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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Panelists at U.S. House Hearing Stress Dangers of America’s Growing Resource Dependence

    During yesterday’s oversight hearing on the subject of “Examining Consequences of America’s Growing Dependence on Foreign Minerals,” before the House Natural Resources Committee, panelists raised some of the key issues we have consistently highlighted on our blog.

    Panelists included:

    • Mr. Ronnie Favors, Administrator, U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, Strategic Materials, U.S. Department of Defense
    • Dr. Murray Hitzman, Associate Director for Energy and Minerals, United States Geological Survey
    • Dr. Richard Silberglitt, Senior Physical Scientist, Rand Corporation
    • Ms. Katie Sweeney, Senior VP, Legal Affairs and General Counsel, National Mining Association
    • and Ms. Carlotta Tilousi, Council Member, Havasupai Tribe, Sepia, Arizona

    Full written testimony along with the video of the hearing are available on the committee website, but we wanted to highlight some of the points raised by one of the panelists, Dr. Silberglitt.

    Invoking the example of Tungsten, and the findings of a “RAND Corporation Study entitled Critical Materials: Present Danger to U.S. Manufacturing,” Dr. Silberglitt argued that

    “Dependence on imports is not necessarily a problem, as long as manufacturers have access to a global supply chain with fair market prices. Concerns arise when supply chains are dominated by countries that have weak governance or exercise control over their materials production sector. In such cases, U.S. manufacturers are vulnerable to export restrictions that limit their access. This can result in lower prices for manufacturers in the producing country, thereby hindering the international competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers and creating pressure to move manufacturing away from the United States and into the producing country.”

    The elephant in the room, according to Silberglitt, is – you probably guessed it – China, which as ARPN followers know is the biggest producer of global supplies for many metals and minerals we are dependent on — and is no stranger to export restrictions and other market distortion tools.

    According to Silberglitt,

    “Actions to increase resiliency can take two different forms: those that encourage diversified production and processing of critical materials and those that involve the development of alternative sources, such as secondary production or alternative inputs to manufacturing.”  

    Silberglitt said progress was being made in the former, but maintained that “the uncertainty created by a highly concentrated market is a barrier that must be overcome by actions at the local, national, regional and global levels to create a favorable and sustainable climate for the investments and time needed to bring diversified supplies into place.”

    Later in the hearing, the National Mining Association’s Katie Sweeney made the case for a merit-based review of federal land withdrawals, and stressed the issue of an onerous and duplicative permitting system hampering the United States’ ability to compete with jurisdictions like Canada and Australia – both of whom have equally high social and environmental standards when it comes to mining yet offer a significantly more streamlined permitting structure.

    Towards the end of the Q&A, Chairman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) entered into the record a study recently authored by the latest member of the ARPN expert panel – Dr. Ned Mamula’s “Strategic Minerals: The Embarrassment of Riches.” Most panelists agreed with the thrust of his report that the United States, which has vast mineral resources beneath our own soil, could and should do more to harness this potential.

    With a Senate hearing on the permitting processes at the Department of the Interior and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for energy and resource infrastructure projects also held yesterday, this week is a good week for mineral resource policy awareness on Capitol Hill. Here’s hoping policy makers mull over what they heard during the holidays and begin tackling the issues at hand in the new year.

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  • ARPN’s McGroarty for Investor’s Business Daily: U.S. Mineral Resource Dependence a “Clear and Present Danger”

    Against the backdrop of growing threats to U.S. security – recent flash points involve Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea – a new Presidential Executive Order “On Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States,” zeroes in on defense readiness. The E.O. requires heads from various cabinet departments to submit to the President policy recommendations for strengthening the U.S. defense industrial base.

    The problem, as ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty outlines in a new commentary for Investors Business Daily, runs far deeper than scenarios in which “there is only one U.S. company that can repair submarine propellers – (…) Our metals and minerals dependency on foreign sources of supply is great and growing.”

    ARPN followers are familiar with the overall picture: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, we are 100% reliant on foreign imports for 20 metals and minerals. For another 50, we are more than 50% import dependent – with China being a leading supplier for 28 of the 50. 

    McGroarty points to fused aluminum oxide to underscore the severity of the situation, arguing that “there’s nothing quite like a raw material shortage to bring the lengthiest supply chain to a standstill:” 

    While we are more than 75% import dependent for our annual domestic fused aluminum oxide supply, according to USGS, defense-grade aluminum fused oxide is even harder to come by, leaving our import dependency for this material at 100%, with the world’ leading providers being China and Venezuela – none of which are the poster children of reliable trading partners. 

    Says McGroarty:

    “In announcing the Executive Order, Navarro noted that it ‘does not silo defense, the economy and trade and the workforce,’ but embraces ‘all the interconnections between a strong manufacturing base, a strong industrial base, a strong workforce … that strengthen our tax base which … allows us to buy the material and weapons.’

    A fine and expansive statement, to which we should make a one-word amendment: Instead of buying the strategic materials used in U.S. weapons platforms, whenever we can, we should be mining that material here at home.

    And that requires reversing the slide that has seen the U.S.’s share of global mining exploration investment in steady decline the past two decades, even as the length of the federal permitting process has doubled. Here, we need not wait for the President’s Defense Industrial Base report; we should press for passage of critical minerals legislation now before the Congress, with meaningful permitting reform.”

    McGroarty has additional suggestions as to what can be done to foster a policy environment conducive to harnessing our nation’s arguably vast mineral potential, and calls for the realization of the strategic importance of mainstay metals like Copper, which in the tech metal era, serve as “Gateway metals” to other critical minerals. 

    He concludes:

     “Defense readiness has long been a key bulwark of American strength — and worrying about it has an equally lengthy pedigree. In his oft-quoted farewell address, in a largely overlooked passage, President Dwight Eisenhower warned: ‘We can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense.’ That was 1961, at the height of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War.

    In 2017, with threats emanating from Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang and Tehran, this is one instance where it would pay for America to Be Like Ike.” 

    The time for a strategic overhaul of our mineral resource policy is now. 

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  • Lithium – A Case In Point for Mining Policy Reform

    In a recent op-ed for the Reno Gazette Journal, professor emeritus of mining engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, Jaak Daemen makes the case for comprehensive mining policy reform.   Citing the arrival of electric vehicles in which “battery technology is catching up with the hype,” he cautions that benefits benefits associated with the [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Exporting California’s hazardous waste makes mockery of “environmental justice” concept

    Slowing down the permitting process is a common practice used by environmentalists to derail mining and construction projects, so one can’t help but notice the irony of a slow permitting process that complicates environmental cleanup. However, this is what is currently happening in California. As we have previously pointed out, the Golden State is in [...]
  • California – Red Tape Central

    California’s nickname, “the Golden State,” can be traced by back to the discovery of the precious metal in the middle of the 19th century. For decades after World War II, it was the proverbial land of milk and honey, a destination for people and businesses in search of opportunity. Fast forward to today, and the [...]
  • Red tape abundance – challenges associated with the U.S. permitting system

    With the release of this year’s instructive Behre Dolbear “Where Not to Invest” study, a report that ranks – among other things – the time it takes to bring new mines online in various nations, it comes as no surprise to see that the United States has tied with Papua New Guinea for the second [...]
  • A plea for mineral permitting reform

    If you think hard enough, you can find something wrong with anything. Case in point: If there’s anything remotely wrong with having an op-ed appear in the Wall Street Journal, it’s that, for some topics, sometimes 750 words just isn’t enough. So I’ll step back here to the Internet for a bit of prequel and [...]
  • Proposed Canadian federal budget emphasizes need to expedite resource development

    Contrasting sharply with the current U.S. domestic mineral policy environment, Canada’s federal budget to be released by the Harper Administration next week will reflect its stated commitment to removing barriers to investment and resource development. Specific legislative language has yet to be introduced; however, according to the Canada Free Press, the budget outline will emphasize [...]
  • A new dimension of Resource Wars – China throws hat into Arctic ring

    Having intensified over the past few months with Russia reportedly willing to risk a new “Cold War” over the area’s vast resources, the geopolitics of the Arctic’s race for mineral riches has just been elevated to a whole new level with China having thrown its hat into the ring. According to the Wall Street Journal’s [...]

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