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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Dragons fly as Chinese millennials take a shine to gold – by Emily Chow (Reuters – August 28, 2021)

https://www.reuters.com/

SHANGHAI, Aug 29 (Reuters) – For many affluent young Chinese consumers, modern simplicity is out and tradition is back in when it comes to jewellery.

Sales of gold bracelets, pendants, earrings and necklaces that draw on dragons, phoenixes, peonies and other traditional Chinese patterns and symbols are flying among consumers, especially those in their 20s and 30s, helping drive a rebound in gold demand in the country after a pandemic-induced slump.

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China Driving Global Diamond Demand – by Paul Zimnisky (Solitaire International – August 2021)

https://gjepc.org/

Mainland Chinese jewellers continue to open new stores at a record pace as the government stimulates domestic consumption.

In the company’s most recently concluded fiscal quarter, i.e. calendar-Q2, China’s largest jeweller Chow Tai Fook said it saw company-wide sales soar 70% year-over-year driven by “buoyant consumer sentiment” in Mainland China and “continued recovery” in Hong Kong and Macau markets.

However, perhaps most notably management also said that the company opened 259 net new stores, all in Mainland China, bringing the company-wide total to 4,850 (see below chart).

Chow Tai Fook’s store count has surged in recent years as the company uses a franchising model to leverage “local knowledge” in new Mainland China markets. The strategy allows the company to penetrate smaller but rapidly growing cities colloquially referred to as “Tier III, IV and V” sized cities.

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Afghanistan: Taliban to reap $1 trillion mineral wealth – by Nik Martin (DW.com – August 18, 2021)

https://www.dw.com/en/

To date, the Taliban have profited from the opium and heroin trade. Now the militant group effectively rules a country with valuable resources that China needs to grow its economy.

The Taliban have been handed a huge financial and geopolitical edge in relations with the world’s biggest powers as the militant group seizes control of Afghanistan for a second time.

In 2010, a report by US military experts and geologists estimated that Afghanistan, one of the world’s poorest countries, was sitting on nearly $1 trillion (€850 billion) in mineral wealth, thanks to huge iron, copper, lithium, cobalt and rare-earth deposits.

In the subsequent decade, most of those resources remained untouched due to ongoing violence in the country. Meanwhile, the value of many of those minerals has skyrocketed, sparked by the global transition to green energy. A follow-up report by the Afghan government in 2017 estimated that Kabul’s new mineral wealth may be as high as $3 trillion, including fossil fuels.

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