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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • New Year’s Resolutions for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    If you’re one of nearly half of all Americans, you will have already made a few New Year’s resolutions for 2018.   Among the most popular are personal betterment goals like “losing weight,” and “exercising more.”  While we’re all for making personal resolutions, at ARPN, we’re more concerned with the goals our policy makers are setting for themselves this year.

    After several months that presented us with a number of individual initiatives that represented progress in the mineral resource policy realm, yet still lacked an overarching strategic focus, we ended 2017 on a high note:

    On December 19, USGS released its Professional Paper 1802 – the first update in 44 years — entitled “Critical Minerals of the United States” which discusses 23 mineral commodities USGS deems critical to the United States’ national security and economic wellbeing.  Only a day later, a new Executive Order called for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to publish within 60 days a list of critical minerals to be followed by a strategy to reduce our nation’s reliance on critical minerals, among other things.

    These early Christmas presents are setting the stage for real reform in mineral resource policy in 2018. However, for meaningful change to take hold, there are a few suggested resolutions all stakeholders – and not just department heads in charge of formulating a mineral resource strategy – should consider making:

    Have a national policy conversation 

    • National security, manufacturing, jobs and the economy, alternative energy and technology development:  Policy discussions on all of these priorities are a constant of American political life – yet the minerals and metals that are key to all of these issues receive scant attention.  That’s got to change in 2018.  While agency and department heads are in charge of rolling out a critical minerals strategy, what is needed in the coming months is a broad national conversation about our nation’s mineral needs and our over-reliance on foreign sources of supply, involving a broad variety of stakeholders from both the private and public sectors.


    Read!

    • The USGS’s “Critical Minerals of the United States” report – which weighs in at a hefty 852 pages – is a must-read document for all stakeholders involved to develop an understanding of U.S. mineral resource needs and sources of supply, and should form the basis for any meaningful policy discussions in 2018.  ARPN knows how the Congress works; let’s hope Members delegate a key staffer or several to divvy up the USGS tome and really get familiar with it.
    • Furthermore, there are a few other studies to be released in the early months of the year, among them the USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries and Behre Dolbear’s survey of mining jurisdictions called “Where to Invest.”
    • For good measure, we’d also like to invite everyone again to read our two policy reports “Reviewing Risk: Critical Metals and National Security” and “Through the Gateway: Gateway Metals and the Foundations of American Technology.”  In terms of sheer page-count, this is the place to start:  Think of them as the Spark Notes of critical minerals strategy.


    Zero in on the Gateway Metal/Co-Product Interrelationship

    • This one is wonky, but necessary.  Of the 23 minerals deemed “critical” by USGS several are materials ARPN has frequently discussed as part of our informational campaign to highlight the importance of “Co-Product Metals and Minerals” –  i.e. materials that are generally not mined as stand-alone metals but are mostly “unlocked” in the refining process of their “Gateway Metals.”  Harnessing the interrelationship between Gateway Metals – which include mainstay metals like Copper, Aluminum, Nickel, Tin and Zinc  – and their Co-Products, many of which are increasingly becoming the building blocks of 21st Century technology, should be a focal point of any critical mineral resource strategy.  And while ARPN celebrates the USGS “list of 23,” we have to note that of the 5 Gateway metals, only one – tin – appears on the list, even though the other four – copper, zinc, aluminum and nickel – are “gateways” to more than a half-dozen minerals that do make the USGS list.
    • Ready to learn more?  Aside from our Gateway Metals report, follow this link to Thomas Graedel et al.’s effort to illuminate this issue in their 2015 study entitled “By-product metals are technologically essential but have problematic supply” 


    Enact legislation

    • As we previously noted, “as important as Executive Orders are, they are not legislation, and history has shown that policy that is set and enacted by the stroke of the Presidential pen can just as easily be undone. Ultimately, for any real progress to grab hold and develop staying power, codification of any reforms yielded by these orders through Congressional action is highly desirable.” 

    So, our three resolutions come down to:  Discuss, Read – and Act.  Let’s look back at 2018 as the year a new and comprehensive critical minerals strategy helped make the U.S. stronger and safer.

    There’s more to be considered, but if policy makers and other stakeholders start with these resolutions, they’ll be well-positioned to “develop a comprehensive federal action plan to encourage domestic resource production, through mining, recycling and reclamation.”

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  • Ned Mamula Joins American Resources Panel of Issue Experts

    We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Ned Mamula, a senior geoscientist with over 30 years of experience in energy and mineral research and resource policy issues, has joined the ARPN Panel of Issue Experts.

    Currently a scholar with the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, Mr. Mamula has spearheaded resource development investigations during his previous employment with leading scientific and intelligence agencies including the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Energy, and Central Intelligence Agency.

    Over the course of his career, Dr. Mamula has briefed key members of Congress, the executive branch, and various corporate officers. His writings have appeared in numerous scientific journals, and also with the Cato Institute, R Street Institute, Forbes, American Spectator, Real Clear Policy, and U.S. News and World Report. His presentation on America’s need for critical minerals was broadcast live on C-SPAN.

    Dr. Mamula served on the Trump Transition Team as an advisor and subject matter expert for the Department of the Interior on geoscience issues including energy, minerals, and federal lands. He received his M.S. in economic geology from Penn State University, Ph.D. in petroleum geology and geophysics from Texas A&M University, and Masters in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.

    Recently, at the Cato Institute, and other Washington think tanks, he has written and spoken extensively on resource policy, mining, critical and strategic minerals demand, international supply chain vulnerabilities, and the geopolitics of energy and mineral policy. We recently featured his latest piece for The Hill, in which he and his colleague William Murray called for a turnaround in our nation’s ill-advised resource policies which “have contributed to our current addiction to imported minerals.”

    He has been Cato’s principal presenter of geoscience Policy Forums and Capitol Hill Briefings on energy and mineral resource issues, exploration and production technology advances, and the role of federal regulations in resource development.

    If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Mamula’s current work, look no further than his four installments on “Strategic Minerals” published by the Capital Research Center.

    In this series of posts, Dr. Mamula aptly outlines how decades of “poor stewardship on the part of the federal government” and “severe restrictions imposed at the behest of the environmentalist movement” have effectively put the United States at the mercy of China and other nations to meet our non-fuel mineral resource needs. He analyzes the underlying reasons and provides options for a path forward.

    All four installments of Dr. Mamula’s “Strategic Minerals” series can be accessed here:

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  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress – Researchers Turn to Bioengineered Bacteria to Recover REEs

    Followers of ARPN are well aware that we have been calling out policy makers and other stakeholders for their inaction when it comes to working towards the development of a coherent, forward-looking and comprehensive mineral resource strategy – and we frequently point to missed opportunities to work towards this goal. While we stand by our [...]
  • Nickel – The “Metal That Brought You Cheap Flights” Now “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution”

    Another week, another great infographic by Visual Capitalist – this time on the “Secret Driver of the Battery Revolution” – Nickel. Long an important base metal because of its alloying capabilities, Nickel’s status as a Gateway Metal, yielding access to tech minerals like Cobalt, Palladium, Rhodium and Scandium – all of which are increasingly becoming [...]
  • “Time to Start Digging, America”

    In a recent piece for The Hill, William Murray, federal energy policy manager, and Ned Mamula, associate fellow for the Washington, D.C.-based R Street Institute, lament that while policy makers and stakeholders are increasingly focusing on energy security issues, leaders are failing to pay “the same attention to a national security risk at least as [...]
  • Boron – One Of The Most Versatile Materials You’ve Never Heard About?

    Visual Capitalist has put together another great infographic – this time one that shows that Boron is far more ubiquitous than one would think.  You may have come across them in your laundry room or your kids’ slime-making experiments in the form of Borax, but may not have heard much about them otherwise. However, with [...]
  • European Commission Expands Critical Raw Materials List (U.S. Government, Are You Listening?)

    Earlier last month, the European Commission released an updated list of critical raw materials in the context of the European Union’s “Raw Materials Initiative” – a project put forward in 2008 to tackle challenges associated with raw material access.  The 2017 list is an update and expansion of the Commission’s 2014 list, identifying 27 raw [...]
  • Moores’ Law: The Rise of Lithium Ion Battery Megafactories and What it Means for Critical Mineral Resource Supply

    Earlier this month, Simon Moores, Managing Director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of experts testified before the full U.S. Senate Energy Committee on opportunities and risks in the energy storage supply chain.   We’re titling his observations as Moores’ Law — which is his for the taking, given the placement [...]
  • The Surge of EV Technology and Implications for Mineral Resource Supply and Demand

    You may have caught Elon Musk’s exchange with Daimler on Twitter over investment in EV technology earlier this week. Vacuum giant Dyson has also tossed its hat into the ring announcing that it will spend $2.7 billion to develop an electric car. The headlines are piling up, and it’s no longer a secret that demand [...]
  • Graphene-fed Spiders and Our Web of Resource Dependencies 

    A material long hailed as being on the cutting edge of materials science, Graphene is making headlines again. And, fitting for fall and people gearing up for Halloween, it involves everyone’s favorite creepy crawlies – arachnids.  Researchers at the University of Trento in Italy have found that spiders fed with graphene and carbon nanotubes, which [...]

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