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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • EPA Settlement on Pebble Deposit Positive Development for Due Process Advocates

    A few years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a splash when it took unprecedented early action in an effort to derail the development of one of the largest domestic deposits of key strategic mineral resources (Copper, Molybdenum, Gold, Silver and Rhenium) – the so-called Pebble Deposit in Southwestern Alaska.  In spite of the fact that no permit application or specific plans had been submitted, the agency released a cursory review of the Bristol Bay Watershed in Alaska which sounded the alarm on the possible impact of hypothetical mining – even though previous EPA assertions of such preemptive power had been rebuffed in federal court.

    The EPA’s decision to preemptively veto the project before any application had been filed represented a unilateral expansion of EPA powers under section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act.

    Now, in a course reversal and big victory for due process advocates, the EPA under its new administrator Scott Pruitt and Canada’s Northern Dynasty Minerals has settled the long-standing dispute, which had culminated in 2014 with a lawsuit over the EPA’s decision to block development of the Pebble Deposit.

    ARPN followers may recall that ARPN consistently argued in favor of due process and warned against effectively allowing the EPA to grant itself ultimate authority to derail any project in the United States that touches on water — with potential impact for projects in every sector of the US economy, from mining to farming, manufacturing, building, energy, and water treatment.

    Announced earlier this month, the settlement now reached affords the Pebble Limited Partnership the opportunity to apply for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under the Clean Water Act, after which point the EPA could move forward with its Clean Water Act process to “specify limits on the disposal of certain material in connection with the potential “Pebble Mine.”

    Says EPA Chief Pruitt: 

    “We are committed to due process and the rule of law, and regulations that are ‘regular.’ We understand how much the community cares about this issue, with passionate advocates on all sides. The agreement will not guarantee or prejudge a particular outcome, but will provide Pebble a fair process for their permit application and help steer EPA away from costly and time-consuming litigation. We are committed to listening to all voices as this process unfolds.”

    Whether or not the deposit will ultimately be developed remains to be seen. However, with rigorous environmental review standards and processes already in place, it is encouraging to see that the EPA is returning to merit-based evaluation of actual projects within the given legal and regulatory framework, rather than relying on vague hypotheticals to derail potential mining projects before they even present a mining plan for formal review.

    And while the settlement stands as a win for due process, friends of ARPN will appreciate the bittersweet aspect of a “victory” that ran six years off the clock on the Pebble project, allowing the project to do in 2017 what it had hoped to do in 2011.  During that time, U.S. dependency has deepened for some of the very metals and minerals Pebble might bring to market.  And for the company that optioned the Pebble deposit in 2001, after 16 years, they’ve arrived at the permitting starting line.

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  • Silver fundamentals strong, may outperform gold

    It looks like we at American Resources are not the only ones noticing the increased appeal of silver – our “Metal of the Month” for March. The Gold Report interviewed several executives from the sector in a virtual roundtable for its latest issue. Here are the key points:

  • The fundamentals behind silver are strong.
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  • Silver’s new uses have made it a strategic metal, required in electronics, solar panels, and many new medical applications due to its anti-microbial properties.
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  • Demand for industrial silver uses climbed 17% last year, despite high prices. Price may be less relevant now, as only small amounts are needed, but as pace of new digital products is “exploding,” one of the panelists sees “silver consumption increasing dramatically.”
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  • Silver has strong appeal as store of value. With the purchase of Canadian Maple Leave silver ounces and U.S. Silver Eagles exceeding production, and investment demand remaining strong, some believe silver may outperform gold.
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  • Much of the world’s silver is mined as a byproduct of zinc, lead, copper and gold mining in more than 30 countries. Peru and Mexico account for one-third of global silver production, with Mexico’s change of foreign investment laws having lead to a mining boom with more than 300 Canadian mining companies exploring and producing.
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    With its new applications, silver is a prime example of the fact that this is not your grandmother’s resource sector anymore. As their utility broadens, metals and minerals are increasingly becoming foundational elements that will drive the 21st century economy. It is time we develop a coherent strategic framework reflecting this fact while harnessing our own vast mineral potential, and creating valuable jobs in the process.

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  • Gold and politics: The lure of security for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

    A weaker-than-expected jobs report in the U.S. has seen the price of gold soar once again.   Gold’s surge and paper currency’s weakness may be related to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s plans to shift up to $6.3 billion in U.S. dollars, euros and pounds sterling to banks in China, Russia and Brazil, and to repatriate almost [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Mongolia Weighs its Resource Options

    History is typically difficult to see up close, but it’s possible that resources are sparking a great geo-political reordering on par with the mass discoveries of oil that made the Middle East a rising economic power the mid-20th Century.  Witness the country of Mongolia, a geo-political pawn for much of the last hundred years, but [...]
  • The race for Arctic riches

    A handful of countries situated near the top of the world are racing to firm up their territorial claims to untold amounts of oil, natural gas, gold, zinc, copper and other metals. A new piece from the U.K. Guardian highlights this renewed scramble for resource rights beneath the Arctic icecap. I treated this story in [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Global events send price of gold soaring

    With the news cycle dominated by the ongoing crisis in Japan, unrest, and war in the Middle East, and financial troubles of European Union member countries; the price of gold is soaring. As CBS News reports, investors big and small are lured by the perceived safety of the commodity, sending its price to more than [...]
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