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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 a piece for The Hill, Green provides context for and outlines the implications of Executive Order 13817, “A Federal Strategy To Ensure Secure and Reliable Supply of Critical Minerals,” which in Green’s words “fundamentally changes U.S. policy toward critical minerals and will assure the United States has access to these materials for use in every major defense system.”  

    According to Green, the timing of the executive order is “telling about the results of a forthcoming industrial bases assessment,” which he believes has “elevated concerns in the West Wing over America’s increasing reliance on China and Russia for many of the raw inputs needed to produce fighter jets, engines, radar, missile defense systems, satellites, precision munitions, and other key technologies.”

    In response to the executive order, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has already signed a secretarial order directing the initial steps to producing the first nationwide geological and topographical survey of the United States in modern history.

    Green believes that domestic mining companies will be encouraged to invest, which in turn could result in new domestic mining projects coming online, providing well-paying jobs for the middle class and supporting downstream manufacturers and consumer goods.

    Green also outlined his thoughts in this TV segment with ABC’s Government Matters:

    The bottom line, according to Green is that

    “[i]n the long run, it’s simply not practical for the United States to remain heavily dependent on overseas suppliers for dozens of key minerals. It leaves the nation vulnerable to disruptions from unfriendly sources. Congress and the administration should proceed with all deliberate haste to identify domestic sources of the metals and minerals needed for national defense – and ensure that America begins to extract more of its own vast troves of these resources. Otherwise, continuing a dependency on other countries poses troubling national security consequences.”

    The next few months will be a critical (pun intended) time for U.S. mineral resource policy going forward.  The executive order provides a great opportunity for stakeholders to develop a comprehensive federal action plan that could make the U.S. stronger, safer and more competitive. Here’s hoping they seize it.

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  • 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 setting for themselves this year.

    After several months that presented us with a number of individual initiatives that represented progress in the mineral resource policy realm, yet still lacked an overarching strategic focus, we ended 2017 on a high note:

    On December 19, USGS released its Professional Paper 1802 – the first update in 44 years — entitled “Critical Minerals of the United States” which discusses 23 mineral commodities USGS deems critical to the United States’ national security and economic wellbeing.  Only a day later, a new Executive Order called for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to publish within 60 days a list of critical minerals to be followed by a strategy to reduce our nation’s reliance on critical minerals, among other things.

    These early Christmas presents are setting the stage for real reform in mineral resource policy in 2018. However, for meaningful change to take hold, there are a few suggested resolutions all stakeholders – and not just department heads in charge of formulating a mineral resource strategy – should consider making:

    Have a national policy conversation 

    • National security, manufacturing, jobs and the economy, alternative energy and technology development:  Policy discussions on all of these priorities are a constant of American political life – yet the minerals and metals that are key to all of these issues receive scant attention.  That’s got to change in 2018.  While agency and department heads are in charge of rolling out a critical minerals strategy, what is needed in the coming months is a broad national conversation about our nation’s mineral needs and our over-reliance on foreign sources of supply, involving a broad variety of stakeholders from both the private and public sectors.


    Read!

    • The USGS’s “Critical Minerals of the United States” report – which weighs in at a hefty 852 pages – is a must-read document for all stakeholders involved to develop an understanding of U.S. mineral resource needs and sources of supply, and should form the basis for any meaningful policy discussions in 2018.  ARPN knows how the Congress works; let’s hope Members delegate a key staffer or several to divvy up the USGS tome and really get familiar with it.
    • Furthermore, there are a few other studies to be released in the early months of the year, among them the USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries and Behre Dolbear’s survey of mining jurisdictions called “Where to Invest.”
    • For good measure, we’d also like to invite everyone again to read our two policy reports “Reviewing Risk: Critical Metals and National Security” and “Through the Gateway: Gateway Metals and the Foundations of American Technology.”  In terms of sheer page-count, this is the place to start:  Think of them as the Spark Notes of critical minerals strategy.


    Zero in on the Gateway Metal/Co-Product Interrelationship

    • This one is wonky, but necessary.  Of the 23 minerals deemed “critical” by USGS several are materials ARPN has frequently discussed as part of our informational campaign to highlight the importance of “Co-Product Metals and Minerals” –  i.e. materials that are generally not mined as stand-alone metals but are mostly “unlocked” in the refining process of their “Gateway Metals.”  Harnessing the interrelationship between Gateway Metals – which include mainstay metals like Copper, Aluminum, Nickel, Tin and Zinc  – and their Co-Products, many of which are increasingly becoming the building blocks of 21st Century technology, should be a focal point of any critical mineral resource strategy.  And while ARPN celebrates the USGS “list of 23,” we have to note that of the 5 Gateway metals, only one – tin – appears on the list, even though the other four – copper, zinc, aluminum and nickel – are “gateways” to more than a half-dozen minerals that do make the USGS list.
    • Ready to learn more?  Aside from our Gateway Metals report, follow this link to Thomas Graedel et al.’s effort to illuminate this issue in their 2015 study entitled “By-product metals are technologically essential but have problematic supply” 


    Enact legislation

    • As we previously noted, “as important as Executive Orders are, they are not legislation, and history has shown that policy that is set and enacted by the stroke of the Presidential pen can just as easily be undone. Ultimately, for any real progress to grab hold and develop staying power, codification of any reforms yielded by these orders through Congressional action is highly desirable.” 

    So, our three resolutions come down to:  Discuss, Read – and Act.  Let’s look back at 2018 as the year a new and comprehensive critical minerals strategy helped make the U.S. stronger and safer.

    There’s more to be considered, but if policy makers and other stakeholders start with these resolutions, they’ll be well-positioned to “develop a comprehensive federal action plan to encourage domestic resource production, through mining, recycling and reclamation.”

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  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Nickel – The “Metal That Brought You Cheap Flights” Now “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution”

    Another week, another great infographic by Visual Capitalist – this time on the “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution” – Nickel. Long an important base metal because of its alloying capabilities, Nickel’s status as a Gateway Metal, yielding access to tech minerals like Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium – all of which are increasingly becoming [...]
  • Boron – One Of The Most Versatile Materials You’ve Never Heard About?

    Visual Capitalist has put together another great infographic – this time one that shows that Boron is far more ubiquitous than one would think.  You may have come across them in your laundry room or your kids’ slime-making experiments in the form of Borax, but may not have heard much about them otherwise. However, with [...]
  • European Commission Expands Critical Raw Materials List (U.S. Government, Are You Listening?)

    Earlier last month, the European Commission released an updated list of critical raw materials in the context of the European Union’s “Raw Materials Initiative” – a project put forward in 2008 to tackle challenges associated with raw material access.  The 2017 list is an update and expansion of the Commission’s 2014 list, identifying 27 raw [...]
  • Moores’ Law: The Rise of Lithium Ion Battery Megafactories and What it Means for Critical Mineral Resource Supply

    Earlier this month, Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of experts testified before the full U.S. Senate Energy Committee on opportunities and risks in the energy storage supply chain.   We’re titling his observations as Moores’ Law — which is his for the taking, given the placement [...]
  • The Surge of EV Technology and Implications for Mineral Resource Supply and Demand

    You may have caught Elon Musk’s exchange with Daimler on Twitter over investment in EV technology earlier this week. Vacuum giant Dyson has also tossed its hat into the ring announcing that it will spend $2.7 billion to develop an electric car. The headlines are piling up, and it’s no longer a secret that demand [...]

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