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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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 aggression, guided by its strategic industrial policies and vulnerabilities and gaps in America’s manufacturing and defense industrial base.”

    From a materials point of view, the Rare Earths segment may still stand as the best illustration of Chinese hegemonic ambitions in the resource realm, though a look at Chinese attempts to jockey for pole position in the battery space is equally telling. (In both cases, however, friends of ARPN will appreciate that it’s easier to achieve hegemony when your competitor, as in the U.S.’s case, doesn’t prioritize resource production.)

    From a geographic perspective, the Arctic region has increasingly emerged as a central theater for Chinese resource war games. Having obtained observer status to the Arctic Council in 2013, China has stepped up its activity in (and relating to) the Arctic circle region in recent years. In 2017, a document released by the Chinese regime outlined the incorporation of the Arctic into its “new Silk Road Strategy,” with increased diplomacy and investment in the region, while a white paper released this January further emphasized the “importance of economic and scientific development in the Arctic strategy.” China has also participated in various governance and rule-making processes for ship operation and fishing in the region outside the umbrella of the Arctic Council.

    Most recently, the Chinese government announced the launch of a new polar icebreaker, Snow Dragon 2.  While framed as “scientific research into polar ice coverage, environmental conditions and biological resources,” Harriet Moynihan, writing for Chatham House, says that “[i]t has not gone unnoticed, though, that China’s new icebreakers are also useful in testing the feasibility of moving cargo across the Arctic. China’s plans for a Polar Silk Road, as part of its ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, include developing Arctic shipping routes.”

    Meanwhile, observers worry that recent U.S. disagreements with Greenland over Thule Air Base, located in the northwestern part of Greenland and home to the 821st Air Base Group, “could open the door for Beijing to swoop in and further realize its Arctic ambitions, according to Greenland media.” Against this backdrop, the growing realization on the part of U.S. stakeholders that the global race for the metals and minerals fueling 21st Century technology and our everyday lives is heating up – as evidenced by DoD’s Defense Industrial Base Report is not only welcome, it is necessary.

    As retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John Adams wrote for The Hill last week, the “threat of China’s strategy isn’t new, but the results of China’s now decades-long planning and execution is,” and “shocking import dependence on minerals and metals [from China] is merely a microcosm of the problem.”The obvious answer to this growing challenge is a “comprehensive approach to U.S.competitiveness” and resource policy as a whole.  Here’s hoping that once we leave the dust settles after this week’s midterm Congressional elections, policy makers are able to focus on the necessary reforms.  As we’ve argued before — China will not wait for us to get our resource house in order.

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  • ARPN’s McGroarty for The Hill: With USMCA, Time to Take Strategic North American Alliance to the Next Level Has Arrived

    “Now that President Trump has won agreement to replace NAFTA with the USMCA — the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement — he has an opportunity to build on that accomplishment, and broaden the benefits of trade to strengthen national security,” writes ARPN Principal Daniel McGroarty in a new op-ed for The Hill.

    The next step, says McGroarty, would be the harnessing of “all the resources in North America, the full critical mineral and metals supply chains, to take manufacturing to a new level, and safeguard access to raw materials that are integral to the defense industrial base.”

    His assessment follows on the heels of the just-released Defense Industrial Base Report the classified version of which details almost 300 defense supply chain vulnerabilities and sounds the alarm on our over-reliance on foreign – and mostly Chinese – mineral resources, which represents a “significant and growing risk to the supply of materials deemed strategic and critical to U.S. national security.”

    McGroarty outlines three immediate steps the United States should take to alleviate these risks:

    1. Revitalizing the National Technology Industrial Base (NTIB) between the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia,
    2. signing USMCA Critical Mineral Defense Supply Chain Agreements to create a “North American common front on critical minerals” which harnesses “cross-border collaboration on critical mineral production and advanced materials processing;” and
    3. ending the aluminum and steel tariffs on our USMCA partners to ensure that “the U.S. defense supply chain is once again fully integrated across North America” and to reaffirm the importance of an integrated U.S.-Canadian Defense Industrial Base which rests on nearly 80 years of deep defense cooperation.

    These steps, he says, are “essential if the U.S. is to counter China’s economic aggression.”

    The question is, will stakeholders use the momentum generated by the new trade agreement to “take the strategic North American alliance to a new level?

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  • A View From Across the Pond: European Resource Policy Through the Prism of a Low-Carbon Vision

    The recently-released Defense Industrial Base study, which once more has underscored the need for a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. resource policy, directed its focus on U.S. competitiveness primarily vis-à-vis 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 [...]
  • ARPN Expert Panel Member: Defense Industrial Base Report “A Significant Step Forward for the U.S. Military”

    With the long-awaited Defense Industrial Base report finally released, analysts have begun pouring over the 146-pages-long document. One of the first issue experts to offer commentary in a national publication was Jeff Green, president of Washington, D.C.-based government relations firm J.A. Green & Company, and member of the ARPN panel of experts. Writing for Defense [...]
  • Exemptions from U.S. China-directed Tariff List Speak to “Strategic Vulnerabilities” in Resource Realm

    Last month, we highlighted how the exclusion of Rare Earths from the list of tariffs to be imposed on Chinese goods released by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) earlier this summer spoke to the growing awareness of their strategic importance in the United States. However, Rare Earths were not the only items [...]
  • REEs Back in Spotlight as Growing Awareness of Strategic Importance Has Trade Officials Remove Them From Tariff Target List 

    After a few years of relative quiet, Rare Earth Elements are back in the spotlight. Initially a target included on a provisional list of tariffs to be imposed on Chinese goods released by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) earlier this summer, Rare Earth metals and their compounds have been excluded from the [...]
  • ARPN Expert: To Counter China’s Mineral Resource Dominance, U.S. Apathy About Critical Minerals Must End  

    Followers of ARPN know that China is the big elephant in the room when it comes to the United States’ critical mineral resource supply issues.  As ARPN expert panel member Ned Mamula, an adjunct scholar in geosciences at the Center for the Study of Science, Cato Institute, and “Rare Mettle” author Ann Bridges write in [...]
  • A Non-Flashy Yet Essential Critical Mineral – Barite   

    If you haven’t had of Barite, you’re excused – even for avid followers of ARPN Barite is not among the first that come to mind of when you think of critical minerals. It has, however, attained that status with its inclusion in the Department of Interior’s list of 35 metals and minerals considered critical to [...]
  • While Some Reforms Fizzled, Enacted NDAA Contains Potentially Precedent-Setting REE Sourcing Provision

    As we have noted, the recently-signed John S. McCain (may he rest in peace) National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (H.R. 5515), stands as a missed opportunity to enact several meaningful mineral resource policy reforms. Nonetheless, one provision of the signed legislation marks an important development for the realm of resource policy – [...]
  • 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 [...]

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