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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 multiple functions of our new gadgets appear to come with the opportunity to use fewer raw materials — after all, the iPhone is a computer, book, and music player — the reality is we use far more total resources.

    Indeed, some new products use less rare metals than their previous iterations. For example, LED displays use far fewer rare-earth elements per lamp than their fluorescent cousins. But other times, an apparent reduction in materials use is just a displacement.”

    As he explains, laptops today may use fewer rare earths because flash drives are getting smaller, but to offset reduced memory capacities, usage of REE-magnets for hard drives in cloud-data storage centers is skyrocketing.

    Abraham cites the electric toothbrush, the production of which requires roughly 35 metals, as an example of the “’electronification’ of what were once simple products is now embedded with rare metals.”  Supplying these 35 metals, he says, requires an extensive supply chain spanning six continents.  The dangers associated with the inherent risk of supply disruptions stretch far beyond dental hygiene:

    “Because whole industries are built on just a few rare metals, disruptions to their supply can have profound global implications and give resource-rich countries tremendous leverage. (…) And as these metals are critical to green technology as well as underpin complex weapons systems and ultimately a country’s national defense, more is on the line than spinning toothbrushes.

    Abraham’s warning in part three of the series should sound familiar to our ARPN readers, as it reflects concerns we have consistently raised over the past few years:

    “Increasingly today, national economic security and the fate of many businesses are beholden to a handful of unheralded metals, produced often in one country, in many cases China. As our products become more advanced and supply lines intertwined, manufacturers become tied to the properties of specific rare metals, leaving them hostage to the resources. Without more robust supply lines, the War over the Periodic Table may be just beginning.”

     Read the entire three-part series here.

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  • 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 [...]
  • Study confirms occurrence of REEs in Germany

    Early last year, we highlighted new Rare Earth exploration efforts in Saxony, Germany, where a newly formed company called Seltene Erden Storkwitz AG was slated to kick off drilling operations in the East German state. They did kick off, and the long-suspected occurrence of Rare Earths in the area has now been confirmed by a [...]

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