American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • America’s Critical Mineral Issues are Largely Home-Grown

    A recent commentary piece by Printus LeBlanc, contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government, draws attention to the home-grown nature of America’s critical mineral resource issues and their geo-political context.

    LeBlanc sets the stage using the example of a relatively unknown Chinese phone company becoming the focus of Congressional concern because the Administration was in discussions to lift or modify sanctions on the company linked to the Chinese government.   A Senate committee recently passed legislation blocking the easing of the sanctions imposed on said company with Senators from both sides of the political spectrum, including Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican representing Florida, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York arguing for a tough stance on China.

    As LeBlanc argues:

    “What the Senate is ignoring or doesn’t know, is it played a rather large part in creating the problem with ZTE.

    Not a peep about the reason China dominates the technology manufacturing industry from either side of the aisle in the Senate. It seems both Senators forget the core problem. Yes, communications equipment made in China is probably being used as spying devices and should not be trusted, but environmentalist regulators have made it next to impossible to mine the rare earth elements (REEs) needed to make the equipment in the U.S.”

    Indeed, the United States is 100% import-dependent on foreign supplies of REEs to meet domestic needs, which range from military to clean energy applications, communications technology and household gadgetry.  China has long played politics with its near-total supply monopoly, and U.S. efforts to lower our import reliance faltered when a North American mining company sourcing REEs domestically went bankrupt.

    LeBlanc argues that an amendment in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R.5515 by Rep. Mark Amodei (R, NV), which would streamline the permitting process for mining projects, would go far in addressing the REE problem:

    “The amendment passed with bipartisan support showing the House understands the problem. Now if the camera hogging Senate wanted to show it was truly serious about the danger of Chinese telecommunications equipment, it should easily pass the same amendment in the Senate version of the NDAA.”

    Read the full piece here.

    And, for more context on the NDAA discussions, read ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty’s recent Investor’s Business Daily piece on the importance to make the connection between critical minerals and national defense.

  • USGS Scholars Provide Insights into Resource Interdependency and Conflict Potential in New Study

    The advances in materials science have been fundamentally transforming the way we look at metals and minerals – both from a usage, as well as a supply and demand perspective.  With that, the nature of potential resource conflict has also changed.

    As USGS National Minerals Information Center scholars Andrew L. Gulleya, Nedal T. Nassar,  and Sean Xuna observe in a new Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study, resource conflicts of the past “have often centered on fuel minerals (particularly oil). Future resource conflicts may, however, focus more on competition for nonfuel minerals that enable emerging technologies.”

    The authors argue that while more and more stakeholders and researchers have acknowledged and are increasingly concerned about the concept of import reliance, “few studies assess import reliance and none compare import reliance of countries concurrently.”

    Against this backdrop, Gulleya, Nassar and Xuna measure and compare the current foreign mineral dependence of 42 minerals for the world’s two largest national economies, the United States and China.

    Among their key findings:

    “We find that China relies on imports for over half of its consumption for 19 minerals, compared with 24 for the United States— 11 of which are common to both. It is for these 11 minerals that competition between the United States and China may become the most contentious.”

    “Unless reliance can be reduced through substitution, improved processing efficiencies, increased domestic production, or recycling, the United States and China will increasingly vie for access to overseas assets that produce minerals in [that category]”

    “Increasing demand for minerals that enable sustainable and defensive technologies may intensify international resource competition during the 21st century—especially for minerals that cannot be substituted and have highly concentrated production. While improvements in recycling, mineral processing, material efficiency, substitution, and domestic production may alleviate import reliance and resource competition in the long run, such factors are often constrained in the short run by existing technology, existing manufacturing capital, and long development timeframes.”

    Policy makers – take note.

  • Africa Taking Center Stage in China’s Quest for Resources

    It is “the single largest source of mineral commodities for the United States, particularly for resources like rare earth elements, germanium, and industrial diamonds,” according to the United States Geological Survey, which notes in its most recent Mineral Commodity Summaries report that “of the 47 mineral commodities that the United States is more than 50 [...]
  • USGS Report Bellwether for National Security Crisis?

    For over two decades, the United States Geological Survey has released its Mineral Commodity Summaries report.  And while ARPN followers will know how important this publication is, as it provides a snapshot of our nation’s mineral resource dependencies, in most years its release has gone largely unnoticed beyond the circles of mineral resource wonks. This year, a [...]
  • Japan Pursuing Long-Term Critical Mineral Strategy in Kazakhstan

    In an effort to secure ongoing access to Rare Earths (REEs) for its domestic industries, Japan, which in geological terms does not have much of a resource profile, has entered into a series of cooperative agreements with Kazakhstan, a nation quickly ascending into the league of top REE suppliers in the world. The latest one [...]
  • The “Electronification of Everything” Raises Specter of “War Over the Periodic Table”

    Via our friend and ARPN expert Simon Moores’ Twitter feed, we came across a three-part must-read series for Bloomberg View, in which author and policy expert David S. Abraham discusses the role of rare earths in today’s increasingly high-tech world.   Perhaps most interestingly, Abraham clarifies a common misconception in part two of the series: “Although [...]
  • The Geo-Politics of Rare Earths: China Reported to Add to Stockpile

    ARPN readers know that one of the core tenets of the Resource Wars thesis is that the market for strategic and critical metals is never immune to government interventions. Witness today’s Bloomberg report: “China Said to Add 10,000 Tons to Rare Earths Stockpiles.” Bloomberg reports: “China may stockpile more medium-to-heavy rare earths this year such [...]
  • Environmental NGO Takes on Mining Industry, Clean Water Act

    How do you break into the headlines these days – with Wall Street reeling, London burning, and carnage in the streets of Syria? A little hysteria helps. That’s the tactic employed by Earthworks, an environmental Non-Government Organization (NGO). The group has been running a national campaign this week aimed at pressuring the EPA to provide [...]
  • Resource Wars: India to challenge China with rare earths find in Madagascar?

    While a rare earths find on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean has misleadingly been heralded as a solution to China’s near-total rare earths monopoly (to find out why this claim is misleading, click here), a second rare earths discovery earlier this month was barely noticed, in spite of its greater potential to challenge China: [...]
  • What makes it whirl? The commonalities of vacuums and geopolitics

    As you vacuum your house, you’re probably not thinking too much about the United States’ over-reliance on foreign mineral resources.  Here’s why maybe you should: Ever wonder what makes your Dyson DC 31 handheld vacuum cleaner whirl? You may be surprised to hear that the answer is rare earths. Five times faster than a racing [...]