The Nihon invasion and occupation of Northern Australia from 2082 to 2086, put the Pan Pacific Alliance in a difficult position regarding natural resources. Over 80 percent of indigenous ore, gas and oil deposits were located either in the occupied or disputed area and was unavailable to PanPac industry. Increasingly desperate for essential materials for the production of war materiel, PanPac looked greedily to the South and the unexploited coal and gas deposits in Antarctica. Many of these deposits already lay within the PanPac Antarctic territories, but had remained untouched because of the Antarctic Treaty which prohibited, amongst other things, its exploitation for economical gain.
In 2083, the first serious efforts were made by PanPac industries to establish permanent mines and refineries in Antarctica. The areas around the Cook Mountains and the Trans-Antarctic Range proved to be a boon for coal production, but were disappointingly devoid of the ores and metals required for many alloys, including BPC. More extensive geological surveys were conducted in 2084 and found that the Peninsula incorporating Graham Land and the Lowell Thomas Mountains, located almost due South of South America, were much more promising. The manganese, chromium, molybdenum and iron deposits were especially rich in these areas, which lay in the former British Antarctic Territories.
The fall of the British Isles to Pan European forces in 2080, put the UK claim to these territories in an ambiguous state. Although the area remained uncontested, Pan Europe claimed it as part of their conquest, as they did many former UK possessions, such as the Falkland Islands. The loyalist UK government, now based in Australia, remained firm in their assertions that all possessions of the United Kingdom remained theirs, and that it was simply a case of 'temporary eviction from the motherland' rather than British subjugation to conquest. With the fierce fighting in the Amazonian Combat Zone, Pan Europe had not the military might to try and back its claim, and the UK government was hard pressed to remain in existence without committing its minimal remaining forces to yet another front. Indeed, the fact that loyalist military units were fighting Nihon alongside their Pan Pacific allies was their main claim to legitimacy. The UK Antarctic Territory had thus remained the domain of scientific and meteorological stations unconcerned with the squabbles of their political masters, and had gone about their usual business of research.
The extreme demand of resources was building to an economic crisis on the not too distant horizon for PanPac. Strategic reserves were critically depleted and rationing was introduced. The decision was made to establish modest mining facilities in Graham Land for the most vital of metals to test the waters and Pan European resolve. In the meantime, modest quantities of refined metals were made available by the Combine in order to keep the PanPac military a viable force in pinning down one flank of the Nihon forces in Asia.
Modular habitats and mining equipment were promptly shipped to Antarctica and the first facility went online in early 2085. The trickle of ore filtering back to PanPac was accompanied by storms of international protest not only from Pan Europe for territorial infringement, but also from most of the rest of the world for the blatant disregard for the Antarctic Treaty. The trickle of ores was enough to encourage PanPac to expand its operations utilising the advanced resource extraction techniques pioneered in the Australian outback and the trickle became a stream and then a flood. Indeed, many in the industrial community suspected PanPac of experimenting in polar mining techniques at their scientific bases in order to gain such high yields in such a short time. Surprised by the success of the mining in such harsh climatic conditions, Pan Europe looked enviously southwards. However, the military effort required fighting the Combine in Central America continued to be too much of a drain for them to send an expeditionary unit to enforce their demands. Instead, they turned to their allies in Southern America
The Argentinean forces, now rested and brought back up to strength after their offensive to take Uruguay, Paraguay and the Falkland (now renamed Malvina) Islands, also had territorial claims in Antarctica and were lured by Pan Europe's promises of updated military equipment and training (in addition to shared resources form the mines) to back them up. The presence of major Pan Europe bases on Argentinean soil silently emphasised the penalty for non compliance.
The first contingent of the Argentinean Marine Brigade found the PanPac mines not wholly undefended. Elements of the 10th PanPac Light Horse Regiment had been hurriedly deployed to Antarctica, but they were dispersed and had difficulty operating on such long supply lines. Freshly formed and re-equipped, the Argentinean Marines had no such problems. In a series of lightning Amphibious and GEV assaults along multiple axis, they swooped down upon the mining facilities in November 2085. In a series of defensive battles and cavalry like skirmishes, the outnumbered PanPac forces destroyed their mines and made a fighting withdrawal back over Marie Byrd Land to the Ross Ice Shelf, trading space for time as reinforcements were sent from mainland Australia.
PanPac reinforcements based around the 9th Light Horse Regiment were embarked in Naval Transports and, escorted by PanPac warships, commenced to difficult passage south to link up with the 10th LH. Some 400 miles short of their destination, the Argentinean Navy submarine Malvinas sunk the transport and with it most of the 9th LH Regiment. This escalation of what had been an "territorial skirmish" ensured that War was declared the next day.
The ADZ had been formed...