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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Addressing a Piece of the Mineral Resource Puzzle – Federal Land Withdrawals

    As followers of ARPN know, the United States has finally embarked on a quest to look for ways to reduce its over-reliance on foreign mineral resources, and in doing so, reduce the leverage it has yielded to nations like China over our national security.

    In a new series for the Capital Research Center, geologist and ARPN expert panel member Ned Mamula, who last year authored “Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence,” takes a look a potential piece of the puzzle – federal land withdrawals from access to exploration and mining, the scope of which he says “are not well understood.”

    In four installments, Mamula discusses how public land withdrawal is “endangering the nation,” how we “overdrew our mineral account”, where lands were withdrawn, and how we can “secure our mineral future.”

    Figure 1. General Locations of Major Metals Operations in the United States. Locations include mines producing gold, silver, copper, molybdenum, platinum, lead, zinc, iron, titanium, magnesium, beryllium, and other metals. Source: National Mining Association and U.S. Geological Survey.

    Writes Mamula:

    “We need a groundbreaking compromise so mining can begin again without disrupting areas that should never be disturbed because of their unique national identity and cultural importance. The mineral industry will need to and has already accepted reasonable conditions on its activities. Likewise, preservationists and others must accept the fact that somewhere in that million-acre wilderness area, there is going to be a mine. The mining industry is being squeezed more so than its opponents because the location of ore bodies is immovable. Boundaries of withdrawn land can be adjusted, not the location of mineral deposits. When the right choices are made—both sides win.”

    However, he worries that it may already be too late to completely rectify the situation:

    “The consequences of withdrawing federal lands from mineral exploration and mining have not been fully appreciated by policymakers because the results of their decisions—and those of their predecessors—may take decades to be felt. No one can predict the future, especially regarding the ever-increasing speed of the development and needs of technology and its associated minerals, manufacturing improvements, and global energy requirements.

    Yet previous withdrawals were done cavalierly and without due regard to a comprehensive approach to resource management. Today, the nation is finally feeling the cumulative effect of all previous withdrawal actions as mineral imports hit record highs year over year.”

    An all-of-the-above approach to mineral resource policy, for which ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty has advocated, should encompass a prudent review of federal land withdrawals.

    The presidential impeachment trial may be sucking up all the oxygen in Washington, DC, and dominating the media nationwide, but policy makers would be well-advised not to neglect our mineral resource dependencies, which were finally being recognized as a serious issue on both sides of the political aisle.

    As ARPN’s McGroarty recently noted during a panel discussion:

    “We can’t admire the problem anymore. We don’t have the luxury of time.”

    ***

    For more from Ned Mamula, read his four-piece series “Russia’s Uranium Gambit: An Underappreciated Energy Source”  , and his four-piece series on Rare Earths entitled “America’s Rare Earth Ultimatum: Rare Earths in High Demand.”

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  • 2020 – A Twofold Watershed Year for Rare Earths?

    Against the backdrop of the recently-signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) for critical materials between the U.S. and Canada to reduce U.S. reliance on Chinese Rare Earths supplies, and the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which  “has expanded its recognition of the critical importance of the rare earths” … “2020 looks to be a pivotal year for rare earths,”says Investor Intel’s Jack Lifton.

    According to Lifton, the fact that the NDAA has furthered the FY 2019 mandate from requiring that the U.S. military only buy non-Chinese REE permanent magnets to now requiring that DOD develop and implement a strategy “to discover or develop and integrate each of the necessary industrial components into a total domestic American rare earth supply chain for any and all rare earth enabled products utilized by the U.S. [Department] of Defense” represents the “greatest opportunity to revive a non-Chinese rare earth industry, since the movement to China of that industry in the last years of the twentieth century.”

    The opportunity is twofold. 

    A push to diversify the U.S. rare earths supply chain also provides a chance to address one of its inherent ironies —the fact that “the materials needed for green energy, such as in wind turbines, are currently being acquired by destroying the Chinese countryside.”

    We all know the green revolution is coming.  In the words of J.A. Green & Company president and ARPN expert panel member Jeff Green, going green “will force us to address the externalities of foreign extractive industries in order to build an economy that sustains opportunity for life and growth for the maximum number of people.

    With that in mind, in 2020, the U.S. government “should show leadership and make a deliberate choice to encourage more responsible rare earth sourcing,” says Green.

    As we have previously pointed out, industries are responding, harnessing advances in technology which make it possible increasingly to restore a balance between mining and environmental protection. 

    In 2020 we may in fact see the “culmination of nearly 10 years of effort to move the U.S. government from endless studies and research projects to actually investing in the production of rare earth materials needed to support the Department of Defense,” as Green has phrased it.   In this context, the U.S. Government can tap into “technologies and mine sites in the United States and other environmentally responsible countries that are worth investigating and developing if they will reduce the damage associated with current methods of rare earth production.” 

    Doing so, says Green, could “not only reduce environmental damage but also reduce Chinese leverage on U.S. national security.”

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  • A Mineral Resource Policy for 2020 – New Year’s Resolutions for Resource Policy Stakeholders

    We realize that New Year’s resolutions are somewhat controversial.  Some say, they‘re not worth the paper they’re written on – but we feel that whether or not we implement all of them, they offer a good opportunity to both step back to reflect and set goals as we look at the big picture ahead. And that [...]
  • 2019 in Review – Towards an “All-Of-The-Above” Approach in Mineral Resource Policy?

    We blinked, and 2020 is knocking on our doors. It’s been a busy year on many levels, and mineral resource policy is no exception. So without further ado, here’s our ARPN Year in Review. Where we began: In last year’s annual recap, we had labeled 2018 as a year of incremental progress, which had set [...]
  • Sustainably Greening the Future – Changes in Mining Technology for the New Decade

    Irrespective of where you come down on the political spectrum, there is no denying that we find ourselves in the midst of a green energy transition. At ARPN, we have long made the case that the current push towards a lower-carbon future is not possible without mining, as green energy technology relies heavily on a [...]
  • Tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 10 – U.S. House Committee to Hold Hearing on “Research and Innovation to Address the Critical Materials Challenge”

    On Tuesday, December 10 — close to the two-year anniversary of the White House’s executive order “to develop a federal strategy to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals” the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on “Research and Innovation to Address the Critical Materials Challenge.” The hearing comes against the backdrop of increased [...]
  • Time to Reduce Our Reliance on “Untrustworthy Countries for Strategically Important Minerals”

    As we recover from collective food coma and return to our desks after a tumultuous Thanksgiving travel week, J. Winston Porter, a former EPA assistant administrator in Washington, reminds us of the importance of keeping the focus on the issues associated with our over-reliance on foreign mineral resources.    In a new piece for InsideSources, Porter [...]
  • U.S. and Australia Formalize Critical Minerals Partnership

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has signed a project agreement with its Australian counterpart, GeoScience Australia, to jointly develop a “better understanding of both countries’ critical mineral reserves.”  The agreement is the result of ongoing agency-level talks between the United States and Australia and the recent announcement of a forthcoming formal roll out of an “action [...]
  • Sen. Murkowski, Panelists, Underscore Urgency of Securing Critical Mineral Supply Chains

    “With our eyes wide open, we are putting ourselves in the same vulnerable position [as we did with oil and gas decades ago] when it comes to these [critical] minerals,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told the audience at “Minerals: The Overlooked Foundation of Our Future,” an event organized by RealClearPolitics in partnership with our friends [...]
  • India and the Tech Wars: Ripple Effects of the Confrontation over Who Will Dominate the 21st Century Tech Age

    While most of the headlines regarding the trade war between the United States and China — and, for ARPN followers, the underlying tech war over who which country will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age — focus on the main players in Washington, DC and Beijing, the ripple effects of this confrontation can be felt [...]

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