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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • While Some Reforms Fizzled, Enacted NDAA Contains Potentially Precedent-Setting REE Sourcing Provision

    As we have noted, the recently-signed John S. McCain (may he rest in peace) National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (H.R. 5515), stands as a missed opportunity to enact several meaningful mineral resource policy reforms.

    Nonetheless, one provision of the signed legislation marks an important development for the realm of resource policy – so important, in fact, that Jeffery A. Green, president and founder of J. A. Green & Company and member of the ARPN panel of experts calls it “the single biggest legislative development in the rare earth sector since the 2010 Chinese embargo created an awareness of our military’s reliance on foreign rare earth materials.”

    The NDAA’s Section 873, “Prohibition on acquisition of sensitive materials from non-allied foreign nations,” amends Subchapter V of chapter 148 of title 10, U.S. Code by inserting section 2533c – which, among other things, effectively prevents the Pentagon from sourcing of Rare Earth Magnets from China.

    In response to questions from InvestorIntel, Green provides some more context:

    “The new law which sets an increased budget for defense expenditure prevents the purchase of rare earth magnets from China, which currently produces 85-90% per cent of the world’s rare earth magnets. Some 90% of rare earths consumed by the US military are produced by China.

    The new law takes effect immediately, but practically speaking, it will take the DoD some time to implement the law through regulation and to start including the prohibition in new contracts.

    To be clear, this law only applies to the use of Chinese NdFeB (Neodymium, Iron, Boron) and SmCo (Samarium, Cobalt) magnets, the latter being already subject to a previous law requiring domestic sourcing.

    The new law, 10 U.S.C. 2533c, closely mirrors an existing domestic sourcing law, ‘the specialty metals clause’, at 10 U.S.C. 2533b.  While the latter is a Buy American clause, the former states DOD will not allow rare earth magnets and tungsten in weapon systems that is produced by potential adversaries.

    The law explicitly prohibits rare earth magnets and tungsten from being ‘melted or produced’ in China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. That means the production of the magnet can’t be in those countries, so importers and distributors can’t simply bring magnet block into another country and finish into a final part – the law is designed to reinvigorate rare earth magnet manufacturing outside of China.”

    As Green had previously stated in a piece for Real Clear Defense as the bill was being considered by lawmakers:

    “While a good first step, and one long overdue, Sec. 873 addresses just a small percentage of America’s import dependence for essential military components. In next year’s NDAA, Congress should consider expanding this provision, with input from the technical experts at the Department of Defense, to include other critical minerals essential to national security.”

    With the precedent-setting passage of the amendment, the groundwork has been laid for this to actually happen. Writes Green:

    “The DOD may ask in the near future for new materials to be added to 10 U.S.C. 2533c, so there’s a good chance that this precedent continues as the Trump Administration seeks to eliminate the strategic vulnerability of foreign import reliance for critical materials – this bodes well for prospective producers outside China and Russia.”

    Read the full InvestorIntel piece here.

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  • “Materials Science Profiles of Progress” – REE Extraction From Coal

    In the fairy tale realm, Rumpelstilskin was able to turn straw into gold.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, as part of our feature series “Materials Science Profiles of Progress,” we’re taking a closer look at a recently-announced research partnership that may not be able to turn straw into gold, but promises to extract precious Rare Earth Elements from coal.

    A new Department of Energy grant-funded program bringing together a consortium of research entities and private companies including Penn State University, Texas Minerals Resources Corp., Inventure Renewables, and K Technologies seeks to evaluate ways to extract Rare Earth Elements from coal overburden, the material that sits atop a coal seam, provided by Pennsylvania-based Jeddo Coal Co.

    According to the Republican Herald, “[t]he processing method is being developed in conjunction with Penn State and relies on continuous ion exchange and ion chromatography — which is believed to be cleaner and more efficient than the solvent exchange method that is presently used for processing rare earth elements.”

    While touring Jeddo Coal Co.’s mining facilities near Stockton Mountain in Pennsylvania, which are currently idling but are set to become the site of operation for the consortium, Energy Secretary Rick Perry touted the program which he considered “staggeringly important” and the role it could play in reducing our nation’s over-reliance on foreign imports of REE materials used in high-tech 21st Century applications:

    “I don’t think we can overstate how important the development of rare earth minerals out of our anthracite coal is, and the potential that it’s going to have. (…) I think it’s a really important message coming from this administration that whether it’s rare minerals, whether it’s that load of coal that’s headed to Ukraine, the future is bright. (…) We’re going to find the ways to use this natural resource that we have to the betterment not just to America, but to our allies as well.”

    Perry was joined by Rep. Lou Barletta (R, PA-11), who was one of the earliest congressional backers of the program. Barletta argued at the time of the grant announcement:

    “The Department of Energy’s studies have shown that the Appalachian coal fields throughout northeastern Pennsylvania contain some of the highest concentrations of Rare Earth Elements. (…) These elements are critical components of everyday electronics and equipment used in the health care, transportation, and defense industries.  With our abundance of anthracite, we have the potential to create and support good-paying jobs, not just in the coal industry, but in manufacturing and related industries that rely on these elements.

    It is critical for our national security that we turn to a domestic source of these minerals. Our military should not have to rely on China or any other country for the resources necessary to keep us safe, especially when those resources are readily available right here in Pennsylvania.” 

    Similar projects are in the works around the country, with a West Virginia University’s Energy Institute project having moved into phase two of its efforts to recover REEs from coal mine drainage.  The Department of Energy is looking to award a substantially bigger grant of $20 million to the project that shows the greatest potential for extracting Rare Earths from coal in an economically viable fashion.

    None of these projects may be able to compete with Rumpelstiltskin, but we also don’t live in a fairy tale world.  Considering that – after a brief dip thanks to a now-bankrupt domestic REE mining operation – our import dependency for REEs is back at 100%, it is quite an encouraging real-world development to see that policy makers, private sector executives and public university scientists are realizing the importance of this issue, and we’ll keep monitoring the progress of these projects.

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  • Critical Materials Institute Meets “Stretch Goal” to Produce REE Magnet Domestically

    Meeting one of its “stretch goal[s] to demonstrate that rare-earth magnets could be produced from mine to manufacturer, here in the United States,” the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub, has announced that the has fabricated magnets made entirely of domestically sourced and refined REEs.  This success was achieved in [...]
  • Japan Pursuing Long-Term Critical Mineral Strategy in Kazakhstan

    In an effort to secure ongoing access to Rare Earths (REEs) for its domestic industries, Japan, which in geological terms does not have much of a resource profile, has entered into a series of cooperative agreements with Kazakhstan, a nation quickly ascending into the league of top REE suppliers in the world. The latest one [...]
  • American Resources Policy Network announces new Advisor on Advanced Materials

    Investment Intelligence Site Head Assumes Expanded Role Within ARPN WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Resources Policy Network has
 announced that Tracy Weslosky, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for InvestorIntel, a global investment source for the resource, energy and technology sectors, and a member of the American Resources Policy Network panel of experts, will expand her role at [...]
  • The OPEC of Rare Earths – China’s Resource Stranglehold and its National Security Implications

    In his latest column for Real Clear World, American Resources Principal Daniel McGroarty zeros in on China’s dominance of the Rare Earths market. Invoking lopsided production numbers – in spite of international efforts to develop Rare Earths outside of China, China’s supply monopoly still hovers at 95 percent – McGroarty likens China’s REE control to [...]
  • Terminology matters – Clearing up the REE confusion

    As they are a hot commodity right now, talking about Rare Earths Elements is en vogue these days. As fascinating as they are, the terminology associated with this group of minerals composed of the fifteen lanthanoid elements plus Scandium and Yttrium remains confusing to many. To clarify things, American Resources expert and Technology Metals Research [...]
  • Indian-Japanese Rare Earths cooperation underscores geopolitical dimension of resource policy

    Dwarfed by Chinese production today, it may be hard to imagine that India was once the world’s leading Rare Earths producer. The country is now trying to gain foot hold in a market it dominated in the 1950s, and is hoping to benefit from a territorial dispute in the East China Sea. In the wake [...]
  • American Resources expert Jeffery Green: “Washington needs to realize that all roads lead to China”

    This week’s Critical Metals Report on the Gold Report’s website features an exclusive detailed interview with the latest expert to join the American Resources panel of experts: Jeffery Green, President and Founder of J.A. Green & Company, and Founder of the Strategic Materials Advisory Council. Discussing the U.S. policy landscape against the backdrop of the [...]
  • FY 2013 budget doubles down on “green” energy fueled by critical minerals

    In his much-anticipated proposed FY 2013 Federal budget blueprint released last week, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his commitment to “renewable” energy. An attractive proposition, but it raises the question of whether we are simply trading one set of foreign dependencies for another. Technologies such as electric cars and wind and solar energy generators are heavily [...]

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