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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 work together to “ensure a level playing field for the steel and aluminum industries here in North America.”

    The stakes are high, and with demand on the rise for durable, lightweight and sustainable materials, the Aluminum industry’s contribution to the U.S. economy — and with that, to the renaissance of U.S. manufacturing — is significant.

    And that significance is measurable.  According to an April 2016 study conducted by economic research firm John Dunham & Associates, the U.S. aluminum industry provides 161,000 direct jobs, and accounts for nearly 551,000 additional jobs created through multiplier effects. Expressed in dollar figures, that means the U.S. aluminum industry’s direct contribution to the U.S. economy has reached $75 billion. When accounting for induced impacts, that number shoots up to $186 billion — more than one percent of national GDP. The Aluminum Association has a great infographic on this:

    AA-Impact-Infographic-Web-600px-W

    While the U.S. is home to significant bauxite deposits, from which aluminum is sourced, we import a significant percentage of the aluminum consumed domestically.  Unlike with other metals and minerals, this represents a marked decrease in geopolitical risk, as most of our aluminum imports are sourced from one of our closest trading partners, Canada. In fact, in 2015, Canadian-sourced imports accounted for 65% of crude aluminum, 21% of semimanufactures, 64% of scrap, and 54% of total aluminum imports.

    In other words, viewed in isolation and from the upstream end of the supply chain at the minesite, the U.S. is increasingly import-dependent for the aluminum it needs.  But in the context of an integrated North American supply chain between the two trading partners, a look at USGS’s 2014 Minerals Yearbook reveals that Canada is helping the U.S. close a 3.4 million ton domestic aluminum production shortfall by supplying more than 2.2 million tons of crude ingot and 227,000 tons of semifabricated aluminum.

    The geopolitics of resource supply are complex and constantly changing.  Trade gives us a more complete picture — but the fundamental fact remains that in our tech-dependent era, manufacturing might is rooted in reliable resource supply.

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  • 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 London’s historic Kew Gardens.  And it was a topic at June’s Three Amigos North American Summit in Ottawa, Canada.

    We’re talking about Aluminum.

    The second most abundant metallic element in the Earth’s crust, according to USGS, aluminum has only been commercially produced for a little over a hundred years, but has since become a widely used mainstay industrial metal – for good reason.

    Weighing about one-third as much as Steel and Copper, Aluminum is highly malleable with low density and a low melting point, has great conductivity and corrosion-resistance, and can be engineered to be extremely strong — with certain aluminum alloys being as strong if not stronger than certain types of steel.

    Some of the more traditional applications for Aluminum include usage in transportation, packaging, and construction, as well as consumer appliances and machinery.  More recently, however, the metal’s versatility has made it a driver in our society’s move towards more energy efficiency. As is the case with Copper, we can reasonably expect further advances in materials science to yield new, innovative uses for Aluminum and Aluminum-based alloys.

    Meanwhile, Aluminum is also a Gateway Metal, with the mining and mineral processing of Bauxite ore for Aluminum yielding access to the tech metals Gallium and Vanadium.

    We will first explore some of Aluminum’s uses and applications, before taking a look at the metal’s supply and demand picture.  ARPN followers will quickly notice distinct differences from policy issues we have typically highlighted for other minerals and metals.  Yet, these issues are no less critical, interesting, and — as President Obama’s remarks at the Three Amigos summit indicates — extremely timely.

    Upon concluding the review of issues surrounding Aluminum and the Aluminum industry, we will once more zero in on the metal’s co-products Gallium and Vanadium later this month.

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  • 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 [...]
  • “A case study in critical metals inaction” – ARPN’s McGroarty on Rhenium

    In a new piece for Investor Intel, our very own Dan McGroarty sounds the alarm on a little-noticed but troubling passage in the U.S. House-passed Defense Authorization Act for 2014.  Said section in Title III acknowledges the importance of Tungsten and Molybdenum powders, including Tungsten Rhenium (WRe) wire to a variety of Department of Defense [...]
  • While U.S. is slow to even begin permitting reform, Queensland, Australia speeds up already expeditious process

    An overhaul of the approvals process in Queensland, Australia will cut the time it takes to issue an exploration permit in half, according to the state’s government.  The change applies to exploration permits only, and government officials are very clear that a granted exploration permit is not a right to mine. Nonetheless, the new process represents [...]
  • Six-state mining ban on public lands: Administration policy contradicts stated goal

    In a recent op-ed for the Pueblo Chieftain, National Mining Association president and CEO Hal Quinn and Colorado Mining Association president Stuart Sanderson discuss the U.S. Administration’s recent decision to take more than 300,000 acres of federal public lands in six Western states, including Colorado, off limits for mineral exploration. Embedding it into the context [...]
  • What Happened to the Commitment to “Shovel-Ready” Jobs?

    At a time when the U.S. economy is still struggling, it is particularly troubling to see that real opportunities to foster job creation are being wasted by poor policy-making in Washington, DC. As Forbes reports, Caterpillar Inc.’s mining segment is facing severe pressure from a decline in capital spending from mining industries, owed in part [...]
  • More market manipulations from China?

    According to media reports surfacing this week, China is looking to cut essentially cut mining rights for REE producers in half – to 67 points down from 113. Analysts tie the move into China’s overall effort to “strengthen its pricing power in the international rare earth market.” This wouldn’t be the first time China, which [...]
  • Fraser Institute to host third Mining Business Risks Summit in November

    The Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think tank and the intellectual home for three of our policy experts, has teamed up with CRU Group, the leading independent business analysis and consultancy group focused on metals and mining, again to host their third Mining Business Risks Summit, to be held in Toronto, Canada, 1-2 November [...]

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