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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
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  • Trade Tensions Underscore Need for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    While 2018 brought the inter-relationship between trade and resource policy to the forefront, this trend is continuing in 2019.  

    Last week, the White House announced sanctions on Iranian metals, which represent the Tehran regime’s biggest source of export revenue aside from petroleum.  The sanctions on Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors represent the U.S. administration’s latest effort to pressure Tehran over its “funding and support for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist groups and networks, campaigns of regional aggression, and military expansion” in the Middle East.

    Iran may – thankfully – not rank as a top supplier for U.S. domestic consumers of the targeted metals.  However, these latest developments should serve as another reminder that securing domestic supplies of mineral resources should be a top priority.

    ARPN’s Dan McGroarty invoked Iran in his first testimony before Congress on behalf of ARPN in 2011:

    “Now, to be sure, we live in a globalized economy, and indeed — if the U.S. were to simply stop mining copper today – there are known copper prospects in a number of countries. We might turn to Chile, Peru and the Philippines for increased copper supply. Then again, world demand might be met via development of known copper reserves in Russia, Angola, Afghanistan, DRC Congo, or China – including decisions taken in Beijing to exploit copper reserves in the Tibet Autonomous Region. And there is copper in Pakistan and Iran. With the exception of Pakistan — rated “Partly Free” — all of the latter group are rated “Not Free” in the current Freedom House index. So while the world copper market does offer choices, we may well find many of those choices unpalatable from a policy perspective.”

    Removing obstacles to a greater degree of resource independence should be the order of the day, but while we’ve seen some incremental progress, efforts to make substantial changes to our nation’s mineral resource policy framework have in the past been largely derailed or put off.

    The current global race for the metals and minerals underpinning the EV battery revolution and green energy transition have reignited the debate, and new and revived efforts aimed at promoting domestic mineral resource development sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, and Rep. Mark Amodei.

    Here’s hoping that stakeholders see the current trade tensions and their implications as yet another reason to finally formulate a comprehensive mineral resource strategy. 

    In McGroarty’s words:

    “We cannot maintain our modern economy without a steady supply of metals and minerals. Those we do not possess here at home, we must source from other countries. But those we possess but choose not to produce perpetuate a needless foreign dependence – leverage that other nations may well use to America’s disadvantage.”

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  • U.S. To Pursue National Electric Vehicle Supply Chain

    ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores must have struck a nerve when he called the U.S. a “bystander” in the current battery arms race during a recent Congressional hearing.

    His message  —  “Those who control these critical raw materials and those who possess the manufacturing and processing know how, will hold the balance of industrial power in the 21st century auto and energy storage industries” — must have resonated with stakeholders.

    As Reuters reported over the weekend, U.S. government officials, including select members of Congress, representatives from the U.S. Department of State, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, as well as the U.S. Geological Survey are looking to sit down with executives from automakers and lithium miners early next month “as part of a first-of-its-kind effort to launch a national electric vehicle supply chain strategy.”

    Sources familiar with the effort told Reuters that Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee, will look to introduce “standalone legislation aimed at streamlining the permitting process for lithium and other mines,”and addressing other critical minerals issues, parts of which were included in previous broader energy legislation in prior Congresses but failed to garner consent in both chambers at the time. 

    With China already dominating the EV supply chain, the stakes are high.  As Senator John Hoeven (R, North Dakota), told Reuters, the U.S. “need[s] to find ways to more efficiently develop our nation’s domestic critical mineral supply because these resources are vital to both our national security and our economy.” 

    While underscoring the complexity of the situation, industry representatives see a great opportunity for the United States to enact policy changes that could “encourage development of a domestic supply chain to mine, process and supply lithium, nickel, cobalt and graphite for battery manufacturers and automakers,”— changes that, in the eyes of one mining executive provide “the perfect blueprint to make America great again.”

    According to Reuters, the May meetings will include both workshops on financing and permitting issues, and one-on-one meetings between regulators and industry executives. 

    This is encouraging news, which will hopefully be complemented by a renewed push to develop a broader critical minerals strategy, as outlined the 2017 presidential executive order on critical minerals.

    The rest of the world will not wait for us, so the time to get off the starting block is now. 

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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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
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