Nickel, guns and foreign powers: How France’s New Caledonia reached the brink of ‘civil war’ ( – May 16, 2024)

Violent protests have erupted in France’s South Pacific archipelago as decades-old tensions come to a head.

PARIS — Nickel-rich New Caledonia could have been France’s Eldorado. Instead, it has once again turned into a security time bomb. Ongoing violent protests in the French overseas territory in the South Pacific, which have already led to the death of five people around the Caledonian capital of Nouméa, have put the French government on high alert.

President Emmanuel Macron canceled several official events to hold emergency meetings, and declared a state of emergency giving the executive branch more powers to keep the situation under control. “The situation remains very tense,” French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal warned Thursday following a new emergency meeting, after the local representative for the French state said a “civil war” was imminent.

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Billionaire-backed KoBold, Midnight Sun team up for Zambia copper discovery – by Henry Lazenby (Northern Miner – May 2024)

KoBold Metals, a U.S.-based startup supported by high-profile investors such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, is venturing into Zambia’s rich copper belt. In February it partnered with Canada’s Midnight Sun Mining (TSXV: MMA) to explore the promising Dumbwa target within the Solwezi copper project.

This strategic alliance will leverage KoBold’s advanced data science techniques and Midnight Sun’s extensive local experience. The goal is for KoBold to earn a 75% stake in the Dumbwa target by investing US$15 million in exploration and making US$500,000 in cash payments over 4.5 years.

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Opinion: We’re falling further behind China in critical minerals – by Heather Exner-Pirot (Financial Post – May 16, 2024)

China is working hard to maintain its control of the rare earths markets that are critical to net-zero. We’re barely in the game

At the time, the opening of a small rare earths mine in the Northwest Territories in 2021 was heralded as an important step in breaking China’s monopoly over this strategic commodity. Rare earths are used in everything from electric vehicles and cell phones to wind turbines and jet engines.

China currently extracts more than 60 per cent of rare earth elements and processes as much as 90 per cent of global supply. The case of Vital Metals and the Nechalacho mine show just how far it’s willing to go to maintain a stranglehold on the rare earths market. What was once a hopeful story is now a cautionary tale.

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Seeking Access to Congo’s Metals, White House Aims to Ease Sanctions – by Eric Lipton (New York Times – May 16, 2024)

A deal to allow the Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler to cash out his mining positions in the Democratic Republic of Congo has enraged human rights activists and some government officials.

Three years after Biden administration officials tightened sanctions on a billionaire Israeli mining executive for corrupt business practices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they have reversed themselves and are offering the executive a deal they hope will bolster the supply of a metal vital to electric vehicles.

The plan would allow the executive, Dan Gertler, to sell off his remaining stakes in three giant copper and cobalt mining operations in Congo. Once Mr. Gertler sells his positions, the Biden administration hopes Western-leaning companies will be more willing to invest in Congo, perhaps delivering a greater supply of cobalt to the United States as automakers race to increase domestic production of batteries.

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Stellantis in talks with Vale to invest in Indonesian nickel smelter – by A. Anantha Lakshi and Harry Dempsey (Financial Times – May 13, 2024)

Deal would bring rare western investor to world’s biggest producer of commodity critical to electric cars

Stellantis is in talks with Vale and China’s Huayou Cobalt to invest in a nickel smelter in Indonesia and secure supplies of the battery metal critical to its electric vehicle expansion plans, in a deal that if finalised would bring a rare western investor into Indonesia’s nickel industry.

Stellantis, owner of the Peugeot, Fiat and Jeep brands, is in discussions with Vale Indonesia to invest in a high-pressure acid leaching plant that converts low-grade nickel ore to battery-grade metal, three people familiar with the matter said.

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Copper can’t be mined fast enough to electrify the US – by Morgan Sherburne (Michigan News – May 15, 2024)


Copper cannot be mined quickly enough to keep up with current U.S. policy guidelines to transition the country’s electricity and vehicle infrastructure to renewable energy, according to a University of Michigan study.

The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law in 2022, calls for 100% of cars manufactured to be electric vehicles by 2035. But an electric vehicle requires three to five times as much copper as an internal combustion engine vehicle—not to mention the copper required for upgrades to the electric grid.

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Push for new US lithium mine leaves some Americans wary (France – May 15, 2024)

Lincolnton (United States) (AFP) – When Kristal Lee and her husband bought a house in Gaston County, North Carolina two years ago, they envisioned a “forever home”. But a planned lithium mine is bringing Lee sleepless nights.

Nearby is an area earmarked for a $1.2 billion project to produce battery grade lithium for US electric vehicle (EV) supply chains — one of only a few such sites in the country. “You get very anxious when you hear about it,” she said of the project by Piedmont Lithium.

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Canada’s next EV supply chain plant landing in Port Colborne, Ont. – by Janyce McGregor (CBC News Politics – May 13, 2024)

Joint venture between Asahi Kasei Corp., Honda Canada will build Canada’s 1st lithium ion separator plant

The next community set for a massive boost to its local economy as part of Honda Canada’s $15-billion investment to establish a Canadian electric vehicle supply chain will be Port Colborne, Ont.

Company executives are expected to join Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, as well as federal Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Ontario’s economic development minister, Vic Fedeli, and municipal leaders at an official announcement on Tuesday.

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Anglo goes for bold breakup plan in move to fend off BHP – by Thomas Biesheuvel and William Clowes (Bloomberg News – May 14, 2024)

Anglo American Plc will exit diamond, platinum and coal mining in a massive restructuring designed to fend off a £34 billion (US$43 billion) bid from rival BHP Group and turn itself into a copper giant.

Anglo’s hand was forced by BHP’s approach — which it has twice rejected — but the move also responds to pressure from shareholders to shed less profitable businesses and focus on the copper assets that are the envy of the industry. It leaves a much simpler company — and a potentially more attractive one to suitors.

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Why the World Has Gone Cuckoo for Copper – by Julie Steinberg (Wall Street Journal/ – May 14, 2024)

After one of the world’s top copper producers recently hit a financial crunch, the Biden administration started huddling with potential investors about taking a stake in the company’s Zambian mines worth as much as $3 billion.

The search isn’t restricted to American companies, with entities from the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Saudi Arabia—all viewed as friendly to U.S. interests—expressing interest in the stake in First Quantum Minerals’ assets, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Indigenous group to take fight against Arizona copper mine to Supreme Court – by Clark Mindock (Reuters – May 14, 2024)

May 14 (Reuters) – A Native American group said on Tuesday it will take its fight against Rio Tinto’s proposed Arizona copper mine to the U.S. Supreme Court, after a federal appeals court refused to reconsider whether the U.S. government may have improperly transferred land to the developer.

The group said they would ask the high court to weigh in after the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a longshot bid to have the full 29-judge court reconsider earlier decisions not to block a land grant for the project. The court did not provide an explanation for its decision.

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B.C. mining is having a moment, thanks to energy transition – Nelson Bennett (Business In Vancouver – May 9, 2024)

Value of 17 critical mineral mine proposals in B.C. are ‘eye popping’ says mining association president
Mining has never been viewed as exactly environmentally friendly. Mines and miners have often been the target of NGOs for the impacts mining can have on water, land and Indigenous communities.

But because mining plays such an important role in the energy transition needed to address climate change, there is increasing support for mining by governments, First Nations and the general public. The need for critical minerals to supply the energy transition poses a huge opportunity for B.C., said Michael Goehring, president of the Mining Association of BC (MABC).

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Electric vehicle mandates mean misery all round – by Matthew Lau (Financial Post – May 9, 2024)

A crunch is coming as Ottawa keeps pushing its 2035 ban on gas-powered cars even as the demand for EVs begins to sag

News of slowing demand for electric vehicles highlights the hazards of the federal government’s Soviet-style mandate that 100 per cent of new light-duty vehicles sold must be electric or plug-in hybrid by 2035 (with interim targets of 20 per cent by 2026 and 60 per cent by 2030 and steep penalties for dealers missing these targets).

The targets were wild to begin with. As Manhattan Institute senior fellow Mark P. Mills observed, Canadian-style bans on conventional vehicles and mandated switches to electric mean “consumers will need to adopt EVs at a scale and velocity 10 times greater and faster than the introduction of any new model of car in history.”

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Savannah could request compulsory land acquisitions for Portuguese lithium project – by Catarina Demony and Pietro Lombardi (Reuters – May 9, 2024)

LISBON, May 9 (Reuters) – London-based Savannah Resources will if necessary ask Portugal’s government to authorise compulsory land acquisitions for its planned lithium mines in the country’s north, CEO Emanuel Proenca said, adding that it prefers “friendly deals”.

The company requires around 840 hectares for its four-mine project in the Barroso region, but according to data from September 2023, it had acquired or was in process of acquiring just 93 hectares.

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The Tiny Nation at the Vanguard of Mining the Ocean Floor – by Pete McKenzie (New York Times – May 9, 2024)

Below the waters of the Cook Islands, population 15,000, lie minerals used to power electric cars. Extracting them could bring riches, but many say it’s a bad idea.

Two ships arrived in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific in March of last year. One was a familiar sight: a massive cruise ship, bringing hundreds of tourists to the pristine shores of this nation of 15,000 people. The other, a neon-orange vessel hauling complex scientific equipment, was more unusual.

On a nearby wharf, Prime Minister Mark Brown and many other prominent citizens had gathered to celebrate the smaller boat’s arrival. To Mr. Brown, the cruise ship represented his country’s troubling dependence on tourism. He described the other vessel, owned by an international mining company, as a harbinger of incredible wealth.

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