American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 percent reliant on foreign sources, 24 came in part from [this country].”

    It is the big elephant in the global resource policy room: China. And its footprint is growing – as we recently outlined, in the Arctic, and in Africa. A recent comprehensive Financial Times piece by David Pilling outlines Beijing’s growing multifaceted involvement on the African continent. As Pilling writes: 

    “In the past 15 years, […] the level of engagement by Chinese state-owned enterprises, political leaders, diplomats and entrepreneurs has put centuries of previous contact in the shade.”

    China’s engagement ranges from loans over investments for construction of roads, ports and railways to involvement in peacekeeping missions. According to Pilling, who cites think tank figures, China-Africa trade has risen from a mere $10 billion to 220 billion since 2000, while China’s foreign direct investment stocks went up from just 2 per cent of US levels to 55 per cent. Meanwhile, about one-sixth of all loans to Africa come from China.

    Most recently, and not surprisingly, Cobalt – a critical component of EV battery technology – has been in the crosshairs of Chinese companies, which have purchased multibillion-dollar stakes in mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At 3,400,000 metric tons, the DRC is home to the world’s largest Cobalt reserve and roughly 62 percent of global refined Cobalt is sourced here.

    What does this mean for the rest of the world – and for the U.S. in particular? Writes Pilling:

    “The China-Africa relationship — partly spontaneous and partly the fruit of an orchestrated push from Beijing — is shifting the commercial and geopolitical axis of an entire continent that many western governments had all but given up on. While Europeans and Americans view Africa as a troubling source of instability, migration and terrorism — and, of course, precious minerals — China sees opportunity. Africa has oil, copper, cobalt and iron ore. It has markets for Chinese manufacturers and construction companies. And, perhaps least understood, it is a promising vehicle for Chinese geopolitical influence.”

    The global resource wars are continuing to heat up, but the U.S., for too long hamstrung by outdated policies and regulatory red tape, has been slow to even get off the starting block. There are indications this is changing, as evidenced by a current U.S. Commerce Department investigation into whether aluminum and steel imports from China and elsewhere constitute a threat to national security, among other things.

    As China continues its global quest for resources, now would be a good time for policy makers and stakeholders formulate a comprehensive U.S. mineral resource strategy our country has been sorely lacking. 


  • China and Brazil increase resource footprint in Africa

    Last month, the Huffington Post published a column discussing the growing footprint of two emerging powers in Africa – China and Brazil. China is a known quantity on the continent, and has been the “unequivocal leader in infrastructure development within Africa.” More recently, however, Brazil has accelerated its efforts and more than quadrupled investment to more than $20 billion over the past decade.

    China’s motive for its aggressive investment strategy is clear: it’s about access to the continent’s mineral riches. But while Brazilian resource companies (both fuel and non-fuel) are leading the loan, aid and infrastructure campaign, Julia Neyman, citing Financial Times’ Deputy Emerging Markets Editor Jonathan Wheatley, argues that Brazil’s “move is ‘less about commodities, more about new markets.’”

    Whatever the ultimate motivation, Neyman is on point when she says:

    “Not only does Africa provide a necessary platform to showcase China and Brazil’s advancements to other BRIC and G20 nations, but the continent itself serves as a strategic future investment. […] If and when African nations become more important players on the world stage, China and Brazil’s political positions will have been favorably cemented.”

    The interesting question is, where is the United States in this picture?

  • Global resource insecurity an issue that “should be on everyone’s radar screen”

    In yet another comprehensive piece for Resource Investor Aheadoftheherd.com host and Northern Venture Group President Rick Mills discusses the issue of global resource insecurity. Pointing out a long list of “serious concerns in regards to global resource extraction that we need to consider,” Mills’ piece zeroes in on costs, resource nationalism, civil unrest directed towards [...]
  • China’s African resource footprint continues to grow

    China’s aggressive pursuit of mineral resources around the globe continues with Africa being a “key destination for meeting China’s resource acquisitiveness,” according to a presentation given at the Coaltrans Southern Africa conference earlier this month. As outlined in an article on MiningWeekly.com, China’s quest for resources in Africa, which centers on oil, gold, platinum, copper, [...]
  • African mining conference proves resource race heating up

    An interesting article in a South African weekly discussing the upcoming African Mining Indaba, an annual conference now in its 18th year with the stated goal of bringing investors in to help fuel investment into African mining, caught our eye this week. With more than 6,500 delegates expected at this year’s Indaba, next month’s event [...]
  • Unlikely allies? China and India ink copper development deals

    In 2011, we saw a lot of countries enter into cooperative agreements to develop critical minerals.  This trend will likely continue this year, as nations that do not possess or develop some of the most sough-after metals and minerals are looking to secure future access and alleviate or stave off supply shortages. The last few [...]
  • With China taking the lead, global resource race heats up in Africa

    A lengthy piece in the Asia Times online edition discusses China’s ever-increasing footprint in Africa, arguing that this manifestation of China replacing the West as the “dominant economic and political force in Africa epitomizes the most dramatic shift in geopolitics since the collapse of the Soviet Union.” In its global quest for mineral resources, China [...]
  • Resource Wars: China and Brazil to Battle over Copper Deposits in Africa

    In what may become the most expensive diversified minerals takeover to-date, China and Brazil appear set to engage in a strategic battle over copper deposits in Africa, according to Bloomberg.  In line with China’s recent efforts to enlarge its footprint in Africa in its quest for natural resources, China’s Jinchuan Group is considering countering Rio de Janeiro-based Vale’s [...]
  • Russia to rethink prospecting policies in Africa?

    In yet another indication that a global race for resources is in full swing, this opinion piece carried by the Russian news agency Ria Novosti suggests that Russia, a generally resource-rich country, should rethink its long-held position that prospecting for minerals outside its own territory is not necessary.  According to the author, Africa, another area [...]