-->
American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 of which are considered “safe bets” due to lower operating risks and high technology standards.  Providing a private sector viewpoint, Stephen McIntosh, group executive for growth and innovation at Rio Tinto, says:

    At quiet periods in the cycle, we will typically press out into non-OECD countries (…) But at the moment, we’re focusing on the OECD, predominately the Americas, and predominately for copper.

    The development comes at a critical time when U.S. mineral resource dependencies are deepening, as the USGS’s just-released Mineral Commodity Summaries report shows.   And while for Copper (which is one of the main metals discussed in the Reuters piece) our overall dependence may have slightly dropped, demand is likely to grow significantly — due to increased infrastructure and clean tech investments (both areas in which Copper is becoming increasingly indispensible), and because of its status as a Gateway Metal (to scarce specialty metals like Rhenium, Selenium, Tellurium, Cobalt and in some instances the Rare Earths).

    While Reuters reports on these developments largely from a market perspective, there may be policy considerations at work, here, too:

    The mining industry’s pivoting back towards the United States may reflect a growing optimism that with a new Administration at the helm in Washington, DC, policies devised at creating a regulatory environment that is more conducive to responsible domestic resource development may stand a better chance.  Here’s hoping that their optimism is well founded – America’s economic well-being, as well as our competitiveness and national security would be well-served.

    Share
  • 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 of the change of Administrations, our friend Laura Skaer, Executive Director of the American Exploration & Mining Association (AEMA), (formerly Northwest Mining Association), shared her views on the many challenges that have been facing mining industry, as well her organization’s policy priorities going forward, in an interview with Outsider Club.

    According to Skaer, an issue that has and will continue to range high on the agenda is a proposed set of new financial assurance requirements for owners and operators of certain hard rock mining operations. The EPA’s proposal, which was dropped last year, would not only preempt state authority, it would duplicate the responsibilities of other federal agencies, dealing a potentially devastating blow to mining companies, as ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty outlined in a widely publicized op-ed last summer.

    Meanwhile, this rule was one of numerous policy changes “designed to make it more difficult to access mineral deposits, make permitting more difficult, put more lands off limits and withdraw lands from exploration” under the outgoing Administration.    

    With the changing of the guard, policy makers and administrators may likely take a fresh look at these policies. Legislation to streamline our nation’s onerous permitting system, which already came close to passing only to fizzle when the effort to pass a comprehensive energy bill lost steam towards the end of last year, likely stands a better chance of passing Congress and receiving the president’s signature this year.

    Says Skaer:

    “If Canada can do it in two to three years, to the same environmental and engineering standards that we have in the United States, there’s no reason why the United States can’t get mines permitted in the same amount of time. And we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to get that.” 

    Another area in which she believes we may see some changes, revolves around salary reviews for federal employees working in agencies involved in mineral resource policy. These currently do not include performance indicators for an employee’s work on mineral projects – and as Skaer argues:

    “If you’ve got these projects like mining projects or exploration projects that aren’t part of your grade, well, they’re naturally going to fall to the bottom of the pile. That’s one thing we can do that won’t require Congress.”

    In today’s high-tech world, old paradigms have shifted. Irrespective of where you come down on the political spectrum, the mineral resource policy challenges we face as a nation – including our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals – have only grown over time, and warrant a response.  Thankfully, we can tap into vast mineral riches beneath our own soil. If and how we unlock our mineral resource potential will significantly impact our competitiveness and national security going forward.

    The next few months will see a vigorous debate in Washington on the best ways to revive manufacturing, re-shore American businesses, strengthen our technological competitiveness and restore vital defense capabilities.  At ARPN, we’ll watch closely to see if resource development is recognized as a common root for all of these pressing policy issues.

    To read the full interview with Laura Skaer click here

     

    Share
  • 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 [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Aluminum – Fueling the Renaissance of American Manufacturing

    Aluminum is not only one of the most sustainable materials these days, it is also making headlines – most recently during the North American Leaders Summit, also dubbed “Three Amigos Summit” held at the end of June in Ottawa, Canada.  Invoking challenges associated with China’s trade policy, President Obama called for the North American countries to [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Aluminum – Versatile and Timely

    After showcasing our first Gateway Metal, Copper, and its co-products, it’s time to move on to our next Gateway Metal as part of our “Through the Gateway” informational campaign. Chances are, you used it this past weekend, during and/or after your 4th of July barbecue.  It is being featured as a part of a massive art installation currently hosted by [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Selenium – More Than Just a Dietary Supplement

    Chances are, you’ve heard of Selenium.  As a trace element, it is an essential mineral found in small amounts in the body, with antioxidant properties. It is also a much-used suite of tools to automate web browsers across many platforms — which is why weeding out our news alerts for stories relevant to ARPN followers can be time-consuming. [...]
  • Through the Gateway: The Copper Gap That Needn’t Be

    Lately, web searches for “Copper” have seemed to turn up stories about the metal’s woes on the global commodity market on a daily basis.  Like many of its hard-rock commodity peers, Copper has seen its price decline over the past five years. However, there is good reason to believe that the self-corrective nature of commodity [...]

Archives