Defensive Readiness and a Low-Carbon Future

 

We believe that a number of long-standing domestic critical mineral production and supply-chain concerns have moved up in importance by at least a decade. It is well documented that the United States currently imports 90-100% of many critical minerals from countries such as China. As American citizens we are sensitive to the fact that the sources and prices of these strategic commodities are largely controlled by those who do not have our national best interests in mind. Following the COVID-19 challenges and related supply shortfalls, we believe there will be longer-lasting wave of realization with regard to domestic critical mineral sourcing and their associated supply-chains.

The critical minerals “issue” is something members of the New Jersey team have followed for decades. While many in the country have been focused on news bites, partisan bickering and selfish political short-sightedness; our defensive readiness has steadily declined. In short, those that are tasked with protecting our future have largely ignored the increased risk to our collective well-being. We now feel the timing is right to add this area of focus from an investor/stakeholder business perspective while providing the added benefit of protecting these national assets from foreign ownership.

Furthermore, our overall business experience tells us that the opportunity for public/private partnerships with regard to strategic mineral use in future technologies, national stockpiles and mineral processing/milling is (finally) here. As a result of the tendency to celebrate the person that leads us out of a crisis as opposed to recognizing the person that kept us out of the crisis in the first place – the long-ignored decline in our country’s critical mineral readiness will not be cured overnight. As a country we cannot comfortably look toward defensive readiness and a low-carbon future without first securing and producing the strategic raw materials necessary to make it happen.

Following Executive Order 13817, the USGS in 2018 released a final list of 35 critical elements deemed vital to the Nation’s security and economic prosperity, of which 14 of these elements the United States does not produce. We believe the increased demand and higher prices for these elements will drive exploration; and we at NJMC want to be in the vanguard of finding, locating and producing these critical minerals while helping reduce our national dependence on foreign sources.

In 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce released “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals”. Below is the Executive Summary from that report, which is similar to other publications on this topic.

U.S. Department of Commerce Executive Summary –

The assured supply of critical minerals[1] and the resiliency of their supply chains are essential to the economic prosperity and national defense of the United States. The United States is heavily dependent on foreign sources of critical minerals and on foreign supply chains resulting in the potential for strategic vulnerabilities to both our economy and military. Mitigating these risks is important and consistent with our country’s National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy to promote American prosperity and to preserve peace through strength.

The United States imports most critical mineral commodities. Specifically, the United States is import-reliant (imports are greater than 50 percent of annual consumption) for 31 of the 35 minerals designated as critical by the Department of the Interior.[2] The United States does not have any domestic production and relies completely on imports to supply its demand for 14 critical minerals.[3]

To address this problem and reduce the Nation’s vulnerability to disruptions in the supply of critical minerals, President Donald J. Trump issued Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, on December 20, 2017. The Executive Order directs the Secretary of Commerce, in coordination with heads of selected executive branch agencies and offices, to submit a report to the President that includes:

  1. “a strategy to reduce the Nation’s reliance on critical minerals;
  2. an assessment of progress toward developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies, and technological alternatives to critical minerals;
  3. options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with our allies and partners;
  4. a plan to improve the topographic, geologic, and geophysical mapping of the United States and make the resulting data and metadata electronically accessible, to the extent permitted by law and subject to appropriate limitations for purposes of privacy and security, to support private sector mineral exploration of critical minerals; and
  5. recommendations to streamline permitting and review processes related to developing leases; enhancing access to critical mineral resources; and increasing discovery, production, and domestic refining of critical minerals.”

This report, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, presents 6 Calls to Action, 24 goals, and 61 recommendations that describe specific steps that the Federal Government will take to achieve the objectives outlined in Executive Order 13817.

When executed, this strategy will improve the ability of the advanced technology, industrial, and defense manufacturing sectors that use critical minerals to adapt to emerging mineral criticality issues; reduce risks for American businesses that rely on critical minerals; create a favorable U.S. business climate for production facilities at different stages of critical mineral supply chains; and support the economic security and national defense of the United States; all of which will reduce the Nation’s vulnerability to critical mineral supply disruptions.

[1]     As defined in Executive Order 13817, a critical mineral is “a mineral identified by the Secretary of the Interior [pursuant to the Executive Order] to be (i) a non-fuel mineral or mineral material essential to the economic and national security of the United States, (ii) the supply chain of which is vulnerable to disruption, and (iii) that serves an essential function in the manufacturing of a product, the absence of which would have significant consequences for our economy or our national security.” 82 Fed. Reg. 60835; 2017; https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/12/26/2017-27899/a-feder…

[2]     Department of the Interior, “Final List of Critical Minerals 2018,” 83 Fed. Reg. 23295; 2018,
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/05/18/2018-10667/final-list-of-critical-minerals-2018

[3]     U.S. Geological Survey, “Mineral Commodity Summaries 2018,” 2018, https://doi.org/10.3133/70194932

[4] Center for Strategic & International Studies, “Critical Minerals and the Role of U.S. Mining in a Low-Carbon Future”, December, 2019, https://www.csis.org/analysis/critical-minerals-and-role-us-mining-low-carbon-future

2020-05-13T12:07:39-07:00