American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • The Rise of the Urban Mine — Reconciling Resource Supply Needs and Sustainability

    The new Biden Administration has made clear that addressing the issue of climate change is a key priority for the next four years, and a flurry of first-week executive orders leave no doubt that the Administration intends to double down on the President’s ambitious goal to make the United States carbon neutral by 2050.

    As we previously pointed out, the emphasis on shifting towards a lower carbon future will not only have to be reconciled with the fact that the “future energy system will be far more mineral and metal-intensive than it is today,” but also with the growing realization that as we push to reduce greenhouse gases, we can’t ignore the geopolitical challenges associated with the supply chains for the metals and minerals underpinning the green energy shift — a realization the urgency of which the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced.

    In light of these challenges, the mineral resource sector has been stepping up its efforts to pursue closed-loop solutions that prioritize recycling, reclamation and sustainability.

    The concept of a circular economy, into which these closed-loop solutions are tied is a system which thrives on sustainability and focuses mainly on refining design production and recycling to ensure that little to no waste results. The concept itself is not new, but with technological advances and against the backdrop of an increasingly interconnected world, it has gained traction in recent years.

    Thankfully, from a critical mineral resource supply perspective, the properties of many metals and minerals make them ideal candidates for urban mining, a key part of the circular economy.

    The Fraunhofer ISI, a German research organization, recently released a paper on “The Promise and Limits of Urban Mining,” which, if you’re looking for a refresher on the concept and its current manifestations, is well worth a read. According to the Institute, “Urban Mining aims to manage and use these materials as a source of raw material supply, utilizing not only the waste of today but also anticipating and capturing the value contained in the waste of tomorrow. Urban Mining is an important part of the Circular Economy and provides a degree of independence from natural resources, increasing supply security.”

    We recently outlined a series of initiatives in the critical mineral resource sector harnessing technological advances to pursue closed-loop solutions, and the list continues to grow as the industry increasingly recognizes its responsibility to fulfill supply needs while meeting the growing sustainability expectations of consumers, society and governments.

    While we are still a long ways away from squaring the circle, expect the Urban Mine to play a greater role in the years to come, and we will continue to feature initiatives and projects on our blog going forward.

  • The Blessings of a New World

    The following is a modified re-post from 2012:

    Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving – a celebration of the blessings afforded by our forefathers as they overcame adversity in a new land, laboring to obtain from the resources around them the necessities of life: food, shelter, and warmth against winter’s cold.

    Since that first winter, the bounty of Thanksgiving has become a symbol of the abundant resources the New World provided. From the raw materials that built our modern cities to the energy that has powered innovation in all its variety, these resources have enriched the lives of millions of people in America and around the world – making possible a way of life those who gathered around that first Thanksgiving table could never have imagined.

    For many of us, Thanksgiving will look different this year. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many families are unable to gather around the table and share food and fellowship the way we are used to. Times may be challenging, yet there is much to be thankful for, including the ingenuity and innovation that have yielded promise with regards to a vaccine against the virus that has turned life as we know it on its head.

    As we carve the (in many cases much smaller than usual) turkey this year, we know that too many are still doing without the basic necessities of life. And yet the resources around us – those literally under our feet – remain plentiful. All too often complacency and ideology lock us into inaction, blocking us from making use of the still-rich resources of this new world. Minerals, metals, fuel and timber that could create jobs, opportunities, and rewards for the American people are left untouched.

    Our forefathers understood privation and want. They understood that nature sometimes rewards tireless work with a poor harvest. But they also understood nature’s bounty. What they would find beyond comprehending in our day is the willful failure to use resources we have at hand to ease hardship and make a better life for ourselves and for others.

    On this Thanksgiving, as we give thanks for our many blessings, and hope for this pandemic to end soon, we may we also remember the lessons dating back to Plymouth Rock, that teach us to use our resources and resourcefulness to make an even newer and better world.

  • Critical Minerals Will be Key to “Building Back Better”

    The dust begins to settle over the 2020 presidential elections, and President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are busy lining up their policy and personnel priorities. As the National Mining Association’s Rich Nolan writes in a new piece for Inside Sources, “much of their agenda rests on a foundation provided by the nation’s [...]
  • New Critical Minerals Executive Order Declares National Emergency, Invokes Defense Production Act

    In perhaps the strongest acknowledgment of the urgency of our critical mineral resource woes and over-reliance on foreign (and especially Chinese) supplies to date, U.S. President Donald Trump this week triggered rarely-used emergency government powers to address the issue. On his way to a campaign rally in Minnesota, the president on Wednesday signed an Executive [...]
  • Scandium Has Yet to Go “Ballistic” — Will Recent Developments Change the Material’s Odds to Shine?

    “This obscure metal is going to go ballistic in a few years,” John Kaiser of Kaiser Research told the Investing News Network a few years ago. The metal he was referring to is Scandium — a material that is “as strong as titanium, as light as aluminum, and as hard as ceramic.” It’s a material [...]
  • Europe Comes to Terms with Mineral Supply Challenges, Unveils Action Plan

    As the U.S. explores its options when it comes to diversifying our critical minerals supply chains away from China in the wake of COVID-19, Europe is coming to grips with its own mineral supply challenges. According to European metals association Eurometaux, the region “has reached a critical fork in the road,” as it grapples with [...]
  • Growing Mineral Resource Pressures in the Context of the Low-Carbon Transition Warrant “Domestic Mining Boom”

    “[G]aining full access to America’s domestic resources will be essential to our ability to grow, defend ourselves, and dominate in the energy world of tomorrow,” writes Forbes contributer Jude Clemente in a new piece for the publication, adding that “[w]e must finally get serious about America’s need for a mining revolution to give the wind, [...]
  • Europe Forges Ahead With Battery Gigafactory Buildout As U.S. Still Struggles to Get Off Starting Block

    The current coronavirus pandemic may have thrown a wrench into the gears of many industries, but — against the backdrop of skyrocketing materials supply needs in the context of the green energy transition — Europe continues to forge ahead with the buildout of its large-scale battery gigafactory capacity.  According to London-based Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, whose [...]
  • Is it Time for a GigaMine? Metal Tech News’s Lasley on the Prospect of Tesla GigaMines

    Earlier this month, Elon Musk, founder and CEO of tech giant Tesla, made headlines with his call on global mining companies to boost production of nickel, a key component in EV battery technology. “Any mining companies out there … wherever you are in the world, please mine more nickel,” he said, adding “Tesla will give [...]
  • Independence Day 2020 – Critical Mineral Resource Policy in a Watershed Year

    It’s that time of the year again – Independence Day is upon us.  This year, things are different, though. If you’re like us, it kind of snuck up on you, and it took seeing the booths selling fireworks in the parking lots to realize it’s July already.  After all, we just came off the longest month of [...]