American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Japan continues to diversify its REE suppliers with imports from Kazakhstan

    Against the backdrop of mounting tensions in the territorial dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Japan has recently been stepping up its efforts to diversify the sources of its mineral resource supply.

    Japan-based Sumitomo Corporation will import Rare Earths from Kazakhstan, according to the website Finance GreenWatch. With the backing of the Japanese government, which will also provide financial support, the company has formed a joint venture called Summit Atom Rare Earth Company LLP (SARECO) with Kazakhstan’s National Atomic Company Kazatoprom. Established in May 2010, the joint venture completed construction and opened its first factory earlier this month.

    Sources expect that roughly 1,500 tons of REEs will enter Japan per year, which accounts for 7.5 percent of annual demand, which currently is about 20,000 tons.

    Heavily dependent on especially heavy REEs from China, the Japanese government started negotiations including Australia and India, after China temporarily suspended exports to the country in 2010. The flare-up of territorial tensions in the East China Sea has provided new impetus for Japan to “lessen the diplomatic pressure China is able to exert due to its possession of natural resources.”

    As the East China Sea, Africa, the Arctic, and other parts of the world increasingly turn into geopolitical battlefields of the global resource wars, the big question is: What (if any) is the United States’ mineral resource strategy? Hopefully the issue will be addressed and resolved after the dust of the Presidential elections has settled – our manufacturing base depends on it.

  • European Union seeks close cooperation with Greenland to fulfill resource needs

    In an effort to secure access to critical metals and minerals for its industries, European Commission representatives Antonio Tajani (Vice President), and Andris Piebalgs (Commisisoner for Development Cooperation) have signed a letter of intent on cooperation with Greenland’s Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist.

    The June 13 letter of intent covers cooperation in the areas of joint infrastructure development and investment, as well as capacity building in the exploration and development of mineral materials, according to a European Commission news release, which also points out that:

    •58 % of exploration companies currently operating in Greenland are Canadian or Australian, and only 15% are European companies.

    •These companies at present only have very limited involvement in on-going exploration activities and own only a few exploration licenses.

    •With industries within the European Union highly dependent on imported raw materials, and Greenland’s vast mineral riches (iron, zinc, niobium, tantalum, rare earths, rubies, and molybdenum) and geostrategic position, Greenland is an important “strategic partner in the long term.”

    Having identified a list of 14 metals and minerals as critical raw materials based on several risk factors in its “Raw Materials Strategy” from 2010, the European Commission is hopeful that closer cooperation with Greenland will be beneficial in particular as Greenland has “an especially strong potential in six of the fourteen critical raw materials identified by the European Commission (niobium, platinum group metals, rare earths and tantalum).”

    While other global players are already implementing their overhauled mineral strategies reflecting new geopolitical realities, the U.S. has yet to formulate its own strategy. Unfortunately, as the new American Resources Critical Metals report points out, U.S. government agencies can’t even agree on a definition of what constitutes a critical mineral – which does not bode well for a strategic overhaul that is long overdue.

  • The Geography and Geopolitics of Copper Mining

    As we’re kicking off week two of “Copper Month” at American Resources, here’s a look at the geography at global copper mining, and the geopolitical challenges that arise from it.  According to the USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, most of the world’s copper is mined in Chile, Peru, and China. The U.S. ranks fourth, but domestic [...]
  • Aware the days of its near-monopoly are numbered, China leverages REE stranglehold to lure foreign business

    The New York Times’ Keith Bradshear has taken a closer look at foreign manufacturers moving their production sites into China in an effort to mitigate reduced access to and increased cost for REEs – a development we covered on our blog here and here. The article underscores that rather than acting out of environmental concerns, [...]
  • China discovers world’s second largest molybdenum deposit

    Chinadaily.com.cn reports that China has discovered its largest molybdenum deposit to-date in the East-Chinese province of Anhui.   At 2.2 million tons, the discovered deposits have a mining life of more than one hundred years and constitute the second largest known quantity of minable molybdenum with the world’s largest mine being the Climax Mine in Colorado. [...]
  • What makes it whirl? The commonalities of vacuums and geopolitics

    As you vacuum your house, you’re probably not thinking too much about the United States’ over-reliance on foreign mineral resources.  Here’s why maybe you should: Ever wonder what makes your Dyson DC 31 handheld vacuum cleaner whirl? You may be surprised to hear that the answer is rare earths. Five times faster than a racing [...]
  • Mozambique find underscores geopolitics of global race for resources

    According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Globe Metals and Mining has discovered significant rare earths deposits at its exploration site Mount Muambe in Mozambique. This positive exploration result will likely further strengthen China’s quasi-monopoly position when it comes to rare earths, as the Chinese state-owned East China Minerals Exploration and Development Bureau only two months [...]