American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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, Time Magazine was reporting on U.S. demand for manganese, which was critical to steel manufacture.  Time noted that the U.S., at the time, was producing just 10 percent of its annual need from domestic mines – most of it as a by-product from a copper mine in Montana.

    In 1941, our biggest foreign manganese supplier was Russia, providing 25 percent.  But Time observed that Nazi forces had just taken over a key mining region in Ukraine, interrupting Russian supply.  Fortunately – especially so few weeks from the Pearl Harbor attack – the U.S. had hoarded two years’ worth of manganese in the National Defense Stockpile.

    Fast forward to present day:  America currently produces 0 percent of its annual Manganese usage. The last U.S. manganese mine stopped operating in 1970 – importing 100 percent, with our leading suppliers being South Africa, Gabon, and China.  Our U.S. stockpile has a “negative balance” (some sort of government accounting legerdemain seems at work here.  Let’s hope we don’t “owe” the U.S. stockpile some of the manganese we’re already not producing).

    Hopefully, there’s not another Pearl Harbor on the horizon.  But then, that’s what we thought the day that Time Magazine hit the newsstands on October 13, 1941.

  • 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 Korea’s Rare Earths deposits.  As the source commented, “It’s quite a profit for China….”

    How soon new North Korean supplies will factor into rare earths production is not known. What is clear, however, is that China continues to seek new means to leverage its existing near-monopoly over a critical metal.  How will the U.S. and the world’s industrial democracies respond?

  • Uranium find in India to reduce dependence on imports

    According to news reports, India has discovered what its government claims could be the world’s largest uranium reserves in a mine due to start operating by the end of the year.  The nation’s Department of Atomic Energy recently confirmed that the Tumalapalli mine in the southern state of Andrha Pradesh holds 49,000 metric tons of uranium, [...]
  • China’s Rare Earths attract Japanese Manufacturer

    In this story hitting the East Asia news wires, Showa Denko, a leading Japanese metals fabricator, announced it will be moving its Rare Earths manufacturing facility to China. This is an alarm bell for anyone who believes the U.S. must stake a leadership claim in the green-tech sector. Coupled with decreased Chinese exports, access to [...]
  • China’s Rare Earths reserves to be exhausted by 2025?

    Statistics show that rare earths reserves in China are down to 27 million tons and, at current production rates, may be exhausted as early as 2025. This data underscores the urgency of the rare earths crunch we have been discussing on this blog in recent weeks.  Having produced rare earths at rates exceeding 100,000 tons [...]
  • Peruvian Elections Raise Issue of Resource Dependency for U.S.

    The election victory of leftist Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala in this week’s runoff election has instilled fears of higher taxes and new restrictive policies in the mining sector.  Peru is a leading producer of precious metals, and the U.S. relies heavily on Peruvian imports of zinc, tin, gold, copper, and silver. (To see exactly [...]