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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Against Backdrop of Tech Wars, Russia Seeks to Boost Footprint in Africa

    As the tech wars deepen, the United States is — finally — taking important first steps to secure critical mineral resource supply chains both domestically and through cooperative agreements with allied nations like Australia and Canada. 

    But while the U.S. gears into action, the global scramble for resources is in full swing.  Case in point:  reports that Russia may be taking advantage of the United States’ shifted focus away from foreign entanglements and may be “following China’s lead and making a splashy bid for influence in Africa.”

    For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed dozens of African national leaders for a summit in Sochi earlier this month in what was supposed to “underline the reversal of Russia’s retreat from the continent and demonstrate the country is no longer a defunct World power,” according to Voice of America (VOA)

    Speaking to reporters, a Putin spokesman said: 

    “This is a very important continent. (…) Russia has things to offer in terms of mutually beneficial cooperation to African countries.”

    According to the Associated Press, Russia “is taking advantage of the Trump administration’s seemingly waning interest in the continent of 1.2 billion people that includes some of the world’s fasted growing economies and a strategic perch on the Red Sea.”

    Followers of ARPN are no stranger to recent Russian forays into mineral-rich areas of the world. One need to look no further than the Arctic, where, against the backdrop of the region’s increasing strategic relevance and China’s ever-growing influence, Russia has increased its military commitment and upgraded its old Soviet Arctic military bases. 

    In Africa, the Kremlin is looking to revive its relationships from the Soviet era, which were extensive at the time, but cut off abruptly with the collapse of the Soviet Union.   As VOA reports, while trade with African countries has already increased by 350 percent in the past decade, according to Russia’s foreign ministry, the country hopes that the conference will lead to more oil, and mineral resource deals with African states going forward.

    To be sure, Russia’s engagement on the African continent pales in comparison to China’s, which has been aggressively tapping the continent’s vast mineral potential by investing hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects as part of its One Belt One Road Strategy.

    Against this background, analysts argue that Russia’s role in Africa should not be overestimated, as its “involvement in Africa is limited and guided by a combination of unrealistic ambitions and opportunism,” and “U.S. efforts should continue to prioritize addressing those long-standing challenges rather than being reoriented around the far narrower issue of countering Russian actions.”

    Neither, however — with the tech wars over which country will dominate the 21 Century Tech Age in full swing — should Russia’s African resource outreach be neglected or ignored. 

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  • ARPN Expert Panel Member: Any Real Solution to REE Dependence Must Include Investing in Our Domestic Production Capabilities

    “There is more to President Trump’s engagement with Greenland than meets the eye, (…)[h]owever, if policymakers want to get serious about securing U.S. access to rare earths, any real solution must include investing in our domestic production capabilities,” writes Jeff Green, ARPN expert panel member and president and founder of public relations firm J.A. Green & Co. in a recent piece for Real Clear Politics.

    Arguing that “[o]ur ceding of leadership in the mining and processing of critical materials has contributed to China’s rise as the world’s number one producer of rare earths,” Green discusses how the United States can counter Chinese threats to “utilize its rare earth capabilities as a sword and shield against U.S. interests,” by “developing our own domestic production and supply of this precious resource — one secure from foreign influence.”

    He points to actions on the part of the Administration and Congress that instill optimism in this regard, such as the recently-released Presidential Determinations declaring five REE technologies critical to national defense and deserving of DoD support, as well as the inclusion of a provision into the U.S. House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require DoD to “promulgate guidance on the acquisition of rare earth elements as part of a strategy to eliminate dependence on China by 2035.”

    Aside from these steps, the U.S. Administration has also sought to foster cooperative efforts with allied nations to secure access to critical minerals. Most recently, the Department of Defense announced that it was in talks with Australia regarding the possibility of the country hosting a REE processing facility.

    And while President Trump’s recent quip about wanting to buy Greenland – which ARPN’s McGroarty sees ascending to having a foothold as a major metals supplier to the 21st Century Tech Revolution — is unlikely to result in a deal with Denmark, it points to an overall shift towards more a strategic approach to resource policy and our nation’s critical mineral needs on the part of the Administration, which is a welcome development. 

    Meanwhile, Green insists that our domestic production capabilities can and must be strengthened. He concludes: 

    “Rare earths are not the first critical material subject to unfair supply pressures from foreign powers. They will not be the last. In the past, the U.S. government has shown an interest in supporting domestic production of critical materials through a variety of measures, including domestic sourcing restrictions and direct government funding. All of these tools should be brought to bear to build a secure rare earth supply chain, especially when the consequences of inaction are clear and dire. China should not underestimate the innovation of American miners and manufacturers in helping the U.S. to counter Chinese aggression. In the same vein, the U.S. must not either.”

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  • 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 [...]
  • 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 — [...]
  • 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 [...]

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