The Dirty, Deadly Price We Pay for Clean Cars – by Janet Paskin, Yang Yang, Naomi Ng and Jessica Beck (Bloomberg News – June 17, 2024)

(Bloomberg) — Never miss an episode. Follow The Big Take Asia podcast today.

Indonesia’s nickel business is booming. The metal is a key component in electric car batteries, but its success has a dark side. The country’s nickel mines and processing plants have a history of fatal accidents, with workers being run over by forklifts and burnt to death in smelter fires.

Today on The Big Take Asia, host Janet Paskin speaks with Bloomberg Businessweek editor Matt Campbell about his investigation into the mines. He found that nickel sourced from these plants are present in the supply chain that feeds virtually every major seller of EVs, and is an indispensable part of the car industry’s green revolution.

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China’s EV drive accelerates in Latin America – by Margaret Myers (East Asia Forum – June 2024)

Margaret Myers is director of the Asia and Latin America Program at the Inter-American Dialogue.

As the United States slaps tariffs on Chinese electronic vehicles (EV) and the EU increases its own protective measures, the Latin American market remains relatively open to imports of Chinese cars and investment in local EV production and critical minerals. Efforts in Washington and Brussels to level the EV playing field will likely result in trade diversion to Latin America and other regions, encouraging a process already well underway.

China has been active in expanding its capacity in overseas EV sales and manufacturing, with a growing focus on developing markets. Even amid protectionist measures in the Global North, China’s total exports of low-cost EVs jumped 102 per cent year-on-year from 2021 to 2022, with Chinese companies exporting nearly 630,000 fully electric vehicles in 2022.

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Striking a Balance: The Philippines’ Path to Sustainable Critical Minerals Development – by Rocco Cartusciello (The Diplomat – June 21, 2024)

Manila is under pressure to begin exploiting its rich mineral deposits, but it needs to carefully consider the likely social and environmental costs.

The demand for critical minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and rare earth elements, has surged in recent years due to their role as essential components for modern technologies and green energy solutions. Under the Paris Agreement, meeting the world’s climate stabilization goal requires quadrupling mineral requirements for renewable energy technologies by 2040.

The Philippines, with largely untapped reserves of copper, gold, nickel, zinc, and silver, stands to economically benefit from this global surge in demand, necessitating greater investment in its mining sector. Currently, only 5 percent of these reserves have been explored, and just 3 percent are covered by mining contracts.

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EV transition drives Indonesia’s ‘dirty’ nickel boom – by A. Anantha Lakshmi (Financial Times – June 20, 2024)

Environmentalists accuse Jakarta of prioritising mining of key commodity over nation’s biodiverse rainforests

In just four years, Indonesia’s nickel industry has undergone a transformation — becoming a pivotal supplier of the commodity critical to electric vehicle batteries. But, as its importance grows, so has the south-east Asian nation’s reputation as a producer of “dirty” nickel.

Indonesia is now the world’s dominant supplier of the metal, following a boom triggered by President Joko Widodo’s ban on exports of raw nickel ore, in a bid to force foreign businesses to invest in the country and set up domestic processing plants.

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Cobalt Conundrum: India’s Deep-Sea Mining Push Challenges China’s Dominance, Sparks Tensions With Sri Lanka – Analysis – by Girish Linganna (Eurasia Review – June 21, 2024)


India is rushing to get permission to explore a cobalt-rich underwater mountain located in the middle of the Indian Ocean. However, there are other countries interested in the same area. Sri Lanka is also looking to mine precious minerals there, adding to the competition.

Cobalt is a critical mineral used in rechargeable batteries for smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles. It also plays a key role in making alloys for jet engines, gas turbines and cutting tools. Additionally, cobalt is used in medical implants and as a catalyst in the chemical industry.

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Opinion: Kashmiri Sapphires Set To Dazzle The World Again – by Shantanu Guha Ray ( – February 26, 2024)

A decade after a 19.88-carat Kashmir sapphireshattered auction records in Geneva, the potential return of the priceless gems from the strife-torn region to global markets is on the horizon.

The cushion-shaped sapphire, known as the Star of Kashmir, surprised buyers in 2013 with a sale price of nearly $3,483,017 (approximately ₹ 20 crore). Now, officials claim that more peacock blue-coloured sapphires will be mined in the Paddar region, one of the most inhospitable terrains in the bordering state.

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The former Afghan soldiers turning to gem mining to survive – by Kern Hendricks (Al Jazeera – August 18, 2023)

In remote Nuristan province, some who lost their jobs after the Taliban takeover are now working in artisanal mines to support their families amid a struggling economy.

Nuristan, Afghanistan – Like a crack of thunder, a deep blast echoes down a tree-lined valley a few kilometres from Parun, the capital of the northeastern Afghan province of Nuristan. At the base of a rocky hillside, smoke and chunks of rock spew from the mouth of a low tunnel. Some of the debris reaches the edge of a glassy river which runs through a small valley, causing ripples on the water’s surface.

Sheltering to one side of the tunnel entrance is Abdul Qader Abid. As the final pieces of shrapnel clatter to a standstill, he squints into the darkness of the tunnel. Rising, he wraps a green shawl around his mouth and nose, and heads into the billowing dust. There’s a payday glimmering in the rubble, and he’s eager to find it.

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A New Chinese Megaport in South America Is Rattling the U.S. – by Ryan Dubé and James T. Areddy (Wall Street Journal/ – June 14, 2024)

CHANCAY, Peru—In this serene town on South America’s Pacific coast, China is building a megaport that could challenge U.S. influence in a resource-rich region that Washington has long considered its backyard.

The Chancay deep-water port, rising here among pelicans and fishermen in small wooden boats, is important enough to Beijing that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to inaugurate it at the end of the year in his first trip to the continent since the pandemic.

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Gold rush grips Asia despite near-record prices – by Ashitha Shivaprasad and Brijesh Patel (Reuters – June 11, 2024)

SINGAPORE, June 12 (Reuters) – Demand for gold in Asia is surging despite prices hovering near the record highs it hit in May, industry officials say, as buyers snap up the metal to hedge against geopolitical and economic uncertainty.

Spot gold is trading a little over $2,300 per ounce, up about 12% year-to-date and only about 6% shy of the record high it hit last month. Lower confidence in other investment options, such as real estate and equities, is also a factor behind the demand for gold, analysts say.

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[Bre-X Gold Scandal] Bay Street in the shade – by Rita Trichur (Globe and Mail – June 11, 2024)

What do phony gold, a Russian godfather and a crypto scam have in common? They all illustrate how The Globe plays an important role in exposing corporate malfeasance

It was surely one of the clumsiest attempts ever to rewrite history. In 1996, Calgary-based Bre-X Minerals Ltd. spent months assuring investors it owned most of Busang, a mammoth gold deposit in Indonesia. But the following February, CEO David Walsh flipped the script.

“Some have mistakenly thought that we somehow owned 90 per cent of this property,” Walsh said at the time. “This was never the practical reality, nor was it ever a basis for the valuation of Bre-X stock.”

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Exploring the mystery of the man embroiled in a Canadian mining company’s billion-dollar gold scam – by Lucy Wallis (CBC News – June 7, 2024)

New podcast digs into the history of Bre-X Minerals’s claims of gold deep in the Indonesian jungle

On the morning of March 19, 1997, Michael de Guzman, chief geologist at Canadian mining company Bre-X Minerals, boarded a helicopter flight to travel to a remote jungle site in Indonesia. It was a journey he had made many times before, to a place where he had reported finding huge deposits of gold.

But this time, de Guzman never arrived. Twenty minutes into the journey, a rear door on the left-hand side of the helicopter opened and de Guzman plummeted to his death into the dense foliage below.

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China’s control and coercion in critical minerals – by Ian Satchewell (Australian Strategic Policy Institute – June 7, 2024)

Markets for critical minerals are no longer shaping up to be the next components of the global economy to be dominated by China. They already are.

While Western nations were sleeping, China built vertically integrated supply chains for several critical minerals vital to the energy transition and high technology applications, including defence equipment.

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China’s PBOC Halts Gold Purchases After Price Hits Record – by Yvonne Yue Li and Sybilla Gross (Bloomberg News – June 7, 2024)

(Bloomberg) — Gold fell the most in more than two years as surprise strength in a key US jobs report dashed hopes that the Federal Reserve will be able to start lowering borrowing costs soon.

Treasury yields and the dollar surged after the US government’s May employment report showed job growth exceeded expectations and wages were hot. Bullion slumped as much as 3.1%, the most since March 2022, while base metals also tumbled.

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Metals expert warns of shortage of high-grade nickel near 2030 – by Erwida Maulia (Asia Nikkei – June 7, 2024)

Comes amid surging demand from EV battery producers

JAKARTA — Demand for the kind of high-grade nickel used to make electric vehicle batteries is set to outpace supply in the coming years, a metals expert said at an industry conference in Indonesia this week.

Allan Ray Restauro, a metals and mining analyst at energy researcher BloombergNEF, told the Indonesia Miner event in Jakarta that output of so-called Class 1 nickel is unlikely to accelerate rapidly enough to catch up with growing demand, even as production of lower-quality varieties of the metal surges.

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South Korea, Africa leaders pledge deeper ties, critical mineral development – by Hyonhee Shin (Reuters – June 4, 2024)

GOYANG, South Korea, June 4 (Reuters) – South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and the leaders of African countries agreed on Tuesday to forge deeper trade and business cooperation and launched a “critical minerals dialogue” aimed at sustainable development of the continent’s resources.

Hosting a first-ever summit with the leaders of 48 African nations, Yoon said South Korea would increase development aid for Africa to $10 billion over the next six years as it looks to tap the continent’s rich mineral resources and potential as a vast export market.

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