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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
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  • Release of USGS’s 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries Once More Underscores Need for Resource Policy Reform

    The partial shutdown of the federal government at the beginning of this year had delayed its release, but last week, USGS published its 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries. Followers of ARPN will know that we await the publication’s release with somewhat bated breath every year, as especially “Page 6” – the chart depicting U.S. Net Import Reliance – gives us a window into where we stand as a nation in terms of mineral resource security.

    We’re not overly surprised, though, to see that there are no major changes compared to last year. The number of metals and minerals for which we are 100% import-dependent may have dropped slightly (from 21 to 18), but a closer look into the footnotes of our favorite chart reveals that for two of the minerals previously included in the 100% import-reliance category, Quartz Chrystal (Industrial) and Thallium USGS states that “not enough information is available to calculate the exact percentage of import dependence” this year. For the third mineral to drop out of the 100% import-reliance category, Yttrium, numbers have dropped to 95% with production in California’s Mountain Pass mine having restarted in the first quarter of 2018. That is a positive development, but hardly a seismic shift in domestic resource development.

    The number of metals and minerals for which we are 50% or more than 50% import-dependent is still at 49, down one from 50 – but with the above-referenced caveat of lacking data for two materials – so it may in fact be higher than last year.

    The fact of the matter is that U.S net import reliance remains too high, and has – with implications for our economy and national security. USGS’s comparing its net import reliance numbers with the Department of the Interior’s Critical Minerals List, released for the first time in 2017, underscores this:

    14 of the 18 mineral commodities with 100% net import reliance were considered “critical” by DOI. 15 of the 30 remaining mineral commodities with imports greater than 50 percent of annual consumption were also reflected on DOI’s list. Aluminum, listed at exactly 50 percent import-reliance on the 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries, also has “critical mineral” status as per DOI.

    Hopefully these findings provide fresh impetus for mineral resource policy reform, for which we saw incremental progress in 2018 – but are still awaiting further steps, including the release of the — by now long-overdue — report by the Department of Commerce subsequent to the 2017 presidential executive order on critical minerals outlining a “broader strategy” and recommending specific policy steps to implement it.

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  • Critical Minerals Alaska – A Look at Germanium

    In the twelfth and final installment of his “Critical Minerals Alaska” series for North of 60 Mining News, Shane Lasley takes a look at Germanium – a lesser known yet vital ingredient in fiber optic cables and high-efficiency solar cells. 

    Followers of ARPN may remember Germanium as one of the key co-products for the gateway metal Zinc, which we covered on several occasions as part of our Through the Gateway” campaign over the past few years. 

    “Alaska happens to be home to the world’s largest producing zinc mine, Red Dog, and the concentrates shipped from there contain noteworthy quantities of germanium,” writes Lasley. And while the United States’ net import dependence for Germanium has decreased in recent years – in part due to said production in Alaska – it is still pegged at higher than 50 percent.

    As Lasley points out, “both the United States and China have included germanium in their stockpile programs and the European Union included germanium in a list of raw materials of critical concern for its member countries in 2010.”  Germanium was also included in the Department of Interior’s 2018 list of 35 minerals deemed critical from an economic and national security perspective.

    Lasley goes on to discuss Germanium’s properties as well as current and prospective projects in Alaska.

    Against the backdrop of the current push for renewable energy, demand for Germanium may well increase – making it all the more important that stakeholders factor considerations regarding the material into subsequent steps towards a comprehensive mineral resource strategy for the United States. 

    Due to the popularity of Lasley’s series, North of 60 Mining News will be publishing “Critical Minerals Alaska”, a magazine in the spring of 2019. As North of 60 Mining News notes, “[t]his full-color magazine will include the information gathered during the research for this series and provide information on many of the other critical metals and minerals found across the state.”

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  • 2019 New Year’s Resolutions for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    Out with the old, in with the new, they say. It‘s new year‘s resolutions time.  With the end of 2017 having set the stage for potentially meaningful reform in mineral resource policy, we outlined a set of suggested resolutions for stakeholders for 2018 in January of last year.  And while several important steps  were taken [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • The “Indispensable Twins” of Critical Minerals – Niobium and Tantalum

    In the latest installment of his “Critical Minerals Alaska” series for North of 60 Mining News, Shane Lasley zeroes in on what USGS has dubbed the “indispensable twins” – Niobium and Tantalum. Both share “nearly indistinguishable physical and chemical properties” and are “critical to the defense, energy and high-tech sectors.”  Meanwhile, neither Niobium nor Tantalum are mined in the United States, so their inclusion [...]
  • A View From Across the Pond: European Resource Policy Through the Prism of a Low-Carbon Vision

    The recently-released Defense Industrial Base study, which once more has underscored the need for a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. resource policy, directed its focus on U.S. competitiveness primarily vis-à-vis China. Already vast and resource-rich, the country has demonstrated an insatiable appetite for the world’s mineral resources and has pursued an aggressive strategy to gain access [...]
  • Sweden Tosses Hat Into Ring In Race For Materials Underpinning EV Revolution

    As the race for the metals and minerals driving the electric vehicle revolution heats up, and China continues to jockey for pole position, Sweden is tossing its hat into the ring.  According to recent media reports, the Swedish government has earmarked 10 million kronor ( roughly one million Euros) to explore the option of digging [...]
  • Mamula & Moore on Mineral Resource Policy: Time for a Change in Strategy and Philosophy

    “Why is the United States reliant on China and Russia for strategic minerals when we have more of these valuable resources than both these nations combined?” Stephen Moore, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with Freedom Works, and ARPN expert panel member Ned Mamula, a geoscientist and adjunct scholar at the [...]
  • Perspective: Life Takes 30 Minerals, Your iPhone Requires 75

    It may not be brand new, but this video serves as a good reminder of  why the long overdue mineral resource policy reform debate now underway is so critical. Last Friday, pursuant to December’s Executive Order 13817, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released his draft list of “35 Minerals Deemed Critical to U.S National [...]
  • Lithium – A Material “Coming of Age” is Case in Point for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    As we have outlined, last month’s executive order on critical minerals could have far-reaching implications for our national security and economic wellbeing.  If you needed a case in point – look no further than Lithium. One of the hottest commodities of the day, Lithium, as ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral [...]

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