-->
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. 

  • Lithium: Battery Arms Race Powers R&D Efforts in Quest for Domestic Mineral Resources

    As the “tech wars” gear up and the “battery arms race” shifts in to higher gears, efforts to promote the securing of domestic critical mineral supply chains are not only underway in policy circles in Washington, DC, but in the private sector as well.  Companies including the world’s top diversified miners are intensifying their R&D efforts to meet the world’s increasing demand for tech metals. 

    The latest case in point:  Rio Tinto’s successful production of lithium carbonate – a key component of electric vehicle battery technology – as part of the reprocessing of waste piles from its long-standing boron mine in southern California.

    Part of a unit that produced borates [link to old Boron post], the Boron site is home to at least 80 minerals. The lithium find was part of waste reprocessing in an initial search for gold and other elements at the site.  Efforts now shift to improving quality and lifting volumes, according to Bloomberg.

    As Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and member of the ARPN panel of issue experts told the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources earlier this year, “The growth trajectory expected for lithium ion battery raw material demand is unprecedented. Lithium ion batteries are becoming a major global industry and the impact on the four key raw materials of lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite will be profound.” Outlining theoretical demand scenario from megafactories in the pipeline at 2023 and 2028, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence estimates that lithium demand will increase by over eight times.

    The Boron discovery, while in Moores’ view not necessarily a “volume play,” but rather an “IP [intellectual property] play” is significant because in recent years, there has been only one lithium production facility in the U.S. — prompting analysts like Moores to lament that the United States is a “bystander” in the battery arms race.  

    Confirming Moores’ analysis, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called our nation’s over-reliance on foreign critical minerals our nation’s “Achilles’ heel that serves to empower and enrich other nations, while costing us jobs and international competitiveness.”

     

  • Uranium: From “Benign Neglect” to a Smart Strategy?

    In a recent piece for the Washington Times, ARPN panel of expert member and author of “Groundbreaking!: America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence,” Ned Mamula and columnist and consultant for FreedomWorks Stephen Moore zero in on Uranium. Embedding the discussion in the context of American mining and production of critical minerals in recent decades being “a self-inflicted wound (…) more

  • Against Backdrop of Battery Arms Race, Chemists Receive Nobel Prize for Work on Lithium-Ion Technology

    Critical minerals are a hot button issue.  Materials that long seemed obscure like Rare Earths, Lithium, Cobalt, Graphite, and Nickel have entered the mainstream and are making headlines every day.   Against the backdrop of the ongoing materials science revolution and the intensifying battery arms race, it is only fitting that this month, three pioneers of Lithium-ion battery technology (…) more

  • Are we Ready for the Tech Metals Age? Thoughts on Critical Minerals, Public Policy and the Private Sector

    Earlier this week, ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty shared his views on the coming tech metal age and its policy implications at In the Zone 2019 – Critical Materials: Securing Indo-Pacific Technology Futures – a conference hosted in cooperation with the University of Western Australia to look at critical mineral resource issues through the prism of the (…) more

  • Canada and U.S. to Draft “Joint Action Plan” on Rare Earths / Critical Minerals

    After years of missed opportunities to prioritize mineral resource policy, the U.S. government is stepping up its efforts to secure critical mineral resource supply chains.   The latest case in point is the drafting of a “joint action plan” with our neighbors to the North to reduce reliance on Chinese supplies of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) — which, (…) more

  • ARPN’s Daniel McGroarty to Present at In the Zone 2019 Critical Materials: Securing Indo-Pacific Technology Futures

    It’s a brave new world. With critical materials supporting everything from household gadgets to 21st Century tech applications across virtually all industries, as well as the technologies underpinning our transition to a green energy future, stakeholders all across the globe are faced with ever-growing challenges associated with securing mineral resource supply chains. This week, roughly (…) more

  • Renewable Energy Transition Continues to Fuel Copper Demand

    Rare earths and lithium-Ion technology metals and minerals may be the talk of the town these days — and for good reason — and stakeholders are finally pursuing policies aimed at facilitating secure access for them.   However, as a new analysis by Wood Mackenzie shows, we should not forget about the more traditional mainstay (…) more

  • With Rare Display of Bipartisanship in Congress and Resource Partnership Announcement With Allied Nations, Momentum Building for Mineral Resource Policy Reform

    Late last week, we witnessed the formal announcement of a forthcoming roll out of an “action plan” to counter Chinese dominance in the critical minerals sector during Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s week-long state visit to the U.S.. According to news reports the plan will “open a new front against China in a widening technology and trade war by exploiting (…) more

  • U.S. and Australia to Roll Out “Mutually Beneficial” Action Plan to Improve Security and Supply of Rare Earths

    Building on recent agency-level talks the United States and Australia have used the occasion of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s week long state visit to the United States to formally announce the forthcoming roll out of an “action plan” to counter Chinese dominance in the critical minerals sector, and specifically the Rare Earths sector. According to news (…) more

Archives