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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Gold Leapfrogged by “Obscure and Far Less Sexy” Metal – A Look at Palladium

    Valuable and precious, Gold, for example in jewelry, is a popular go-to for gifts during the holidays.  Who knew that gold’s luster would be dimmed by a metal that “scrubs your exhaust,” as the New York Times phrased it?  It may still not end up under many Christmas trees, but Palladium, an “obscure and far less sexy rival” metal for the first time in sixteen years leapfrogged gold in metal market prices last week, hitting a record high last Wednesday.

    Writes the New York Times:

    “It is an impressive dethroning aided by economic shifts, antipollution legislation, union campaigns by mine workers and global trade negotiations. Until recently, palladium was perhaps best known for sharing a name with several popular entertainment venues and for powering the fictional arc reactor mechanism hooked up to Iron Man’s heart.

    Its primary purpose is far less glamorous: More than 80 percent of the world’s palladium is used in the catalytic converters that help vehicles manage their pollutant output.”

    Usage in passenger cars – in response to regulatory efforts to reduce tailpipe emissions — has been one of the key drivers of Palladium demand, and while analysts expect a record high demand this year, softening car sales and other factors may dampen demand going forward.   However, considering Palladium is largely a “co-product” metal recovered via Platinum mining in South Africa and Nickel mining in Russia, it is considered extremely rare, which has tightened supply and driven up prices.

    U.S. import dependence for the metal is pegged at 45 percent, with our lead suppliers being South Africa, accounting for 30% and Russia accounting for  25% in 2017. According to USGS, the sole domestic PGM-mining company — at one point owned by Russian investors — was sold to a South Africa-based mining company in May 2017. 

    Not surprisingly in light of current market developments, Russia – arguably not one of the U.S.’s best trading partners – is looking to step up Palladium production in the coming months.

    Thankfully, as part of the Platinum Group Metals, which was included in DOI’s Critical Minerals list earlier this year, Palladium is on the United States’ government radar.  However, we have yet to see comprehensive action to follow the release of the critical minerals list.  With our competitors – led by China and Russia – not sitting idly by in the global resource race, we cannot afford to get complacent, and must implement policies conducive to harnessing our own domestic resource potential.  As we previously argued:

    The case of Palladium should be another catalyst (pun intended) for policy makers to formulate policies conducive to domestic mineral resource development.

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  • Congressional Western Caucus Members Call for Expansion of Critical Minerals List

    Earlier this month, members of the Congressional Western Caucus sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Acting Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Mary Neumayr calling for the inclusion of additional metals and minerals into the draft critical minerals list released by Secretary Zinke earlier this spring.

    The letter, endorsed by business representatives, elected officials and resource experts, specifically asks for the addition of aggregates, copper, molybendum, gold, zinc, nickel, lead, silver and certain fertilizer compounds to the list.

    In the public statement on the letter, which ARPN joined as a signatory, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar (AZ-04) commended the Administration for “opening up the critical mineral designation process and really listening to the input of experts, Congress, industry and members of the public in order to examine the economic and geopolitical ramifications of certain minerals being placed in or excluded from the ‘critical minerals’ list.”

    He went on to say:

    “ The good news is that for so many of the minerals which may be designated ‘critical’, we enjoy substantial reserves at home. There is no need for the United States to be import-reliant on adversaries and foes for these valuable materials. Today, we ask that those who are making decisions about ‘critical’ status make sure that obviously-critical minerals like copper, gold, molybdenum, zinc and others make the final list. Given the incredible domestic need for these minerals, it’s no exaggeration to say that the very security and stability of our country depend on the United States prioritizing permitting and development for our vast reserves right here in America.”  

    ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty had previously submitted two sets of public comments relating to the draft critical minerals list – the first identifying a group of “gateway” metals critical for defense applications but absent from the DOI List, and the second articulating the gateway/co-product relationships between metals and minerals on the DOI List. The articulation exercise revealed four metals and minerals absent from the DOI List which are gateways to minerals that are on the list: Copper, Zinc, Nickel and Lead. Further information on the gateway/co-product relationships between metals and minerals can be found in ARPN’s latest report.

    As the American Exploration & Mining Association correctly states, the Administration is “on the right track to recognize the importance of critical minerals in the American Economy. However, the time is ripe to complete the task and end our foreign dependence when we are ready to responsibly mine here at home. $9.2 Billion and 16,500 jobs are waiting to be unleashed benefiting rural economies.”

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  • Nickel – The “Metal That Brought You Cheap Flights” Now “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution”

    Another week, another great infographic by Visual Capitalist – this time on the “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution” – Nickel. Long an important base metal because of its alloying capabilities, Nickel’s status as a Gateway Metal, yielding access to tech minerals like Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium – all of which are increasingly becoming [...]
  • Moores’ Law: The Rise of Lithium Ion Battery Megafactories and What it Means for Critical Mineral Resource Supply

    Earlier this month, Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of experts testified before the full U.S. Senate Energy Committee on opportunities and risks in the energy storage supply chain.   We’re titling his observations as Moores’ Law — which is his for the taking, given the placement [...]
  • Senate Energy Committee Zeroes in on Energy Storage Revolution – Where Will the Battery Megafactories Get the Minerals and Metals They Need?

    Just last week, we highlighted the surge in EV technology and its implications for mineral resource supply and demand.  A timely subject – as evidenced by the fact that the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy held a “Full Committee Hearing “to Examine Energy Storage Technologies” this week. Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence [...]
  • The Surge of EV Technology and Implications for Mineral Resource Supply and Demand

    You may have caught Elon Musk’s exchange with Daimler on Twitter over investment in EV technology earlier this week. Vacuum giant Dyson has also tossed its hat into the ring announcing that it will spend $2.7 billion to develop an electric car. The headlines are piling up, and it’s no longer a secret that demand [...]
  • 2016 – A Mixed Bag for Mineral Resource Policy

    It’s that time of the year again.  And as people are gearing up for the New Year, we are taking the opportunity to take stock of the last twelve months, and want to highlight a few select notable developments of relevance to ARPN followers. From a mineral resource policy perspective, we saw some positive developments [...]
  • Through the Gateway: A Scholarly Look

    Over the course of the past few months, we have featured two classes of metals and minerals, which we believe deserve more attention than they are currently being awarded.  Expanding on the findings of our 2012 “Gateway Metals and the Foundations of American Technology” report, in which we focused on a group of five “Gateway” metals which [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Nickel – Powering Modern Technology

    Over the course of the last few weeks, we reviewed Nickel and its co-products Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium as part of our trip “Through the Gateway.” We’ve established that the importance of each of the co-products is growing as the revolution in materials science advances. Meanwhile, our import dependence for each of the co-products is [...]
  • Through the Gateway: Scandium Embodies Materials Science Revolution

    As we near the conclusion of our journey “Through the Gateway,” we noticed that one metal has kept popping up in our coverage – Scandium. A co-product of Tin, we also discussed it in the context of the alloying properties of Gateway Metal Aluminum. It is also a co-product of Nickel. There is good reason it keeps popping up. For [...]
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