American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • The Epoch Times on why the Pentagon wants “to buy rocks”

    The Epoch Times’s Matthew Robertson takes a closer look at the Pentagon’s request to Congress “for over a billion dollars. To buy rocks” – at a time when budget cuts should be the order of the day in Washington.

    He notes that while in previous years, the Department of Defense merely noted China’s near-total monopoly on global REE supply and production, in this year’s report to the House Armed Services Committee, the agency strikes a more urgent tone and looks to stockpiling as a means to “hedge” the supply risk associated with being at the mercy of China.

    In his piece, Robertson frequently cites American Resources principal Daniel McGroarty, who invokes Adam Smith’s reflection on dependence on foreign resources that “it might not always be prudent to depend upon our neighbors for the supply.” The materials Smith referred to were certainly different at the time – sailcloth and gunpowder – but their strategic relevance at the time is comparable to the relevance of REEs today.

    Outlining the various scenarios drawn up by the DoD report, Robertson closes by explaining how the “sometimes haphazard and fragmented nature of how rare earths are obtained from China” complicate the assessment:

    “Complicating the assessment is the sometimes haphazard and fragmented nature of how rare earths are obtained from China: in the south of the country, tens of thousands of metric tonnes of rare earths are thought to be wrung from the ground, and refined and exported, by a chaotic chain of fly-by-night mining operators — none of those figures go into the official books. Estimates for that illicit activity range from 10,000 to 40,000 metric tonnes per year.”

    At the height of its production, Molycorp, a U.S.-based miner of rare earth elements that was hit hard by China’s rock-bottom prices, says it planned to produce 20,000 metric tonnes of product in 2012. This means the underground Chinese supply component could be as much as double the entire U.S. supply, which goes some way to illustrating the opaque and potentially volatile nature of Chinese supply.
    “Think about how nervous that would make a Pentagon planner,” McGroarty says.

    Quite a bit, seems to be the answer – and, for good reason, considering the fact that the United States once again ranks worst when it comes to mining permitting delays (an indicator of the time it takes to bring a new mine online) in a renowned annual ranking released by mining advisory firm Behre Dolbear.

  • North of 60 Mining News piece traces DoD “About-Face” on REEs

    In a comprehensive new piece for North of 60, Mining News publisher Shane Lasley zeroes in on the Department of Defense’s apparent course reversal on Rare Earth Elements in which the Pentagon recommended the establishment of strategic stockpiles for seven REEs in the near term.

    This “about-face,” as Lasley calls it, comes less than a year after researchers at the Pentagon downplayed the United States’ dependence particularly on Rare Earths – a widely-criticized assessment that was labeled “naïve” and “ill-informed” by experts at the time.

    The new report, which only a handful external experts have been privy to review, finds “shortfalls – insufficient supply to meet demand – for approximately a third of these [the 72 metals and minerals studied in the report] materials,” and goes on to recommend the earmarking of US $1.24 billion to build a strategic stockpile for a number of materials meeting shortfall criteria.

    As Lasley points out, experts are “heartened” by DoD’s course-reversal, but “the Strategic Materials Advisory Council – a Washington, DC-based nonprofit group comprised of former U.S. government leaders and strategic materials experts – does not believe buying rare earths from China to place in a U.S. stockpile goes far enough.”

    To read the whole article, in which Lasley does a fantastic job of tracing the steps of the Pentagon’s course reversal and embedding it into the overall context of U.S. mineral resource policy, click here.

  • New DoD stockpile report finds mineral shortfalls

    In his latest piece for Real Clear World, American Resources principal Dan McGroarty reviews the Department of Defense’s just-released National Defense Stockpile Report to Congress against the backdrop of our mineral dependencies. According to McGroarty, the report reflects a re-thinking on the part of the Pentagon, where, less than a year ago, researchers downplayed the [...]
  • U.S. Department of Defense Studies Alaska’s Rare Earths Potential

    As the Canadian daily Chronicle Herald reports, the U.S. Department of Defense is conducting a study of Canadian mining company Ucore’s rare earth-rich Bokan Mountain property in southeast Alaska. Under the auspices of the Defense Logistics Agency, the study will “focus on the possible development of Bokan Mountain to meet defence department requirements for an [...]
  • American Resources expert discusses defense implications of rare earth shortages in new policy brief

    Earlier this year, a Department of Defense analysis stunned many with its conclusion that concerns about Rare Earths supply shortages were exaggerated. Jeffery A. Green, founder of the Strategic Material Advisory Council and American Resources expert, explains how the Pentagon misses the mark in its assessment in a new policy brief for the Center for [...]
  • Experts: DoD’s dismissal of rare earths crisis “naïve” and “ill-informed”

    According to a newspaper reports of a (long-overdue) seven-page DoD report titled “Rare Earth Materials in Defense Applications,” sent to Congress last month and which has not yet been made public, “domestic rare earth supplies will meet the U.S. defense industry’s needs by 2013 for the materials that go into military motors and electronics” – [...]
  • Industry analysts criticize DoD rare earths report

    Industry experts have blasted the Pentagon’s latest (unpublished) report which claims that domestic sources will allow the U.S. military to meet its demand for rare earths by next year. “The only way we can get that material right now is from a foreign company in China,” said Jack Lifton, co-founder of Technology Metals Research. American [...]
  • Marcus Evans Military Energy Alternatives Conference

    American Resources leader Dan McGroarty will be attending the 7th Annual Military Energy Alernatives Conference in Tysons Corner, VA on March 6-8. The conference will discuss how the Department of Defense is implementing renewable technology to achieve energy efficiency and security at the operational level, as well as how renewable energy can be applied more [...]
  • Waiting for DoD: What does the Pentagon think of our rare earths vulnerability?

    Inquiring Congressional minds want to know — or at least the Congressional mind belonging to Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), co-chair (with Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman) of the newly-formed Rare Earths Caucus. During Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s House Armed testimony this week, Cong. Johnson seized the opportunity to ask where things stood with the Pentagon’s report [...]
  • Seal Team Six has Rare Earths to thank for killer apps

    In Rare Earth Woes Could Mean Trouble for U.S. Stealth Fleet, Christine Parthemore takes a look behind the headlines at the materials that give the U.S. Military its high-tech edge: “Ever since Osama bin Laden’s demise, aviation sleuths have been trying to figure out what was the mystery copter that Delivered Seal Team Six.  I’ve [...]