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

Cobalt, Congo and the responsible investor – by Martin Grosskope (Globe and Mail – October 10, 2019)

Martin Grosskopf is a vice-president and portfolio manager at AGF Investments Inc.

There is a dark side to a brighter, cleaner and smarter future. It starts with lithium-ion batteries that contain cobalt, the material needed to power our new technologies, giving way to the 21st century’s version of the great gold rush as global giants such as China move to wrest control of the world’s supply.

These batteries are used in everything from our smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles (EVs) and have earned the “blood batteries” moniker because they are sometimes mined by children and other locals in unsafe conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The misery in which these so-called artisanal miners work, and their rising death toll, has thrust cobalt mining in the Congo into the international spotlight. The issue is also raising vexing questions for those with an interest in responsible investing. Continue Reading →

China And The U.S. Fight Over Australian Rare Earths – by Tim Treadgold (Forbes Magazine – October 9, 2019)

The U.S. hunt for future supplies of rare earths and other critical minerals has led Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to Australia this week where he might not get the reception he was expecting.

China is not only well entrenched in the Australian mining industry but an academic paper released to coincide with Ross’s visit suggest that China could be a more reliable source of project development capital for new mining projects.

Published by the United States Studies Center at the University of Sydney the paper’s theme was whether there was scope for government intervention in rare earths, an industry dominated by China but important to many countries because rare earth elements have unique properties. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-United States races to build critical minerals alliances – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – October 7, 2019)

LONDON, Oct 7 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s offer to buy Greenland didn’t go down well with either the inhabitants of the world’s largest island or with Denmark, which administers it as an autonomous territory.

The Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen described the idea as “absurd”, triggering a diplomatic fall-out as Trump decided to cancel a planned visit to Denmark.

The idea may be many things but, from a U.S. perspective, it is not “absurd”. There are two completely rational drivers for eyeing up Greenland – its strategic location for North Atlantic shipping and its untapped mineral reserves. Continue Reading →

Investors bought Cobalt 27 for its massive stockpile — now they’re being asked to cash out just as cobalt prices are poised to surge – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – October 4, 2019)

Cobalt 27 Capital Corp., which raised hundreds of millions of dollars promoting cobalt — an obscure metal that’s increasingly in demand because of its use in electric vehicle batteries — announced a new proposal this week to ditch cobalt just as its price rises.

On Tuesday, the company said its largest shareholder Pala Investments Ltd. would offer $4 per share for the company’s cobalt assets up from its earlier $3.57 offer, and also give them equity in a new company, Nickel 28.

“We have responded to the concerns expressed by shareholders and believe we have delivered a significantly improved transaction,” Philip Williams, chairman of Cobalt 27’s special committee said in a press release. Continue Reading →

Congo mine deploys digital weapons in fight against conflict minerals – by Aaron Ross and Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – October 1, 2019)

RUBAYA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – In a small shack overlooking muddy pits hewn out of eastern Congo’s rolling green hills, a government official puts a barcoded tag on a sack of ore rich in tantalum, a rare metal widely used in smartphones.

With a handheld device linked to a server in the cloud, the agent scans the barcode, uploading data including the sealed bag’s weight, when it was tagged, and by whom.

It’s the latest initiative in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to improve systems meant to show minerals entering global supply chains come from mines that don’t use child labor or fund warlords and corrupt soldiers. Continue Reading →

Australia sees opportunity to boost critical minerals supply to U.S. – report (Reuters U.K. – September 30, 2019)

MELBOURNE, Oct 1 (Reuters) – Australia has a fresh opportunity to supply the United States with critical minerals after recent changes to U.S. regulation aimed at cutting its dependence on China, an Australian government report showed on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump in July signed five memoranda authorising U.S. Department of Defense funding to be directed to resources or technology “essential to the national defense” in a move aimed at shoring up domestic supplies.

That opens the door for the United States to offer project funding for rare earths, a group of 17 elements used in products ranging from lasers and military equipment to magnets found in consumer electronics, according to the report by Australia’s Trade and Investment Commission. Continue Reading →

Canada ready to provide vital minerals to U.S., Trudeau says – by Robert Fife and Marieke Walsh (Globe and Mail – September 29, 2019)

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says Canada is ready and willing to supply the United States with strategically important minerals used in consumer and industrial products as Washington steps up efforts to cut its dependence on China.

At a White House meeting in late June, Mr. Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to negotiate a joint strategy on mineral collaboration. The United States is also seeking alliances with Australia, Japan and the European Union, which also fear relying too much on China for these minerals.

“I brought up this at the top of my conversation in my last meeting with Donald Trump, where I highlighted that Canada has many of the rare-earth minerals that are so necessary for modern technologies,” Mr. Trudeau told a news conference on Monday in Toronto. The rare earths are 17 minerals used in high-tech and military products such as smartphones, electric cars and fifth-generation fighter jets. Continue Reading →

Canada, U.S. drafting plans to curb China’s dominance in critical rare-earth minerals – by Robert Fife, Steven Chase and Daniel LeBlanc (Globe and Mail – September 30, 2019)

Canada and the United States are drawing up plans to reduce their reliance on China for rare-earth minerals that are critical to high-tech and military products, such as smartphones and fighter jets.

The “joint action plan” – now being drafted by senior Canadian and U.S. officials – will be presented to the political party that forms the next government after the Oct. 21 election, according to a federal briefing document obtained by The Globe and Mail.

The document says the action plan should include defence funding for critical-minerals projects and strategic investments in North American processing facilities, as well as greater research and development in extraction of these rare-earth materials. Continue Reading →

Indian rare earth miner V.V. Mineral targets African assets after local ban – by Sudarshan Varadhan (Reuters Africa – September 24, 2019)

NEW DELHI, Sept 24 (Reuters) – India’s V.V. Mineral, a beach sand miner hit by a domestic law which effectively banned private companies from extracting rare earth deposits, has applied for licenses to start operations in Kenya and Tanzania, the company’s chairman said on Tuesday.

V.V. Mineral was India’s largest exporter of rare earth minerals such as garnet, ilumenite and rutile over the last decade, but it started facing regulatory and legal trouble in 2013, which culminated in a blanket ban this year on beach sand mining by private companies.

“We have applied for two licenses to extract beach sand minerals in an area covering 300 square kilometers in Kenya, and a 15 square kilometre area in Tanzania,” S. Vaikundarajan, chairman and founder of V.V. Mineral told Reuters. Continue Reading →

Miners push for U.S. Congress to vote on electric vehicle supply chain bills – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – September 23, 2019)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Mining executives eager to speed U.S. production of lithium and other metals for the burgeoning electric vehicle industry are frustrated that the U.S. Congress has yet to pass legislation designed to streamline mine permitting and fund geological studies, among other steps.

Earlier this year, Washington’s trade war with Beijing threatened to curb Chinese shipments to the United States of rare earth minerals used in defense equipment. China is also the world’s largest electric vehicle battery producer, processor of lithium and consumer of copper.

“We don’t have great clarity on what the legislative timelines are,” said Keith Phillips, chief executive of Piedmont Lithium Ltd (PLL.AX), which is developing a lithium mine in North Carolina. “This pending legislation would be a big positive” to help secure investment. Continue Reading →

Canada primed for rare earth revival – by Sarah Treleaven (CIM Magazine – September 16, 2019)

As China threatens to halt exports of vital rare earth metals, some Canadian companies believe that their time has come

As the U.S.-China trade war heats up, with U.S. president Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping placing tariffs on an increasing amount of goods, even while occasionally offering a more conciliatory appeal for new talks, a small but cautiously optimistic group of miners are wondering if this impasse might finally herald their time in the spotlight.

The focus of that spotlight is rare earths, a group of elements that are increasingly in demand because they make up crucial components of cell phones, electric vehicles, rechargeable batteries and medical devices, as well as many other industrial and military applications. The manufacturing of permanent magnets represents the single most important end use for rare earths, accounting for almost a quarter of total consumption.

Major reserves can be found in China, Australia, Brazil, Russia and Malaysia, though China currently produces close to 90 per cent of the global supply. (The only other meaningful producer is the Lynas Corporation in Australia.) Continue Reading →

U.S. ‘falling behind’ in global race to develop electric vehicle supply chain – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – September 17, 2019)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is losing the race to extract and refine minerals used to make electric vehicles and should do more to spur domestic production, a bipartisan group of senators said on Tuesday.

The push comes as China has grown to dominate the market for lithium, rare earths, cobalt and other so-called strategic minerals used to make a plethora of consumer products, a dominance that politicians have said poses a strategic threat to the United States.

The Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a Tuesday hearing in part to keep the topic fresh in the national dialogue even as attention begins to lurch toward the 2020 presidential campaign. Continue Reading →

Revving up Greenland’s mineral production will take time – by Virginia Heffernan (Northern Miner – September 16, 2019)

Global mining news

The MV Happy Dragon had just sailed into safe harbour at Charleston, South Carolina when Hurricane Dorian forced the vessel back out to sea to await better weather.

The cargo ship was carrying more than 14,000 tonnes of anorthosite from Vancouver-based Hudson Resources’ (TSXV: HUD; US-OTC: HUDRF) White Mountain mine in Greenland for customers in the paints, coatings and fibreglass markets. Hudson has an agreement with Terra Firma, a privately-held chemical distributor, to market its anorthosite in the U.S. and a 10-year off-take agreement with an unnamed fibreglass producer.

Could White Mountain and other mineral deposits — especially those containing rare earth elements (REEs) used in most electronic devices and in the aerospace and defense industries— be what U.S. President Donald Trump had in mind when he offered last month to buy Greenland, an offer Denmark called “absurd”? That’s at least part of the story. Continue Reading →

California Miners Call for Legislation to Fight China’s Grip on Rare Earth Minerals – by Brad Jones (The Epoch Times – September 16, 2019)

California miners have been warning Congress about China’s ever-tightening grip on rare earth minerals needed for national defense for years, and now they’ve taken their message to the White House.

In the last year or so, representatives of Public Lands for the People (PLP), a national mining rights advocacy group based in Southern California, and Scott Harn, editor and publisher of ICMJ’s Prospecting and Mining Journal, have made five trips to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers, their aides, and federal government departments.

PLP’s researcher Clark Pearson was invited to the White House in 2018, and since then he and Harn have spent a total of 35 days in Washington meeting with President Donald Trump’s key advisors. Continue Reading →

Cobalt 27 faces investor outcry amid accusations it’s selling ‘crown jewel’ assets at a loss – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – September 7, 2019)

Proposed buyout has some shareholders feeling like the company bought high and sold low as it tries to steer investors from cobalt to nickel

Toronto-based Cobalt 27 Capital Corp., which billed itself as an investment in the electric vehicle revolution, is facing outcries from some of its largest shareholders as it tries to sell its most valuable assets during a market low-point.

The company roared into the market in mid-2017 with an initial public offering, ultimately raising hundreds of millions of dollars to stockpile and acquire royalties on cobalt, an essential metal used in lithium-ion batteries. Within about a year the price of cobalt had hit a five-year peak, only to crash in the latter half of 2018 and never fully recover.

Now the company wants to steer its investors into nickel and to sell its main cobalt assets to its largest shareholder, Pala Investments. Other shareholders would receive $3.57 in cash, plus equity in Nickel 28, a new company that would hold the remaining assets including a stake in a nickel mine in Papua New Guinea. Continue Reading →