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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • To Reduce Supply Chain Vulnerabilities, U.S. Should Tap Domestic Mineral Resources More

    Over the past few weeks, the spread of the coronavirus has begun to expose the supply chain challenges associated with an over-reliance on foreign raw materials, the effects of which will be felt across broad segments of manufacturing.

    In a new piece for PennLive Patriot-News, Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA), takes a look at the United States’ Rare Earths supply chain — for which followers of ARPN will know that China is the elephant in the room — and calls for the United States to “start matching China’s industrial strategy” which means “tapping our domestic mineral resources.”

    Zeroing in on the issue from the renewable energy angle, Stumo points out that the coming surge in demand for the metals and minerals underpinning green energy technology  — electric cars, wind turbines, solar panels etc. — will be staggering, citing one estimate suggesting “that the stock of available minerals required for electric vehicles will need to increase by 87,000 percent [and t]he resources for solar panels will need to rise 1,000 percent; wind turbines, 3,000 percent.”

    Stumo argues that with China’s dominance in the mineral resource sector being strategic and allowing the regime in Beijing to levy power over global industries “Washington must stop turning a blind eye to such mercenary behavior, particularly when it includes forced labor camps, a disregard for environmental standards, and efforts to degrade U.S. industry.”

    Fortunately, even before the outbreak and ongoing spread of Covid-19 placing a magnifying glass over our resource dependencies, and against the backdrop of the nascent tech war between China and the United States U.S. stakeholders were beginning to take steps to reduce supply chain vulnerabilities, particularly for Rare Earths. 

    In July of last year, the Trump Administration invoked Title III of the 69-year old Defense Production Act to spur domestic REE development. The President issued five Presidential Determinations (PDs) permitting the use of Defense Production Act (DPA) Title III authorities to strengthen the domestic industrial base and supply chain for light and heavy REEs, rare earth metals and alloys, neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) rare earth permanent magnets, and samarium cobalt (SmCo) rare earth permanent magnets.

    Other initiatives have made it into Title II of the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA) (S. 2657) a package consisting of several pieces of legislation currently pending in the U.S. Senate.

    With regards to Rare Earths specifically, Title II calls for the enactment of a program to “develop advanced separation technologies for the extraction and recovery of rare earth elements (REEs) and minerals from coal and coal byproducts,” and respective reporting to Congress. 

    Unlike some of our trading partners, we are in the fortunate position to be home to “vast, untapped geologic deposits worth an estimated $6.2 trillion.”  While we will not be able to meet all our mineral resource needs by solely relying on domestic resource development and processing, and will have to rely on trading with allies.  However, we can significantly reduce our vulnerabilities by maximizing our domestic resource potential and choosing allies over adversaries when it comes to sourcing from other nations. 

    As Stumo concludes:

    “Mining will remain essential for producing the next generation of advanced industries. Doing it here at home will protect the global environment while supporting good jobs in many domestic industries.”

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  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]

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