Speaking at a virtual forum hosted by House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans on the role of critical minerals in geopolitics, renewable energy production and beyond earlier today, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty called on policy stakeholder to apply the “all of the above” approach that helped reverse decades of American dependence on foreign oil to the Critical Mineral crisis.
Using the example of 5G technology to outline the extent of the United States’ critical mineral resource dependency, which in many cases is a “dependency of our own making,” McGroarty explained that an “all of the above” approach would mean “finding ways to encourage and incentivize traditional mining and refining — and recycling — and reclamation and unconventional recoveries from historic mine tailings.”
Providing specific examples in his submitted written remarks, he said:
“That means encouraging lithium recovery from boron tailings as is happening now in California, rare earths and other ‘Criticals’ from coal waste. Looking ahead – it means critical mineral recoveries from red mud in Louisiana, from graphite deposits in Alaska, and even – if Congress can sort out Good Samaritan legislation – critical minerals from Abandoned Mine Lands, where recovery of ‘Criticals’ could solve two problems, providing much-needed domestic supply, and improving the daunting economics of AML cleanups.
As we move further along the supply chain, it means seeing our metals smelters as national assets – encouraging ways to adapt them for a range of critical mineral recoveries. It’s happening now in Utah, where rhenium and tellurium – two ‘Criticals’ unlikely to ever be mined in their own right – are being recovered by adding new circuits to copper smelting. And it means prioritizing processing methods versatile enough to accept different feedstocks – as continuous ion exchange has demonstrated, recovering rare earths from a heavy rare earth deposit in Texas, and from Pennsylvania coal waste as well.”
McGroarty also suggested extending the “all of the above” approach to the “policies Congress puts in place to strengthen domestic supply chains, and the actions the Executive Branch takes, beginning with using the tools federal law already provides,” such as the so-called “commitment to purchase” authority.
His bottom line is a clear call for policy makers to acknowledge and act upon the importance of critical minerals in the 21st Century:
“Critical Minerals aren’t critical because of where they come from – they’re Critical because of where they take us. American ingenuity, innovation and investment can do a lot – but the power of the private-sector can do far more if public policy sends a strong signal that Critical Minerals matter – to the Technology Revolution transforming our world and to America’s place as the leader in that transformation.”
Click here to read McGroarty’s full remarks.
You can re-watch the forum in its entirety here.
And for more on the Tech Metals Age, referenced in McGroarty’s remarks, click here.