American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
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  • Food for thought for world leaders discussing climate change

    This week, world leaders are gathering in Paris to push for an agreement on climate change, which could spell the end of the fossil era, and ring in the age of post-carbon technology.  In a recent piece for the New York Times, David S. Abraham points to an important, yet oft-ignored paradox:

    “(…) even as our leaders are pushing us to use fewer resources, their vision will force us to use more.

    Though energy from the sun and wind appears boundless, the resources needed to turn it into power are not. And as we move away from oil, gas and coal, there is increasing demand for the rare metals that are at the heart of green technology.”

    As Abraham points out, this shift will have serious economic and environmental consequences, and expose us to potential supply disruptions unless we begin addressing the underlying issues associated with trading one resource dependency for another.

    Aside from geologic supply questions, the bigger problem lies in the fact that mineral exploration is a complex process fraught with many technological, environmental and regulatory hurdles. As a result, in the U.S., supply lines generally take 10 to 15 years to develop.

    Another issue spells trouble, according to Abraham:

    “Specialty metals are rarely mined for themselves. They are byproducts of more lucratively mined metals like copper. This means that even if prices of a rare metal were to skyrocket, companies often have little economic incentive to produce them if it means sacrificing some base metal production or investing in new processing equipment. If supplies cannot be produced in a timely way, these specialty metals will become more expensive, limiting their use.”

    Increased efficiency and substitution, often hailed as a silver bullet by some, can only be part of the solution, “as even if electric cars, for example, use 50 percent less rare metal per car, the increase in vehicles needed to meet green energy goals will lead to vast demand.”

    World leaders would be well-advised to keep Abraham’s bottom line in mind as they work to forge their agreement this week:

    “Over a century ago, we jumped into fossil fuels without understanding the ramifications of their use. We would do well to realize the resource implications of our green ambitions and develop a resource plan with them in mind.”

  • Will the U.S. Congress take on resource development regulatory reform?

    Those of us who follow how public policy impacts private-sector efforts to develop domestic mineral resources need to tune in to the current Capitol Hill debate on jobs and economic growth.

    Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) recently introduced the Public Lands Job Creation Act, a bill that he says “will streamline the permitting process for energy development, including mineral and renewable energy development, while also preserving the time necessary for environmental analysis.” Reports also indicate that Heller intends to attach his legislation to a larger jobs package that could be voted on as early as today.

    At the heart of Heller’s language is a directive to speed up the mining permitting process in America. That legislative trigger would set a firm 45-day turnaround period for the U.S. Department of Interior (DoI) to complete its review process of any and all notices sent from state Bureau of Land Management offices.

    If enacted, this timely turnaround would certainly help American companies bring new mines into production, which is critical to our nation’s resource development.  According to the authoritative Behr Dolbeare annual report on mining countries, the U.S. ranks dead last in terms of the time to take to permit a new mine:  7 to 10 years on average.

    It is worth noting that this bill does not seek to shortcut environmental review or safety concerns connected to mining.  From what we can tell, it simply seeks to keep the review process moving forward in a timely manner – or in the United States’ case, moving forward at all.

    Whether or not Congress will perceive this sort of reform as key to job creation and economic growth is anything but clear; however, what is beyond dispute is that the U.S. must find ways to increase its responsible domestic resource development. We must decrease the needless dependency on foreign metals and minerals critical to our economy and national security.

  • China again tightens REE exports; Japan seeks to diversify supply base.

    Worried about China’s ongoing rare earths stranglehold and further cutbacks of exports, Japan looks to diversify its rare earths supply basis. While a delegation of Japanese business leaders recently urged China to ensure a stable supply to Japan, the Japanese government is stepping up its efforts to find alternative sources for the sought-after commodity. In [...]
  • American Resources Policy Network Launches Informational Campaign on Copper, Antimony, and Lithium

    CopperMatters.org Shows that Resource Dependency goes beyond Rare Earth Elements Washington, D.C. – The American Resources Policy Network announced today that it would expand on its messaging in favor of exploring the available non-fuel resources in America by launching a campaign for copper, antimony, and lithium – elements readily available in the country, yet not [...]
  • The case for cobalt: Why America should pay attention to this critical metal

    In an interview with The Critical Metals Report, analyst Rick Mills shares his thoughts on how cobalt is the “king of critical metals.” Increasingly indispensable as an industrial metal, in the development of green technologies, and in various critical defense applications, cobalt is one of only four metals or element groups to make all three recently [...]
  • Rare earths and beyond: China is shaping India’s mineral policy

    In today’s globalized world, it doesn’t take a seat at the decision-making table for one nation to influence another’s domestic policies – a near-monopoly on critical mineral resources will do.  A case in point is India, which, after a seven-year hiatus, is expanding its indigenous Rare Earth Element (REE) production over growing concerns that China [...]
  • Aware the days of its near-monopoly are numbered, China leverages REE stranglehold to lure foreign business

    The New York Times’ Keith Bradshear has taken a closer look at foreign manufacturers moving their production sites into China in an effort to mitigate reduced access to and increased cost for REEs – a development we covered on our blog here and here. The article underscores that rather than acting out of environmental concerns, [...]
  • Priority permitting for two Alaska mining projects approved

    As reported by Resourceful Earth, two Alaska mining projects may begin production ahead of schedule thanks to priority permits granted by the U.S. Forest Service.  The agency approved exploratory drilling permits for Ucore Rare Metals Inc.’s Bokan Mountain site in Southeast Alaska, which is expected to develop rare earths as well as potentially high grade [...]