OPINION: Make no mistake, there’s an economic war happening, and the West is losing – by George Salamis and Mike St-Pierre (Globe and Mail – May 23, 2024)


George Salamis, Lieutenant-Colonel (Hon) of the Royal Westminster Regiment, is executive chair of Integra Resources, a Canadian-based mining company that develops gold and silver mines in Canada and the U.S. Mike St-Pierre is a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Canadian Navy.

A global race is under way to secure critical minerals essential to power the next generation of civilian and military technology and to electrify the future. Control of global supply chains has become the new strategic centre of gravity, where access to minerals and metals are strategic weapons. The West is losing the resource war that targets our core social and political values. At stake is the national security of the West.

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Critical minerals need insulation from China’s market manipulation – by Angus Barker (Australian Strategic Policy Institution – May 21, 2024)


Investors can handle lots of different risks. They can price risks in construction, interest rates, weather and, with hedging, price movements in product markets. But the one risk they can’t price is political risk, the chance of some government action ruining profits. You can’t hedge against it.

How should we respond when, as the chief executive of critical-minerals company Iluka said this month, when accusing China of rigging rare earths prices, ‘monopolistic production, combined with interference in pricing … is resulting in market failure’? How should we respond when price risk is political risk?

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China Is Winning the Minerals War – by Jon Emont (Wall Street Journal/MSN.com – May 2024)


SINGAPORE—For the past few years, the West has been trying to break China’s grip on minerals that are critical for defense and green technologies. Despite their efforts, Chinese companies are becoming more dominant, not less. They are expanding operations, supercharging supply and causing prices to drop. Their challengers can’t compete.

“China is not just standing still waiting for us to catch up,” said Morgan Bazilian, director of the Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines. “They are making investments on top of their already massive investments in all aspects of the critical-minerals supply chain.”

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Ottawa, Washington join forces to fund junior Canadian critical-minerals companies in face of trade war with China – by Naill McGee (Globe and Mail – May 17, 2024)


Ottawa and Washington have teamed up for the first time to invest in two Canadian mining exploration companies, as both governments attempt to bolster the North American critical-minerals supply chain in the face of an escalating trade war with China.

Ontario cobalt developer Fortune Minerals Ltd. and Quebec graphite exploration company Lomiko Metals Inc. have been awarded about $32.4-million in combined funding, the U.S. and Canada said in a joint statement Thursday. The Canadian contribution is part of the $3.8-billion in funding for the critical-minerals sector that was unveiled in the 2023 federal budget and is coming from Natural Resources Canada.

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Congo Demands International Embargo on Rwandan Mineral Exports – by Michael J. Kavanagh (Bloomberg News – May 15, 2024)


(Bloomberg) — Democratic Republic of Congo called for an international embargo of metal exports from neighboring Rwanda, whose government it accuses of using rebel groups to steal its natural resources.

All mining products from Rwanda should be considered “blood minerals,” because their sale allegedly supports conflict in eastern Congo, Mines Minister Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi said in a May 8 statement released on Tuesday. “All stakeholders, including end consumers of mining products,” should commit to a responsible supply chain, and “an embargo be decreed against Rwanda,” she said.

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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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US Blames China’s CMOC for Predatory Tactics Behind Cobalt Glut – by Michael J. Kavanagh (Bloomberg News – May 14, 2024)


(Bloomberg) — China’s CMOC Group Ltd. is being accused by a top US official of using “predatory” tactics to depress prices of a key battery metal by flooding the market with cobalt from Democratic Republic of Congo mines.

“What we’re seeing now, I feel, is a variation of predatory pricing,” Jose Fernandez, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, said Monday at a conference in New York sponsored by the Cobalt Institute industry group.

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The Titanium Supply Chain For The Aerospace Industry Goes Through Russia – by Willy Shih (Forbes Magazine – March 6, 2022)


The terrible war in Ukraine and subsequent sanctions placed on many Russian organizations have raised questions about potential supply chain vulnerabilities. While Russia is mostly an exporter of resources like oil, gas, and metals, one market where it is a dominant player is for titanium and titanium forgings. Many people are waking up to the potential consequences of a longer-term stoppage in the flow of these critical materials.

Titanium and titanium alloys have unique properties: they are lightweight and have a very high ratio of strength to weight. Their density is typically around 60% that of steel. They withstand high temperatures, and have a high resistance to corrosion.

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Militaries, Metals, and Mining – by Fabian Villalobos & Morgan Bazilian (New Security Beat – April 17, 2023)


In the early 1960s, Soviet fulfillment officers at the Berezniki and Zaporozh’ye ilmenite mines must have noticed an uptick in worldwide demand for titanium. Orders for titanium sponge were increasing around the globe, and the Soviet Union reacted by increasing production rapidly.

Yet some of these deliveries resulting from this boost in production were not reaching their intended customers. In fact, some of their customers didn’t even exist. Little did the Soviet producers know that it was actually the CIA on the receiving end of these shipments.

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Ukraine’s Titanium Can Armor the West – by Stephen Blank (CEPA.org – September 14, 2022)


Support for Ukraine has been driven by strategic concerns and moral-political values. But long-term Western help should also be based on solid material interests.

Ukraine is blessed with many natural resources and an abundant agricultural sector, as Andrew Michta, Dean of the College of International Studies at the Marshall Center, has reminded us. Supporting it now, and throughout its postwar reconstruction, makes eminent good sense and could help drive the regeneration of Eastern European economies, while also cementing Ukraine’s integration into Europe. This is a vital US and allied interest.

Also consider Ukraine’s substantial titanium deposits, a good example of a key resource critical to the West. The metal is integral to many defense systems (aircraft parts, missiles, armor plating, and naval vessels) as well as surgical procedures. Its strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to corrosion allow the manufacture of lightweight and durable equipment which works even in extreme conditions.

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CRMA: Rare earth elements a potential blindspot for EU policymakers and industry – report – by Amanda Stutt (Mining.com – May 13, 2024)


When the European Union passed the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) into law it was a landmark accomplishment that will strengthen critical raw materials supply chains – but not without some foreseeable challenges, according to a new report published by Adamas Intelligence.

While the EU published its first list of Critical Raw Materials in 2011 (there were originally 14 inclusions), it took over a decade to conceive, rally political support for, and ultimately announce the CRMA in September 2022, Adamas notes.

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Two years after start of Ukraine war, Russian titanium keeps flowing to West – by Adam Taylor (Washington Post/Yahoo News – March 22, 2024)


Western firms bought hundreds of millions of dollars of titanium metal from a Russian company with deep ties to the country’s defense industry after the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, according to a review of Russian export data.

The purchases illustrate how the West remains dependent on Russia for certain products despite pledges to break economic ties with Moscow. In the case of titanium, that dependence raises security concerns, industry and defense analysts say, as the metal is vital in the manufacturing of both commercial and military airplanes.

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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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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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