Japan testing China’s hold on African minerals – by Scott Foster (Asia Times – August 22, 2023)


Japan official secures agreements in five African nations in move aimed at mitigating Tokyo’s reliance on China for key minerals

TOKYO – Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura has spent a week visiting five countries in southern Africa with Ichiro Takahara, chairman and CEO of the state’s Japan Organization for Metals and Energy Security (JOGMEC).

Prior to his departure, Nishimura told Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper that he aimed to secure access to important minerals including rare earths, cobalt, lithium and nickel during the trip.

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Momentum builds for Piedmont Lithium’s ambitious production plans as portfolio expands in Africa – by Amanda Stutt (Mining.com – August 18, 2023)


Piedmont Lithium (Nasdaq: PLL; ASX: PLL) this week acquired a 22.5% stake in Atlantic Lithium’s (ASX: A11) flagship Ewoyaa project in Ghana after committing $17 million to fund the project through its definitive feasibility study, adding an Africa asset to its expanding portfolio of operations.

It completed the second stage of the investment agreement signed in 2021. Under the deal, Piedmont can earn a 50% equity interest in Atlantic’s Ghanaian lithium portfolio, headlined by the Ewoyaa project. The first stage involved a $15 million investment into Atlantic, previously IronRidge Resources.

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How Important is Niger’s Uranium For France? – by Elias Ferrer Breda (Forbes Magazine – August 16, 2023)


Since a military coup d’état took place in Niamey on July 23rd, there have been many commentaries on its strategic significance for the former colonial overlord. France sources a significant portion of its much-needed uranium from Niger, and also has a military presence in the Sahelian country. The political troubles in Niamey are undoubtedly of interest in Paris.

Soon after the military takeover, a rumor spread that Niger had banned uranium exports to France, although this has been proven false — the idea, however, may have been floated around. This allegation would also entail that Niger would have denied France its most-prized source of uranium ore. For a brief moment, let’s consider just how important is the resource for the government in the Élysée, and more broadly for the energy needs of the French.

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Race to Control Electric-Vehicle Supply Chains Leads to Africa – by Alexandra Wexler (Wall Street Journal – August 16, 2023)


To bypass China, Western companies are investing in facilities to process battery metals in countries such as Tanzania, Mauritius and South Africa

JOHANNESBURG—Pressure to create supply chains for electric-vehicle batteries that bypass China is prompting Western miners to do something they have long avoided: process their metals in Africa.

China dominates both the production and processing of critical minerals such as cobalt and lithium that are key to the energy transition. That has led to growing concerns among Western governments, including in Washington, about their dependence on Beijing.

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Wagner’s mercenaries swap Ukrainian trenches for natural resources in Africa – by Javier G. Cuesta (El Pais – August 14, 2023)


In Saint Petersburg, the gigantic PMC Wagner Center sign no longer hangs in the majestic building at 15 Zolnaya Street (or Ash Street, in English). The mercenaries’ short-lived mutiny against the Kremlin — which took place on June 23 and 24 — couldn’t be punished by Vladimir Putin, since the organization continues to be essential for his interests. However, he has forced its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, to alter the objectives of his private military company.

As the address of its public headquarters insinuates, only ashes remain from the memory of the paramilitary army, which made headlines in the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut. Now, the old Wagner — which was created by Moscow a decade ago to undertake covert operations in far-away lands — has been reborn. Following Ukraine, Africa and its natural resources have become the main objectives of the paramilitary group.

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Lucara Diamond to replace CEO Eira Thomas – by Staff (Mining.com – August 14, 2023)


Lucara Diamond (TSX: LUC) announced Monday the company will appoint William Lamb as president and chief executive officer and a director, replacing Eira Thomas.

Thomas co-founded Lucara in 2007 with partners Lukas Lundin and Catherine McLeod-Seltzer and took on the role of president and CEO in 2018. The company did not specify a date for the intended leadership transition.

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Coal still has role to play despite naysayers, Menar MD tells conference – by Cameron Mackay (Mining Weekly – August 15, 2023)


Resources investment company Menar MD Vuslat Bayoglu has emphasised that South Africa is on the precipice of a significant industrial revolution.

Fuelling this revolution, however, will require a consistent and reliable baseload power source that can only be produced by coal-fired power stations, despite calls from more developed countries for South Africa to reduce its coal-fired power station capacity to achieve sustainability and carbon dioxide emission reduction goals, he said on the first day of the Southern African Coal Processing Society International Coal Conference, in Secunda, Mpumalanga, on August 15.

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Does the Niger Coup Pose a Threat to Nuclear Power Plants in France? – by Sebastiane Ebatamehi (African Exponent – August 14, 2023)


The recent coup in Niger has sparked concerns about potential disruptions to uranium supplies for France’s nuclear power plants.

The coup in Niger has raised concerns regarding potential disruptions to uranium exports from the West African nation, which could impact nuclear power generation not only in France but also elsewhere. Nonetheless, experts suggest that short-term challenges can likely be mitigated due to diversified sourcing and ample inventory levels.

France, uniquely reliant on nuclear energy for approximately 70 percent of its electricity, faces a situation of potential vulnerability. The country stands as the world’s largest net exporter of nuclear energy, contributing over €3 billion annually to its economy.

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How the coup in Niger could give uranium-rich Canada its moment to shine on the global stage – by David Olive – August 10, 2023)


As nations move away from Russia’s civilian nuclear power supply chain Canada can easily step in as the 4th largest producer of uranium in the world, writes David Olive

The July 26 coup d’état in Niger could eventually spur dynamic growth in Canada’s uranium industry. The degree of Kremlin involvement in the military ouster late last month of Niger President Mohamed Bazoum is unclear.

But pro-coup demonstrators in the streets of Niamey, the Nigerien capital, wave Russian flags to express their anti-American and anti-French sentiment. That sentiment has been stoked for years in the former French colony by Russian propaganda.

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The Teenage Miner, the Village and the 709-Carat Diamond That Changed Everything – by Aryn Baker (Time Magazine – August 16, 2018)


In the blazing midday sun, the yellow egg-shaped rock stood out from a pile of recently unearthed gravel. Out of curiosity, 16-year-old miner Komba Johnbull picked it up and fingered its flat, pyramidal planes.

Johnbull had never seen a diamond before, but he knew enough to understand that even a big find would be no larger than his thumbnail. Still, the rock was unusual enough to merit a second opinion. Sheepishly, he brought it over to one of the more experienced miners working the muddy gash deep in the Sierra Leonean jungle.

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Why China should tread carefully around French interests in Africa and the Pacific – by Emanuele Scimia (South China Morning Post – August 8, 2023)


At a China-France dialogue in Beijing last month, Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng expressed hope that France “will stabilise the tone of friendly cooperation” with the European Union. This comes as French President Emmanuel Macron tries to promote Europe’s strategic autonomy amid the great power contest between the US and China.

Beijing’s promise of increased economic cooperation suggests it wants help from Paris to repair its deteriorating ties with the EU. But the manoeuvre could fail if China crosses the line in two geopolitical chessboards that France considers strategic and are currently in the spotlight – francophone Africa and the South Pacific.

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Niger’s coup uncovers strategic resource tensions in West Africa – by Robert Bociaga (Arab News – August 6, 2023)


JUBA, South Sudan: Last week’s coup in Niger ushered in a state of diplomatic and security confusion in the West African region that surpassed previous coups. The unexpected move by the Economic Community of West African States to consider the use of force to remove the junta from Niamey added a new dimension to the crisis.

Despite negotiations, the junta remains steadfast in its resolve to stay in power, further complicating the situation. Adding to the complexity, neighboring juntas in Guinea, Mali, and Burkina Faso have pledged to support the Nigerien junta, making the situation potentially explosive.

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The new commodity superpowers – by Leslie Hook, Harry Dempsey and Ciara Nugent in Buenos Aires (Financial Times – August 7, 2023)


In the first part of a series, countries that produce the metals central to the energy transition want to rewrite the rules of mineral extraction

The red-brown landscape of Tenke-Fungurume, one of the world’s largest copper and cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is covered by tens of thousands of dusty sacks. The bags stacked up by the roadside and piled next to buildings contain a stash of cobalt hydroxide powder equivalent to almost a tenth of the world’s annual consumption — and worth about half a billion dollars.

The haphazard stockpiles of this bright green powder, a key ingredient in electric car batteries, point to how the DRC, the world’s largest producer of cobalt, is starting to flex its muscles when it comes to the metals needed for the energy transition.

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South Africa’s mining output falls further belowpre-pan demic levels – by Nelson Banya (Reuters – August 7, 2023)


Aug 7 (Reuters) – South Africa’s mining output has fallen further below pre-pandemic levels due to persistent electricity outages and rail disruptions, industry data shows, threatening dividend payouts to investors.

South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of platinum and chrome and a leading producer of gold and diamonds. But the industry has been shrinking for years as ore grades decline and output was disrupted in 2020 when COVID-19 lockdowns impacted operations.

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The Long Arm of the Kremlin and the Politics of Uranium – by Javier Blas (Washington Post/Bloomberg – August 3, 2023)


The town of Arlit, a desolate settlement on the southern fringes of the Sahara, is the improbable ground zero of a new geopolitical tussle: the fight for the control of uranium, the fuel that powers the nuclear industry. It was there, in the arid ranges of northern Niger, where French geologists found the radioactive mineral in the 1950s.

Since then, French state-owned companies have dug it out from their former colony, transforming Niger into the world’s seventh-largest producer. In 2022, the mines surrounding Arlit accounted for 25% of all European Union uranium imports. Now, a coup d’Etat in the impoverished west African nation has put that flow in jeopardy.

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