American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
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  • The case for cobalt: Why America should pay attention to this critical metal

    In an interview with The Critical Metals Report, analyst Rick Mills shares his thoughts on how cobalt is the “king of critical metals.”

    Increasingly indispensable as an industrial metal, in the development of green technologies, and in various critical defense applications, cobalt is one of only four metals or element groups to make all three recently published lists of critical metals: the U.S. Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Strategy list, the American Physical Society’s Panel on Public Affairs & Materials Research Society’s list of Energy Critical Elements, and the European Commission’s Critical Raw Materials list. (The other metals or element groups are rare earth elements (REEs), platinum group elements (PGEs), and lithium.)

    According to the USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, the U.S. is home to significant cobalt deposits, but our import dependency rate for this element stands at 81 percent.

    While the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), hardly a reliable trading partner and target of recent U.S. conflict minerals legislation, is the world’s largest supplier, the U.S. is dependent on – you guessed it – China, which has tied up a majority of the world’s cobalt through agreements with the DRC, for much of our own supply of cobalt.

    We at the American Resources Policy Network continue to argue that “America’s looming resource deficit” stretches beyond the often-talked-about REEs. In fact, we just the other day looked at manganese in that specific context.  Cobalt is yet another case in point.

  • Rare earths and beyond: China is shaping India’s mineral policy

    In today’s globalized world, it doesn’t take a seat at the decision-making table for one nation to influence another’s domestic policies – a near-monopoly on critical mineral resources will do.  A case in point is India, which, after a seven-year hiatus, is expanding its indigenous Rare Earth Element (REE) production over growing concerns that China may be taking advantage of its rare earths dominance.

    Not only is an Indian government panel preparing a strategy paper emphasizing the need for domestic exploration of REE’s (according to a Mineweb.com story), but the country is also reportedly funding a rare earths plant to the tune of 1.4 billion rupees ($32 million USD).

    Acknowledging that resource dependency issues stretch beyond rare earths, the Indian public policy debate is zeroing in on the broader critical minerals supply issues.  In light of “the proliferation of trade-distorting measures by emerging economies such as China,” which according to one Indian expert also applies to copper, aluminum, nickel, molybdenum, manganese, magnesium, tungsten, and indium; analysts lament the curtailment of domestic production and call for policy measures to secure supply of these strategic minerals.

    As U.S. lawmakers return to Capitol Hill following the August District Work Period, they, too, would be well advised to shift their attention to the global race for resources. That means prioritizing policy measures to alleviate our unnecessary dependence on foreign critical minerals, and turning our focus toward the mineral riches beneath our own soil.

  • Aware the days of its near-monopoly are numbered, China leverages REE stranglehold to lure foreign business

    The New York Times’ Keith Bradshear has taken a closer look at foreign manufacturers moving their production sites into China in an effort to mitigate reduced access to and increased cost for REEs – a development we covered on our blog here and here. The article underscores that rather than acting out of environmental concerns, [...]
  • Priority permitting for two Alaska mining projects approved

    As reported by Resourceful Earth, two Alaska mining projects may begin production ahead of schedule thanks to priority permits granted by the U.S. Forest Service.  The agency approved exploratory drilling permits for Ucore Rare Metals Inc.’s Bokan Mountain site in Southeast Alaska, which is expected to develop rare earths as well as potentially high grade [...]