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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • “Consumption” Missing Element in Discussion over Mineral Resource Development

    You need “stuff” to make “stuff.”  It’s a simple concept, but one that is all too often forgotten. As ARPN’s Dan McGroarty wrote in a 2015 Forbes op-ed coauthored with then-CEO of mining advisory firm Behre Dolbear Karr McCurdy:

    “[A]s a precursor to sound policy, the nation needs a change in mind-set: It’s time to remind ourselves that life as we know it is made possible by the inventive use of metals and minerals. Smart phones, the Cloud, the Internet: These things may seem to work by magic, but quite often the backbone of high-tech is mineral and metal, not fairy dust.”

    While there has been some movement on the federal policy front since then, many still fail to fully grasp the above-stated fundamental. Against the backdrop of the current discussion over copper development in Minnesota, Jim Bowyer, an environmental consultant and emeritus professor in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota, tries to set the record straight in a piece for the Star Tribune.

    Writes Bowyer:

    “In all of the discussion about copper mining in Minnesota, there is a remarkable lack of references to copper consumption within our state. At the same time that wind and solar energy expansion and electric vehicles are being enthusiastically promoted, the critical role of copper (and nickel) to these developments is never mentioned.”

    He points to the increased usage of copper in renewable energy ranging from wind turbines over solar collectors to electric vehicles, all of which is fueling demand for the metal, and draws attention to our reliance on foreign supplies of copper.

    Opponents of copper development projects, he argues, are quick to point to the environmental risks of copper mining, but “in none of [the states that are home to copper development], more anywhere else in the U.S., is there citizen opposition to copper consumption (…).”  Somewhat facetiously, Bowyer suggests that “[a] return to the Obama-era 20-year moratorium on copper mining in Minnesota, as advocated by some, should perhaps be accompanied by a 20-year moratorium on the development and adoption of renewable energy and electric vehicles, and by a concerted investment to find copper (and nickel) substitutes. 

    His bottom line is that we can’t have our cake and eat it, too:

    “Society must come to grips with its aversion to copper procurement even as it celebrates the promise of new copper-dependent products and technologies designed to protect and enhance environmental quality. While taking reasonable steps to protect our domestic environment, we must find a way to shoulder our fair share of risks in obtaining the copper we need — or we must take steps to create a future in which less rather than more copper is needed.”

    Click here to read the full piece.

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  • A “Dangerous Dependence:”  Mineral Resource Security Goes Mainstream

    In recent weeks, we have seen a flurry of articles and commentaries in national publications discussing reforms to address our ever-growing reliance on foreign mineral resources.  The two most recent examples are member of the ARPN expert panel Jeffery A. Green’s piece in Real Clear Defense entitled “Dangerous Dependence on China for Critical Minerals Runs Deep,” and a piece in The Hill by American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark J. Perry scholar entitled “To reduce China’s leverage, rebuild America’s minerals supply chain.”

    Both pieces draw attention to China’s mineral resource dominance and point to current efforts to curb China’s leverage.

    Writes Perry:

    “Imagine a scenario where the U.S. is entirely dependent on a single nation for oil. You can’t. It’s inconceivable. We would never let one nation — much less a sometimes adversarial rival — dominate our supply of a critical resource. Or would we?

    Astoundingly, we have. We are completely import-dependent for 21 mineral commodities, and imports account for more than half of our consumption for 50 critical minerals. Who’s our largest supplier? China.”

    Citing USGS numbers highlighting our dependence on materials sourced from China, Green agrees:

    “We have gifted China robust trade leverage should they chose to use it. In 2010, during a geopolitical spat over disputed waters, China cut its exports of rare earth elements to Japan. China could easily cripple American supply chains and significantly limit our ability to produce advanced radar and weapon systems by limiting or disrupting the supply of any one of these minerals. Allowing a non-allied foreign nation to control such a broad swathe of critical minerals is a significant security threat to the U.S. and its warfighters.”

    The growing awareness of these issues in the mainstream media thanks to experts like Green and others spreading the word is a welcome development. However, whether we succeed in reducing Chinese leverage over our domestic industrial production and national security will depend in large part on how policy makers respond.

    Both authors cite recent legislative language pending in Congress that would go far in streamlining our outdated and duplicative permitting framework for mining projects that has so far hampered responsible domestic resource development.

    But while the U.S. House of Representatives has passed said provisions, the U.S. Senate has already failed to include them in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), once more underscoring that while awareness is growing, meaningful change will still face an uphill battle.

    In Perry’s words:

    “The opportunity to put a halt to our deepening reliance on imports for dozens of critically important minerals is within reach. Let’s ensure we have the robust domestic supply chain to guarantee our military has the supply of materials it needs when it needs them.”

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  • Happy Birthday, America – Onward to Resource Independence Day?

    It’s that time of the year again – we load up our shopping carts with fireworks and burger buns, and gear up for parades to honor of the men and women who have fought, and continue our safeguard our freedom today. Many of us will have already traveled this week – and according to AAA, [...]
  • Copper – Key Building Block of Our (Green Energy) Future

    Sometimes the title says it all: “Copper and cars: Boom goes beyond electric vehicles,” writes Mining.com contributor Frik Els. And indeed, while there is some uncertainty in light of the specter of a trade war looming between the United States and China, triggering a market pullback, the longer term outlook for Copper remains “rosy” precisely [...]
  • Automakers turn to U.S. Market as Potential Source of Lithium

    We’ve said it before, EV battery technology is the new black – and if the metals and minerals fueling this technology are not yet on your radar, you’ve clearly missed the memo.  Even the oil industry is coming to grips with this new reality. As our friends from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence report: “For the first [...]
  • McGroarty for IBD: “Time to Make the Connection Between Critical Minerals and National Defense”

    “For want of a nail … the kingdom was lost” Invoking the old proverb dating back to the 13th Century as a cautionary tale and reminder that “the most sophisticated defense supply chain is only as strong as our weakest link,” ARPN’s Dan McGroarty argues in a new piece for Investor’s Business Daily that the [...]
  • Coalition of Congressional Members and Stakeholders Call on EPA to Reverse Pre-emptive Veto and Restore Due Process to U.S. Mine Permitting  

    Earlier this month, the Congressional Western Caucus led a coalition of Members of Congress and Stakeholders to call on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reverse a pre-emptive veto of the Pebble Mine project in Alaska. The veto stopped the project before it had formally applied to begin the permitting process — a unilateral expansion of [...]
  • Congressional Western Caucus Members Call for Expansion of Critical Minerals List

    Earlier this month, members of the Congressional Western Caucus sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Acting Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Mary Neumayr calling for the inclusion of additional metals and minerals into the draft critical minerals list released by Secretary Zinke [...]
  • Road to Regulatory Reform – NMA-Commissioned Poll Shows Voters in Favor of Domestic Mining Permitting Reforms

    Advances in materials science are altering and expanding the ways in which we use metals and minerals at neck-breaking speeds, and are drastically changing the supply and demand picture.  The United States was significantly less dependent on foreign supplies of metals and minerals in the 1970s — but today, we find ourselves import-reliant for scores [...]
  • “Critical Minerals Alaska” – North of 60 Mining News Publishes Series on Alaska’s Resource Potential

    Against the backdrop of an increased focus on critical minerals at the federal level, North of 60 Mining News — an Alaska-based trade publication covering mineral resource issues for Alaska, northern British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut — has started a new series of articles ARPN followers may wish to bookmark. As Lasley pointed [...]

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