In the annual mining review that is published each May in Mining Engineering magazine there is a figure highlighting America’s import reliance for nonfuel materials. The graph is a sobering look at how dependent the United States is on foreign sources and it was reaffirmed by a report released by the American Resources Policy Network.
Focusing on strategic minerals and metals, The report, “Assessing Risk: Critical Metals and National Security,” notes that China supplies more than one in five of the minerals that are vital to the America’s commercial and defense sectors despite the fact that proven U.S. resources exist for 87 percent of these minerals.
The report points out that for 43 minerals deemed “critical” and “strategic” by the Department of Defense and other Federal agencies, the U.S. is at least 50 percent dependent on foreign supplies.
“The U.S. government desperately needs a coherent national mineral access strategy,” said Daniel McGroarty, President of the American Resources Policy Network. “We are acutely dependent on foreign supplies of nonfuel minerals and metals that are vital to commercial manufacturing and advanced weapons systems. Our exposure to potential supply disruptions is a profound national security threat.”
The report was compiled data from 11 studies by the Department of Defense, Government Accountability Office, and other Federal agencies. It presents an “American Resources Risk Pyramid,” which graphically weights and segments the 46 most-cited minerals and metals, and analyzes dependence.
“The most striking finding is that our foreign mineral dependence is largely self-inflicted,” said McGroarty. “The U.S. has known domestic resources for 40 of the 46 minerals we reviewed - nearly 90 percent of them. By failing to mine the minerals we have, we are making a conscious choice to weaken our national security.”
The report comes at time in which gaining access to minerals has become more difficult.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently used the Clean Water Act for the permit revocation of Spruce Mine in West Virginia and its consideration of a first of its kind preemptive veto of Pebble Deposit in Alaska. The latter one of the largest reserves of strategic minerals and metals: copper, molybdenum, gold, silver and rhenium.
The report was launched at ARPN's Strategic Minerals Conference 2012 in Washington, D.C. The event brought together thought leaders from the public and private sectors to discuss the close relationship between strategic minerals to national security. Featured speakers included U.S. Congressmen Mike Coffman (CO-6) and Mark Amodei (NV-2), and Retired Major General Robert Latiff, Director of the Intelligence and Security Research Center at George Mason University.