While China has taken steps to position itself in a “resource war that will increasingly define economic growth and national security in the 21st century,” the United States has subjected itself to a dangerous degree of import dependency for critical minerals – that’s the bottom line of American Resources Principal Daniel McGroarty’s new piece for The Hill’s Congress Blog. Here are the key points:
- Taking advantage of slow global growth and slumping metal prices, China is purchasing large quantities of Copper for its already significant strategic stockpile.
- Copper – a mainstay industrial metal – has seen a transformation of its applications. In addition to its traditional uses, is widely used in today’s high-tech defense applications, and “green” energy technologies. It is also an extremely versatile metal, often extracted in conjunction with other critical metals like Rhenium, or serving as a “gateway metal” for tech metals like Tellurium.
- The fact that U.S. policy makers have stopped treating Copper as a strategic metal, and have depleted the U.S. strategic has resulted in a troublesome degree of import dependency. It can however be remedied, as the U.S. is home to resources that “if mined, would meet domestic demand.”
- The major obstacle: “America’s worst-in-the-world permitting system, averaging seven to 10 years to bring a new mine into production. Australia permits mines in 18 to 24 months. Canada does it in three to five years. Sweden – no one’s idea of an environmental scofflaw – manages to rank in the top five globally for both its mining regime and sustainable living indices.”
- Two proposed mining projects in need of Congressional legislation subjecting “environmentally valuable” land to federal protection in exchange for resource development on smaller, less “valuable” land could serve to all but eliminate U.S. import dependency for Copper.
“As the Chinese stockpiling move suggests, this is no time to delay new mine production. It’s time for the U.S. to adopt a 21st century critical metals strategy – and reform our ever-expanding process. The strength of the U.S. economy – and our national security – depends on it.”