Mr. President, we must not allow . . . a Copper Gap!


by David Safier

I have to admit, I was amused by the op ed in today's Star by Daniel McGroarty about the need for someone (cough, Arizona, cough) in the U.S. to mine more copper so we can repair our "copper gap." I was whisked back to one of my favorite characters from Dr. Strangelove — General Buck Turgidson, played by a way-over-the-top George C. Scott — when he realized nuclear annihilation was inevitable and was worried the Russians would hide more of its important people away in mineshafts than the Americans. "Mr. President," he bellowed, "we must not allow . . . a mineshaft gap!"


The column was an unveiled pitch for more copper mining in Arizona with an emphasis on getting approval for the Resolution Copper Mine through Congress.

The writer, Dan McGroarty, was a speechwriter for George H.W. Bush and a former Friedman Fellow at the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation. He's currently head of the nonprofit American Resources Policy Network. Unfortunately, I couldn't track down the ARPN's funding sources. But the group's experts include people from the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, the Kroll Institute for Extractive Metallurgy, U.S. Rare Earths, Inc., Institute for Defense Analyses, MetalMiner™, American Manganese, Mining & Geological Industrial Consultants, Simbol Mining Corp., and the Lithium Corporation. ARPN may be nonprofit, but it's definitely not unaffiliated.

What I loved about the op ed is the soft-core cold-war tone of its writing, a slightly more subtle version of the rhetoric being parodied in Dr. Strangelove.

And yet there remains a huge “copper gap” in the United States . . . the Department of Defense reports that a shortfall in copper supply has
already led to “a significant weapon system production delay.”

And that gap leaves us exposed to the decisions of Chilean miners,
Indonesian officials and dozens of other micro-forces at work in the
global metals supply chain.

We must not allow . . . a Mineshaft Copper Gap!