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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Soon To-Be-Released Defense Industrial Base Study May “Revolutionize Approach to Supply-Chain Security and  Strategic Materials”

    A good year ago, a presidential Executive Order (E.O. 13806) mandated the completion of a study to assess the “Manufacturing Capacity, Defense Industrial Base, and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States.” According to a well-informed administration source, this defense industrial base study is now nearing completion, reports Breaking Defense.

    However, as Sydney J. Friedberg Jr. writes for the publication:

      “(…) the Executive Order 13806 study may come as a surprise: Instead of a sweeping agenda to restore America’s high-tech lead for future decades, the study will recommend near-term fixes to more mundane problems that could lose the US a war if one broke out tomorrow. From aging facilities to imported supplies, the defense industrial base is full of potential chokepoints in the supply chain.”

    One of the “chokepoints” to which Friedberg refers is the fact that “the US depends on imports for critical materials ranging from from beryllium to titanium sponge — many of which we buy from Russia, China, or the Central Asian ‘Stans.’”

    To underscore the urgency of the situation and the U.S. military’s very “real and present needs,” Friedberg invokes an image that may be familiar to ARPN followers. He writes:

    “Think of it in terms of the old nursery rhyme:

    For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
    For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
    For want of a horse the rider was lost.
    For want of a rider the message was lost.
    For want of a message the battle was lost.
    For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
    And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

    The E.O. 13806 industrial base study isn’t building any silver bullets for the US military (…) it’s about building nails.” 

    Our very own Dan McGroarty recently invoked the same image in a piece for Investors Business Daily, though his reference took us back to the 13th Century proverb “For want of a nail… the kingdom was lost” – as a cautionary tale that our often unnecessary over-reliance on foreign mineral resources may become our Achilles heel.

    Currently, the report is nearly completed but won’t be released for a while, and any specific policy recommendations will almost certainly be subject to lively debate.

    As the administration source told Breaking Defense, “(j)ust doing that analysis was a worthy endeavor, (…) [n]ow the policy question is, how many of those gaps that were identified does it make economic and strategic sense to plug? We’re going to have an interesting debate.”

    Jeffery Green, president and founder of Washington, DC-based J.A. Green & Company and member of the ARPN panel of experts, however, is optimistic. As he recently wrote on Twitter:

    “The coming Industrial Base E.O. study could revolutionize the approach to supply-chain security and #strategicmaterials. Stay tuned..”

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  • “Critical Minerals Alaska:” A Familiar Scenario for Tungsten – Chinese Domination and U.S. Prospects

    Pop quiz: Which metal has “the highest melting point of all the elements on the periodic table, (…) is a vital ingredient to a wide-range of industrial and military applications,” has made the Department of Interior’s final list of 35 metals deemed critical to U.S. national security, “yet none of this durable metal is currently mined in the United States?”

    In the seventh installment of “Critical Minerals” Alaska, a feature series for North of 60 Mining News that “investigates Alaska’s potential as a domestic source of minerals deemed critical to the United States,” Shane Lasley zeroes in on the metal described above: Tungsten.

    Once more, a familiar scenario unfolds here as is the case for so many of the metals and minerals deemed critical from a U.S. perspective – China dominates both production and global supply of the material. Writes Lasley:

    “In 2017, the Middle Kingdom produced an estimated 79,000 metric tons of tungsten, roughly 82 percent of the global total for the year. Vietnam, the world’s second largest tungsten supplier, produced 7,200 metric tons last year. Russia, Austria and the United Kingdom round out the world’s top tungsten sources.

    In recent years, however, China has put limitations on tungsten mining and exports of this durable metal, causing concerns about global supply.

    (…)

    While China touts stronger environmental safeguards as one of the primary reasons for restricting the mining of tungsten, as well as a host of other critical metals, many analysts believes the government’s motives have more to do with consolidating mining to the country’s largest producers and bolstering prices.

    Whatever the motivations, China’s production and export restrictions have resulted in sharp increases in the price of ferro-tungsten, an iron (25 percent) and tungsten (75 percent) alloy traded on world markets.”

    To followers of ARPN, who are no strangers to China’s propensity to play politics with its supply advantages — or, as in the case of Rare Earths, near-total supply monopolies — this should come as no surprise, and should be a consideration for policy makers in the current escalation of trade tensions between both countries.

    An opportunity to at least alleviate domestic supply concerns for Tungsten may be found in Alaska, writes Lasley:

    “Though none of this tough metal is currently mined in the United States, Alaska is a past producer of the tungsten minerals, wolframite and scheelite, and areas across the state show promise for future production of these and other critical minerals.” 

    Among them, the Lost River skarn on the Seward Peninsula about 80 miles northwest of Nome likely holds the most promise, according to Lasley:

    “With tungsten, fluorite, tin and beryllium all on USGS’s recent list of minerals critical to the United States, the Lost River deposit may well be worth the work to further define a critical metals deposit on U.S. soil.”

    To read Lasley’s full piece, click here.
    For other installments of his series, click here.

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  • Chinese Worries over Critical Mineral Supply Should Provide Impetus for U.S. Policy Reforms

    Escalating trade tensions have brought the issue of China’s near-total supply monopoly for Rare Earth Elements back to the front pages of American newspapers. If that isn’t reason enough for policy makers to use the momentum that has been building for the formulation of a comprehensive critical mineral strategy and an overhaul of policies standing [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • ICYMI – Video and Supporting Documents for AGI Webinar on “Tracking the Global Supply of Critical Materials”

    Last month, the American Geosciences Institute ran a webinar entitled “Tracking the Global Supply of Critical Materials.”  Speakers for the event, which discussed “efforts to gather information and develop tools that can be used to ensure a secure national and global supply of mineral resources, and identify and quantifying vulnerabilities in this supply, among others,” [...]
  • Lithium – A Material “Coming of Age” is Case in Point for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    As we have outlined, last month’s executive order on critical minerals could have far-reaching implications for our national security and economic wellbeing.  If you needed a case in point – look no further than Lithium. One of the hottest commodities of the day, Lithium, as ARPN expert panel member and managing director of Benchmark Mineral [...]
  • AGI to Host Webinar on Critical Minerals

    Mark your calendars – the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) will host a timely webinar on critical mineral issues later this month. The webinar entitled “Tracking the Global Supply of Critical Materials” will be held on Friday, January 26, 2018, at 11:00am EST, and will “focus on U.S. and European Union (EU) efforts to gather information [...]
  • Member of ARPN Expert Panel Outlines Implications of Executive Order Targeting Critical Minerals

    Amidst the latest political drama, bomb cyclones and button size comparisons which are dominating the news cycle, you may have missed two great pieces of analysis by member of the ARPN panel of experts Jeff Green, president and founder of Washington, DC-based J.A. Green & Company – so we are highlighting them for you: In [...]
  • New Year’s Resolutions for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    If you’re one of nearly half of all Americans, you will have already made a few New Year’s resolutions for 2018.   Among the most popular are personal betterment goals like “losing weight,” and “exercising more.”  While we’re all for making personal resolutions, at ARPN, we’re more concerned with the goals our policy makers are [...]
  • Automakers Pledge to Uphold Ethical and Socially Responsible Standards in Materials Sourcing. Where Will the Metals and Minerals Come From?

    Late last month, international automakers made headlines when pledging “to uphold ethical and socially responsible standards in their purchases of minerals for an expected boom in electric vehicle production.” As Reuters reported, a group of 10 car manufacturers have formed an initiative to “jointly identify and address ethical, environmental, human and labor rights issues in [...]

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