Archive | Nickel/Metals/ War – Geopolitical Flashpoints

The US needs to rebuild the defense industrial base – by John Adams (The Hill – October 29, 2018)

Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. John Adams served more than 30 years in command and staff assignments as an Army aviator, military intelligence officer and foreign area officer in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He is president of Guardian Six Consulting.

This month the Pentagon finally released a long-awaited report on the health of the nation’s defense industrial base. The findings were startling. Once the nation’s strength – in fact a war winner – our defense industrial base now faces an “unprecedented set of challenges.”

The report is a clear sign we need to act urgently. Just when we should be retooling for renewed great power competition, the very foundation from which we project strength is crumbling.

While the report identified five major challenges to our defense industrial base, all in need of dedicated attention, one challenge in particular – the aggressive industrial policies of competitor nations, particularly China – should cause heightened alarm. Continue Reading →

New Cold War arrives in Papua New Guinea – by Alan Boyd (Asia Times – November 6, 2018)

Australia outpaced China for a deal to develop PNG’s Lombrum naval base, a strategic facility that will bolster Canberra’s power projection in the South Pacific and South China Sea

Australian naval vessels have arrived in Papua New Guinea to protect leaders at a summit of Pacific Rim nations next week, giving a foretaste of the newly elevated defense relationship between the two neighbors.

Defense officials confirmed that Australia’s helicopter docking ship HMAS Adelaide is now off Papua New Guinea’s capital of Port Moresby, accompanied by two patrol boats. They will provide security for cruise ships tethered in the harbor that will house delegates to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering.

Australian special forces troops have been in Papua New Guinea for two months preparing security measures around facilities for the November 17-18 summit, which will be attended by US Vice President Mike Pence, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of 18 other countries. Continue Reading →

Depending on the enemy: The U.S. calls for new supply strategies to meet economic and defence risks – by Greg Klein (Resource Clips – October 10, 2018)

The goal might be summed up by a new slogan: Make America Self-Reliant Again. Or, with a tad less concision: Let’s Stop Relying on an Economic Rival that’s a Potential Military Threat for the Stuff We Need to Compete with an Economic Rival that’s a Potential Military Threat.

A newly released study from the U.S. Secretary of Defense illustrates that absurd dilemma. The dependency runs the gamut from sourcing raw materials to refining them, manufacturing key components, developing R&D, training workers, even setting prices. As the report says, “The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers.

It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model—gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.” Continue Reading →

US defense sector braces for Trump tariff fallout – by Joe Gould and Aaron Mehta (Defense News – May 31, 2018)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s announcement that it will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe, Mexico and Canada may hurt America‘s defense sector and imperil domestic jobs, analysts warn.

The tariffs, which will impose a 25 percent surcharge on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, will go into effect Friday, as the administration follows through on the penalties after earlier granting exemptions to buy time for negotiations. U.S. President Donald Trump announced the tariffs in March, citing national security concerns.

Europe and Mexico pledged to retaliate, exacerbating trans-Atlantic and North American trade tensions. The European Commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, said Trump’s decision amounted to trade “protectionism, pure and simple,” adding that Europe would respond with countermeasures. Continue Reading →

China unveils vision for ‘Polar Silk Road’ across Arctic (Reuters Canada – January 26, 2018)

BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Friday outlined its ambitions to extend President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming.

Releasing its first official Arctic policy white paper, China said it would encourage enterprises to build infrastructure and conduct commercial trial voyages, paving the way for Arctic shipping routes that would form a “Polar Silk Road”.

“China hopes to work with all parties to build a ‘Polar Silk Road’ through developing the Arctic shipping routes,” the paper, issued by the State Council Information Office, said. Continue Reading →

As Afghanistan’s Mining Race Stalls, the Taliban and ISIS Tap Into Illegal Mines – by Matthew C. DuPée (World Politics Review – January 5, 2018)

Afghanistan has some of the richest mineral deposits in the world, but extracting them has proven difficult amid years of instability and war. There were modest signs of improvement in 2017, most notably the Afghan government’s ability to manage and report its earnings from mining royalties and taxes, which it couldn’t do much at all a few years ago.

But challenges remain to attract more meaningful foreign investment and capitalize on the country’s resources. The Afghan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum reported earning approximately $86 million in revenues in 2017, $19 million more than it reported earning in 2016. Yet no new major contracts were signed in 2017.

The government in Kabul has long viewed the natural resources contained beneath Afghanistan’s mountains and deserts, estimated to be worth as much as $1 trillion to $3 trillion, as a potential economic panacea. But an array of problems beyond the country’s war—corruption, inadequate infrastructure, legal uncertainty, illegal mining and wavering investors—has diminished hopes for Afghanistan’s mining potential. Continue Reading →

Opinion: The rise and fall of great powers – by Andrew Preston (Globe and Mail – December 30, 2017)

Andrew Preston is a professor of American history at the University of Cambridge.

Conventional wisdom suggests the U.S. is in decline, and a rising China will replace it as the world’s superpower. But how realistic is this?

With the world on edge about North Korea, the U.S. President did what he usually does in these situations: flex America’s muscles. In October, Donald Trump deployed three aircraft-carrier groups to the western Pacific, under the command of the U.S. Navy’s mighty 7th Fleet.

Based in Japan, the 7th Fleet is more powerful than many national navies. Once again, the U.S. military was acting as the world’s cop, there to reassure the locals that criminals will be kept in check and that their neighbourhood will remain safe.

The 7th Fleet has had a difficult year, however: Since January, it’s suffered six crashes, five involving ships and one involving a navy transport plane. These incidents didn’t result from engagements with enemy forces, but from accidental collisions with less-menacing vessels: a fishing trawler, a merchant ship, an oil tanker and a tugboat. In one incident, a U.S. warship simply ran aground off the coast of Japan. The Seventh Fleet’s commander has been summarily dismissed. Continue Reading →

Trump: Break Chinese, Russian stranglehold over mineral supplies – by John Siciliano (Washington Examiner – December 20, 2017)

President Trump ordered the U.S. military and the Interior Department to take immediate action to “break” the nation’s dependence on Russian and Chinese supplies of critical minerals as a matter of national security.

“This dependency of the United States on foreign sources creates a strategic vulnerability for both its economy and military to adverse foreign government action, natural disaster, and other events that can disrupt supply of these key minerals,” read an executive order signed by the president on Wednesday.

The order explained that the U.S. has the resources to end the unnecessary dependence on foreign sources of minerals, but must provide its miners with information necessary to begin mining and exploration of critical mineral deposits. This data would include new topography maps and other information on where the largest deposits of critical minerals can be found. Continue Reading →

Zinke wants to expand critical minerals production, saying: ‘We are vulnerable as a nation’ – by Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post – December 19, 2017)

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke launched a push Tuesday to expand critical minerals production in the United States, saying “we are vulnerable as a nation” because we rely so heavily on imports from China.

The move comes as the U.S. Geological Survey published its first assessment of the country’s critical minerals resources since 1973, an analysis the agency began in 2013. The report concludes that 20 out of the 23 critical minerals the nation relies on are sourced from China.

“It is time for the U.S. to take a leading position,” Zinke told reporters at a briefing. “And it’s not that we don’t have the minerals in the U.S. It’s likely we do.” Continue Reading →

U.S. sees foreign reliance for ‘critical’ minerals as security concern – by Valerie Volcovici (Reuters U.K. – December 19, 2017)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States needs to encourage domestic production of a handful of minerals critical for the technology and defense industries, and stem reliance on China, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said on Tuesday.

Zinke made the remarks at the Interior Department as he unveiled a report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which detailed the extent to which the United States is dependent upon foreign competitors for its supply of certain minerals.

The report identified 23 out of 88 minerals that are priorities for U.S. national defense and the economy because they are components in products ranging from batteries to military equipment. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Critical Minerals of the United States (December 19, 2017)

It would be no exaggeration to say that without minerals, no aspect of our daily lives would be possible.

Click here for entire report:

From the high-tech devices we use to access the information superhighway to the cars and trucks we use to drive the freeways, from the urban jungle to rural farms, every aspect of our lives relies on minerals. Thus, access to sufficient supplies of these minerals is a crucial part of keeping our economy and our security running.

In this new volume, entitled Critical Minerals of the United States, USGS geologists provide the latest and greatest on the geology and resources of 23 mineral commodities deemed critical to the economy and security of the United States. This work is meant to provide decision-makers, researchers, and economists with the tools they need to make informed choices about the mineral mix that fuels our society. Continue Reading →

America’s mining policy undermines national security – by Jeff A. Green (The Hill – December 14, 2017)

Jeff A. Green is president and founder of J.A. Green & Company, a bipartisan government relations firm based in Washington D.C.

After nearly two decades of war, the American military must address a readiness crisis. Both Congress and the Trump administration are working to rebuild the military’s front-line forces. But readying America’s industrial base to support the force of the future requires further action.

The Department of Defense should be gravely concerned that disruptions in America’s mineral supply chain could undermine our national security. The U.S. military uses 750,000 tons of minerals each year to keep our country and troops safe. However, the U.S. is now entirely reliant on other countries for at least 20 minerals needed to build fighter jets, engines, radar, missile defense systems, satellites, precision munitions and other key technologies.

These key minerals enable the “overmatch” that Secretary of Defense James Mattis demands, which ensures we can not only win any war, but win it in overwhelming fashion. Continue Reading →

Did Afghan minerals change Trump’s mind about Afghanistan? – by Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi Deutsche Welle (August 28, 2017)

While presenting his much-awaited Afghanistan policy last week, US President Donald Trump said he decided against a complete withdrawal of US forces from the war-torn country purely on his “instinct.” The main reason he cited for an indefinite US presence in Afghanistan was, of course, to defeat Islamist terrorists in the country, where the US has been engaged in a bloody war for 16 years. But experts say there is more to his decision than meets the eye.

According to The New York Times, Trump, who was not in favor of sending more American soldiers to Afghanistan, discussed Afghanistan’s mineral deposits with President Ashraf Ghani, who “promoted mining as an economic opportunity in one of their first conversations.”

“… this could be one justification for the United States to stay engaged in the country,” the newspaper reported last month. Continue Reading →

[Mining] Arctic ambitions: could the opening up of the Arctic become the next South China Sea? – by Nick Whigham ( – August 28, 2017)

ONE of the most inhospitable places on the planet is in danger of becoming a flashpoint as global powers fight for control. THE polar regions are the closest thing left to virgin territory in the modern world. But with sea ice melting at a rapid rate due to global warming, the Arctic Sea — and its abundance of valuable minerals and natural resources — is becoming more accessible each year.

The Arctic, including the fabled Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific, is among the last regions on earth to remain largely unexplored. But as new passages open up, the changing conditions in the Arctic are spurring talk of a gold rush for the region’s resources, control of the prized shipping routes, and business opportunities in tourism and fishing.

Russia has steadily been increasing its military presence in recent years while China has found roundabout ways to exert influence in the region. It’s a situation that has led conservationists, industry experts and government officials to raise concerns of increasing geopolitical tension developing in the region. The head of the US Coast Guard even compared the situation to the ongoing dispute over territorial claims of islands in the South China Sea. Continue Reading →

Price of iron ore, crude oil and other commodities to take a hit if North Korea crisis escalates: Citibank – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – August 11, 2017)

As nuclear rhetoric between North Korea and the United States heats up, Citibank analysts are anxiously watching commodity prices due to the importance of the North Asian market.

Global commodity markets have so far not priced in geopolitical risks even as North Korea threatened to launch ballistic missiles into waters near the American territory of Guam. President Donald Trump warned there would be “fire and fury” against the North if it continued to threaten the U.S.

The VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, jumped 25.2 per cent, the biggest increase since May on Thursday. The price of gold, considered a safe haven investment, rose more that $12 to US$1,285.40 an ounce by midday against the backdrop of heightened political uncertainty. Continue Reading →