our trip Through the Gateway holds one lesson so far, it’s that old patterns and paradigms are out the window.  Advances in technology and materials sciences have changed the applications for many mainstay metals and are fueling demand.   As we have outlined, the same applies for numerous rare tech metals, which are primarily sourced [...]
  • Is Lithium the New Black?

    At a time when mineral commodities have been slumping, one material is proving to be the exception to the rule, leading many to hail lithium as “a rare bright spot for miners, amid cratering prices of raw materials tied to heavy industry such as iron ore to coal.”  Via our friend Simon Moores, managing director [...]
  • U.S. Mineral Resource Dependency Continues to Spell Trouble

    For children, it’s the arrival of the first snow each year – for policy wonks, it’s the release of an annual study.  Whereas kids run to check the window multiple times a day once snow has been forecast, policy wonks continuously check for updates on the release of that study when it’s that time of [...]
  • USGS Rings Alarm Bell: United States’ Mineral Resource Dependencies Have Increased Drastically

    Without fanfare, and largely unnoticed at a time when all eyes in our nation’s political circles are on Iowa, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has released a report that should be required reading for all our policy makers. Analyzing data collected from 1954 through 2014 for more than 90 non-fuel mineral commodities from more [...]
  • Strategic Metals Flashback – or Flash Forward?

    Our Director of Research, Sandra Wirtz, unearthed this piece from the Time Magazine online archives  – “Strategic Metal: #1,” dateline October 13, 1941 – just weeks before Pearl Harbor.  It inspired me to do a little research on my own, with an eye toward our present-day approach to strategic metals. With war raging in Europe, [...]
  • Famine, food, and Rare Earths in Asia

    A sad, but not surprising, news story made its way across the wires this morning.  North Korea’s Kim Jong Il has approved a swap of sorts with its northern neighbor, China. The agreement will bring Chinese fertilizer and corn to his country’s famine-ravaged Hermit Kingdom in exchange for ceding to China rights to develop North [...]

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