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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Critical metals take center stage in border dispute: The Kuril Islands and Rhenium

    According to a recent article in the Russian daily Pravda, Russia finds itself locked in a territorial dispute that is becoming increasingly acute. The conflict over the group of four islands, which Russia calls the “Southern Kurils” and Japan calls the “Northern Territories, is the reason why Japan and Russia never signed a peace treaty after World War II.

    It’s interesting that, for Pravda, one of the factors contributing to the recent escalation is that the Kuril Islands are home to the world’s largest deposit of rhenium. While rhenium, our metal of the month for February, is a little-known specialty metal, it should not come as a surprise that it is becoming a matter of national security for Japan – a country not overly rich in mineral resources that is pursuing an aggressive global strategy to gain access to critical metals and minerals.

    After all, rhenium, an extremely scarce specialty metal that is indispensible for the aviation, as well as chemical industry, has all the makings of a critical mineral. This fact hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Institute for Defense Analyses, which dedicated an entire appendix to the metal in its “Reconfiguration of the National Defense Stockpile” Report to Congress in April of 2009.

    Rhenium can only be recovered of a byproduct of molybdenum or copper refinement. The fact that presently, only one of three molybdenum roasting facilities in the U.S. is equipped to capture the metal, and consequently our import dependency for rhenium currently stands at 86%, makes us highly vulnerable to supply disruptions, particularly given that nations like China and Kazakhstan top the list of our foreign supplier nations.

    Japan appears to have read the writing on the wall when it comes to the national security implications associated with critical non-fuel metals and minerals – a mindset we have yet to see develop in the United States.

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  • Japan’s rare earth recycling strategy

    While the United States pours money into foreign mineral imports, other countries are recognizing the value of self-sufficiency: Japan has drafted a bill requiring consumers to recycle used electronics containing rare earth and critical metals. The federally-sponsored move illustrates the priority Japanese officials are giving to mineral policy, a focus that contrasts sharply with the general apathy of U.S. lawmakers.

    Developing a secure resource supply is not something America can afford to do at the last minute. We need to start exploring our domestic resources now before it is too late.

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  • Japan and India agree on joint development of rare earths

    As China continues its geopolitical rare earths power play, Japan and India are the latest countries to partner in an attempt to offset China’s near total supply monopoly.  According to the Asia News Network, the foreign ministers of the two countries agreed in late October to promote the joint development of the critical minerals at [...]
  • China again tightens REE exports; Japan seeks to diversify supply base.

    Worried about China’s ongoing rare earths stranglehold and further cutbacks of exports, Japan looks to diversify its rare earths supply basis. While a delegation of Japanese business leaders recently urged China to ensure a stable supply to Japan, the Japanese government is stepping up its efforts to find alternative sources for the sought-after commodity. In [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Day 1: Metals for Energy & Environment Conference

    Our expert, Dan McGroarty is on-hand at the Metals for Energy and Environment conference in Las Vegas. While there, he’s been live-tweeting some of the action. Check out those updates here. And below, he provides a thorough re-cap of “Day 1″ on the front lines: Day one included a full slate of informative presentations, but [...]

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