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

OPINION: Down to rare earth: Canada ignores China’s resource power grab at its own peril – by Steven Fletcher (Globe and Mail – November 28, 2020)

Steven Fletcher was the member of Parliament for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia from 2004 to 2015 and Canada’s first permanently disabled federal cabinet minister. He resides in Manitoba and is the principal of Fletcher Focus International.

Every day, amid the wilderness of boreal forest, Canadians driving along Manitoba’s Provincial Road 315 pass by Bernic Lake, just 165 kilometres outside Winnipeg.

They have nary a clue that they’ve driven past the world’s largest mining operation for a rare and highly valuable resource – one that’s worth more than gold, yet is little-known in the world at large.

Cesium – a soft, alkali metal that is element 55 on the periodic table – is categorized as a “rare earth mineral,” one of the vital elements for the technology we use today and will use tomorrow, from solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and fast-charging batteries that could be the key to a clean-energy future to cutting-edge military tech and weapons. Continue Reading →

Videogames have a conflict mineral problem – by Jini Maxwell (Arts – November, 24 2020)

On 28 November 2019, a post on the subreddit r/showerthoughts went viral: ‘lamps in video games use real electricity.’ The line quickly made the rounds of the internet, perfectly and whimsically expressing a hard truth around which there is a growing consciousness: while playing videogames might be a form of escapism for some, they are still part of the real world, use real resources, and are impacted by the unequal social structures of human societies.

It’s an uncomfortable but important thing to acknowledge: consumer technologies, including gaming consoles, do rely on real resources, and the specific minerals they require to function can stoke real-world conflicts.

This issue is so prevalent that the major consumer tech companies release annual reports on their conflict mineral supply chains. We’re going to examine those reports here. Continue Reading →

Canadian mining can supply the metals for a clean energy future – by Cody Battershill (Northern Miner – November 24, 2020)

Global mining news

If leadership on climate action and environmental best practices are worthwhile pursuits, then the Canadian mining sector is an industry that’s deserving of Canada’s – and the global market’s – full support.

And if a strong regulatory framework for environmental performance, growing Indigenous support and a superior record on human rights are equally important benchmarks, then our country’s mining sector is on the right track.

Beyond the metals that contribute to so much of our modern world, let’s focus for the moment on electric vehicles (EVs). They’re viewed by a growing number of consumers here and abroad as an important way to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve air quality in many developing cities. Continue Reading →

China’s control of rare earth minerals another challenge for President-elect Biden – by Tom Jurkowsky (Capital Gazette – November 22, 2020)

Tom Jurkowsky is a retired Navy rear admiral who served on active duty for 31 years.

In a recent presentation, Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite said he thought “China is probably the greatest threat to our country that Americans do not understand.”

He added he believes what we are seeing emerge is a threat beyond any comparison ever in the history of our country.

Braithwaite was addressing the military threat that China poses. We have addressed the exponential growth of the Chinese military on these pages, along with other issues such as our dependency on China for pharmaceutical products; our reliance on China for countless consumer products, due in part to our diminished manufacturing base; and even Wall Street investing in Chinese companies. Continue Reading →

How do cobalt and nickel stack up in race to dominate electric vehicle battery market? – by By David McKay (MiningMX – November 23, 2020)


THERE is agreement that battery metals of all stripes will benefit from the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). According to a report by Morgan Stanley, the EV market will take a 26% slice of the total automotive market by 2030 from 3% today.

The question, however, is that given the pace of scientific development, which metals with battery application today will come to dominate in the future?

There are divided views, however, on the extent to which price changes will influence the usage of two key contenders: nickel and cobalt. Continue Reading →

Opinion: Strategic vigilance and rare earth elements – by Mackubin Owens (The Providence Journal – November 17, 2020)

Mackubin Thomas Owens is a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.

On Sept. 30, President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring a national emergency in the mining industry with the goal of incentivizing “the domestic production of rare earth minerals [also called rare earth elements (REEs)] critical for military technologies while reducing American dependence on China.”

The EO states that the country’s heavy reliance on critical minerals from foreign adversaries constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.

Trump ordered the appropriate departments to study the matter, examining the feasibility of government grants for production equipment, as well as tariffs, quotas or other import restrictions against China and other foreign adversaries. Continue Reading →

Billionaire Gertler Buys Royalty Rights in Congo Cobalt Project – by Michael Kavanagh and William Clowes (Bloomberg News – November 17, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — A company controlled by Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, who is under U.S. sanctions for alleged corruption, bought rights from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s state mining company to royalties from one of the world’s largest cobalt projects.

While the contract was published by the mining company Gecamines in October, it was signed in June 2017 — six months before the U.S. government blacklisted the businessman for “opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals” in Congo.

Gertler has never been charged with a crime and denies any wrongdoing, and he’s hired a number of lawyers in the U.S. to fight the sanctions. The previously unreported royalty stream relates to Eurasian Resources Group Sarl’s Metalkol project and means Gertler’s companies are entitled to a share of revenue from three of the biggest cobalt mines globally. Continue Reading →

Belgium’s reckoning with a brutal history in Congo – by Neil Munshi (Financial Times – November 12, 2020)

The cleaners who came for King Leopold II in Brussels this July knew what to do. Many times over the past few years, they have used chemicals to dissolve words such as “assassin”, “racist” and “murderer” scrawled across the statue on the Place du Trône.

As before, they removed the blood-red paint protesters had dumped on his hands. But this time they missed a spot: the fingertips and palm of his curled right hand were still crimson.

As protests following the killing of George Floyd in the US reverberated around the world this summer, Belgium, like many other countries, experienced its own reckoning: with a brutal colonial past, with the systemic racism that inhibits its black citizens today and with the question of what exactly it owes to the Democratic Republic of Congo, which it exploited for 75 years. Continue Reading →

B.C. miner’s shareholders win big in Congo bribery case – by Geoffrey York and Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – November 13, 2020)

Twelve years after an Israeli billionaire secretly bribed Congolese officials to grease the wheels for his takeover of a Canadian-owned mine, its shareholders have finally won millions of dollars in compensation. But the ruling leaves nothing for an impoverished Congolese community that lost hundreds of potential jobs in the deal.

The development project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, owned by Vancouver-based Africo Resources Ltd., was touted as potentially one of the world’s richest copper and cobalt mines, generating jobs and other local benefits such as water, health care and education.

Instead, according to U.S. court rulings, Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler bribed the Congolese officials and told them that the Canadian company must be “screwed and finished totally.” After a series of further deals, the project was mothballed and never built. Continue Reading →

Microbes Can Mine Valuable Elements From Rocks in Space – by George Dvorsky ( – November 11, 2020)

Recent experiments aboard the International Space Station have shown that some microbes can harvest valuable rare-earth elements from rocks, even when exposed to microgravity conditions. The unexpected finding shows how microbes could boost our ability to live and work in space.

On Earth, some microscopic organisms have shown their worth as effective miners, extracting rare-earth elements (REEs) from rocks. New experimental evidence published today in Nature Communications shows that, when it comes to leaching REEs from rocks, at least one strain of bacteria is largely unaffected by microgravity and low-gravity conditions.

This is potentially good news for future space explorers, as biomining microbes could provide a means for acquiring REEs while in space, on the Moon, or on Mars. Continue Reading →

EV makers’ battery choices raise questions about future cobalt demand – by Henrique Ribeiro (S&P Global – November 11, 2020)

The recent resurgence in the use of cobalt-free battery formulation, especially in the Chinese battery market, has raised questions about the future of cobalt demand in the electric vehicles (EV) sector.

The use of cobalt in lithium-ion batteries has always generated concerns due to its high cost, as well as the use of child labor in “artisanal mining” at the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where 60% of the world’s cobalt is produced.

However, market participants believe cobalt will remain key in the coming EV boom – even though Tesla has announced plans to completely get rid of cobalt in the near future. Continue Reading →

Australia tells the world it is open for business when it comes to critical minerals – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud ( – November 8, 2020)

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) in collaboration with Geoscience Australia and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources recently published the second edition of the Australian Critical Minerals Prospectus, a document aimed at highlighting the country’s position on critical materials supply.

To prepare the report, the Australian government examined lists of critical minerals published in markets such as the United States, the European Union and Japan, and matched those against Australia’s known geological endowment.

The result is a list of 24 critical minerals that are either being produced or could be produced in Australia. Continue Reading →

Mining for metals needed for electric cars faces obstacles in Canada due to low prices – by Dan Healing (Global News – November 8, 2020)

There’s opportunity for Canada to help supply the world’s growing need for “energy transition metals” used in electric vehicle and power storage batteries but it faces stiff competition from other countries, especially China, observers say.

Last month, the federal and Ontario governments announced they will each contribute $295 million to help Ford Canada produce electric vehicles in Oakville, Ont., while also vowing to help Fiat Chrysler in its plans to invest up to $1.5 billion at its Windsor, Ont., plant.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk, CEO of EV manufacturer Tesla, has promised big contracts for miners around the world who increase nickel production for the batteries his vehicles are soon going to need. Continue Reading →

Tanzania Finalizing Permit For its First Rare-Earth Metals Mine – by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala (Bloomberg News – November 5, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — Tanzania is in the final stages of approving a permit for the country’s first rare earths mine to Australian company Peak Resources Ltd. as the government seeks a bigger share of revenue from natural resources.

The state is also finalizing a gold-mining license for another Australian company, OreCorp Ltd. at the Nyanzaga project in the northwest of the country, according to Mining Minister Doto Biteko.

The East African nation is Africa’s fourth-biggest producer of the precious metal and plans to increase mineral earnings by at least a third during the next three years. It also has vast deposits of coal, rare-earth metals, iron ore and gemstones. Continue Reading →

China sends warning it can cripple US defence system by turning off rare earths tap – by Robin Bromby (Small – October 28, 2020)

Small Caps

China is reported to be cutting off rare earth supplies to the United States defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin and other American companies in retaliation for the companies supplying Taiwan with military hardware.

But this move should not be read merely as a tit-for-tat against a few particular companies. It is, however, a clear signal to the US defence establishment that China holds the whip hand.

Rare earths are crucial in the manufacture of advanced weapon applications. Without them, the Chinese could hobble the US military (and the forces of its allies) while itself having full operational capacity in a time of conflict. Continue Reading →