American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 from beloved (or, depending on how many times you have had to watch the movie if you’re a parent, barely tolerated) Olaf, the snow man in Disney’s Frozen II: “We’re calling this ‘controlling what you can when things feel out of control.’”

    And in fact, these preventative measures are some the most effective precautions we can take. However, as a group of senior students from Vanderbilt University have recently pointed out, “[w]hat many people don’t realize, however, is that there is something we touch as often as our faces, and many times before our faces. That thing is our phone.”

    Arguing that the average smartphone user touches their phone about three times per minute, and that “[w]ith over 25,000 bacteria per square inch, it is a virtual petri dish — dirtier than your typical bathroom flush handle,” they have developed a new phone case that, as they say, effectively “washes” itself.  And, as follower of ARPN you may have guessed it — there’s a critical minerals angle here: They’re leveraging the antimicrobial power of copper.

    The case developed by the seniors, who just founded a startup company, has a copper alloy surface harnessing copper’s properties and inhibit the buildup of disease-causing bacteria and other germs, properties ARPN previously discussed here, here, and here.

    While getting their startup off the ground, the seniors are currently working alongside Vanderbilt University Medical Center to equip 250 “frontline medical workers” with their antimicrobial copper phone cases.

    While the case will not “diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent coronavirus, COVID-19, or any other illness,” and “is in no way intended to substitute for precautions or other guidelines suggested by the CDC, such as social distancing and hand washing” its construction is based on scientific evidence, most recently confirmed by the National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University, showing that while SARS-CoV-2 was stable “for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel,” it was only detectable on copper surfaces for four hours.  

    Based on these findings, the phone case may well become another tool in the arsenal to fight COVID-19 and future pandemics — alongside, perhaps the copper-infused fabrics ARPN’s Dan McGroarty recently discussed in his piece for The Economic Standard.

    As McGroarty concluded in that piece, 

    “Hard as it is to envision, this won’t be our last pandemic. COVID, or some mutant cousin, will make a return visit this fall, next winter, or next year. Now is the time for smart moves to respond to this threat and prepare for future ones. New public spaces—and particularly the touch-points of human contact within those spaces—must become our first line of protection. Anti-microbial metals like copper are an indispensable weapon in this war.” 

    With our phones having effectively become an extension of our hands, encasing it in a copper alloy represents one such “smart move.”

  • 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 infrastructure needed to respond to the global emergency and ensure systems remain intact for after the coronavirus has passed.”

    Thus, in March, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which executes the Secretary of Homeland Security’s authorities to secure critical infrastructure, has developed, in collaboration with other federal agencies, State and local governments, and the private sector, an “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list. 

    It should come as no surprise to followers of ARPN that the mining sector, listed in the “critical manufacturing” category in the guidance, is one of the sixteen industries deemed to have “a special responsibility in these times to continue operations.” 

    In a statement commending the decision to include the sector, National Mining Association president Rich Nolan underscored the importance of mining:

    “Mining underpins every aspect of our economy, providing the metals, minerals and coal that are essential to nearly every sector identified as critical infrastructure under DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency National Infrastructure Protection Plan. It was gratifying to see DHS reiterate the importance of our industry during this crisis. (…)

    Our nation needs stability right now. We need a dependable supply chain for our manufacturing sector. And we need to know that our power sector is secure across the country.” 

    As our critical infrastructure workforce keeps the country running, policy makers will have to focus on ways to allow them the flexibility to continue operating in these difficult circumstances.” 
    Looking ahead, however, they will need to work to address supply chain vulnerabilities the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront — i.e. our dangerous (and often needless) over-reliance on supplies from overseas, and especially China.  With regards to medical equipment and medicines, Congress and the Administration are beginning to reverse “decades of bureaucratic inertia and plain inattention” to these issues, but as ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty has argued:

    “(…) while Congress and the president are at it, they may want to broaden their focus from critical medicines to critical minerals. (…) American innovation is ready to ‘work the problem’ of critical minerals supply. What remains is for American political leadership to make U.S. production a priority, and align public policy with a pressing national need.”

  • 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 [...]
  • ARPN’s McGroarty for The Hill: With USMCA, Time to Take Strategic North American Alliance to the Next Level Has Arrived

    “Now that President Trump has won agreement to replace NAFTA with the USMCA — the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement — he has an opportunity to build on that accomplishment, and broaden the benefits of trade to strengthen national security,” writes ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty in a new op-ed for The Hill. The next step, says McGroarty, [...]
  • Interview: AEMA’s Laura Skaer – The Mining Industry’s Challenges and a Look Ahead

    For the last few months, politics has sucked up much of the oxygen in Washington, DC and around the country.  With the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States behind us, many of us are hopeful that the time has come to finally shift the focus away from politics toward policy. Against the backdrop [...]
  • McGroarty on Critical Minerals: “It’s Not Your Grandfather’s Infrastructure”

    The New Year is now a little over a week old and the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States is just around the corner.  And while some are still dwelling on 2016 (we offered our post mortem at the end of the year), the time has come to look at what’s in store. One of [...]
  • Event: Benchmark Minerals World Tour Comes to Washington DC

    If you are based out of Washington, DC or happen to be in town on October 21, here’s an event you should not miss: Our friends at Benchmark Minerals, a U.K.-based price data collection and assessment company specializing in the lithium ion battery supply chain, are taking their Benchmark World Tour to Washington, DC.   ARPN expert and Benchmark [...]
  • The EPA’s Latest Push to Regulate Mining Companies – A Solution in Search of A Problem

    If the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has its way, the nation’s miners will be saddled with a new regulation that is akin to a solution in search of a problem.  In the process, it would effectively duplicate other federal agencies’ responsibilities, preempt state authority, and potentially cripple an important industry. ARPN President Daniel McGroarty discusses [...]