Another trip around the sun, and once again we find ourselves stocking up for barbecues, fireworks and parades in honor of the men and women who have fought on our behalf, and continue our safeguard our freedom today.
We’ve always used the occasion of Independence Day to remind ourselves that “while we cherish the freedom we are blessed with in so many ways, we must not become complacent, as there are areas where we’re increasingly becoming less independent” – with our reliance on foreign mineral resources being a case in point.
For decades, our reliance on foreign non-fuel mineral resources has significantly increased both in terms of type and percentage of import reliance. This year’s USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries showed no drastic change — the number of metals and minerals for which we are 100% import-dependent may have dropped slightly (from 21 to 18), but a closer look into the footnotes reveals that this is largely owed to a lack of hard data for at least two of the metals dropping out of the 100% import dependence category.
The number of metals and minerals for which we are 50% or more than 50% import-dependent is still at 49, down one from 50 – but with the above-referenced caveat of lacking data for two materials – so it may in fact be higher than last year.
Thankfully, there are indications that the tide is turning.
A year ago today, already, our Independence Day eve post struck a more optimistic tune than previous ones, arguing that the momentum for meaningful resource policy reform that might bring us closer towards greater resource independence has been growing. This trend has continued, as followers of ARPN know.
Against the backdrop of Chinese-U.S. tensions over REEs and underlying tech war and the global battery arms race, the level of awareness of the challenges associated with our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals is perhaps higher than ever, which is great news. However, so are the stakes, especially for the United States.
As we mark this year’s Independence Day, here’s hoping that momentum will be turned into action and policy makers heed Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s acting manager Simon Moores’s warning that “[t]here is no doubt that if the US acts now and invests wisely in partnerships, it can catch up, (…) [b]ut it really needs to act now.”