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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • As Japan Retreats, US Dozes Off Again On Critical Minerals

    Over the course of the last few months, slumping prices have prompted Japanese companies to reassess their rare metals strategies and cancel cooperative agreements that were once considered a high priority.

    As Nikkei Asian Review reports, state-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. (JOGMEC) has cancelled a joint exploration contract for a tungsten mine in Australia, and chemical Showa Denko has announced plans to dissolve its China-based rare-earth magnet alloy-manufacturing and –selling subsidiary Baotou Show Rare Earth High-Tech New Material.

    The Japanese retreat is providing China, which is also putting out feelers regarding acquiring bankrupt American REE producer Molycorp after Japanese companies declined, with yet another opening to tighten its grip on the rare metals market.

    Says Rurika Imahashi, Nikkei staff writer:

    “Slowly but surely the market is being forged into an oligopoly. More than 100 rare-earth producers in China will be consolidated by June, leaving 90% of global supply in the hands of a mere six companies. Similar moves are also afoot in the antimony and other rare metals markets.”

    Imahashi’s observation regarding the consequences is spot on:

    “Concerns over supply may be waning due to falling prices, but stable supply could be at risk in the medium and long term.”

    Meanwhile, the United States appears to be dozing off again on the critical minerals front. While the USGS recently released a study showing that the U.S. reliance on foreign imports has increased significantly over the past 30 years, Congress has failed to pass legislation to facilitate exploration and development of domestic mineral resources for several years in a row.  Instead, like Buzz Lightyear — and in a sad commentary on the burdensome permitting process on the patch of Earth called the United States —  American lawmakers decided to look To Infinity and Beyond!, passing legislation allowing for the commercial extraction of minerals and other materials, including water from the moon and asteroids.

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  • U.S. Forest Service Puts Damper On New Year For Wyoming

    What could have been a great start of the year for Wyoming’s economy and the United States’ critical resource needs had the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) done its job, feels more like a hangover thanks to the agency.

    As Laura Skaer, executive director of the American Exploration & Mining Association, writes for the Casper Star Tribune, the U.S. Forest Service, which is in charge of determining whether a proposed REE mine outside Sundance gets the green light, has been dragging its feet. Against earlier promises, the agency has not only failed to issue what is called the final “Record of Decision” (ROD) by November of last year, it has not even issued the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which provides the basis for peer agency and public review, and has to precede the ROD.

    Readers of ARPN’s blog know that this is problematic in light of China’s commanding monopoly over the world’s rare earths supplies and the United States’ overreliance on foreign mineral resources.

    Writes Skaer: 

    “This dithering, whether intentional or from bureaucratic incompetence, means China not only gets the high-paying mining jobs, it gets the high-paying manufacturing jobs too. Former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping opined in 1992, “The Middle East has oil. China has rare earths.” China, which has acquired most US-invented rare earths processing technologies, is happy to sell these minerals to American companies – as long as you do your manufacturing in China.”

    Skaer laments the agency’s failure to fill a key internal position for months, as well as what she calls “walling off” the permit-seeking company from relevant details of the decision-making process. 

    Whatever the agency’s reasoning for the delay – the Forest Service now wants to complete the ROD by September of this year – the bottom line spells sobering news for Wyoming’s workers and our critical mineral needs, according to Skaer:

    “Less than a year ago Reuters reported “The Pentagon repeatedly waived laws banning Chinese-built components on U.S. weapons in order to keep the $392 billion Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter program on track.” If the USFS would just do its job, the U.S. would reduce its unhealthy dependence on China for rare earths, Wyoming residents would have high paying jobs, and the Pentagon could comply with the law.” 

    Happy New Year?!?

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  • The “Electronification of Everything” Raises Specter of “War Over the Periodic Table”

    Via our friend and ARPN expert Simon Moores’ Twitter feed, we came across a three-part must-read series for Bloomberg View, in which author and policy expert David S. Abraham discusses the role of rare earths in today’s increasingly high-tech world.   Perhaps most interestingly, Abraham clarifies a common misconception in part two of the series: “Although [...]
  • The Geo-Politics of Rare Earths: China Reported to Add to Stockpile

    ARPN readers know that one of the core tenets of the Resource Wars thesis is that the market for strategic and critical metals is never immune to government interventions. Witness today’s Bloomberg report: “China Said to Add 10,000 Tons to Rare Earths Stockpiles.” Bloomberg reports: “China may stockpile more medium-to-heavy rare earths this year such [...]
  • Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory to Drive Critical Mineral Demand

    The graphite, lithium and cobalt industries are set for major demand surges as Tesla Motors prepares to break ground on its super-battery plant, the Gigafactory, next month. The high-end EV manufacturer is looking to double the world’s battery output as it seeks to bring the production cost of battery packs down in a bid to [...]
  • 3D Printing & the “New Rare Earths”

    “3D printing companies are the new Rare Earths.” Thus spake Twitter, a few hundred-million Tweets ago, giving birth to the new meme on what matters most in our constantly-evolving technology world. Meaning, of course, that the furor over Rare Earths sparked three years back — when China used its then-97% production monopoly as a weapon [...]
  • The Epoch Times on why the Pentagon wants “to buy rocks”

    The Epoch Times’s Matthew Robertson takes a closer look at the Pentagon’s request to Congress “for over a billion dollars. To buy rocks” – at a time when budget cuts should be the order of the day in Washington. He notes that while in previous years, the Department of Defense merely noted China’s near-total monopoly [...]
  • New NCPA report traces REE potential and related obstacles in the U.S.

    It’s time the United States overhaul its outdated and rigid permitting process and begin harnessing our vast rare earths potential while promoting economic and job growth – that’s not just something the American Resources Policy Network has been advocating for quite some time, it is also the finding of a new study released by our [...]
  • Alaska Senate passes resolution in support of REE exploration

    Alaska continues to be a state leader when it comes to formulating mineral resource policy. In line with Gov. Sean Parnell’s five-part strategy to support the mining industry, the State Senate has passed a resolution in support of in-state Rare Earths exploration, which urges state agencies and the federal government to lend its support to [...]
  • Antimony metal to be watched

    In a piece for DailyMarkets.com, analyst Jeb Handwerger zeroes in on Antimony. Antimony is a key component in fire retardants as well as batteries, ceramics, touch-screen technology, glass, and ammunition and has seen largely stable prices in unstable economic times. With China being its top producer controlling nearly 90 percent of global supply and other [...]

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