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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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  • 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 that could imperil our economy and national security,” they point to the fact that while the United States is home to vast domestic Uranium resources and reserves, “more than 90 percent of U.S. uranium requirements are now imported.” More than 40 percent of the total of these imports, come from a “potentially adversarial trading bloc,” Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

    “This is not a friendly free-market group that America can depend on, especially in an emergency,” they lament. 

    Globally, the percentage of uranium production “coming from state-controlled companies not located in Western market-based economies,” is on the rise.

    Meanwhile, domestic issues have contributed to a drastic decrease in U.S. uranium production prompting U.S. Congressmen Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rob Bishop (R -Utah), and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), spoke of a “dying” industry in an op-ed for Fox News earlier this year.  

    Acknowledging the national security implications of the issue, earlier this summer, President Trump announced the formation of a “U.S. Nuclear Fuel Working Group” to conduct a “fuller analysis of national security considerations with respect to the entire nuclear fuel supply chain.” The findings of the working group are due soon, and it will be interesting to see what the recommendations to alleviate “America’s Uranium crisis” are going to be. 

    Moore and Mamula argue that — as non-supporters of trade protectionism they are unsure what the best solution to address the issue of imports coming from “nations that are not allies,” but one thing is certain, they argue:

    “The strategy of benign neglect is not working and must be replaced with a smart strategy that ensures reliable and affordable uranium for years to come.”

    ***

    To read the full piece, click here.

    For more context, see Ned Mamula’s series for Capital Research Center on “Uranium, an underappreciated energy source.”

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  • 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 [...]
  • 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, [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • U.S. Senator: “Our Energy Future Is Bright, But Only If We Recognize The World We Are In”

    As the tech wars over Rare Earths and other critical metals and minerals deepen, competition is heating up in another field of resource policy.  In a new piece for the Washington Times, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) discusses the new realities of a globalized energy market and the consequences associated with America’s declining nuclear energy [...]
  • As Tech War Deepens Over REEs, Australia Steps Up to the Plate

    As the trade war between China and the United States deepens, concern over access to Rare Earths and other critical minerals is spreading all over the world.  While the U.S. is taking steps aimed at increasing domestic REE supplies — most recently manifesting in the Trump Administration’s invocation of the 69-year-old Defense Production Act and [...]
  • ARPN Expert Panel Member on Strategic Metals Supply Chain in an Era of De-Globalization

    The trade war between China and the U.S., tensions between Russia and the West, the green energy transition — today’s political, geopolitical and economic pressures have significant implications for resource development. In a new piece on his blog, ARPN expert panel member and president of President of House Mountain Partners, LLC Chris Berry discusses “[t]he Strategic [...]
  • Materials Science Profiles of Progress: REE Extraction and Separation From Phosphoric Acid

    The tech war between China and the United States over who will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age is heating up. Earlier this week, China’s rare earth producers, who control the vast majority of global REE output, put out a statement declaring they are ready to “use their dominance of the industry as a weapon in [...]

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