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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
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  • Gold Leapfrogged by “Obscure and Far Less Sexy” Metal – A Look at Palladium

    Valuable and precious, Gold, for example in jewelry, is a popular go-to for gifts during the holidays.  Who knew that gold’s luster would be dimmed by a metal that “scrubs your exhaust,” as the New York Times phrased it?  It may still not end up under many Christmas trees, but Palladium, an “obscure and far less sexy rival” metal for the first time in sixteen years leapfrogged gold in metal market prices last week, hitting a record high last Wednesday.

    Writes the New York Times:

    “It is an impressive dethroning aided by economic shifts, antipollution legislation, union campaigns by mine workers and global trade negotiations. Until recently, palladium was perhaps best known for sharing a name with several popular entertainment venues and for powering the fictional arc reactor mechanism hooked up to Iron Man’s heart.

    Its primary purpose is far less glamorous: More than 80 percent of the world’s palladium is used in the catalytic converters that help vehicles manage their pollutant output.”

    Usage in passenger cars – in response to regulatory efforts to reduce tailpipe emissions — has been one of the key drivers of Palladium demand, and while analysts expect a record high demand this year, softening car sales and other factors may dampen demand going forward.   However, considering Palladium is largely a “co-product” metal recovered via Platinum mining in South Africa and Nickel mining in Russia, it is considered extremely rare, which has tightened supply and driven up prices.

    U.S. import dependence for the metal is pegged at 45 percent, with our lead suppliers being South Africa, accounting for 30% and Russia accounting for  25% in 2017. According to USGS, the sole domestic PGM-mining company — at one point owned by Russian investors — was sold to a South Africa-based mining company in May 2017. 

    Not surprisingly in light of current market developments, Russia – arguably not one of the U.S.’s best trading partners – is looking to step up Palladium production in the coming months.

    Thankfully, as part of the Platinum Group Metals, which was included in DOI’s Critical Minerals list earlier this year, Palladium is on the United States’ government radar.  However, we have yet to see comprehensive action to follow the release of the critical minerals list.  With our competitors – led by China and Russia – not sitting idly by in the global resource race, we cannot afford to get complacent, and must implement policies conducive to harnessing our own domestic resource potential.  As we previously argued:

    The case of Palladium should be another catalyst (pun intended) for policy makers to formulate policies conducive to domestic mineral resource development.

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  • U.S. To Partner With Australia on Critical Minerals R&D

    During an industry event in Melbourne, Australian Resources Minister Matt Canavan announced that Australia and the United States are going to sign a preliminary agreement to foster mineral research and development cooperation between the two countries.

    The announcement comes on the heels of the release of U.S. Department of Interior’s list of 35 metals and minerals deemed critical to U.S. national security and the economy. Speaking before the Melbourne Mining Club, Canavan said:

    “For 14 of those 35 critical minerals, we are in the top five (holders) of world reserves, so they are the ones we’d like to focus on.” 

    Under the agreement, Geoscience Australia will work closely with its U.S. counterpart USGS in the areas of extraction and processing, as well as research and development.

    Canavan expects to speak with U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as early as Thursday of this week.

    Against the backdrop of the United States’ ever-growing over-reliance on minerals from nations who are arguably not our best trading partners, the forthcoming agreement with Australia is a welcome development. It could also serve as a precursor to deepening and revitalizing the National Technology Industrial Base (NTIB), which, established in the 1990s to foster technology links between the U.S. and Canada, was expanded in 2016 to include Australia and the UK.  As ARPN’s principal Dan McGroarty pointed out in a new piece for The Hill, this “four country economic colossus (…) constitutes a vast reservoir of economic might to draw on for collective security” and also hosts “production or known resources of all 35 of the minerals and metals on the U.S. Government’s newly-established Critical Minerals List.”

    Increased cooperation with friends and allies is, however, only one piece of the resource policy puzzle.

    ARPN followers know that much of the United States’ resource dependence is home-grown, as we are blessed to have vast mineral resources beneath our own soil.  It is time to break with failed policies of the past.  The release of the list of 35 critical minerals was a good first step, however, the next ones will be far more important, and paying mere lip service to previously stated lofty goals will no longer suffice.

    The stakes are too high.

    We have previously argued that there are several reasons why we will likely never achieve full resource independence – and for the metals and minerals we do not possess here at home, we must source from other countries, which is why this cooperative agreement with Australia is commendable.  However, we must at the same time work towards reducing policy barriers to the responsible harnessing of our domestic resources, as “those those we possess but choose not to produce perpetuate a needless foreign dependence – leverage that other nations may well use to America’s disadvantage.”

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  • The “Indispensable Twins” of Critical Minerals – Niobium and Tantalum

    In the latest installment of his “Critical Minerals Alaska” series for North of 60 Mining News, Shane Lasley zeroes in on what USGS has dubbed the “indispensable twins” – Niobium and Tantalum. Both share “nearly indistinguishable physical and chemical properties” and are “critical to the defense, energy and high-tech sectors.”  Meanwhile, neither Niobium nor Tantalum are mined in the United States, so their inclusion [...]
  • Hot Off the Press: “Groundbreaking” Reading Material – ARPN Expert Co-Authors Book Sounding Alarm on Over-Reliance on Foreign Minerals

    Scratch your holiday wish list – there’s a new book you’ll have to add. In the just-released “Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence” member of the ARPN expert panel Ned Mamula, an adjunct scholar in geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute, and “Rare Mettle”author Ann Bridges sound the alarm on the United States’ [...]
  • Post-Thanksgiving Rut? Back to Basics on Resource Policy Issues

    If you’re still struggling to get your bearings after the long Thanksgiving weekend, you’re not alone. A New York Times piece from this Monday provides a good snapshot of what we are going through –  and offers “4 Ways to Stay Motivated When You’re in a Rut:”  Writes the NYT: “It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, and we’re all [...]
  • Defense Industrial Base Report “Clear Sign We Need to Act Urgently”

    In a new piece for The Hill’s Congress Daily Blog, retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John Adams argues the recently released Defense Industrial Base Report and its findings, which we previously discussed here and here, represent a call to action for Congress and other stakeholders, because it shows that “[j]ust when we should be retooling for [...]
  • European Union Pushes Ahead With Attempt to Create Battery Manufacturing Value Chain in Europe

    While the United States is finally taking steps to approach mineral resource policy in a comprehensive and strategic fashion, the European Union got a head start several years ago, and has since begun enacting mineral resource policy initiatives within the context of its raw materials strategy.  With its ambitious 2050 low-carbon vision, and the rise [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
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