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  • ARPN Expert: To Counter China’s Mineral Resource Dominance, U.S. Apathy About Critical Minerals Must End  

    Followers of ARPN know that China is the big elephant in the room when it comes to the United States’ critical mineral resource supply issues.  As ARPN expert panel member Ned Mamula, an adjunct scholar in geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute, and “Rare Mettle” author Ann Bridges write in a new piece for National Review:

    “Where U.S.–China trade and tariff issues are concerned, China now holds a powerful trump card. Many of the advanced-technology and strategic-defense systems upon which our nation depends will not function without Chinese rare earth parts — and alternative parts makers are not in place to fill our needs. Therefore, it might be a bad day at the bargaining table for the U.S. if and when China decides to play its rare earth card.”

    To explain the United States’ retreat from being the world’s top minerals producer and exporter in the 1990s and China’s mineral resource dominance, Mamula and Bridges offer a point-by-point comparison of Chinese policies  “with the results of past U.S. minerals policies and sentiment about mining — ranging from apathy about critical minerals to open hostility toward their domestic production.”

    While the comparison paints a bleak picture, there are ways “out of this mineral-dependency mess.” Friends of ARPN won’t be surprised that Mamula and Bridges point to presidential executive order (EO 13817), which has set the stage for domestic mineral resource reform.  The proof remains in the pudding and the Congressional record since the announcement of the executive order has been somewhat mixed.

    However, the bottom line, according to Mamula and Bridges stands:

    “As informed citizens, we should embrace and not shrink from U.S. mineral wealth. It is an important part of our American resource endowment. Like the Canadians, Australians, and other resource-rich nations, we should insist on and applaud a vibrant mining industry. Investment in the technology and energy sectors now needs to include mining, too, as it supplies us with so much and can also contribute mightily to the GDP.

    The math is simple: More American mining = less Chinese mineral imports.

    The only real, sustainable pushback against the Chinese mineral-industry juggernaut, which is burying the U.S. with critical mineral imports, is more domestic mining. There really is no other way.”

    Perhaps the release of the Administration’s long-awaited defense-industrial base study, which we’re expecting any day now as per the Defense Department’s top acquisition official, will inject some fresh momentum into domestic mineral resource policy overhaul efforts.  With Rare Earths particularly at risk, the fragility of the U.S. defense supply chain looms large.

  • Resource Policy’s Butterfly Effect – South Africa’s Landownership Issues to Cripple U.S. Defense Arsenal?

    Can the taking of a farm in South Africa cripple the American defense arsenal?  We’re about to find out – says ARPN’s principal Daniel McGroarty in a new piece for Investor’s Business Daily.

    Invoking the so-called “Butterfly Effect” – an expression used to describe the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere -, McGroarty argues that

    “[e]xpropriation of a white-owned farm in South Africa can lead to civil strife that could disrupt mining in that resource-rich country, depriving the U.S. and its allies of metals and minerals supply, crippling defense preparedness by sidelining advanced weapons platforms – while strengthening adversaries like China and Russia, which happen to possess the very metals and minerals South Africa mines and America needs.

    So like the butterfly wings that trigger a tsunami, South Africa’s expropriation crisis could disrupt U.S. defense readiness, and hand our global adversaries dangerous new leverage.”

    The 2014 labor unrest that disrupted Platinum Group Metal (PGM) production for a certain period served as a recent warning – which, among other issues led the U.S. Geological Survey to use South Africa as a case in point to underscore the “risk associated with high production concentration in a single country” in its “Summary of Methodology and Background Information” for DOI’s 2018 Critical Minerals List.

    The recent racial tensions only exacerbate said risk.  McGroarty explains how a potential faltering of South African supply would affect U.S. defense contractors and ultimately U.S. national security:

    “What metals and minerals do U.S. defense contractors source from South Africa?  The PGMs, used in jet turbine blades and high-performance circuit boards.  Chromium, used as a superalloy in jet fighters and tanks.  Manganese, required for National Defense Stockpile material electrolytic manganese metal, for which the U.S. is 100% foreign import-dependent.  Titanium used in jet fighter air frames, and vanadium, used in super-conductor electromagnets like the ones needed for the U.S. Navy’s new railgun.

    You can find all of these metals and minerals on the recently published U.S. Government Critical Minerals List, deemed essential “to our national economy and national security.”  And the U.S. is import dependent — in some instances 100% dependent — for all of them.

    Here’s where the impact intensifies. If South African supply falters, what are the alternatives for the U.S. defense complex?  For chromium, we can turn to Russia. For PGMs, Russia again. For manganese, China is the global leader. For titanium and vanadium, it’s China or Russia.

    In other words, civil unrest, with the potential for civil war, in South Africa may well increase U.S. critical mineral dependence on China and Russia — nations recognized as U.S. adversaries in defense doctrine, and presently subject to sanctions and trade tariffs.”

    As followers of ARPN well know, many of our mineral resource dependencies are largely home-grown, as the U.S. is home to known resources of all of the metals and minerals referenced as “at risk” above and many more.

    Laments McGroarty:

    “As a nation, we’ve simply slipped into a post-industrial mindset that we don’t need to be a primary producer, exacerbated by a mine permitting process that is among the lengthiest in the world. Our manufacturers — including our defense industrial base weapons builders — simply buy what we need when we need it, from wherever it’s mined. And it’s worked.

    Until now that is, as the butterfly’s wings are flapping in South Africa.”

    The choice is ours – are we going to sit idly by and hope that China and Russia won’t “exploit any metals vulnerabilities that emerge” from South Africa’s land ownership issues, or are we going to enact the reforms necessary to “encourage domestic production of the metals and minerals we need to support our 21st Century lifestyles, and the advanced weapons platforms that keep us secure.”

    Click here to read the full piece.

  • A “Dangerous Dependence:”  Mineral Resource Security Goes Mainstream

    In recent weeks, we have seen a flurry of articles and commentaries in national publications discussing reforms to address our ever-growing reliance on foreign mineral resources.  The two most recent examples are member of the ARPN expert panel Jeffery A. Green’s piece in Real Clear Defense entitled “Dangerous Dependence on China for Critical Minerals Runs [...]
  • Happy Birthday, America – Onward to Resource Independence Day?

    It’s that time of the year again – we load up our shopping carts with fireworks and burger buns, and gear up for parades to honor of the men and women who have fought, and continue our safeguard our freedom today. Many of us will have already traveled this week – and according to AAA, [...]
  • Critical Mineral List Finalized – Now Comes the Hard Part

    “Identifying which minerals are ‘critical’ is the easy part. Working out what to do about them is going to be much harder.”  – That’s the conclusion Reuters columnist Andy Home draws in his recent piece on the current Administration’s efforts to develop a strategy to reduce import reliance for metals considered “critical to the economic and [...]
  • The Daily Caller: DOI Critical Minerals List Highlights United States’ Over-Reliance on Foreign Mineral Resources

    Heavily quoting from ARPN’s statement on the issue, The Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch earlier this month reported on the Department of the Interior’s finalized list of minerals deemed critical for U.S. national security. Writes Bastasch: “President Donald Trump’s administration’s release of a list of 35 critical minerals highlights just how reliant the U.S. is on [...]
  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty Comments on DOI’s Release of Final Critical Minerals List

    The Department of the Interior released its final list of Critical Minerals today. The following is ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty’s statement on the list: “DOI issued its final list of Critical Minerals, unchanged at 35.  What we see is the degree of US dependency – the US is 100% import-dependent for 14 of the 35 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Mamula & Moore on Mineral Resource Policy: Time for a Change in Strategy and Philosophy

    “Why is the United States reliant on China and Russia for strategic minerals when we have more of these valuable resources than both these nations combined?” Stephen Moore, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with Freedom Works, and ARPN expert panel member Ned Mamula, a geoscientist and adjunct scholar at the [...]
  • An Early Christmas Present? New Executive Order Calls for National Strategy to Increase Domestic Resource Development

    Only one day after USGS released its new report “Critical Minerals of the United States” – a study which underscores the United States’ over-reliance on foreign minerals – a new executive order directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to publish within 60 days a list of critical minerals to be followed by a report (after another [...]