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Our new global political economy is increasingly defined by ‘critical raw materials’ – of which rare earths elements (or ‘rare earths’) are the most significant. These seventeen chemically similar metals – with special properties of ferromagnetism, superconductivity, and luminescence – play a vital role in the production of advanced manufacturing and low-carbon technology. Two important trends underline the urgency of this research. Firstly, low and middle-income countries joining the race for industrialization are increasing demands for high-tech goods ranging from computers, mobile phones, and flat screens, as well as for low-carbon consumer products, such as energy- efficient cars, solar panels, wind turbines, and even lights – all of which constitute further pressures to accelerate the pace and breadth of natural resource exploitation. Secondly, growing demands for rare earths are currently suffering from a supply constraint given that China – the dominant market player in rare earths mining – has begun to impose export restrictions and reorient its mining policy to support domestic industrialization. The impending resource crunch creates incentives for mineral states to gain strategic and economic advantage.
The GRIP-ARM project, and the researchers that are part of this team, will contribute to understanding how mineral exporters can design industrial strategies in pursuit of their national economic and security objectives, as well as examining the responses of end-user manufacturing companies and national governments both in securing stable access of rare earth elements and in facilitating the transition towards sustainable development.
The project consists of five work packages aimed at documenting how (1) resource producing countries are reshaping world supply and production through an analysis of industrial policies in rare earths mining and (2) long-term responses of resource importing countries to the supply risk posed by Chinese export restriction policy. Focussing on the supply side, GRIP-ARM will chart three distinctive pathways upon which rare earths mining is governed: (1) a highly centralized industrial policy implemented by China which aligns the rational use of rare earths supply with an ambitious grand strategy linked to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); (2) a hybrid industrial policy underpinned by resource nationalism that combines public and private sector participation in Brazil to tap its enormous potential as an export producer of processed minerals; and (3) a mixed of public-private sector participation strategy with multinational enterprises (MNEs) in Kazakhstan playing a central role in expanding the benefits of mineral extraction. Beyond the supply side, GRIP-ARM will map out how importing countries and high-end manufacturing companies design various strategies in the face of China’s export restrictions aimed at creating a sustainable supply of raw materials and creating ‘greener’ methods of refining and processing minerals.
Work Package 1
State controlled export dominance and resource conservation to support New Silk Road Campaign (China)
Work Package 2
Accelerated exploitation through resource nationalism (Brazil)
Work Package 3
Supply chain consolidation through joint ventures with MNEs (Kazakhstan)
Work Package 4
Responses from resource-consuming countries and firms
Work Package 5
The Global Value Chain of Rare Earth Mining
Therefore, GRIP-ARM research project is looking for 2 PhD candidates. Each prospective student will work on one of the work packages of the ERC project, with emphasis on a country case study. The case studies, and therefore the success of the grant, are dependent on the capacity of the researchers to conduct fieldwork in sites known as being difficult places of obtaining data.
PhD 1: Accelerated exploitation through resource nationalism in Brazil
Full time, 4 years
You will be responsible in examining how political elites have repositioned Brazil as a mining giant through a combination of a resource-oriented industrial strategy, investment policy, and regional development plans. While the Brazilian state has played a central role in transforming its energy and mineral resources through resource nationalism, there is enormous potential for rare earths to become a tool for technological innovation particularly in building linkages between mining and higher-value manufacturing, renewable energy, and national defence. Rare earth mining has end-user applications as a catalyst for petroleum refining which is likely to play a wider role in the context of the country’s discovery of the biggest offshore oil reserves in 2007.
While the project generally uses a qualitative approach combining semi-structured interviews with key informants, policy and media analysis, archival research, and site-intensive methods (SIM), there is sufficient leeway for the prospective candidate to pursue new methodological approaches in seeking originality of work. The PhD candidate is expected to spend between 12-16 months of fieldwork in mining regions (Amazon and Minas Gerais) for the qualitative part of the project, exploring various political economy questions that shape Brazil’s rare earths sector and broader industrial strategy, and placing the case study in global, national, and regional/sub-national contexts. However, the prospective candidate may propose different pathways for his/her own research, for example, by exploring potential comparative analysis within and between Brazil and other regions/cases, creating new research designs for the PhD involving mixed methods approaches, or to undertake value chain analysis of specific rare earth elements and end user manufacturing/high technology sectors.
Note that a good candidate for these positions must come from or have a strong association with the selected country.
PhD 2: Supply chain consolidation through joint ventures with MNEs in Kazakhstan
Full time, 4 years
You will carry out research on how Kazakhstan through its history of state-building, industrial policy and technical expertise on mining has implemented a series of economic reforms aimed at attracting investment to bring new technology and foreign expertise into the mining sector. Kazakhstan is the second richest in terms of proven uranium reserves and is the biggest producer with about 39% control of world supply. From the 1990s onwards, political elites have generally relied on privatization in developing mineral and oil reserves. Foreign control is well-documented in oil production as part of a broader package to transition towards full-fledged capitalism. With its rich reserves of heavy rare earth metals mined together with uranium, international investors from France, Germany and Japan have pursued joint ventures with Kazatoprom to reduce the long-term risks associated with a supply market dominated by Chinese enterprises.
The project will explore the extent to which foreign investment-based development strategies are compatible with its geopolitical interests and domestic economic priorities. The PhD researcher will examine the changing strategy of the domestic elites in their efforts to place rare earths mining as a complementary sector to its vast and highly developed energy industry, examining the role of industrial, trade and investment policies as well as the broader relationship of Kazakhstan with European, Russian and Chinese firms. While the project generally uses a qualitative approach combining semi-structured interviews with key informants, policy and media analysis, archival research, and site-intensive methods (SIM), there is sufficient leeway for the prospective candidate to pursue new methodological approaches in seeking originality of work. The PhD candidate is expected to spend between 12-16 months of fieldwork in mining regions including in Chu-Sarysu basin for the qualitative part of the project, exploring various political economy questions that shape Kazakhstan’s rare earths sector and broader industrial strategy, and placing the case study in global, national, and regional/sub-national contexts. However, the prospective candidate may propose new ways to develop his/her expertise, for instance, by seeking comparative analysis within and between Kazakhstan and wider Central Asia (or other middle income countries), by examining Kazakhstan in the wider context of the New Silk Campaign, and/or undertaking value chains analysis of specific rare earth elements and end user manufacturing/high technology sectors.
Note that a good candidate for these positions must come from or have a strong association with the selected country.
Both PhD candidates will be part of the research team of GRIP-ARM, and expected to contribute to:
Fixed-term contract: 4 years.
Besides being part of an innovative research on humanitarian governance and a national and international network, this position offers you an appointment for 4 years in the following structure:
We offer an appointment as PhD student for a period of 1.5 year, which will be extended with a second term of 2.5 years if the candidate performs well. Remuneration will be according to the PhD scales set by the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU) and will range from € 2.395,- per month in the first year to € 3.061 per month in the fourth year (gross amounts, in case of fulltime employment).
The EUR has attractive employment conditions, which include a holiday allowance of 8.0%, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and up to 41 days paid time off. Substantial tax benefits apply to non-Dutch citizens, conditional on permission granted by the Dutch Tax Office. Applicants will be provided the right to work in the Netherlands for the duration of the contract.
Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) is an internationally oriented university with a strong social orientation in its education and research. Inspired by the dynamic and cosmopolitan city of Rotterdam and the Rotterdam-The Hague region, our scientists and students work in close collaboration with internal and external parties to solve global social challenges. Our mission is therefore "Creating positive societal impact". Our academic education is intensive, active and application oriented. Our research increasingly takes place in multidisciplinary teams, which are strongly intertwined with international networks. With our research impact and thanks to the high quality of education, EUR ranks amongst the top European universities. Erasmian values function as our internal compass and make Erasmus University recognizable to the outside world: engaged with society, world citizen, connecting, entrepreneurial and open-minded. www.eur.nl
The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) is committed to building and sustaining a community based on inclusiveness, equity and diversity and believes this will contribute to our mission and vision of being the best institute in our field. ISS is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from candidates of all races/ethnicities, nationalities, religions, genders, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disabilities, and ages.
ISS is a leading academic center for international development studies. While based in The Hague, the ISS is part of Erasmus University Rotterdam. ISS was established in 1952 and is a post-graduate institute of policy-oriented critical social science and development-oriented research. ISS brings together a highly diverse international community of scholars and students from both the global South and the global North, on average originating from over 50 different countries. The Institute brings together people, ideas and insights in a multi-disciplinary setting which nurtures, fosters and promotes critical thinking and innovative research on fundamental social problems. The strong partnerships with organizations and individuals in developing countries make up a vibrant network where we co-create knowledge so that teaching and research remain socially relevant. Key to the ISS philosophy and practices is the wish to contribute to achieving social justice and equity on a global level.
Starting in 2021, Jewellord T. Nem Singh, Assistant Professor in International Development of ISS will start a 5-year Programme, financed by a starting grant of the European Research Council, to implement the research project ‘Green Industrial Policy in the Age of Rare Metals: A Trans-regional Comparison of Growth Strategies in Rare Earths Mining’. The project aims to examine the globalized supply and demand for rare earths – from mining, processing, manufacturing, use and recycling – to have a closer scrutiny of mining both as a strategy for industrialization and as an integral part of contemporary efforts towards a sustainable supply of raw materials. As part of this research project, ISS is looking for 2 PhD candidates. The objective is to offer a unique opportunity to create a team who will become leading experts in the field of political economy of mining and industrial policy with some clear regional/empirical expertise.
For further information regarding the positions please also contact Dr. Jewellord Nem Singh, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)
Kortenaerkade 12, 2518 AX, Den Haag
To apply, please send your application package to email@example.com
Please make sure your application abides by the following instructions:
Make mention in the subject line for which PhD position your applying (for example: 1 PhD: Accelerated exploitation through resource nationalism in Brazil or 2 PhD: Supply chain consolidation through joint ventures with MNEs in Kazakhstan.
Make sure all required documents are combined in one PDF in the order mentioned below;
To be considered for the PhD positions, applicants must submit:
TOEFL PBT: 600
TOEFL CBT: 250
TOEFL IBT: 100
Deadline for submitting your application is 30 April 2021.
Short-listed candidates will be interviewed via Zoom. The interviews are going to take place on May 17, 18, 21, 2021.
Due to the high number of expected applicants, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
Make sure to apply no later than 30 Apr 2021 23:58 (Europe/Amsterdam).
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