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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
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  • McGroarty Warns of Real World Problem for 21st Century American Warrior

    In a new commentary for Investor’s Business Daily, ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty warns of “America’s unilateral disarmament in the resource wars.” 

    Invoking the world of Marvel comics, in which Vibranium is the imaginary metal used for Captain America’s shield, IronMan’s exoskeleton, and Black Panther’s energy-absorbing suit, McGroarty argues that the 21st Century American warrior (perhaps best exemplified by the SEALs, the U.S. Navy’s elite special operations force) is facing a real world problem: 

    “When today’s SEAL goes into combat, he takes one-quarter of the Periodic Table with him.

    The problem is, unlike the comic book world, these metals and minerals can’t be imagined — they must be mined and refined into advanced materials.”

    McGroarty cites the U.S. Geological Survey, which has found that a Navy SEAL’s gear contains at least 23 critical minerals and metals “for which the U.S. is greater than 50% net import reliant.”  However, as he points out, “[i]t gets worse: for 11 of them, our dependence is total — the U.S. produces zero.  And for 15, the world’s leading producer is China, a nation that the 2017 U.S. National Defense Strategy identifies as presenting a ‘central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security.’”

    Followers of ARPN will know that the U.S. Government has begun to acknowledge the challenges associated with our over-reliance on foreign minerals, but policy changes that would ultimately address our strategic materials vulnerability have yet to be put forward.  

    Meanwhile, one of the United States’ biggest adversaries on the global scale is not only acutely aware of the issue of resource dependence, it is cultivating its growing role as global tech metal provider — leading McGroarty to invoke Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, who 2,500 years ago hailed the ability to “subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

    Says McGroarty:

    “This dictum from the ‘Art of War’ raises an urgent question:  Could it be that China’s rising role as a technology metal provider — while the U.S. military becomes more and more dependent on metals and minerals we produce less and less of — is an asymmetry China is cultivating with an eye towards exploiting it in time of conflict?

    Because the fact is it won’t matter how razor-sharp skilled and implacably dedicated our forces are, if the U.S. Defense Industrial Base lacks the materials needed to provide them the weapons they need for the fight.”

    Last week, Simon Moores, managing director for Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of experts members may have used fewer imagery and focused more specifically on battery tech metals when briefing the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources – but his warning was equally stern:

    “We are in the midst of a global battery arms race in which the US is presently a bystander.”  

    Here’s hoping that our policy makers will finally take action to address what has become – in the words of Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski – our Achilles’ heel that serves to empower and enrich other nations, while costing us jobs and international competitiveness.”

    How policy makers move forward in the coming months will be critical, because, as McGroarty points out:

    “Unlike Marvel Comics or the movies, we can’t make up the metals superheroes need to triumph over evil.  If we want our real-world warfighters to keep their edge over America’s enemies, it’s time we mine those metals right here at home.”

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  • Copper and the 2018 Critical Minerals List – Considerations for Resource Policy Reform

    While we’re still waiting for policy makers and other stakeholders to take further action, in 2018 an important step was taken to set the stage for mineral resource policy reform with the release of the Department of Interior’s List of 35 Minerals Deemed Critical to U.S. National Security and the Economy. Throughout the drafting stage and subsequent commenting phase, ARPN had lamented the omission of Copper and several other gateway metals from the list.

    Citing ARPN’s Dan McGroarty, Earth Magazine contributor Veronica Tuazon zeroes in on this omission in a recent piece for the American Geosciences Institute’s monthly publication.

    “Copper is essential in electrical wiring and transportation and is playing an increasingly large role in alternative energy, as it is a crucial component in wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles, which require four times as much copper as conventional gas vehicles. But it is also the gateway to several elements on the critical list that are produced as a byproduct of copper mining, as Daniel McGroarty of the American Resources Policy Network, a virtual think tank focused on resource development, pointed out in a series of comments submitted about the DOI’s draft critical minerals list. He also noted that zinc, nickel and lead should be included on the list for the same reason. McGroarty argued that copper is of the highest priority because it ‘is the practical access point to at least four minerals on the DOI List,’ referring to cobalt, rhenium, tellurium and, potentially, the rare earths.”

    Tuazon points out that while USGS, which worked with DoI to put together the list of 35, acknowledged the “co-production issue,” Copper was excluded from the list because the risk of supply disruptions for Copper was considered “very low,” according to Steven Fortier, director of the USGS National Minerals Information Center.

    However, says Tuazon:

    “[W]ith rapid technological advancement and growth, what actually is and isn’t critical changes over time and often eludes simple categorizations. Or as McGroarty puts it, ‘as technology changes, what was once considered minor can have major impacts.’ For example, there was virtually no demand for strontium in the United States before the 1960s, when it was suddenly needed in relatively large quantities to reduce radiation emitted by early televisions.”

    While the United States’ net import reliance for copper may currently be pegged at 34 percent it should be noted that we also have a 600,000 MT copper gap each year – the gap between what we consume and what we produce.

    Against the backdrop of Copper’s growing list of applications and increased usage in one of the key growth markets – EV battery technology (as visualized here) – analysts anticipate Copper consumption to greatly “outstrip supply as it is slated to increase more than six times.”

    On a global scale, with over 200 currently-operating Copper mines slated to reach the end of their production cycle before 2035, CRU analyst Hamish Sampson estimated in the spring of 2018 that “unless new investments arise, existing copper mine production will drop from 20 million tonnes to below 12 million tonnes by 2034, leading to a supply shortfall of more than 15 million tonnes.”

    Sampson argued that only if “every single copper project currently in development or being studied for feasibility is brought online before then, including most discoveries that have not yet reached the evaluation stage, the market could meet projected demand.”

    With a lack of mega-projects coming on stream before the mid-2020s and global production for Copper expected to peak by the second half of 2019 one thing is clear: Whether or not Copper (and its fellow gateway metals) is excluded from the list of 35 critical minerals — It cannot be excluded from policy considerations in 2019.

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  • 2018 – A Year of Incremental Progress?

    In case you hadn’t noticed amidst holiday preparations, travel arrangements and the usual chaos of everyday life – 2019 is just around the corner, and with that, the time to reflect on the past twelve months has arrived. So here is ARPN’s recap of 2018: Where we began. Unlike previous years, we started 2018 with [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]

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