Archive | Asia Mining

Mining executives warn Ottawa about dependence on China for strategic minerals amid deteriorating relations – by Jesse Snyder (National Post – April 5, 2021)

It’s estimated that China will control 67 per cent of global capacity to build lithium-ion batteries by 2030

OTTAWA — Mining executives and national security experts are warning the federal government about China’s domination of strategic mineral supplies, saying Ottawa needs to better protect supply chains for modern technology that relies on them like electric vehicles and smart phones.

In testimony before the House of Commons natural resources committee this month, experts described China’s decades-long efforts to control the market for critical minerals — including the 17 rare earth elements — by rapidly expanding its processing capacity or by acquiring foreign assets to dominate supply chains.

The minerals, which include magnesium, lithium and scandium, are used to develop such strategic products as solar panels, wind turbines, electric car batteries, mobile phone components and guided missiles. Continue Reading →

Chinese Firms Position For An Energy Transition Copper Supercycle – by Jacob Koelsch, Michelle Michot Foss, Gabriel Collins, and Steven Lewis (Forbes Magazine – April 5, 2021)

If China’s dominance of rare earth element supplies is the global energy transition’s “elephant in the room”, then copper is the 800-pound gorilla. China’s push for outbound investment, with attendant strategic nuances, are a hallmark of emerging concerns about raw materials supply chains.

Chinese firms recognize copper’s value from at least four perspectives. First, relative to internal industrial demand, China’s domestic production is inadequate.

Second, as Chinese outbound investment has evolved to procure supply, they also are positioning themselves to capture international commodity trading opportunities. Continue Reading →

Canadian copper miner Turquoise Hill declares force majeure on some Chinese contracts – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – March 31, 2021)

Canadian copper miner Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. is invoking force majeure related to its Chinese contracts for metal shipments from its Mongolian mine, amid COVID-19 border restrictions, and several employees testing positive for the deadly virus.

Force majeure is a clause that allows companies to limit certain legal liabilities in the face of an unforeseen catastrophe, such as a once-in-a-century pandemic.

The Montreal-based miner operates the Oyo Tolgoi copper and gold complex in Mongolia, a landlocked country in Asia that borders Russia to the north, and China to the south. Continue Reading →

Indonesia plays hardball with its nickel – by James Guild (East Asia Forum – March 30, 2021)

Nickel has become increasingly important beyond its traditional use in stainless steel manufacturing as the base metal is a key component in lithium-ion batteries, including the kind used in electric vehicles (EVs).

As the world’s big automakers begin scaling up the production of EVs, nickel and the batteries it goes into are expected to be in high demand. With the largest reserves of nickel deposits in the world, Indonesia is no longer content to simply export its raw ore.

Indonesia wants to take a central position in the value-added links in the EV supply chain — from mining the ore, to refining it, to manufacturing the batteries and eventually to building the cars. And because Indonesia controls the raw input, it turns out it has a lot of leverage. Continue Reading →

Rare earth quandary: China has US by the throat – by Dave Makichuk (Asia Times – March 28, 2021)


The facts are nothing short of startling. A high-tech F-35 stealth fighter jet contains 920 lbs. of rare earth elements (REEs). Each US Navy Arleigh Burke-class AEGIS destroyer has 5,200 lbs., and a Virginia-class submarine has 9,200 lbs.

These commodities are also key to the future of alternative energy, electric vehicles, mobile phones, and even headphones. Combine that with the fact that 80% of all American rare earth supplies come from China.

A nation now run by leader, Xi Jinping, who recently ordered his Marine Corps — in an act of sheer madness, or, to up the ante on the US — to prepare for war. Continue Reading →

Class action against Rio Tinto over Oyu Tolgoi escalates – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – March 25, 2021)

A new claim filed in a US court on Thursday over Rio Tinto’s (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) handling of the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine expansion in Mongolia accuses the mining giant of concealing the real cause of the delays that have held back its most important growth project.

In a 163-page claim filed in New York, Pentwater Capital Management — the second-largest shareholder in Rio-controlled Turquoise Hill (TSX, NYSE: TRQ) — has included the testimony of 12 individuals who worked for Rio or its contractors and which could tip the balance against the miner.

The document cites defective Chinese steel, incompetent engineering and poor procurement as some of the “true” reasons behind the mine expansion’s massive cost increase and delays. Continue Reading →

China’s rare earth supplies disrupted by Myanmar tumult – by Dominic OO (Asia Times – March 22, 2021)


YANGON – Fears are growing of a global shortage of rare earth minerals used in the manufacture of high-tech devices as unrest in Myanmar following the February 1 coup disrupts exports to China.

Chinese companies started complaining about delays in shipments of the minerals since mid-March, reportedly due to the deteriorating political and economic situation, which Chinese media reports say have had an impact on logistics.

Rare earth metals are used in aerospace, advanced military equipment, mobile phones and electric vehicles, among other tech products. Myanmar is a major supplier of rare earth ores, which are exported to China for extraction and processing, and then either used in local production or shipped on to global markets. Continue Reading →

COMMENT: Could China’s ferro-chrome futures be a game-changer? – by Jon Stibbs and Siyi Liu (Metal Bulletin – March 23, 2021)

The Shanghai Futures Exchange’s plans to list ferro-chrome futures, potentially this year, will bring welcomed hedging opportunities and may weaken the dominance of China’s stainless steel mills in the ore and alloy markets, participants told Fastmarkets.

While no definite date or specifications of the ferro-chrome futures have been announced, Fastmarkets asked participants what changes these contracts might bring to their businesses and if they could be a game-changer in the traditional pricing mechanism for the chrome ore and ferro-chrome markets.

Indeed, many ferro-chrome producer sources in China hold positive expectations because these financial derivatives would provide hedging opportunities to better control their production costs, especially in purchasing seaborne chrome ore. Continue Reading →

African countries are helping China go green. That may have a downside for Africans. (Washington Post – March 12, 2021)

The details of China’s new 5-year plan, released earlier this month, suggest China has put off the difficult steps necessary to become carbon neutral by 2060.

President Xi Jinping had announced that goal last fall, reflecting the Chinese Communist Party’s pursuit of “Ecological Civilization,” a vision of environmental sustainability both within and beyond China’s borders.

Achieving Ecological Civilization won’t be easy. China accounts for 28 percent of global carbon emissions. How will Beijing pursue this goal — and at what cost? Continue Reading →

Indonesia: Danger Lurks At Illegal Gold Mines – by Keisyah Aprilia (Eurasia Review – March 10, 2021)

Risna recounted scrambling to save herself when dirt and rocks came tumbling into a 49-foot deep pit where she and other residents were mining for gold in Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province on Feb. 24.

Seven people were killed and dozens more survived that landslide at the illegal mining site in Buranga, a village in Parigi Moutong regency, rescue officials had said.

“We the panners scrambled. Some managed to climb to the top but some were buried,” Risna, a 36-year-old woman who goes by one name, told BenarNews. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Ten years ago, the world took away the wrong lesson from the tragedy of Fukushima – by Doug Saunders (Globe and Mail – March 7, 2021)

Ten years ago next week, in the aftermath of a terrible natural disaster, Japan offered the world a valuable lesson about nuclear power and climate change. Unfortunately, it was not the lesson the world took from it.

The tsunami that tore through coastal Japanese cities in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake on March 11, 2011, was the most powerful tidal wave in three centuries. It killed more than 18,000 people – thousands are still listed as missing – left hundreds of thousands homeless and devastated the lives of countless families.

As that humanitarian crisis was just beginning, the world’s attention turned away from the larger tragedy and focused on the former coal-mining town of Okuma, in Fukushima prefecture, on Japan’s eastern coast. Continue Reading →

Japan’s Green Future Requires Returning to Its Nuclear Past – by Tsuyoshi Inajima, Stephen Stapczynski and Shoko Oda (Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance – March 7, 2021)

About once a month, the same group of two dozen Japanese government officials, company executives and professors file into a bland white and beige conference room at the nation’s economy, trade and industry ministry to plot its long-term energy future.

Each has a printed agenda, tablet computer and carton of green tea neatly laid out before them, and politely flips over a rectangular name card to request a turn to speak. Beneath the rigid formality, there’s an increasingly divisive debate: what’s the role of nuclear energy a decade after the Fukushima disaster.

Since Japan pledged in October to become carbon neutral by 2050, many among the advisory group have reached the same conclusion. To meet its global climate commitments, the country will need to restart almost every nuclear reactor it shuttered in the aftermath of the 2011 meltdowns, and then build more. Continue Reading →

Has China shattered battery nickel’s supply chain bottleneck? – by Anthony Milewski (Northern Miner – March 5, 2021)

Global mining news

China has turned the nickel market on its head after the world’s biggest stainless-steel producer, Tsingshan Holding Group, this week agreed to supply about 100,000 tonnes of matte (containing approximately 65-75% nickel) to Huayou Cobalt and battery materials maker CNGR Advanced Material.

The news signals that the mainly Chinese-funded nickel pig iron (NPI) producers in Indonesia are now looking at making nickel matte, essentially giving the battery-materials manufacturers a new product to plug into their processes.

The market response was not pretty. London’s nickel prices fell nearly 9% on March 4 and in Shanghai dropped the most in nine months. The three-month nickel contract on the London Metal Exchange dropped as much as 8.5% to US$15,945 per tonne, its most significant intraday loss since December 2016. Continue Reading →

Turquoise Hill CEO exits amid tension with Rio Tinto over funding Mongolian copper mine – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – March 4, 2021)

Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd.’s chief executive officer Ulf Quellmann has resigned after months of tension between the company and Rio Tinto, its biggest shareholder, over a funding plan for its troubled Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia.

The Montreal-based company and London-based Rio, one of the world’s biggest diversified miners, have clashed over how the construction of the giant underground copper mine should be funded.

In a statement, Turquoise Hill said that Rio had said it would vote against Ulf Quellmann in the upcoming annual general meeting. In light of that development, the company and Mr. Quellmann felt it was in their best interests that he resign. Continue Reading →

Rio and Mongolia agree to replace $7bn plan to expand copper mine – by Khaliun Bayartsogt (Nikkei Asia – March 1, 2021)

ULAANBAATAR — After weeks of escalating tensions and leadership turmoil, Mongolia and Rio Tinto have agreed to work out a new arrangement to finance the costly expansion of the vast Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, Nikkei Asia has learned.

The rising cost of the new underground phase of the mine, one of the world’s biggest copper deposits, played a role in bringing down both Mongolia’s previous prime minister and Rio’s last chief executive. This appears to have helped set the stage for changing the terms of how the two co-owners of the project will share the expense.

Public irritation has been running high in Mongolia after new figures emerged late last year showing that the government could not expect to start receiving dividends from its 34% ownership of the mine in 2032 as originally expected. Continue Reading →