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American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.
  • Green: Over-reliance on Foreign Mineral Imports “Fiscally Foolish and Politically Dangerous”

    In a new piece for The Hill, member of the ARPN expert panel and president and founder of Washington, DC-based government relations firm J.A.Green & Company Jeff A. Green stresses the national security risks associated with our over-reliance on foreign sources of supply for key mineral resources.

    Citing FBI Director Christopher Wray, who recently told Congress that China is seeking to undermine the United States’ military, economic, cultural and information power across the globe, Green argues that

    “[a] major contributor to China’s rising power, and one of its primary trade weapons, is its near-monopoly over several minerals and materials that the United States military relies on to maintain its technological edge.”

    As Green points out, our mineral resource dependencies have grown significantly over the last few decades, and the risk of supply chain disruptions looms large:

    “Given the nation’s increased foreign dependence, adversarial nations that provide these minerals, such as China and Russia, have gained geopolitical leverage at exactly the wrong time. Russia now poses a national security threat across multiple domains, and China has demonstrated an “impressive military buildup…across almost every domain,” according to the head of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris.

    And yet, as of 2017 China was still a major supplier of 26 commodities to the United States that are essential for aerospace and defense applications. Given that the United States possesses mineral reserves worth $6.2 trillion, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), continuing to rely on imports is fiscally foolish and politically dangerous.”

    Green commends the administration for taking steps that begin to address the issue, and cites various executive orders and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s draft list of 35 minerals that are considered essential to U.S. National Security.

    Meanwhile, he argues, the U.S. Congress has so far missed opportunities to enact legislation that would address one of the key obstacles to domestic mineral resource development – an outdated and convoluted permitting structure.  Rep. Mark Amodei’s (R, Nev.) “National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act,” and Sen. Dean Heller’s (R, Nev.) identical Senate bill would “remove a significant barrier to entry, and expedite the mining permit process to no more than 30 months,” but so far, Congress has failed to take steps to pass these bills.  Writes Green:

    “The White House, through its executive orders, has shown that it understands the risks of the current, laborious mine permitting system in the United States, and recognizes the potential rewards for encouraging new sources of critical materials. Whether through Amodei’s bill or another mechanism, Congress should also act to mitigate these risks and encourage new efforts.” 

    To read the full piece, click here.

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  • The Arctic – A Looming Battlefield for Resource Supremacy?

    While relations between Russia and the United States continue to make headlines on a daily basis, one particular aspect of this relationship – in spite of the fact that it may be one of the most contentious ones – has been largely flying under the radar.

    As Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin recently wrote:

    “The next battle for supremacy between the U.S. and Russia is shaping up to be a lot chillier than the last Cold War with the Soviet superpower.”

    Griffin’s temperature reference invokes the geographic location of the site of contention rather than the intensity of the looming “battle” – the Arctic.  And while said “battle” will likely not escalate into actual warfare, stakeholders would be well advised to pay closer attention to what is happening to our North, as it is currently the site of “the focus of a resource grab by Russia and China.”

    Just last month, the Russian defense ministry invited visitors to its website to take a “visual tour” of its new military base in Franz Josef Land, a huge remote archipelago in the Arctic which President Vladimir Putin visited in March of this year.  The base is the second Arctic one built in the Putin era, with the Russian military planning the installation of four additional military bases in region in the coming years.

    While Russia has been flexing its military muscle in the resource-rich Arctic, which it sees as a key strategic location - all while touting peaceful cooperation on the diplomacy front – China, notwithstanding its cartographical lack of an Arctic footprint, has also made a foray into the region over the past few years.

    According to the country’s State Oceanic Administration, China, which considers itself a “near-Arctic state,” views the region as holding “the inherited wealth of all humankind.”  Consequently, China has not only sought, and in 2013 secured, permanent observer status on the Arctic Council, but has also stepped up investment and diplomacy in the region, with Chinese President Xi Jinping incorporating two Arctic stopovers – one in Finland and one in Alaska – into his trip to the United States to meet with President Trump this spring.

    These moves, coupled with the normalization of previously icy relations between China and Norway, and a free trade agreement between Iceland and China, have led professors at Tsinghua University to conclude that “Bejing’s [new Silk Road] strategy does not stop at belt and road”, and rather includes “One belt, one road, and one circle,” with the circle referring to the Arctic circle.

    Meanwhile, the United States is “woefully behind” in the Arctic race, as former Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp, who served as the State Department’s special representative to the Arctic, recently told Fox News, adding that:

    “We’ve got our minds on a lot of other things around the world, and we’re not focused on the Arctic. (…) Russia, on the other hand, is very connected. It’s part of their culture. They appreciate the riches, the oil and gas reserves that they have along that very long coastline, and they are looking to exploit it for their own prosperity.”

    China is obviously looking to do the same.

    As ARPN’s Dan McGroarty previously pointed out, the United States’ claim to the Arctic comes via Alaska, and what he said a few years ago, is perhaps even more pertinent today:

    “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.”

    In this context, one can only hope that the recent settlement between the EPA and the Pebble Partnership over the Pebble Deposit in Alaska – albeit years overdue – will be part of a growing realization that it is time to assertively stake the United States’ claim in the Arctic and near-Arctic environs.  The other players have made it clear that they will not wait for us.

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  • Through the Gateway: The Geopolitics of Co-Product Supply – a Look at Scandium

    Throughout ARPN’s work, we have consistently highlighted the geopolitical dimension of mineral resource policy.  Where we source (or fail to source) our metals and minerals is an often forgotten – or ignored – factor, with implications for our domestic manufacturers, and, at times, even for our national security. Case in point – and in keeping [...]
  • Ukraine, Food Security, and Russia’s Imperial Reset

    American Resources readers will want to see what ARPN expert Chris Berry has to say about the potash sector in light of recent events in Ukraine. Now that Ukraine, formerly known as the “breadbasket of the Soviet Union,” has lost Crimea to the Russian Federation as Russian forces mass along its border, it’s time to [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Critical metals take center stage in border dispute: The Kuril Islands and Rhenium

    According to a recent article in the Russian daily Pravda, Russia finds itself locked in a territorial dispute that is becoming increasingly acute. The conflict over the group of four islands, which Russia calls the “Southern Kurils” and Japan calls the “Northern Territories, is the reason why Japan and Russia never signed a peace treaty [...]
  • 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 [...]
  • Supply, Demand, and the March of Science

    Just when American Resources has read its thousandth story on companies substituting around scare metals like the Rare Earths to reduce usage, along comes this Platts report on a new discovery in Russia’s RUSAL research labs, working in conjunction with a team from the Siberian Federal University.  Scientists there have fabricated a new aluminum alloy [...]
  • Strategic Metals Flashback – or Flash Forward?

    Our Director of Research, Sandra Wirtz, unearthed this piece from the Time Magazine online archives  – “Strategic Metal: #1,” dateline October 13, 1941 – just weeks before Pearl Harbor.  It inspired me to do a little research on my own, with an eye toward our present-day approach to strategic metals. With war raging in Europe, [...]
  • Mongolia Weighs its Resource Options

    History is typically difficult to see up close, but it’s possible that resources are sparking a great geo-political reordering on par with the mass discoveries of oil that made the Middle East a rising economic power the mid-20th Century.  Witness the country of Mongolia, a geo-political pawn for much of the last hundred years, but [...]

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