American innovation impacted by mineral import reliance
April 19, 2012
Forbes.com published an op-ed yesterday by Gary Shapiro, presiden...
In 1978, the United States was 100 percent import reliant for seven minerals, and more than 50 percent import reliant for an additional 25. Thirty-three years later, the number of minerals we are import reliant for has risen to 10 and 43, respectively. One of those minerals is manganese. The United States Geological Survey estimates that the United States imported at least $1.4 billion worth of manganese ore and compounds from Gabon, Australia and South Africa in 2012 alone. In fact, there hasn’t been any manganese mining in the United States since 1970; but that could all change with a project pending in Arizona.
The Tucson Citizen recently reported that a new silver project in Patagonia, Ariz., could become the only U.S. source of manganese:
“The project, in final exploration stage, is being developed for silver, but it contains a considerable manganese resource also. Wildcat’s preliminary economic assessment estimates a measured and indicated resource of 236 million ounces of silver and an inferred silver resource of an additional 79 million ounces. Wildcat estimates that annual production will be 4.1 million ounces of silver, 233,000 tons of manganese carbonate, 20,187 tons of zinc cathode, and 960 tons of copper.”
Manganese is a critical metal used in stainless steel, dry cell batteries, plant fertilizers and brick colorant. The Patagonia project will afford the United States an opportunity to reduce our import reliance for critical metals like Manganese and bring the minerals back to the United States that are important if we are trying to ignite a domestic manufacturing comeback.