-->
American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • 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.”

    Share
  • 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 — unlikely as it may be to see a “For Sale” sign planted on the Greenland coast — Greenland’s resource value is significant.

    Unbeknownst to many because outside the media limelight, the Arctic has been one of the sites of looming battles and territorial disputes in the resource war theater, with both China and Russia having stepped up their activities in (and relating to) the Arctic circle region in recent years.  The U.S. is beginning to realize the significance of the region and the need for more active engagement. 

    As Mark Rosen writes for the National Interest, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s open Challenge of Chinese and Russian Arctic intentions at the May 2019 Arctic Council Meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland “marked a dramatic rhetorical shift in the usual diplomatic line that the United States regarded the Arctic as a venue for cooperation and research and that climate change is the clear and present danger to Arctic security. Climate change unquestionably is altering the Arctic landscape and will have long term effects. However, Pompeo’s statement was a significant expansion of the warning by former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the United States is ‘late to the game’ in the Arctic and needs to start making policy, security, and economic investments in the Arctic or be left on the sidelines.”

    China, with no territorial presence in the Arctic, obtained observer status to the Arctic Council in 2013, and has since included the Arctic into its “new Silk Road Strategy,”with increased diplomacy and investment in the region. 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.  And while China’s launch of its first domestically built polar ice breaker — Snow Dragon 2 was delivered earlier last month — was framed as enabling “scientific research into polar ice coverage, environmental conditions and biological resources,” observers have pointed out that the icebreakers are also “useful in testing the feasibility of moving cargo across the Arctic,” as “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.

    And then there’s Russia.  As David Carlin observes for Forbes, “[m]any nations have recognized the potential of the Arctic, but few have proceeded as boldly as Russia. The Russian economy derives nearly 20% of its GDP from activities in the Arctic. Russia has defended this investment by increasing its military commitments. Old Soviet Arctic bases are being upgraded and reequipped by Russian forces.” 

    Against the backdrop of increasing tension between Russia and the West, and the United States and China, the Arctic’s strategic relevance is increasing, and Greenland — where vast veins of ores and minerals ranging from Rare Earths, Niobium, Tungsten and Antimony to Chromium, Platinum Group Metals, Graphite and Cobalt have been found (in other words, roughly one-quarter of the U.S. Critical Minerals List) — factors big into countries’ decisions to engage in the Arctic.  

    The resource race in the Arctic is a manifestation of the tech war over who will dominate the 21st Century Technology Age.   Regardless of whether or not a Greenland deal is a realistic scenario, what is important here is that U.S. stakeholders are beginning to realize the need to assertively stake the United States’ claim in the Arctic and near-Arctic environs.  The other players — those with Arctic territory, and others, like China, with Arctic interests — have made it clear that they will not wait for us.

    Share
  • 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 [...]
  • USGS Report Bellwether for National Security Crisis?

    For over two decades, the United States Geological Survey has released its Mineral Commodity Summaries report.  And while ARPN followers will know how important this publication is, as it provides a snapshot of our nation’s mineral resource dependencies, in most years its release has gone largely unnoticed beyond the circles of mineral resource wonks. This year, a [...]

Archives