The world’s largest lithium producing countries – by Parth Charan (Money Control – September 23, 2021)

https://www.moneycontrol.com/

With the rising tide of battery electric vehicles making a splash all across the world, the most coveted natural resource needed to power our vehicles is no longer petrol but a mineral called ‘lithium’. While it’s debatable whether lithium is the most important element found in a lithium-ion battery, its extensive mining across certain global hotspots has come under heavy criticism.

The very process of mining lithium is not only energy-intensive and polluting, it may also be linked with destabilising the ecosystem nearby due to extensive saltwater depletion from the edge of the ‘salars’ through which lithium is extracted.

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China Risks Winter Energy Crunch With Struggle to Get Supplies – by Alfred Cang and Dan Murtaugh (Bloomberg News – September 20, 2021)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — China is at risk of the same energy-crunch chaos seen in Europe, with a state-run newspaper warning that coal-fired power plants will struggle to keep the lights on this winter.

The nation’s coal-based power producers, which account for more than 70% of the country’s electricity generation, are unable to buy enough fuel after prices surged, state-run China Energy News said in a report dated Sept. 18.

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China Says It Won’t Build New Coal Plants Abroad. What Does That Mean? – by Azi Paybarah (New York Times – September 22, 2021)

https://www.nytimes.com/

Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, said on Tuesday that his country would stop building coal-burning power plants overseas, a major shift by the world’s second-biggest economy to move away from its support of the fossil fuel.

China “will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad,” he told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. The news comes amid a broad international effort to reduce coal use and to keep global temperatures from rising at their current pace, which scientists have warned could be disastrous.

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OPINION: China’s Evergrande mess is spreading and hurting big mining companies. The iron ore and steel party is over – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – September 22, 2021)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

A 40-second video made in August in the southern Chinese city of Kunming provides a graphic account of the country’s housing bubble. It shows controlled explosions turning 15 apartment towers into rubble. They were built seven years ago and never occupied.

Since then, China’s housing woes have been exposed by the liquidity crisis at Evergrande, the world’s most indebted housing developer. The company’s shares are in freefall – they are down more than 85 per cent in the past year – and S&P Global Ratings said a default on bond payments is “likely.”

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Mining stocks carnage as iron ore, copper prices fall – by Staff (Mining.com – September 20, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

Iron ore extended its slump below $100 a tonne and copper prices dropped in New York on Monday as China stepped up restrictions on industrial activity and fears about the collapse of the country’s largest property developer intensified.

According to Fastmarkets MB, benchmark 62% Fe fines imported into Northern China were changing hands for $92.98 a tonne, down 8.7% from Friday’s closing. Prices have collapsed about 60% since hitting a record in May, and are below three figures for the first time in more than a year.

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EXPLAINER: Chinese builder’s debt struggle rattles investors – by Joe MaDonald (Associated Press – September 21, 2021)

https://apnews.com/

BEIJING (AP) — Global investors are watching nervously as one of China’s biggest real estate developers struggles to avoid defaulting on tens of billions of dollars of debt, fueling fears of possible wider shock waves for the financial system.

Chinese regulators have yet to say what they might do about Evergrande Group. Economists expect them to intervene if Evergrande and lenders can’t agree on how to handle its debts. But any official resolution is expected to involve losses for banks and bondholders.

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Sleepy lithium market stirs to life as electric vehicle industry charges up – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – September 21, 2021)

https://financialpost.com/

Less than a week after Vancouver-based Millennial Lithium Corp. asked shareholders to vote on a proposed all-cash buyout by China’s Ganfeng Lithium Corp., a second buyer has emerged and bid 6.1 per cent higher, offering $377 million in cash.

Millennial did not disclose the second buyer’s identity, but a source told the Financial Post it is Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited, or CATL, as Bloomberg News reported.

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Chinese mining firms told to stop work and leave Democratic Republic of Congo – by Jevans Nyabiage (South China Morning Post – September 16, 2021)

https://www.scmp.com/

China has ordered its companies that broke laws and environmental standards in the Democratic Republic of Congo to cease operating and leave the country – at a time when the African nation’s government is aiming to renegotiate “infrastructure for minerals” deals with Beijing.

It came after South Kivu province suspended six Chinese firms’ operations over illegal mining and destruction of the environment. The companies had missed a deadline to register their activities with the Congolese authorities.

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Investment in Afghan mineral sector faces risks – by Zhu Yongbiao (Global Times – September 14, 2021)

https://www.globaltimes.cn/

The Afghan Taliban has established a new interim government. The next test for them is how to lead war-torn Afghanistan out of economic difficulties and diplomatic isolation. Can Afghanistan’s rich mineral resources help the Taliban rebuild the country?

Afghanistan is indeed rich in mineral resources, but the country’s economy remains underdeveloped. The Taliban has welcomed the international community to invest in Afghanistan, especially in mineral resources.

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Miners race for nickel as electric car revolution looms – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – September 12, 2021)

https://www.ft.com/

Western groups compete for assets to secure supplies of key battery metal

In remote northern Ontario, hundreds of kilometres from the nearest railway or paved road, the world’s largest mining group and an Australian metals tycoon are in a bidding war for a deposit containing millions of tonnes of nickel.

The battle between BHP and Andrew Forrest’s Wyloo Metals for the asset’s owner Noront Resources comes as miners race to meet surging demand for battery metals as electric vehicles go mainstream.

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Political uncertainty clouds China Inc.’s Afghanistan ambitions – by CK TAN, SINAN TAVSAN and KIRAN SHARMA (Nikkei Asia – September 2021)

https://asia.nikkei.com/

SHANGHAI/NEW DELHI/ISTANBUL — Foreign companies active in Afghanistan face prolonged uncertainty as the new Taliban caretaker government grapples with a financial crisis and international reluctance to offer help.

Since the Taliban seized power last month, at least 10 publicly listed companies in China have expressed hope that they will be able to participate in mining or infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, but they linked doing business to political and diplomatic developments.

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The coup in tiny Guinea matters at a geopolitical level. The US-China ‘cold war’ is a race for strategic dominance of commodities – by Tom Fowdy (RT.com – September 7, 2021)

https://www.rt.com/

Tom Fowdy is a British writer and analyst of politics and international relations with a primary focus on East Asia.

The impoverished country is rich in essential metals that Beijing desperately needs. So was the military takeover by a former French legionnaire with ties to America a plot by the usual Western suspects?

The West African nation of Guinea has just experienced a military coup. Lieutenant-Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, with an elite segment of troops, has overthrown the government of Alpha Conde and seized power, a move that has been condemned by the African Union and China, with the latter demanding that the president be released.

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Congo reviews Chinese mine contracts after President Felix Tshisekedi pushes back against deals favouring foreign firms – by Jevans Nyabiage (South China Morning Post – August 29, 2021)

https://www.scmp.com/

The world depends on the Democratic Republic of Congo for its cobalt to electrify vehicles. But the DRC, which supplies more than 60 per cent of the world’s reserves of cobalt ore, believes it may be getting short-changed by foreign mining companies – and is investigating whether unfair foreign mining contracts were signed during the previous administration.

The Congolese government early this week formed a commission to inevestigate the reserves at the Tenke Fungurume Mining (TFM) copper and cobalt project, which is majority-owned by China Molybdenum Co.

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How Afghanistan’s $1 trillion mining wealth sold the war – by Frik Els (Mining.com – August 27, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

After the fall of Kabul, US media regurgitates a 2010 New York Times frontpage story on Afghanistan’s mineral riches based on a secret Pentagon memo and a 1977 Soviet geologic map.

Search for Afghanistan minerals and you get dozens of articles written in the last few days quoting a magical $1 trillion number including gems like The Taliban are sitting on $1 trillion worth of minerals the world desperately needs (CNN), Afghanistan: Taliban to reap $1 trillion mineral wealth (Deutsche Welle), Biden Just Handed Afghanistan’s Mineral Wealth to China (Newsweek), China Eyes Afghanistan’s $1 Trillion of Minerals With Risky Bet on Taliban (Bloomberg) and so on.

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OPINION: The U.S. is out of Afghanistan, and China wants in, hunting for green revolution minerals – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – August 26, 2021)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

The Americans are leaving Afghanistan, quickly. The Chinese may replace them, slowly. China has never had much success in Afghanistan. Endless war, political and social instability, corruption and lack of infrastructure made the country largely unappealing to Chinese investors (and all other foreign players), even though they had never shied away from messy countries.

Their position could change for one compelling reason: Afghanistan is thought to hold boundless mineral treasures, especially those needed to underwrite the “green” revolution.

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