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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
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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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  • Ned Mamula Joins American Resources Panel of Issue Experts

    We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Ned Mamula, a senior geoscientist with over 30 years of experience in energy and mineral research and resource policy issues, has joined the ARPN Panel of Issue Experts.

    Currently a scholar with the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, Mr. Mamula has spearheaded resource development investigations during his previous employment with leading scientific and intelligence agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Energy, and Central Intelligence Agency.

    Over the course of his career, Dr. Mamula has briefed key members of Congress, the executive branch, and various corporate officers. His writings have appeared in numerous scientific journals, and also with the Cato Institute, R Street Institute, Forbes, American Spectator, Real Clear Policy, and U.S. News and World Report. His presentation on America’s need for critical minerals was broadcast live on C-SPAN.

    Dr. Mamula served on the Trump Transition Team as an advisor and subject matter expert for the Department of the Interior on geoscience issues including energy, minerals, and federal lands. He received his M.S. in economic geology from Penn State University, Ph.D. in petroleum geology and geophysics from Texas A&M University, and Masters in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.

    Recently, at the Cato Institute, and other Washington think tanks, he has written and spoken extensively on resource policy, mining, critical and strategic minerals demand, international supply chain vulnerabilities, and the geopolitics of energy and mineral policy. We recently featured his latest piece for The Hill, in which he and his colleague William Murray called for a turnaround in our nation’s ill-advised resource policies which “have contributed to our current addiction to imported minerals.”

    He has been Cato’s principal presenter of geoscience Policy Forums and Capitol Hill Briefings on energy and mineral resource issues, exploration and production technology advances, and the role of federal regulations in resource development.

    If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Mamula’s current work, look no further than his four installments on “Strategic Minerals” published by the Capital Research Center.

    In this series of posts, Dr. Mamula aptly outlines how decades of “poor stewardship on the part of the federal government” and “severe restrictions imposed at the behest of the environmentalist movement” have effectively put the United States at the mercy of China and other nations to meet our non-fuel mineral resource needs. He analyzes the underlying reasons and provides options for a path forward.

    All four installments of Dr. Mamula’s “Strategic Minerals” series can be accessed here:

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  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress – Researchers Turn to Bioengineered Bacteria to Recover REEs

    Followers of ARPN are well aware that we have been calling out policy makers and other stakeholders for their inaction when it comes to working towards the development of a coherent, forward-looking and comprehensive mineral resource strategy – and we frequently point to missed opportunities to work towards this goal. While we stand by our [...]
  • “Time to Start Digging, America”

    In a recent piece for The Hill, William Murray, federal energy policy manager, and Ned Mamula, associate fellow for the Washington, D.C.-based R Street Institute, lament that while policy makers and stakeholders are increasingly focusing on energy security issues, leaders are failing to pay “the same attention to a national security risk at least as [...]
  • National Mining Association Urges Focus on Deterioration of Domestic Metal and Mineral Supply Chains

    In a detailed letter to Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Dr. John G. “Jerry” McGinn, Katie Sweeney, General Counsel of the National Mining Association, urges the Department of Defense to “acknowledge the importance of domestic metals and minerals to meet our defense needs” as the agency moves forward to implement Executive Order 13806, “Assessing [...]
  • New Report Zeroes in on Geopolitics of Renewable Energy 

    While the geopolitics of fossil fuels are well established, we at ARPN have long lamented the lack of awareness regarding the geopolitical implications of non-fuel mineral resource supply and demand. For that reason, we were very pleased to see a recently released study co-authored by Meghan L. O’Sullivan of Harvard University’s Kennedy School, Indra Overland [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty for Investor’s Business Daily: U.S. Mineral Resource Dependence a “Clear and Present Danger”

    Against the backdrop of growing threats to U.S. security – recent flash points involve Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea – a new Presidential Executive Order “On Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States,” zeroes in on defense readiness. The E.O. requires heads from various [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • USGS Highlights U.S. Mineral Resource Dependence and Associated Risks

    At ARPN, we have long argued that our over-reliance on foreign minerals is problematic – particularly in light of the fact that the United States itself is home to vast mineral resources. Recognizing the importance of the issue, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), which has long been a formidable source of relevant data and [...]
  • The U.S. Tomahawk Strike – Syria, Russia … and China?

    While the world media mulls the impact of the U.S. airstrike on Syria in the wake of the sarin gas attack and marvel at the accuracy of the Tomahawk cruise missile, friends of ARPN are reminded that the rare earths critical to the Tomahawk’s terminal guidance system are sourced from China. An interesting sidebar to [...]

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