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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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  • McGroarty for the Economic Standard: In the Arctic Resource Wars, Greenland is a Hot Property

    In a new piece for The Economic Standard, ARPN’s Dan McGroarty puts the current controversy over President Trump’s quip about wanting to buy Greenland from Denmark in context.

    Invoking President Truman’s offer to purchase Greenland in 1946 as well as Secretary of State William Henry Seward’s 1867 purchase of Alaska — for which he received much ridicule at the time (hence the term Seward’s Folly) — McGroarty argues that while “[a]pparently there’s something in the subject of Arctic land purchases that encourages levity” (…) “[t]here shouldn’t be.”

    He recounts how Denmark came to control Greenland in the first place and explains why it has turned into a hot commodity (pun intended):

    “the result of imperial expeditions that led to declarations of Danish sovereignty in the early 1800’s.  As for buying Greenland, there’s no evidence the indigenous Inuit of that day were compensated.

    Today’s interest in Greenland is what’s beneath the ever-shrinking icecap, as Earth’s temperature warms:  Known resources of at least eight metals and minerals – taken as individual elements, including the rare earths (REEs) and platinum group metals, that’s 29 elements in all, nearly 1/3 of the naturally-occurring elements in the Periodic Table.  That gives Greenland, soon or sometime in the future, a foothold as a major metals supplier to the 21st Century Tech Revolution.

    And while the U.S. most emphatically may not be purchasing Greenland, that’s not to say other interested parties aren’t already buying up strategic bits of real estate.”

    McGroarty goes on to give examples of China’s “economic diplomacy” in Greenland, a topic we previously explored on our blog as well. His conclusion underscores the significance of the region and the need for more active engagement.

    “In other words, Greenland may not be for sale, but its resource riches surely are.  From Truman’s offer to Trump’s Tweets, Greenland is a hot property.  Surely, Secretary Seward would have understood.”

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  • Greenland at the Heart of Resource Race in 21st Century Tech War

    While a deal is not likely to happen, and some question whether the comment was more quip than opening offer, President Trump’s recent interest in buying Greenland from Denmark has done one thing: bring Greenland and the Arctic into focus.   The President’s suggestion has been ridiculed by many, but from a strategic perspective — [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Space Force Plans Raise the Stakes to Overhaul U.S. Mineral Resource Policy

    Last week, the U.S. Government outlined plans to establish a sixth military branch – the United States Space Force.   According to Vice President Mike Pence, who announced the plans during a speech at the Pentagon, the new force would be led by a four-star commander, and funding in the federal budget would begin for [...]
  • Rare Earths Issue Back in the Mix As Trade Tensions With China Escalate

    At ARPN, we have long highlighted the inter-relationship between resource policy and trade policy. While more recently, we looked at tensions in our relationship with Canada over tariffs on aluminum and steel, other areas of concern are coming into focus. Mounting tensions over trade with China have brought the Rare Earths issue, with which ARPN [...]
  • America’s Critical Mineral Issues are Largely Home-Grown

    A recent commentary piece by Printus LeBlanc, contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government, draws attention to the home-grown nature of America’s critical mineral resource issues and their geo-political context. LeBlanc sets the stage using the example of a relatively unknown Chinese phone company becoming the focus of Congressional concern because the Administration was in [...]
  • USGS Scholars Provide Insights into Resource Interdependency and Conflict Potential in New Study

    The advances in materials science have been fundamentally transforming the way we look at metals and minerals – both from a usage, as well as a supply and demand perspective.  With that, the nature of potential resource conflict has also changed. As USGS National Minerals Information Center scholars Andrew L. Gulleya, Nedal T. Nassar,  and [...]
  • 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 [...]

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