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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • McGroarty for the Economic Standard: In the Arctic Resource Wars, Greenland is a Hot Property

    In a new piece for The Economic Standard, ARPN’s Dan McGroarty puts the current controversy over President Trump’s quip about wanting to buy Greenland from Denmark in context.

    Invoking President Truman’s offer to purchase Greenland in 1946 as well as Secretary of State William Henry Seward’s 1867 purchase of Alaska — for which he received much ridicule at the time (hence the term Seward’s Folly) — McGroarty argues that while “[a]pparently there’s something in the subject of Arctic land purchases that encourages levity” (…) “[t]here shouldn’t be.”

    He recounts how Denmark came to control Greenland in the first place and explains why it has turned into a hot commodity (pun intended):

    “the result of imperial expeditions that led to declarations of Danish sovereignty in the early 1800’s.  As for buying Greenland, there’s no evidence the indigenous Inuit of that day were compensated.

    Today’s interest in Greenland is what’s beneath the ever-shrinking icecap, as Earth’s temperature warms:  Known resources of at least eight metals and minerals – taken as individual elements, including the rare earths (REEs) and platinum group metals, that’s 29 elements in all, nearly 1/3 of the naturally-occurring elements in the Periodic Table.  That gives Greenland, soon or sometime in the future, a foothold as a major metals supplier to the 21st Century Tech Revolution.

    And while the U.S. most emphatically may not be purchasing Greenland, that’s not to say other interested parties aren’t already buying up strategic bits of real estate.”

    McGroarty goes on to give examples of China’s “economic diplomacy” in Greenland, a topic we previously explored on our blog as well. His conclusion underscores the significance of the region and the need for more active engagement.

    “In other words, Greenland may not be for sale, but its resource riches surely are.  From Truman’s offer to Trump’s Tweets, Greenland is a hot property.  Surely, Secretary Seward would have understood.”

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  • Greenland at the Heart of Resource Race in 21st Century Tech War

    While a deal is not likely to happen, and some question whether the comment was more quip than opening offer, President Trump’s recent interest in buying Greenland from Denmark has done one thing: bring Greenland and the Arctic into focus.   The President’s suggestion has been ridiculed by many, but from a strategic perspective — unlikely as it may be to see a “For Sale” sign planted on the Greenland coast — Greenland’s resource value is significant.

    Unbeknownst to many because outside the media limelight, the Arctic has been one of the sites of looming battles and territorial disputes in the resource war theater, with both China and Russia having stepped up their activities in (and relating to) the Arctic circle region in recent years.  The U.S. is beginning to realize the significance of the region and the need for more active engagement. 

    As Mark Rosen writes for the National Interest, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s open Challenge of Chinese and Russian Arctic intentions at the May 2019 Arctic Council Meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland “marked a dramatic rhetorical shift in the usual diplomatic line that the United States regarded the Arctic as a venue for cooperation and research and that climate change is the clear and present danger to Arctic security. Climate change unquestionably is altering the Arctic landscape and will have long term effects. However, Pompeo’s statement was a significant expansion of the warning by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the United States is ‘late to the game’ in the Arctic and needs to start making policy, security, and economic investments in the Arctic or be left on the sidelines.”

    China, with no territorial presence in the Arctic, obtained observer status to the Arctic Council in 2013, and has since included the Arctic into its “new Silk Road Strategy,”with increased diplomacy and investment in the region. China has also participated in various governance and rule-making processes for ship operation and fishing in the region outside the umbrella of the Arctic Council.  And while China’s launch of its first domestically built polar ice breaker — Snow Dragon 2 was delivered earlier last month — was framed as enabling “scientific research into polar ice coverage, environmental conditions and biological resources,” observers have pointed out that the icebreakers are also “useful in testing the feasibility of moving cargo across the Arctic,” as “China’s plans for a Polar Silk Road, as part of its ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, include developing Arctic shipping routes.

    And then there’s Russia.  As David Carlin observes for Forbes, “[m]any nations have recognized the potential of the Arctic, but few have proceeded as boldly as Russia. The Russian economy derives nearly 20% of its GDP from activities in the Arctic. Russia has defended this investment by increasing its military commitments. Old Soviet Arctic bases are being upgraded and reequipped by Russian forces.” 

    Against the backdrop of increasing tension between Russia and the West, and the United States and China, the Arctic’s strategic relevance is increasing, and Greenland — where vast veins of ores and minerals ranging from Rare Earths, Niobium, Tungsten and Antimony to Chromium, Platinum Group Metals, Graphite and Cobalt have been found (in other words, roughly one-quarter of the U.S. Critical Minerals List) — factors big into countries’ decisions to engage in the Arctic.  

    The resource race in the Arctic is a manifestation of the tech war over who will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age.   Regardless of whether or not a Greenland deal is a realistic scenario, what is important here is that U.S. stakeholders are beginning to realize the need to assertively stake the United States’ claim in the Arctic and near-Arctic environs.  The other players — those with Arctic territory, and others, like China, with Arctic interests — have made it clear that they will not wait for us.

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  • Chinese Strategy and the Global Resource Wars – A Look at the Arctic 

    It’s the big elephant in the resource room – China. The recently-released 130-page long declassified version of the Defense Industrial Base Report mention the words “China” or “Chinese”  a “whopping 229 times” – for good reason.  As the Department of Defense argues in the report, “China’s domination of the rare earth element market illustrates the potentially dangerous interaction between Chinese economic [...]
  • A New Theater for the Global Resource Wars?  A Look at Antarctica

    At ARPN, we have long argued that we need comprehensive mineral resource policy reform.  One of the main reasons we have finally seen some momentum on this front is the growing realization that there is a global race for the metals and minerals fueling 21st Century technology and our everyday lives — something that our [...]
  • 2017 – a Year of Mixed Signals: No Grand Strategy – But Some Signs We May Be Digging Out of Our Resource Dependency

    Amidst the chaos of Christmas shopping, holiday parties and travel arrangements, the end of the year is customarily the time to take stock of the last twelve months and assess where to go from here. Here is our recap of 2017: On the heels of a year that very much presented itself as a mixed [...]
  • China Jockeys for Pole Position in EV Industry

    ARPN followers know it’s the elephant in the room. China. Already vast and resource-rich, the country has demonstrated an insatiable appetite for the world’s mineral resources and has pursued an aggressive strategy to gain access to the materials needed to meet the world’s largest population’s resource needs. Thus, it comes as no surprise that China [...]
  • Geopolitical Movements in Resource-Rich Arctic Begin to Draw Attention

    Recent developments in a geographic region ARPN followers have come to know as one of the sites of looming battles and territorial disputes in the resource war theater – the Arctic – are drawing the attention of domestic military commanders. Speaking at a recent event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in [...]
  • Africa Taking Center Stage in China’s Quest for Resources

    It is “the single largest source of mineral commodities for the United States, particularly for resources like rare earth elements, germanium, and industrial diamonds,” according to the United States Geological Survey, which notes in its most recent Mineral Commodity Summaries report that “of the 47 mineral commodities that the United States is more than 50 [...]
  • The Arctic – A Looming Battlefield for Resource Supremacy?

    While relations between Russia and the United States continue to make headlines on a daily basis, one particular aspect of this relationship – in spite of the fact that it may be one of the most contentious ones – has been largely flying under the radar. As Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin recently wrote: [...]
  • Greenland’s mining decisions likely to refuel race for Arctic riches

    In what may become a groundbreaking decision, Greenland’s parliament has voted to lift a long-standing ban on uranium mining, opening the door to Rare Earths exploration and development in the Artic territory. A-semi-autonomous part of Denmark, Greenland is hoping this decision and the expected industrial boom will bring it closer to achieving economic and ultimately [...]

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