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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • U.S. and Australia to Roll Out “Mutually Beneficial” Action Plan to Improve Security and Supply of Rare Earths

    Building on recent agency-level talks the United States and Australia have used the occasion of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s week long state visit to the United States to formally announce the forthcoming roll out of an “action plan” to counter Chinese dominance in the critical minerals sector, and specifically the Rare Earths sector.

    According to news reports the plan will “open a new front against China in a widening technology and trade war by exploiting Australian reserves of the rare earths and other materials that are essential for products ranging from iPhones to batteries and hybrid cars.”

    Ahead of the formal state dinner at the White House (which Morrison is only the second world leader to be treated to by President Trump after France’s Emmanuel Macron), a senior U.S. administration official had briefed media on the action plan stating that:

    “[w]e’re going to be rolling out a plan to improve security and supply of rare earth in a way that is mutually beneficial to both countries and strengthens our — both security — our physical security and our economic security.”

    Last month, the U.S. Department of Defense had announced it was in talks with Australia “to host a facility that would process rare earth minerals, part of an effort to reduce reliance on China for the specialized materials used in military equipment,” an announcement that followed on the heels of a partnership agreement between the U.S., Australia and Japan which includes the setting up of a separation facility in the U.S..

    The growing 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 is a welcome development.  

    However, as ARPN’s Dan McGroarty recently outlined, decades of failure to prioritize mineral resource policy issues have left a mark, and big questions remain:

    “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?’” 

    As the tech war deepens, our odds are increasing in light of increased cooperation with allied nations like Australia.

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  • As Tech War Deepens Over REEs, Australia Steps Up to the Plate

    As the trade war between China and the United States deepens, concern over access to Rare Earths and other critical minerals is spreading all over the world.  While the U.S. is taking steps aimed at increasing domestic REE supplies — most recently manifesting in the Trump Administration’s invocation of the 69-year-old Defense Production Act and efforts to increase international cooperation with allies, Australia, too, is taking action.

    Reports the Straits Times:

    “Australia will step up production of rare earths and other militarily sensitive ‘tech metals’, the country’s defence minister said Monday (Aug 12), as doubts grow over the reliability of Chinese supplies.”

    According to Ms. Linda Reynolds, Australia has “at least 40 per cent of the known reserves of tech metals, whether it’s lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite but also most of the rare earths that our current technology and our lifestyles today relies on (…)” — deposits that “could safeguard supplies for allies including the United States and Britain.”  

    The possibility of Western allies obtaining metals from Australia had been discussed “at length at recent Australia-US ministerial consultations and in discussions with British counterparts,” reports the Straits Times.

    The news comes on the heels of an Australian mining company striking a deal with a German industrial company to develop Rare Earths in northern Australia after terminating a previous agreement with a Chinese firm.

    Earlier last month, a partnership between the U.S., Australia and Japan which includes the setting up of a separation facility in the United States was announced.

    The next few weeks an months will be instrumental in the “tech war” — the competition to see which country will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age. As the U.S. begins to take steps aimed at breaking free from the shackles of Chinese Rare Earths dominance, it is encouraging to see this increased level of cooperation with important strategic allies like Australia. 

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  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]

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