American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • U.S. Steps Up International Cooperation to Counter Chinese Resource Threat

    Against the backdrop of mounting Chinese-American trade tensions, the United States is stepping up cooperative efforts with allies to reduce its reliance on Chinese supplies of Rare Earths.  

    The most recent case in point – a partnership with Australia and Japan – includes the setting up of a separation facility in the U.S.

    Reports the International Business Times: 

    “The Australia-based corporation Lynas, which is the world’s only major rare earth producer outside China, has joined hands with Texas-based Blue Line to set up the facility in Texas. Operations are expected to begin in 2021.”

    The move ties into the overall context of an unfolding tech war that has been lurking underneath the surface of the trade confrontation between the United States and China.  

    As ARPN’s principal Dan McGroarty recently explained“The specter of using rare earths as an economic weapon makes clear that the current trade war between the U.S. and China is in fact one front in a larger tech war – a competition to see which country will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age.” 

    With brinkmanship looming large on the REE and critical minerals front, the United States is finally taking  steps to adapt to the realities of 21st Century resource policies. 

    In early June, the U.S. Department of Commerce released its Critical Minerals Strategy calling for “unprecedented action to ensure that the United States will not be cut off from these vital materials.” 

    Also in June, the US state department and its Canadian and Australian counterparts announced that to ensure future supplies of materials needed for new energy technologies, including lithium, copper and cobalt, they will cooperate and “work to help countries discover and understand their mineral resources.”

    And after weeks of Chinese threats that it could cut off U.S. access to the essential technology materials known as rare earths, the Trump Administration in July took a counter-action of its own invoking the 69-year old Defense Production Act to spur domestic REE development.

    The latest partnership announcement between the United States, Australia and Japan ties into this overall realization that the materials science revolution requires a more comprehensive, strategic and concerted approach to resource policy than that pursued by the United States to date.

    All of this is good news.  However, after decades of failing to prioritize mineral resource policy, big questions remain for the U.S., as McGroarty recently outlined:

    “How will China respond to the new U.S. action?  And how quickly can the U.S. close the rare earths gap — with production today at zero, even as known U.S. rare earth resources exist — before China loses its leverage over materials the U.S. Government has deemed critical to ‘the national economy and national security?’”

  • ARPN’s McGroarty: Trade War Between U.S. And China One Front in Larger Tech War for Dominance of 21st Century Technology Age

    “The specter of using rare earths as an economic weapon makes clear that the current trade war between the U.S. and China is in fact one front in a larger tech war – a competition to see which country will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age,” says ARPN principal Dan McGroarty in a new piece for The Economic Standard

    Our Achilles’ Heel in this tech war, he says, is our over-reliance on foreign metals and minerals underpinning 21st Century technology (of which Rare Earths are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg) and China’s dominance across the supply chains for many of them.

    While this is daunting, McGroarty argues that policy makers are beginning to realize the urgency of the situation and are taking steps to counter China’s jockeying for pole position. He points to a little-noticed dinner at this week’s G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan between newly-reelected Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and U.S. President Donald Trump. 

    Writes McGroarty:

    “With the media focused on the meetings between the American president and his Chinese and Russian counterparts, the decision to start the summit with a U.S.-Australia session merits more attention.  Both countries – joined by Canada and the U.K. — are part of a little-known forum called the NTIB, the National Technology Industrial Base, an entity created by U.S. law that treats the technological and industrial might of all four allies as a single entity for national security purposes.

    With three-fourths of the NTIB — the U.S., Australia and Canada – among the world’s most resource-rich nations, the forum offers the perfect opportunity to work in concert to develop critical minerals.  The table was set in early 2018, when then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and President Trump issued a joint declaration testifying to the primacy of tech metals [.] (…)

    Since that declaration, both the U.S. and Australia have formulated Critical Minerals strategies, while the U.S. has issued a Defense Industrial Base supply chain report stating that ‘…China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials deemed strategic and critical to U.S. national security.’  The U.S.-Australia G20 meeting comes just days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – Canada has been an NTIB member for more than 20 years — met with President Trump at the White House, and the two leaders ‘instructed officials to develop a joint action plan on critical minerals collaboration.’  We may be seeing the piece-parts of a larger U.S-Australia-Canada critical minerals strategy put in place.”   

    With this joining of forces at the governmental level being complemented by private sector collaboration as outlined by McGroarty, we may indeed be witnessing the beginning of a “tech war counter-offensive, leveraging the resource wealth of the U.S. and its leading allies to ensure adequate supplies of the materials that power the transformative technologies of the 21st Century.”

    Here’s hoping this effort does not fizzle.  As Benchmark Industrial Minerals managing director Simon Moores recently pointed out:

    “There 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.”

  • Paging the Department of Commerce – Australia Releases “Critical Minerals Strategy 2019”

    Last week, the Australian Federal Government released its “Critical Minerals Strategy 2019” – a blueprint aimed at positioning “Australia as a leading global supplier of the minerals that will underpin the industries of the future” – which according to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Sciences’s press release, includes the agritech, aerospace, defence, renewable energy and telecommunications industries. [...]
  • U.S. To Partner With Australia on Critical Minerals R&D

    During an industry event in Melbourne, Australian Resources Minister Matt Canavan announced that Australia and the United States are going to sign a preliminary agreement to foster mineral research and development cooperation between the two countries. The announcement comes on the heels of the release of U.S. Department of Interior’s list of 35 metals and [...]
  • While U.S. is slow to even begin permitting reform, Queensland, Australia speeds up already expeditious process

    An overhaul of the approvals process in Queensland, Australia will cut the time it takes to issue an exploration permit in half, according to the state’s government.  The change applies to exploration permits only, and government officials are very clear that a granted exploration permit is not a right to mine. Nonetheless, the new process represents [...]
  • Resource Wars: China makes forays into resource-rich Chile

    According to The Australian, China is stepping up its quest for access to mineral resources in Latin America, with Chile being a key focal point. While Chile’s vibrant resources sector has long attracted international miners (most recently, see the tie-up between Chile’s Molymet and the U.S.’s Molycorp), and the country traditionally maintained close relations with [...]
  • Canada remains worldwide leader of non-fuel exploration

    Canada is the leading country for mineral exploration for the 10th year in
 a row, according to the latest rankings from 
Metals Economics Group’s (MEG) Corporate 
Exploration Strategies. The country
 represents 18 percent of worldwide investments into non-fuel mineral
 exploration. Here are some interesting figures on Canada from the MEG Corporate 
Exploration Strategies study, which Commodities Now says 
includes [...]
  • Lithium, a conflict mineral?

    As we mark Lithium Month, a piece in the online journal ChinaDialogue.net highlights the geo-politics of lithium mining, with a full dollop of irony that our green-tech dreams — read, lithium ion batteries — may have their origins in metals that pose considerable environmental challenges as they’re extracted from the earth. The piece pivots on [...]