American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 legal independence from Denmark.

    A separate decision to award London Mining PLC a thirty-year license to build and run a giant ore mine ties into the same overall context of attempting to “wean Greenland from Danish economic support,” and turning to new partners, including China – as evidenced by the fact that London Mining PLC is a British company that has worked with Chinese industry in the past.

    Not surprisingly, Investor Intel’s Robin Bromby has taken a closer look at China’s involvement in Greenland, which as we have argued, seems to see the territory as its key point of access to the Arctic’s vast mineral riches. Retracing a series of events that all but confirm China’s serious interest in opening that door to the Arctic (including its recent ascension to observer status on the Arctic council), Bromby says:

    “So this week we see a news report that says ‘China agreed with the Arctic Council that development in the Arctic region should abide by local regulations and environmental requirements, according to a senior official. China pledged to make a greater contribution through its new official observer role in the council, Jia Guide, deputy director-general with the Department of Treaty and Law under China’s Foreign Ministry, said Tuesday.’

    The Xinhua news agency quoted Jia saying “resource development in the Arctic was a possibility, but not a priority for China,”

    Oh really?

    It was diplomatic of Jia, speaking in Whitehorse, and then his stressing how important environmental protection was to his country.

    So we have [to] wait and see.”

    Indeed we will. The lifting of the mining ban is only a first step, and other laws may still have to be changed before any REE development can occur. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to expect that the above-referenced decisions will add some spark to the race for Arctic riches.

    As ARPN’s Dan McGroarty has argued, the United States’ claim to the Arctic comes via Alaska. His call to action from a few years back becomes all the more relevant as more and more players show up at the Arctic circle:

    “For the U.S., our Arctic claims come via Alaska – a.k.a. Seward’s Folly, and perhaps the best $7.2 million ever spent by the U.S. Government. Across a range of metals and minerals, expect Alaska – and by extension, our Arctic claims – to play a key role in resource supply in the 21st century. Forget the folly: let’s make that William Seward, futurist.”

    As indicated in a recent outline of the state of mining operations in Alaska by ARPN expert Curt Freeman, there is plenty of potential in The Last Frontier. Now more than ever would be a good time to unleash it.

  • Antarctic mineral riches in the cross-hairs of resource wars

    The global race for resources has countries look for new ways to meet their mineral resource needs. We’re now used to seeing headlines about mineral riches in the Arctic, beneath the ocean seabed, and even asteroid mining. The latest region in the cross-hairs is Antarctica, with – you guessed it – China aggressively pursuing its interests in the region.

    Though the area is technically off-limits for mining under the Antarctic Treaty, experts say there is increasing pressure to change the policy and the ban may be overturned within decades.

    A familiar occurrence around the globe, China is enlarging its footprint in the region, and has stepped up investment in Antarctica from $20 million in 2003 to $55 million in 2012. There is also speculation whether the country is looking to “expand its presence from three to four permanent bases on the ice.”

    Expect the debate over the Antarctic riches – which are said to comprise copper, coal, chromium and natural gas, as well as iron ore – to heat up, and other nations stake their claims should the mining ban get close to being overturned.

    While Antarctic mining is not a near-term scenario, the United States should use these developments in the Southern hemisphere as impetus to step up and formulate a coherent and comprehensive critical mineral strategy, as the rest of the world won’t wait for us to get off the starting block in the global race for resources.

    A first important step in that direction may have been made with the launch of DoE’s new critical minerals research hub, but a broad inter-departmental approach is needed for the sake of our strategic and economic future.

  • The Arctic: a region in the crosshairs of mining interests

    E&E reporter Manuel Quinones explores U.S. mining interests in the Arctic and related geopolitical and legal issues in a piece for GreenWire. Portraying the region as a hotbed of territorial disputes precisely because of its mineral potential, Quinones quotes American Resources principal Daniel McGroarty, who points to the pivotal role Alaska can and must play [...]
  • The race for Arctic riches – Enter Korea

    The race for Arctic riches is getting more crowded, with another player throwing its hat into the ring via Greenland as point of entry. According to a Reuters news story, a Korean state-owned company has inked an agreement with a Greenland mining firm “to seek opportunities for joint minerals projects, exploiting deposits of rare earths [...]
  • Resource Wars: EU zeros in on Arctic mineral riches

    While many of us in the continental U.S. are enjoying record-breaking temperatures this March, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton probably needed her down coat as she embarked on her new mission: laying the groundwork for a common EU policy on the Arctic. Traveling near the North Pole earlier this month, Ashton made a case [...]
  • A new dimension of Resource Wars – China throws hat into Arctic ring

    Having intensified over the past few months with Russia reportedly willing to risk a new “Cold War” over the area’s vast resources, the geopolitics of the Arctic’s race for mineral riches has just been elevated to a whole new level with China having thrown its hat into the ring. According to the Wall Street Journal’s [...]
  • The race for Arctic riches

    A handful of countries situated near the top of the world are racing to firm up their territorial claims to untold amounts of oil, natural gas, gold, zinc, copper and other metals. A new piece from the U.K. Guardian highlights this renewed scramble for resource rights beneath the Arctic icecap. I treated this story in [...]