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

State, Campbell County pursue rare earth opportunities – by Greg Johnson (Wyoming Tribune Eagle – July 7, 2020)

GILLETTE — As flagging coal and oil revenues continue to implode the Wyoming budget by hundreds of millions of dollars, momentum is growing for a more down-to-earth solution.

A push to resurrect the nation’s ability to produce and refine rare earth elements has made some people wonder whether that also could be the phoenix that rises from the ashes of the Powder River Basin’s legacy coal mining industry.

More specifically, from the ash produced by area coal-fired power plants. Typically a waste product of burning coal to make electricity, coal ash also contains rare earths, which are elements with unique properties that are essential for many technologies like electronics, health care equipment and national defense. Continue Reading →

Bill Gates-Backed Company to Hunt for Cobalt Near Glencore Mine – by Jack Farchy (Bloomberg News – July 7, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — A startup backed by a group of tycoons including Bill Gates plans to use data-crunching algorithms to search for cobalt near a Canadian nickel mine owned by Glencore Plc.

Kobold Metals has acquired rights to an area of about 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) — roughly the size of New York City — in northern Quebec, according to Chief Executive Officer Kurt House. It’s the first such foray by the company to become public.

San Francisco Bay Area-based Kobold Metals is hoping to use data analytics to build a “Google Maps for the earth’s crust.” Continue Reading →

Only mill in the US able to process uranium-rare earth ores open for business – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud ( – June 28, 2020)

As the US pushes to dilute China’s monopoly and develop a domestic rare earth supply, Colorado-based Energy Fuels (TSX: EFR) is working towards being at the forefront in the race.

Energy Fuels is the owner of the White Mesa Mill in Utah, the only fully-licensed and operating conventional uranium mill in the United States. The facility is normally used to process radioactive ore and produce yellowcake but now some areas are likely to be transformed to allow for the processing of uranium-rare earth ores.

“Our rare earth elements program intends to make the mill available for miners to process their uranium-rare earth ores in the US. Such a facility does not currently exist,” Mark Chalmers, president and CEO of Energy Fuels, told MINING.COM. Continue Reading →

Chile’s lithium miners consume 65% of region’s water – by Micheal McCrae ( – June 24, 2020)

The social license for battery material producers is challenged by water depletion, toxic dust and worker exploitation, according to a report released Wednesday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Miners in the Democractic Republic of Congo face challenges operating in a country with few worker protections.

“[About] 20% of cobalt supplied from the DRC comes from artisanal mines where child labour and human rights abuses have been reported. Up to 40,000 children work in extremely dangerous conditions in the mines for meagre income,” write the report’s authors. Continue Reading →

Congo officials vow to tackle child labour at mines as virus threatens spike – by Malaicka Adihe (Reuters U.K. – June 23, 2020)

KINSHASA, June 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo’s southeastern mining heartland are boosting efforts to tackle child labour amid concerns that the coronavirus pandemic could drive more families to put their children to work in mines, officials said.

Congo is Africa’s main producer of copper and the top global source of cobalt, accounting for two-thirds of global supplies of the metal used in smartphones and electric car batteries.

Mining accounts for 32% of Congo’s national output and the economy has been hard hit by the pandemic, which has slowed demand for metals and other raw materials. Continue Reading →

Column: Tesla’s reluctant commitment to cobalt a warning to others – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – June 23, 2020)

LONDON (Reuters) – The unpredictable Elon Musk strikes again. Just when his electric vehicle (EV) company Tesla seemed to be pivoting away from using cobalt in its batteries, it signs a long-term supply deal for the controversial metal with Glencore.

This from the man who has vowed to eliminate cobalt from the Tesla product mix because of its financial cost and the reputational cost of a metal associated with child labour and poor safety conditions at artisanal mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s dominant producer.

Tesla’s not the first auto company to lock in future cobalt supplies with a miner. BMW did the same last year, also with Glencore as well as with the Bou-Azzer mine in Morocco. Continue Reading →

Beware of China’s Rare Earth Recycling Dominance — Is It Too Late for North America? – by Kiril Mugerman (June 10, 2020)


Kiril Mugerman is President & CEO of GeoMega Resources, a rare earth clean technologies developer for mining and recycling. [email protected]

Rare earth elements (REE) are used in many devices that people use every day including mobile phones, catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting, computer memory, DVDs, rechargeable batteries, and much more.

China, which produces more than 90% of the world’s REE, plays a dominant role in producing rare-earth elements—one that is forcing users of these metals to look for alternative sources.

REE are not rare as their name might imply and, in fact, have abundancies in the Earth’s crust that range from as high as that of copper, cobalt and lithium and to as low as that of tin. Continue Reading →

Tesla Addresses Zero-Cobalt Future in Latest Impact Report – by Jowy Klender (Auto Body News – June 9, 2020)

Tesla outlined its goal for responsible cobalt sourcing in its latest 2019 Impact Report, released on June 8.

The automaker plans to eventually produce a zero-cobalt battery for its vehicles and energy products, in its bid to source metals in a responsible fashion that maintains not only the integrity of the company but also the human rights of those involved in the sourcing of raw materials.

“Tesla’s batteries use nickel-rich cathode materials which contain less cobalt than other widely use cathode chemistries in the industry with our ultimate goal being to eliminate cobalt completely from our cells,” notes Tesla in its Impact Report. Continue Reading →

DRC artisanal cobalt ‘vital’ to market balance, but getting harder to track: Mining Week – by Diana Kinch and Richard Rubin (S&P Global Platts – June 9, 2020)

London — Artisanal supplies from the Democratic Republic of Congo are vital to keep the cobalt market balanced, but have become harder to track and audit due to a higher incidence of local processing, participants in an introductory webinar to DRC Mining Week said June 9.

“Since 2016, most artisanal ore is blended and processed into cobalt hydroxide in the DRC, making it harder to track and audit supply chains,” said George Heppel, senior analyst, CRU Group, on the webinar organized by DRC Mining Week together with Mining Review Africa.

This contrasts to the situation before that date, when artisanally mined (ASM) cobalt was traditionally shipped directly to China in the form of concentrates, making it easy to trace, according to the analyst. Continue Reading →

Australia to supply critical minerals to India (Mining Technology – June 5, 2020)

Australia has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to supply India with critical minerals needed for the new-energy economy.

The latest announcement comes following the virtual summit between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

Australia Resources Minister Keith Pitt said: “My department has worked closely with the Ministry of Mines to develop the MoU, which focuses on avenues to increase trade, investment and R&D in critical minerals between our two countries. Continue Reading →

The Criticality of Developing a ‘Made in Canada’ Scandium Supply Chain – by Peter Cashin and Phil Chataigneau (June 5, 2020)

Peter Cashin is President & CEO of Imperial Mining Group and Phil Chataigneau the company’s Strategic Marketing Analyst.

Scandium has long been recognized as a grain‐refiner and hardener of aluminum alloys, however research and development completed to date in order to expand the use of this high-technology metal has been limited because global supply has been severely constrained. The limited availability of scandium in the commercial market, estimated at 35 metric tonnes per year, and the lack of an assured source of supply to provide material for new technologies and applications have limited its market growth.

Critical applications, although intriguing from a performance and capabilities enhancement standpoint, have been limited or ignored due to the lack of a reliable source of supply, high current cost, no scandium presence in the US Defense Stockpile and a 100% import reliance on China and Russia.

A new and reliable source of supply could enable the realization of the substantial benefits of scandium-aluminum alloy in aerospace and automotive lightweighting, military platform development and in fuel cell production. Continue Reading →

U.S. opens national security probe into vanadium imports (Reuters U.S. – June 2, 2020)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Commerce Department said on Tuesday it was opening an investigation into whether imports of vanadium, a metal used in aerospace, defense and energy applications, impair U.S. national security.

The “Section 232” probe is similar to ones that resulted in broad tariffs on steel and aluminum in 2018 and a probe underway into imports of titanium sponge.

The department said the domestic producers that petitioned the agency, AMG Vanadium (AMG.AS) and U.S. Vanadium LLC, assert that they are hurt by unfairly priced imports, value added tax regimes in other vanadium-producing countries and “the distortionary effect of Chinese and Russian industrial policies.” Continue Reading →

OPINION: Critical mineral supply chains essential for economic development opportunities – by Don Bubar (Northern Ontario Business – May 27, 2020)

Security of critical minerals supply has now become a major concern for government in light of the COVID-19 disruption to global supply chains. A North American solution is required to reduce reliance on China as a sole source of supply of many of our critical minerals.

North America does not have the full supply chains needed for many new technologies – such as electric vehicles, energy storage, sensor and data processing applications) and pharmaceuticals – although we do have all these minerals in the ground.

Northern Ontario is blessed with resources of many of these critical minerals, often referred to as “technology metals,” including all the elements needed in lithium-ion battery technology. Continue Reading →

U.S. Falters in Bid to Replace Chinese Rare Earths – by Keith Johnson and Robbie Gramer (Foreign Policy – May 25, 2020)

“Each F-35 fighter, for instance, needs 920 pounds of rare earths;
each Virginia-class nuclear submarine requires 9,200 pounds. Tomahawk missiles, guidance  systems, and jet engines all need different combinations of alloys and specialized products using some of the 17 different rare-earth elements.”

Rising tensions with China and the race to repatriate supply chains in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have given fresh impetus to U.S. efforts to launch a renaissance in rare earths, the critical minerals at the heart of high technology, clean energy, and especially high-end U.S. defense platforms.

But it’s not going well, despite a slew of new bills and government initiatives aimed at rebuilding a soup-to-nuts rare-earth supply chain in the United States that would, after decades of growing reliance on China and other foreign suppliers, restore U.S. self-reliance in a vital sector.

“I think the light bulb has gone on, but we are still in a muddle about exactly what to do about it,” said David Hammond, an expert on rare earths at Hammond International Group, a consultancy. Continue Reading →

Bill Gates and Richard Branson have their sights on the mining sector — and investment opportunities for startups abound – by Holly Bridgwater (Smart – May 25, 2020)


Tech giants are on the hunt for investment opportunities in the mining sector, in a push that is destined to change the landscape of the resources industry.

Among those leading the charge are tech billionaires Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson — all backers of technology fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV). Last year, BEV joined forces with hedge fund a16z to invest in mineral exploration company KoBold Metals and its search for ‘ethical’ cobalt.

The billion-dollar fund was also instrumental in raising $20 million in Series A funding for Lilac Solutions, a mining technology company focused on transforming lithium production. Continue Reading →