American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • As Troop Withdrawals Make Headlines, U.S. Trailing in War Most Americans Are Not Even Aware Of: The Tech War With China

    According to news reports, the Pentagon earlier this month confirmed a further withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Meanwhile, as National Defense Magazine editor-in-chief Stew Magnuson writes in a new piece for the publication, the U.S. is engaged in a war most Americans were not even aware of — the “Tech War” with China. And, in case you are wondering, it’s not been going so well.

    Zeroing in on Chinese President Xi Jinpin’s recent assertion United Nations General Assembly that his nation had “no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot one with any country,” Magnuson writes:

    “That may be. But what is really happening is a ‘technology war.’ There is little awareness among the American public about this undeclared war, but it’s well understood in Beijing. (…) The U.S. record in this rivalry stands at 0-1, or possibly 0-2. The United States lost a major battle that it didn’t even realize it was fighting when China over the past decades established monopolies on several critical rare earth elements and a few other strategic minerals (…).”

    If the term “Tech War” rings a bell, it may be because it’s been a recurring theme on our blog for the past few months, ever since ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty argued that 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” in a piece for The Economic Standard.

    Magnuson believes that the failure to build out a domestic Rare Earths industry will prove to be a “major strategic defeat as these elements are the building blocks for many of this century’s emerging technologies,” — but it does not end there.

    The Tech War, as Magnuson describes it, has a number of battlefronts, ranging from the control over Rare Earths (or, more generally speaking, critical mineral resources) over aviation, space technology, biotech, quantum sciences, robotics, and military technology to artificial intelligence. Already down 0:1 over Rare Earths, he argues that the U.S. runs the risk of going 0:2 when factoring in the battle for 5G dominance, an area where, according to several recent think tank reports, the U.S. is allowing “China to eat its lunch.”

    The fact that, even with partisan tensions flaring in Washington, DC in the months leading up to the election, China’s 5G rollout, is “one of the few afflictions that affect both U.S. political parties,” as ARPN’s McGroarty has argued in an earlier piece on the U.S. decision to ban Huawei’s 5G network, indicates that Magnuson is on to something.

    Magnuson seems to believe that not all is lost, however. He writes:

    “5G and rare earth processing are just two battles in a longer war, and ground that was lost during battles can be seized back. The United States — if it had the will to compete — for example, could end China’s rare earth and strategic minerals monopolies. The United States could end up 2-0, but victory is not assured.”

    This, however, would require more than mere lip service on the part of our elected officials. Months ago, before the pandemic hit and the presidential elections overshadowed all policy, there were indications that a bipartisan consensus was emerging regarding the need to address our over-reliance on Chinese critical materials, and to counter China’s 5G rollout.

    The recent launch of the bipartisan Critical Materials Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives has us hoping for positive impulses, at least on the critical minerals front, going into 2021.

    Here’s hoping that once the fog of the presidential elections has lifted, policy makers have the bandwidth (pun intended) to sufficiently devote their attention to the Tech War with China, which, as Magnuson has argued “may one day describe the age we are living in as ‘the Cold War’ did after World War II.”

  • New Critical Minerals Executive Order Declares National Emergency, Invokes Defense Production Act

    In perhaps the strongest acknowledgment of the urgency of our critical mineral resource woes and over-reliance on foreign (and especially Chinese) supplies to date, U.S. President Donald Trump this week triggered rarely-used emergency government powers to address the issue.

    On his way to a campaign rally in Minnesota, the president on Wednesday signed an Executive Order declaring a national emergency on critical minerals, determining that

    “our Nation’s undue reliance on critical minerals, in processed or unprocessed form, from foreign adversaries constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat, which has its source in substantial part outside the United States, to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

    Among other provisions, the executive order calls for the Department of the Interior to invoke the Defense Production Act to expand and strengthen domestic mining and processing capacity in an effort to “guard against the possibility of supply chain disruptions and future attempts by our adversaries or strategic competitors to harm our economy and military readiness.”

    Agencies are directed to “prioritize the expansion and protection of the domestic supply chain for minerals and the establishment of secure critical minerals supply chains,” and to direct agency resources accordingly, to ensure that these “do not depend on resources or processing from foreign adversaries.”

    ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty, who has long advocated the application of an all-of-the-above approach we’ve come to know from the energy policy discourse – in the context of working toward resource independence – called the executive order welcome, if also long overdue.

    He said:

    “Last July [2019], we saw the President use the Defense Production Act to designate the rare earths as essential to the national economy and national security. In this new Executive Order [EO], the extension of the U.S. Government’s ‘national emergency’ authority across not only the rare earths but the full range of critical minerals is a dramatic step, and clear recognition of the breadth and depth of the dangerous dependencies we focus on at ARPN.

    As I’ve said before, we’ve spent enough time admiring this problem. The question now will be whether this EO triggers an immediate and active response on the part of the U.S. Government – one that will encourage American ingenuity, innovation and investment to bring new sources of supply into production.”

    To read the full text of the order, click here.

    The White House will be holding a stakeholder call later this afternoon to provide more information, so expect more coverage on our blog over the next few days.

  • Beyond the Rhetoric Lies the Hard Reality of Materials Supply — ARPN’s McGroarty on U.S. Ban of Huawei’s 5G in the Context of Resource Policy

    In a new piece for The Economic Standard, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty discusses critical mineral resource challenges associated with “the great U.S.-China decoupling.”  He does so against the backdrop of the U.S. decision to ban Huawei’s 5G network and imposition of travel sanctions on Huawei employees — a move McGroarty says may well be called the “first battle of [...]
  • Independence Day 2020 – Critical Mineral Resource Policy in a Watershed Year

    It’s that time of the year again – Independence Day is upon us.  This year, things are different, though. If you’re like us, it kind of snuck up on you, and it took seeing the booths selling fireworks in the parking lots to realize it’s July already.  After all, we just came off the longest month of [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty: “First Word in Supply Chain is ‘Supply’”

    Re-shoring is the word of the hour.  If the current coronavirus pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that we will need to rethink where we source and produce in the aftermath of COVID — an issue ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty zeroes in on in a new piece for The Economic Standard. Citing the excitement over the [...]
  • College Seniors Develop Copper Phone Case – A “Smart Move” for Smartphones Amidst a Pandemic

    Courtesy of the current coronavirus pandemic, we wash our hands – perhaps more frequently and thoroughly than before, and contactless shopping is becoming the norm for many.  Disinfectant has become more than a household staple, and we find ourselves constantly sanitizing everything from light switches over door handles to groceries.   To borrow a quote [...]
  • Mining Sector Essential Part of Nation’s Critical Infrastructure Workforce

    As the U.S. grapples to flatten the curve of the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, large swaths of public life have come to a grinding halt. However, as North of 60 Mining News publisher Shane Lasley points out in a new piece for the publication, “it remains imperative for the nation to maintain the critical [...]
  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty for RealClearPolitics: “Time to Reduce Reliance on China for Medicine AND Critical Minerals”

    In a new piece for RealClear Politics, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty argues that while the current focus on ending the dangerous dependence on critical medicines needed to combat COVID-19 is more than warranted, Congress and the administration “may want to broaden their focus from critical medicines to critical minerals.” Read his full piece here: Getting Critical [...]
  • Are we Ready for the Tech Metals Age? Thoughts on Critical Minerals, Public Policy and the Private Sector

    Earlier this week, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty shared his views on the coming tech metal age and its policy implications at In the Zone 2019 – Critical Materials: Securing Indo-Pacific Technology Futures – a conference hosted in cooperation with the University of Western Australia to look at critical mineral resource issues through the prism of the [...]
  • McGroarty Warns of Real World Problem for 21st Century American Warrior

    In a new commentary for Investor’s Business Daily, ARPN principal Daniel McGroarty warns of “America’s unilateral disarmament in the resource wars.”  Invoking the world of Marvel comics, in which Vibranium is the imaginary metal used for Captain America’s shield, IronMan’s exoskeleton, and Black Panther’s energy-absorbing suit, McGroarty argues that the 21st Century American warrior (perhaps [...]