American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • The Most Critical Non-Critical? A Look at Copper

    In a new piece for Metal Tech News, Shane Lasley zeroes in on the U.S. government’s failure – at least to date – to afford critical mineral status to copper, which is not only a key mainstay metal but an indispensable component in clean energy technology, and supply scenarios in the face of surging demand as the world accelerates the push towards net zero carbon are challenging at best.

    Laments Lasley:

    “The case for copper’s criticality is backed by commodity analysts who predict global copper production will need to double by 2035 to meet demands driven by global net-zero emission goals. Building that level of capacity in just 12 years, while at the same time not losing any output from existing mines, is a highly unlikely scenario.


    Despite the growing consensus that it is going to require extraordinary measures to ensure that there is enough copper to achieve global net-zero carbon emission goals, the U.S. Geological Survey has remained steadfast in its refusal to add this metal to America’s critical minerals list.”

    USGS Director Dave Applegate has publicly stated that while copper is considered an essential mineral, copper does not meet the agencies criteria for elevating the material onto the critical minerals list, an assessment that, in Lasley’s eyes, “seems to ignore the forecasts that demand will outstrip supply over the next two decades.”

    Lasley points to the Copper Development Association’s (CDA’s) commissioning of an analysis mimicking USGS methodology employed for the 2022 Critical Minerals List, which the association maintains was based on out-of-date data.  The CDA-commissioned analysis concluding that copper does meet the “critical” criteria when basing the assessment on “the very latest available data.” 

    As followers of ARPN well know, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty has called for the designation of copper as a critical mineral on several occasions, and has submitted public comments to USGS to this effect.

    However, USGS has remained steadfast in its refusal to re-consider copper’s status even though the Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland has statutory authority to add copper to the Critical Minerals List without waiting for the next official update of the entire list, and has rejected a formal request by a broad coalition including federal lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle and more than 70 trade associations and unions to do so.

    The U.S. Department of Energy, meanwhile, recognized the growing importance of copper and included it into its critical materials list as part of its 2023 Critical Materials Assessment. While agreeing with the USGS notion of a diverse and relatively low-risk global copper supply, the department’s inclusion of copper was prompted by a longer-time view that declining ore grades and growing competition for available resources might change the outlook so that “identifying and mitigating material criticality now will ensure that a clean energy future is possible for decades to come.”

    USGS may have rejected a direct broad-based push to include copper into the overall government Critical Minerals List, but a congressional push is still underway, and the recent DOE elevation of copper’s status may provide a boost for U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani’s (R-Ariz.) Copper is Critical Act, which would do so with or without USGS consent.

    As copper demand in an increasingly net zero world continues to grow, ARPN will watch the push to add the perhaps most critical non-critical to the official U.S. government list with great interest.

  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty to Discuss Critical Mineral Policy at Alaska Critical Minerals Conference

    Mere months after widespread lockdowns in China over coronavirus outbreaks, factories in Sichuan province are shutting down again – this time over an intense heatwave and drought across China’s south.  Meanwhile, Russia’s war on Ukraine shows no signs of slowing down, and tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan continue to flare.

    As the stakes for supply chain and mineral resource security continue to rise, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty will discuss the strategic implications and opportunities to alleviate our over-reliance on supplies from adversary nations during a panel at a  two-day conference hosted by the University of Alaska, in partnership with the Wilson Center and US Arctic Research Commission, held August 22 – August 23.

    The two-day summit for policy makers, agency representatives and industry leadership entitled “Alaska’s Minerals: A Strategic National Imperative” will discuss on Alaska’s vast critical mineral potential, which ARPN has frequently pointed to, and will outline the steps needed to harness that potential.

    Monday’s panels will focus on “national needs for critical minerals, Alaska’s investment climate and an overview of Alaska’s critical minerals resources,” while Tuesday’s discussions will revolve around “current research in Alaska related to critical minerals and industry needs for development, including workforce and infrastructure.”

    ARPN’s McGroarty will share his thoughts with co-panelists from DOE, DoD and an American EV association. Alaska’s U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both of whom have been strong advocates on Capitol Hill of a comprehensive approach to mineral resource security for the United States, will speak, as will as Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, arguably America’s leading state executive on critical mineral development.

    To register for a free livestream provided by the Wilson Center in partnership with the University of Alaska, click here.

  • Two For Four — New Critical Minerals Draft List Includes Two of Four Metals Recommended For Inclusion by ARPN in 2018

    With the addition of 15 metals and minerals bringing the total number up to 50, this year’s draft updated Critical Minerals List, for which USGS just solicited public comment, is significantly longer than its predecessor. This, as USGS notes, is largely the result of “splitting the rare earth elements and platinum group elements into individual entries [...]
  • USGS Seeks Public Comment on Draft Revised Critical Minerals List

    On November 9, 2021, the U.S. Geological Survey announced it is seeking public comment, on a draft revised list of critical minerals.  The revised list is the latest development in a broader move towards a more comprehensive mineral resource policy on the part of the U.S. Government — a long-overdue shift that began to gain steam in [...]
  • Panelists at Virtual Forum Agree on Need for Holistic “All of The Above” Approach to Critical Mineral Resource Policy

    During a virtual congressional policy forum on critical minerals hosted by House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans earlier this week, experts agreed that the United States must adopt a holistic “all of the above” approach to critical mineral resource policy. Panelists at the event, which can be re-watched in its entirety here, included: Daniel McGroarty, [...]
  • 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. [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]