Friday, July 20, 2012

U.S. government’s approach to Critical Minerals & National Security. Here’s why it matters:

By Sandra Wirtz

The U.S. House of Representatives has just passed a bill that seeks to reduce red tape for mining permits and reduce our over-reliance on foreign mineral resources, but the White House remains adamantly opposed to the legislation. Non-fuel mineral materials are essential not only to our commercial manufacturing base and our aspirations to transition to a green-energy economy, but also to advanced weapons systems and other military applications, and are thus a matter of national security. According to U.S. Geological Survey data, the U.S. is at least 50 percent dependent on foreign supplier nations for 43 strategic minerals, while we’re 100 percent dependent for 19.

While given that, one would expect that formulating a coherent national mineral strategy to ensure such access would be a public policy imperative, a new study by the American Resources Policy Network finds that this, unfortunately, has so far – with the exception of a handful of policy makers attempting to prioritize such a move - not been the case. (Emphasis mine)

The study attempts to give a snapshot of the federal government’s approach to the United States’ mineral supply issues by reviewing recent government literature on the issue.

Some of our key findings:

The federal government has been unable to produce a commonly agreed-upon definition of what constitutes a “critical/ strategic” metal or mineral, which may be one of the underlying reasons why the U.S. runs the risk of falling behind in the global race for resources.

Cross-referencing 46 key minerals with USGS data, we constructed a national security “risk pyramid.” Of the 46 minerals reviewed, known U.S. resources exist for 40.

In other words, for 87% of the metals and minerals on our American Resources Risk Pyramid, domestic resources exist – the development of which could lessen the United States’ import dependency.
The report was released at the Strategic Minerals Conference 2012, video footage of which is available here.

Sandra Wirtz
Director of Research & Staff Blogger

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