Archive | Cobalt, Critical, Strategic and Rare Earth Minerals and Metals

Supply glut pushes down rare-metal prices – by Hiroki Masuda (Nikkei Asian Review – August 14, 2019)

https://asia.nikkei.com/

China’s possible policy shift on hybrid cars further dampens market sentiment

TOKYO — Prices for rare-earth metals are falling sharply, with the price of cobalt dropping 30% since the start of the year, and that for lithium remaining sluggish.

Global markets are swimming in rare earths, as production has outstripped demand for the batteries used to power electric vehicles. Speculation is rife that demand for the commodities will slow further as China considers promoting production of hybrid cars, which require fewer rare earths. This is further stifling market sentiment.

Cobalt and lithium are mainly used to make cathodes for lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars. Spot prices for cobalt in Europe are near three-year lows. Continue Reading →

Column: Glencore and the perils of riding the electric vehicle tiger – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – August 8, 2019)

https://uk.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Glencore has “a key role to play in enabling the transition to a low-carbon economy,” according to Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg, writing in the company’s 2018 annual report.

Glencore’s “well-positioned portfolio” includes metals at the heart of the electric vehicle (EV) revolution such as copper, cobalt and nickel. But the global metals and marketing powerhouse has just found out that riding the EV tiger can be perilous as well.

The company reported a 32% drop in first-half core profit on Wednesday thanks in large part to problems at its African copper-cobalt business. Continue Reading →

Trump’s quest to quit China’s rare earths hits outback Australia – by David Stringer (Bloomberg/Minneapolis Star Tribune – August 7, 2019)

http://www.startribune.com/

The remote Outback region of northern Australia would seem an unlikely outpost in the simmering global trade war, but the mining hot spot may help solve a critical issue for the U.S. — the supply of rare earths.

Last October, two U.S. Geological Survey scientists visited a newly recognized type of rare earths deposit about 100 miles southeast of Halls Creek in Western Australia. Rare earths, a group of 17 vital elements needed in components for missile systems, consumer electronics and electric vehicles, have become a more important battleground after China signaled it may restrict shipments to the U.S.

“All of a sudden, you’ve got the U.S. government realizing they have a problem,” said George Bauk, chief executive officer of Northern Minerals Ltd., who has held talks in Washington and hosted the U.S. scientists at the company’s remote Browns Range project. Continue Reading →

Chinese demand for ‘green’ metals increasing ‘exceptionally fast’ – Glencore – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – August 7, 2019)

https://m.miningweekly.com/

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The demand for environmentally protective ‘green’ metals is increasing exceptionally fast, boosted by a 59% increase in electric vehicle production in China, Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg said on Wednesday.

In response to Mining Weekly Online during a post-results conference call, Glasenberg reiterated that Glencore had the right range of metals for which demand was poised to rise as the world decarbonised. But while demand growth remained positive, supply was low, with easily accessible high-quality resources running out.

The London- and Johannesburg-listed Glencore is a producer and a marketer of metals including copper, nickel and cobalt, which are all well positioned for future outcomes, despite the cobalt price being down currently. Continue Reading →

China’s rare earth producers say they are ready to weaponise their supply stranglehold, pass any tariff as cost to US customers – by Eric Ng (South China Morning Post – August 7, 2019)

https://www.scmp.com/

China’s rare earth producers, who control the lion’s share of the world’s output of the elements, said they are ready to use their dominance of the industry as a weapon in the country’s year-long trade war with their customers in the United States.

Chinese producers will pass any tariffs on their exports to customers, in a move that would almost certainly add to the cost of the magnets, motors, light-emitting diodes and hundreds of other devices, according to an industry guild that represents almost 300 miners, processors and manufacturers of rare earth-based products.

The industry “resolutely supports the nation’s counter measures against US import tariffs on Chinese products,” the Association of China Rare Earth Industry said in a statement yesterday citing the consensus from an August 5 meeting. “US consumers must shoulder the costs from US-imposed tariffs.” Continue Reading →

Clean energy dream fuels a dirty mineral rush (RT.com – August 8, 2019)

https://www.rt.com/

A future of environment-friendly energy, where dirty engines and power plants rust in history’s scrapyard, is an idyllic vision. In the cynical real world, the rush for green batteries is fueling a harmful mining boom.

By 2030, there will be 140 million electric cars on Earth, and by 2040 every third vehicle will be powered by green electricity instead of the fossil fuels that have been slowly choking the environment for the past couple centuries. That’s according to assessments by Glencore Plc and BloombergNEF.

Sounds like we’re on the right track and Greta Thunberg’s zero-emission dream could be achieved within her lifetime. Humanity is finally coming to its senses.

Get digging

Not quite. All those cars will need batteries, and all those batteries will need to be built with a small periodic table of minerals. And all those minerals need to be mined – in some cases strip-mining the rest of the planet’s explored deposits. Continue Reading →

Cobalt, Africa setbacks shrink Glencore’s first-half profit – by Yadarisa Shabong and Barbara Lewis (Reuters Canada – August 7, 2019)

https://ca.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Glencore (GLEN.L) reported a 32% drop in first-half core profit on Wednesday, sending its shares to their lowest since late 2016, while a fall in cobalt prices prompted it to halt output for two years at the world’s biggest mine of the battery material.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were $5.58 billion for the six months ended June 30 against $8.18 billion a year earlier.

The company’s shares were trading nearly 2% lower by 1139 GMT, recovering slightly from losses that took them to their weakest since October 2016. Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg blamed “a challenging economic backdrop for our commodity mix” and setbacks during the ramp-up of operations in Africa. Continue Reading →

Glencore Plans to Shut Giant Cobalt and Copper Mine in Congo – by Thomas Biesheuvel and William Clowes (Bloomberg News – August 6, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Glencore Plc is planning to halt production at one of the world’s biggest cobalt mines after prices for the battery metal collapsed and costs at the project increased, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The announcement that Glencore will close its Mutanda mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo is expected to come as the company lays out an overhaul of its key African copper and cobalt business when it releases first-half results on Wednesday.

It would be another setback for Glencore, which has been dogged by operational problems, legal challenges and a rift with Congo’s government over a new mining code. Continue Reading →

Former Mine In Missouri’s Old Lead Belt To Be Reopened For Cobalt Mining – by Eli Chen (St. Louis Public Radio – July 31, 2019)

https://news.stlpublicradio.org/

Missouri Mining Inc. plans to create up to 700 jobs by reopening a mine at a Superfund site in Fredericktown, Missouri.

The company wants to extract cobalt from the Madison Mine, which it purchased last year. The mine has been inactive since the 1960s and is a part of the Madison County Mines Superfund site, an area contaminated by historic lead mining.

Environmental Operations, a Missouri Mining subsidiary, plans to begin cleaning up the site this winter. Missouri Cobalt, another Missouri Mining subsidiary, could hire as many as 400 temporary workers and 250 permanent workers to rebuild and operate the mine. Continue Reading →

Glencore feels pain of Africa risk, cobalt price fall – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – July 31, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Glencore said on Wednesday it faced a $350 million hit after cobalt prices halved and has begun an overhaul of its under-performing Africa business, which it will explain next week with output revisions in Democratic Republic of Congo.

First-half copper production was 5% lower than last year, while cobalt output rose 28%. Zinc and coal output rose 8% and 10% respectively and nickel dropped 11% versus the same time last year because of maintenance.

London-listed Glencore’s exposure to risk in Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia has weighed on the company’s share price, which has fallen while those of its diversified mining peers have risen. Continue Reading →

Rare earths filtered from phosphate mine waste (Mining Magazine – July 30, 2019)

https://www.miningmagazine.com/

The project for the Florida Industrial and Phosphate Research Institute had the aim of capturing, extracting and separating rare earth elements (REE) out of both phosphoric acid and the resulting waste.

Precision Periodic, which is a University of Central Florida incubator company, has developed a proprietary nano-filter for extracting and releasing multiple REEs, precious metals, heavy metals and/or radioactive elements out of acidic liquids. It is both reusable and scalable for different size applications.

With the Thor nano-filtration system, the test team was able to capture 40-60% of the REEs and radioactive elements in a five-minute, single pass-through from wet process phosphoric acid, and 80% of the REEs in a five-minute, single pass-through from sulphuric acid leached waste. Continue Reading →

How China’s supply of rare minerals, used in products like the iPhone, is causing a headache for Washington – by Matthew Field and James Titcomb (The Daily Telegraph – July 28, 2019)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Among the rocky scrubland of the Clark Mountain range in San Bernardino County in California, MP Material’s Mountain Pass mine has been clunking back into action.

America’s only rare earth metals mine is being brought back into service as the trade war between the US and China rages. The conflict now threatens the supply of key metals that go into wind turbines, electric cars and billions of smartphones. These metals, found in Apple’s iPhone, are increasingly being seen as a clever bargaining chip by China.

Apple’s iPhone has been the powerhouse behind years of world-beating earnings from the California company, and, despite a global slowdown, investors are expecting another strong showing this week. Continue Reading →

Rare Earths in the US-China Trade War – by Mercy A. Kuo (The Diplomat – July 23, 2019)

https://thediplomat.com/

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Ryan Castilloux – Managing Director of Adamas Intelligence, a Canadian independent research and advisory firm focused on strategic metals and minerals – is the 198th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

Explain the strategic importance of rare earth elements in U.S. commercial and military technology.

From a commercial standpoint, the rare earth lanthanum is used in the U.S. to produce fuel cracking catalysts that break down crude oil into lighter hydrocarbons like gasoline, diesel, and kerosene.

Similarly, neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium are used to produce high-strength permanent magnets that are critical enablers of electric vehicle traction motors, wind power generators, energy-efficient appliances, consumer electronics, and an ever-growing list of other modern technologies. Continue Reading →

Send in the troops: Congo raises the stakes on illegal mining – by Aaron Ross (Reuters U.S. – July 17, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

DAKAR (Reuters) – A Congolese army officer arrived in the village of Kafwaya in June and warned residents not to trespass on a major Chinese copper and cobalt mine next door. As night fell about a week later, the soldiers moved in.

“They didn’t say anything to anyone,” said Fabien Ilunga, an official in Kafwaya, which is home to thousands of miners eking out a living by illegally exploiting the nearby mineral resources. “The army started to burn down the tarpaulin houses.”

Deploying soldiers to clear tens of thousands of illegal informal miners from mining concessions is a new approach by the authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo, who have wrestled with the problem for decades. Continue Reading →

Washington continues critical inquiries into rare earths and uranium supply chains – by Greg Klein (Resource Clips – July 15, 2019)

http://resourceclips.com/

While somewhat relaxing its concern about uranium, the U.S. appears increasingly worried about rare earths supply. A Reuters exclusive says Washington has begun an inventory to itemize domestic RE projects.

“The Pentagon wants miners to describe plans to develop U.S. rare earths mines and processing facilities, and asked manufacturers to detail their needs for the minerals, according to the document, which is dated June 27,” the news agency reported.

“Responses are required by July 31, a short time frame that underscores the Pentagon’s urgency.” The request mentions the possibility of investment by the military, Reuters added. Continue Reading →