American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • AEMA Website Gets Fresh Look

    Our friends at the American Exploration and Mining Association (AEMA), headed up by Laura Skaer, have overhauled their website. 

    The “122-year old, 2,000 member, national association representing the minerals industry” and the “entire mining life cycle” shares news about its mission and advocacy efforts, and provides information about annual meetings as well as facts about modern mining, among other things, at www.miningamerica.com.

    If you have a moment to spare, go take a look, it’s worth browsing a little. 

  • Critical Materials Institute Meets “Stretch Goal” to Produce REE Magnet Domestically

    Meeting one of its “stretch goal[s] to demonstrate that rare-earth magnets could be produced from mine to manufacturer, here in the United States,” the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub, has announced that the has fabricated magnets made entirely of domestically sourced and refined REEs. 

    This success was achieved in the context of public private partnerships CMI has engaged in to further its mission. According to CMI’s press release, the Idaho National Laboratory, a CMI member institution, sourced the raw materials and refined the oxides, while a CMI Industry member, Infinium, produced metal ingot from those oxides. Further processing work was completed at Ames Laboratory, CMI’s home research institution.  

    Says CMI Director Alex King: 

    “We were asked if it was still possible to make these magnets entirely within the U.S., now that magnet manufacturing has very largely moved overseas. This proves that we can apply advanced tools and technologies developed in the U.S. to get the job done – do it quickly, and do it rather more efficiently than it is being done elsewhere.”

    As ARPN followers will know, REEs have not only become indispensable components of our hi-tech items ranging from smart phones over computers to televisions, they are also of critical importance for the proper function of many clean energy and defense technology components. Meanwhile, China has long held a near-total REE supply monopoly. While for a few short years, a now-bankrupt North American mining company sourced REEs domestically, thereby reducing our import reliance for REEs (with the lowest degree of net import reliance pegged at 63% in 2013), we are now once more 100% reliant on foreign imports to meet domestic REE needs.  

    As such, CMI’s current REE work and other public-private partnerships the institute has entered into are highly relevant, and tie into the overall context of process improvements allowing for the extraction of minerals from unconventional sources. As Dan McGroarty explained in his most recent Congressional testimony before a U.S. Senate committee:

    “Without in any way diminishing the dangers of our resource dependency (…) These are advances arising out of necessity – the need to efficiently extract minerals from low-grade deposits. In some cases, this effort is driving process improvements that point to the ability to extract minerals from unconventional sources, feedstocks if you will. I’m talking about historic mine waste piles, eWaste, and potentially and perhaps most interesting, extracting rare metals from coal deposits.”

    While these are steps in the right direction, more needs to be done. “[A]t a time when state-backed enterprises from China and Russia are focused on locking up metals and mineral deposits worldwide,” we need a comprehensive and strategic approach to mineral resource security.

    The bottom line according to McGroarty is this:

     ”If we are serious about ensuring U.S. military power and reviving American manufacturing, we must reverse the deep dependency on foreign metals and minerals, and treat American resource security with the same seriousness – and one would hope, the same success – as our approach to American energy security.”

  • Boron: Of “Slime,” Materials Science and Trade Balances

    If you have preschoolers or grade schoolers at home on summer break, chances are you’ve already had to make “slime.”   Researching the various recipes to make the latest kids’ craze, you will likely also have come across one often-used ingredient: Borax. While Borax has long been a traditional staple in American laundry rooms, borates are increasingly becoming [...]
  • Critical Materials Institute Head Puts Apple’s Goal to Stop Mining in Context

    Recently, tech giant Apple made a bit of a splash with the announcement of a lofty sustainability goal — one the company itself is not sure how to achieve yet. Kicking off its new Environmental Responsibility Report with the question “Can we one day stop mining the Earth altogether?,” Apple commits itself to working towards a “closed-loop supply chain, where [...]
  • As Resource Dependence Deepens, Miners Pivot Back to U.S. For Exploration

    Against the backdrop of market prices recovering and supply woes looming, mining companies are expected to increase spending on exploration for the first time in five years, reports news agency Reuters. In what may spell good news for the United States, analysts anticipate the biggest expenditure increases to occur in the United States, Canada and Australia, all [...]
  • Interview: AEMA’s Laura Skaer – The Mining Industry’s Challenges and a Look Ahead

    For the last few months, politics has sucked up much of the oxygen in Washington, DC and around the country.  With the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States behind us, many of us are hopeful that the time has come to finally shift the focus away from politics toward policy. Against the backdrop [...]
  • McGroarty on Critical Minerals: “It’s Not Your Grandfather’s Infrastructure”

    The New Year is now a little over a week old and the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States is just around the corner.  And while some are still dwelling on 2016 (we offered our post mortem at the end of the year), the time has come to look at what’s in store. One of [...]
  • The EPA’s Latest Push to Regulate Mining Companies – A Solution in Search of A Problem

    If the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has its way, the nation’s miners will be saddled with a new regulation that is akin to a solution in search of a problem.  In the process, it would effectively duplicate other federal agencies’ responsibilities, preempt state authority, and potentially cripple an important industry. ARPN President Daniel McGroarty discusses [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Tin, Co-Products and Shifting Paradigms

    While not as flashy as some other metals, Tin’s versatility will continue to drive demand.  We are familiar with its use in food preservation.  Meanwhile, ITRI, the tin industry’s UK-based trade association, highlights the “storage, generation and conservation of energy as key drivers for new applications for the metal over the next 3 to 30 years.” Coupled with its [...]
  • Through the Gateway: The Geopolitics of Co-Product Supply – a Look at Scandium

    Throughout ARPN’s work, we have consistently highlighted the geopolitical dimension of mineral resource policy.  Where we source (or fail to source) our metals and minerals is an often forgotten – or ignored – factor, with implications for our domestic manufacturers, and, at times, even for our national security. Case in point – and in keeping [...]