Hunt for the ‘Blood Diamond of Batteries’ Impedes Green Energy Push – by Dionne Searcey and Eric Lipton (New York Times – November 29, 2021)

https://www.nytimes.com/

KASULO, Democratic Republic of Congo — A man in a pinstripe suit with a red pocket square walked around the edge of a giant pit one April afternoon where hundreds of workers often toil in flip-flops, burrowing deep into the ground with shovels and pickaxes.

His polished leather shoes crunched on dust the miners had spilled from nylon bags stuffed with cobalt-laden rocks. The man, Albert Yuma Mulimbi, is a longtime power broker in the Democratic Republic of Congo and chairman of a government agency that works with international mining companies to tap the nation’s copper and cobalt reserves, used in the fight against global warming.

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S. Korea to beef up critical metals stockpile – by Kim Byung-wook (Korea Herald – August 5, 2021)

http://www.koreaherald.com/

South Korea will drastically increase its strategic stockpiles of nickel, cobalt and other critical metals, in a bid to ensure a stable supply of raw materials vital to key industries including electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy, the government said Thursday.

National stockpiles of 35 rare metals — designated by the government — will increase to cover 100 days from the current 57 days, it said. New facilities will be built while some existing ones will be expanded and the state-run Korea Resources Corp. will oversee the overall management.

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Canada has the minerals needed for EVs. How much bargaining power does that really give us? – by Alexander Panetta (CBC News World – November 26, 2021)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/

When discussing Canadian clout over critical minerals we’re talking potential, not reality

There’s this emerging notion of Canada as an impending superpower in mining the critical minerals that will run defining technologies of this century, from electric vehicles to smartphones and solar panels.

It was a recurring theme of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent Washington visit. It’s sometimes raised as a potential source of geopolitical power for Canada, say, against the United States in a trade spat.

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N.W.T. mining projects eye roads to get them up and running (CBC News North – November 26, 2021)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/

Two mining projects in the Northwest Territories looking to cash in on the growing demand for batteries that are key in the battle against climate change are inching forward.

Robin Goad, the president and CEO of Fortune Minerals, the company that owns the NICO project, a cobalt, bismuth, gold and copper deposit about 50 kilometres northeast of Whatì, provided an update on the project during a virtual appearance at a geoscience conference held in Yellowknife Thursday.

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How Congo could become low-cost, low-emissions producer of battery materials – report – by Staff (Mining.com – November 25, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

In a report launched at the DRC-Africa Business Forum 2021 taking place this week in Kinshasa, BloombergNEF (BNEF) states that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) could leverage its abundant cobalt resources and hydroelectric power to become a low-cost and low-emissions producer of lithium-ion battery cathode precursor materials.

The research paper estimates that it would cost $39 million to build a 10,000 metric-tonne cathode precursor plant in the DRC. This is three times cheaper than what a similar plant in the US would cost, whereas if it were to be built in China or Poland, it would cost $112 million and $65 million, respectively.

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RACE TO THE FUTURE: How the U.S. Lost Ground to China in the Contest for Clean Energy – by Eric Lipton and Dionne Searcey (New York Times – November 21, 2021)

https://www.nytimes.com/

Americans failed to safeguard decades of diplomatic and financial investments in Congo, where the world’s largest supply of cobalt is controlled by Chinese companies backed by Beijing.

WASHINGTON — Tom Perriello saw it coming but could do nothing to stop it. André Kapanga too. Despite urgent emails, phone calls and personal pleas, they watched helplessly as a company backed by the Chinese government took ownership from the Americans of one of the world’s largest cobalt mines.

It was 2016, and a deal had been struck by the Arizona-based mining giant Freeport-McMoRan to sell the site, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which now figures prominently in China’s grip on the global cobalt supply. The metal has been among several essential raw materials needed for the production of electric car batteries — and is now critical to retiring the combustion engine and weaning the world off climate-changing fossil fuels.

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After failing to find the motherlode, First Cobalt reinvents itself as a battery metal middle man – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – November 20, 2021)

https://financialpost.com/

In early 2018, Trent Mell, chief executive of Toronto-based First Cobalt Corp., was riding high on hopes that his company would discover a motherlode of cobalt in North America — a key component in the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries.

Nearly three-quarters of the world’s cobalt is produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, much of which comes from small-scale and artisanal mines, where the use of child labour, dangerous working conditions and other human rights abuses have been well-documented.

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Scientists want to engineer bacteria to sustainability mine rare earths – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud (Mining.com – November 21, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

A new study published in Nature Communications describes a proof of principle for engineering a bacterium, Gluconobacter oxydans, that takes a first step towards meeting skyrocketing rare earth element demand in a way that matches the cost and efficiency of traditional thermochemical extraction and refinement methods and is clean enough to meet US environmental standards.

“We’re trying to come up with an environmentally friendly, low-temperature, low-pressure method for getting rare earth elements out of a rock,” Buz Barstow, the paper’s senior author and an assistant professor at Cornell University, said in a media statement.

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A Power Struggle Over Cobalt Rattles the Clean Energy Revolution – by Dionne Searcey, Michael Forsythe and Eric Lipton (New York Times – November 20, 2021)

https://www.nytimes.com/

The quest for Congo’s cobalt, which is vital for electric vehicles and the worldwide push against climate change, is caught in an international cycle of exploitation, greed and gamesmanship.

KISANFU, Democratic Republic of Congo — Just up a red dirt road, across an expanse of tall, dew-soaked weeds, bulldozers are hollowing out a yawning new canyon that is central to the world’s urgent race against global warming.

For more than a decade, the vast expanse of untouched land was controlled by an American company. Now a Chinese mining conglomerate has bought it, and is racing to retrieve its buried treasure: millions of tons of cobalt.

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Northern Ontario plays integral part in auto supply chain – Fedeli – by Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles (North Bay Nugget – November 19, 2021)

https://www.nugget.ca/

Northern Ontario has become an integral part of the auto supply chain, says Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli. The industry, mostly centralized in southern Ontario, is moving north thanks to the increase in production of electric cars.

The provincial government released the next phase of its auto strategy Wednesday that is expected to secure production mandates for hybrid and electric vehicles, to create a domestic battery ecosystem, and position Ontario as a North American automotive innovation hub.

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Why the U.S. doesn’t take us seriously – by John Ivison (National Post – November 18, 2021)

https://nationalpost.com/

One early December morning in 2016, Joe Biden got up, inquired into President Barack Obama’s health, and set off for a snowy Ottawa.

The lame duck vice-president was feted at a ritzy state dinner in the capital, where he called on Justin Trudeau to be a defender of the international “rules of the road” during the period of deep uncertainty he predicted would follow Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.

“We’re more like family even than allies. I mean that sincerely,” he said – repeatedly.

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Greenland bans uranium mining, blocking vast rare earths project – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – November 10, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

Greenland’s parliament has passed a bill to ban uranium mining and exploration in the Danish territory, effectively blocking the development of the vast Kvanefjeld rare earths project, one of the world’s biggest.

The project was being developed by Australia’s Greenland Minerals (ASX: GGG). It was granted preliminary approval in 2020 and was on track to gain the previous government’s final endorsement.

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Temiskaming could be the North American refining hub to feed the electric vehicle market – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – November 9, 2021)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

First Cobalt unveils ambitious expansion plans to create battery metals industrial park in northeastern Ontario

For Trent Mell, it makes little sense to mine the metals needed to power the coming electrical vehicle (EV) revolution here, ship it overseas to Asia refiners to make into battery-grade material, and then send it back to North America to use in car production.

If the president-CEO of First Cobalt has his way, the Temiskaming district will be this continent’s centre of production to deliver many of those key ingredients, shorten the logistics journey, and help create a secure home-grown supply chain for EV makers for the first time ever.

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NEWS RELEASE: USGS Seeks Public Comment on Draft List of 50 Minerals Deemed Critical to US National Security and the Economy (November 8, 2021)

https://www.usgs.gov/news/

List includes minerals key to all sectors of economy including tech and defense

RESTON, Va. – The U.S. Geological Survey announced today it is seeking public comment by Dec. 9, on a draft revised list of critical minerals.

“The USGS’s critical minerals list provides vital information for industry, policymakers, economists and scientists on the most important minerals when it comes to U.S. supply chains,” said Tanya Trujillo, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science.

“The statistics and information are crucial to understanding America’s vulnerability to disruptions in the supply of critical minerals, including data on the worldwide supply and demand for minerals and materials essential to the U.S. economy and national security.”

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First Cobalt wants to go big on a battery metals processing park for Temiskaming – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – November 8, 2021)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Refinery developer wants to supply battery-grade metals for North American car market

The Toronto company behind the refurbishment of a mothballed Temiskaming hydrometallurgical refinery said it’s going all in on creating a “battery park” to feed refined cobalt and nickel to the electric vehicle market.

First Cobalt announced it’s making a name change and other strategic moves toward providing North American automakers with a domestic source of raw material with a proposed industrial park outside the town of Cobalt in northeastern Ontario.

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