American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries: Mineral Resource Dependencies Continue in 2020

    2020 may go down in history as the year in which our world changed drastically, but one thing remained largely steady, according to the latest USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, one of our favorite reports which is hot off the press: Our nation’s mineral resource dependencies. However, as followers of ARPN will know, that is hardly a good thing, as our degree of import reliance for critical minerals in recent years has consistently been too high for comfort.

    A look at the chart depicting U.S. Net Import Reliance — or the “Blue Wall of Dependency,” as we have dubbed it based o the many blue bars showing 100% import dependence, reveals that we are still 100% import dependent for 17 of the metals and minerals included in the USGS report, unchanged from the previous year. However, the number marks a stark contrast to our import reliance for metals and minerals in 1984, when we were 100% import reliant for just 11 commodities.

    The number of metals and minerals for which we are 50% or more than 50% import dependent is unchanged over last year — the report pegs it at 47.

    Of note, while we had seen a drop in dependency for foreign supply of lithium (down to >25%) last year, that number has gone up again to >50%. This is particularly relevant as lithium is one of the key components of green energy technology, the importance of which is only set to grow under the new Biden Administration.

    China continues to be the elephant in the data room, and is listed 24 times as one of the major import sources of metals and minerals for which our net import reliance is 50% or greater. That is down by one, however that change is owed only to the fact that garnet has slightly dropped in import reliance (to 48%, and not to a diversification of sources away from China.

    This may change going forward, as 2020 has underscored the urgency of strengthening our domestic supply chains, and has yielded some important progress with regards to policies aimed at reducing our over-reliance on foreign, and especially Chinese metals and minerals. Executive Order 13953 declaring a critical minerals national security emergency, several key provisions of which were later codified in the Energy Act of 2020, as well as parts of the National Defense Authorization Act come to mind here.

    However, meaningful change takes time, and whether we will see significant changes in the numbers on our favorite chart going forward, will depend largely on the extent to which stakeholders will act on these provisions and implement policies that bring us closer to an all-of-the-above approach on critical minerals.

    Click here to read this year’s Mineral Commodity Summaries.

    For previous iterations, click here.

  • Event Alert: “Critical Minerals Forum 2021” – A February Webinar Series on Critical Mineral Research

    It’s 2021, and the wild ride 2020 has taken us on continues. There were quite a few developments in the critical minerals realm over the past few months (for a recap see our two summary posts here and here, but if you thought things were about to slow down, you might be wrong. While emphases will change with a new Administration at the helm in Washington, DC, the urgency of our nation’s critical mineral woes will continue to warrant action.

    As stakeholders prepare to address this year’s challenges, the Geological Survey of Canada, Geoscience Australia and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) have teamed up to offer some foundational insights to inform the policy discourse.

    Sponsored by the World Community of Geological Surveys and hosted by the American Geosciences Institute, a three-part Critical Minerals Forum will bring together experts from geological survey organizations from different parts of the globe who will share their latest geoscience research and discuss future initiatives.

    According to the American Geosciences Institute, the presentations during the event series

    “will focus on advanced mineral system models that are appli¬cable to critical minerals and new methods for modelling mineral potential in buried, remote, and/or other challenging mineral exploration settings. Both of these research themes are included within the new Critical Mineral Mapping Initiative that is being conducted between the Geological Survey of Canada, Geoscience Australia, and the United States Geological Survey. Global efforts to expand this collaboration, including the development of an online geo¬chemical portal for critical mineral deposits, will be discussed as part of this special session and is open to further contributions, research, and analysis.”

    Here are the coordinates:

    Advances in critical mineral research: A forum in memory of Victor Labson
    Americas: 12 February 2021, 11:00-14:30 EST
    Europe and Africa: 19 February 2021, 11:00-14:30 CET
    Asia and Oceania: 26 February 2021, 11:00-14:30 AWST

    For more information, and to register, click here.

  • U.S. Over-Reliance on Critical Minerals — Are the Chickens Coming Home to Roost?

    The current coronavirus pandemic has shed a light on an inconvenient truth. We have become over-reliant on foreign (and especially Chinese) raw materials. As we previously outlined, “PPE has become the poster child, but whether it’s smart phone technology, solar panels, electric vehicles, or fighter jets — critical minerals are integrated into all aspects of [...]
  • New USGS Methodology Identifies 23 Mineral Commodities at Greatest Risk to Supply Disruption

    A new risk tool developed by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and its partners identifies 23 metals and minerals relevant to U.S. manufacturing that are at greatest risk to supply disruption. The methodology, entitled “Evaluating the Mineral Commodity Supply Risk of the U.S. Manufacturing Sector” and published in Science Advances was developed to help meet the [...]
  • 2020 Mineral Commodity Summaries:  Domestic Mineral Resource Production Increases While Foreign Dependencies Continue

    Last week, USGS released its 43rd Mineral Commodity Summaries – a comprehensive snapshot of global mineral production which gives us a window into where we stand as a nation in terms of mineral resource security.   Perhaps most instructive from an ARPN perspective is the chart depicting U.S. Net Import Reliance — previously casually referred to as [...]
  • U.S. and Australia Formalize Critical Minerals Partnership

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has signed a project agreement with its Australian counterpart, GeoScience Australia, to jointly develop a “better understanding of both countries’ critical mineral reserves.”  The agreement is the result of ongoing agency-level talks between the United States and Australia and the recent announcement of a forthcoming formal roll out of an “action [...]
  • Release of USGS’s 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries Once More Underscores Need for Resource Policy Reform

    The partial shutdown of the federal government at the beginning of this year had delayed its release, but last week, USGS published its 2019 Mineral Commodity Summaries. Followers of ARPN will know that we await the publication’s release with somewhat bated breath every year, as especially “Page 6” – the chart depicting U.S. Net Import [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Metals in the Spotlight – Aluminum and the Intersection between Resource Policy and Trade

    While specialty and tech metals like the Rare Earths and Lithium continue to dominate the news cycles, there is a mainstay metal that has – for good reason – been making headlines as well: Aluminum.  Bloomberg recently even argued that “Aluminum Is the Market to Watch Closely in 2019.”  Included in the 2018 list of 35 [...]
  • Copper and the 2018 Critical Minerals List – Considerations for Resource Policy Reform

    While we’re still waiting for policy makers and other stakeholders to take further action, in 2018 an important step was taken to set the stage for mineral resource policy reform with the release of the Department of Interior’s List of 35 Minerals Deemed Critical to U.S. National Security and the Economy. Throughout the drafting stage [...]