Bolivian military police try to seize the Vinto industrial complex of Swiss mining group Glencore in Oruro, 380 kilometers (236 miles) south of La Paz, in 2007. Many countries have sought to exert greater control over their natural resources, especially since 2004.
News that the Indonesian government has taken a majority stake in U.S.-based Freeport-McMoRan's giant Grasberg copper mine after a hard-fought dispute is just the latest sign of growing pressures exerted by host states on global extractive industry corporations. The mining industry has cried foul over such actions, with the CEO of mining giant Rio Tinto warning in May that resource nationalism was "gaining momentum," threatening investment in the lucrative sector. But what exactly drives resource nationalism and what explains its ups and downs? As it turns out, the conventional explanation -- market cycles -- does not account for much of what leads states around the globe to strive for greater control over their natural resources....
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