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

Demand for Congo’s cobalt is on the rise. So is the scrutiny of mining practices. – by Sarah Katz-Lavigne (Washington Post – February 21, 2019)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

Congo’s contested elections in December resulted in the country’s first electoral transfer of power, 59 years after independence. The outcome — with Félix Tshisekedi defeating the candidate backed by departing president Joseph Kabila — has been much in the news.

Cobalt is making headlines, too, along with questions about how the new president will manage resource governance in the mineral-rich country. Congo accounts for at least 60 percent of worldwide cobalt production and has about 50 percent of known global cobalt reserves.

My research in southeastern Congo suggests cobalt mining will prove an increasingly complex policy hurdle for the new president. Many Congolese rely on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) for their incomes. Continue Reading →

Minerals, Mining and the Green Revolution – by Emily King (Geology For Investors – February 2019)

https://www.geologyforinvestors.com/

While we still remain reliant on fossil fuels, there is tremendous momentum towards renewable energy in many countries. Increasingly, our homes and businesses are powered by solar panels and wind turbines. Nearly every year, new records are set for the amount of renewable energy power capacity added to global power grids.

Similarly, electric vehicles are being adopted rapidly and replacing their gas-powered fore-bearers. Within the next decade, there is expected to be an estimated 125 million electric vehicles on the roads, getting people and materials where they need to go without any gas or oil involved.

However, this green revolution will not run on bamboo; instead, it will require robust supplies of minerals, some of which can be difficult to obtain, to ensure that we can effectively harness the energy we need. Continue Reading →

China Steps up Its Mining Interests in Greenland – by Marc Lanteigne and Mingming Shi (The Diplomat – February 12, 2019)

https://thediplomat.com/

China’s growing involvement in Greenland presents risks and opportunities.

A major component of China’s expanding interests in the Arctic, as outlined in Beijing’s January 2018 White Paper on the region, has been the development of joint ventures on resource extraction, including fossil fuels and raw materials.

While Russia has been receiving the lion’s share of attention in the area of Chinese resource diplomacy in the Arctic, with the China-supported Yamal liquefied natural gas project being a major example, Greenland is emerging as another key component of Beijing’s emerging ‘Ice Silk Road.’

As the Greenland Ice Sheet continues to erode due to regional climate change (a paper published last month by the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science concluded that ice loss on the island has been accelerating significantly since the start of this century), more parts of Greenland’s coastal regions are opening up to potential mining projects. Continue Reading →

Cobalt’s price crash bottoming out, stocks to hinder quick rally – by Pratima Desai (Reuters U.S. – February 12, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Cobalt’s near year-long price slide is finally coming to an end, but high inventories of the battery metal will stop prices quickly re-claiming 2018’s 10-year highs.

London Metal Exchange prices have crashed to two-year lows of $32,000 a tonne compared with levels near $100,000 in the first half of 2018.

The drop was sparked by rising supplies from the artisanal and industrial sectors in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a surplus of cobalt chemicals, used to make rechargeable batteries to power electric vehicles, in top consumer China. Continue Reading →

Electric Minerals: Tesla, Chrysler Feel the Heat as African Nations Demand Bigger Cut – by Greg Thomson (Hacked.com – February 10, 2019)

Hacked.com

Officials from mineral-rich African nations met with representatives from the ‘big mining’ industry at the Mining Indaba investment conference in Cape Town this week, with each hoping to make headway amid newly-simmering economic tensions.

Those tensions have been fuelled by a realization on the part of certain African nations that they now hold all the cards when it comes to producing minerals essential for the manufacture of electric vehicles.

As such, countries like Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia have demanded a bigger piece of the pie from mining companies, so much so that the CEO of multi-billion dollar mining company, Barrick Gold, has already labelled the situation ‘untenable’. Continue Reading →

Fourteen NGOs oppose LME plans to ban tainted cobalt – by Zandi Shabalala and Pratima Desai (Reuters Africa – February 7, 2019)

https://af.reuters.com/

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Fourteen non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including Amnesty and Global Witness have opposed plans by the London Metal Exchange to ban cobalt tainted by human rights abuses, a letter seen by Reuters showed.

Cobalt is a key ingredient in the batteries that power electric vehicles, a fast-growing sector of the auto industry, and in metal alloys used to make jet engines. It was singled out in LME proposals to embed responsible sourcing principles into metal brands deliverable against its contracts, which include copper and zinc.

Most of the world’s supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, often from artisanal mines where several organisations have cited human rights abuses. Continue Reading →

U.S. Loosing Global Battery Arms Race that is Critically Dependent on Nickel, Cobalt and Lithium – by Simon Moores (Benchmark Mineral Intelligence – February 5, 2019)

  • Written Testimony of Simon Moores, Managing Director, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence
  • For: US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Committee
  • Hearing: Tuesday, February 5 2019, at 10:00a.m. Room 366, Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.
  • Subject: Outlook for energy and minerals markets in the 116th Congress.

We are in the midst of a global battery arms race in which the US is presently a bystander.

Since my last testimony only 14 months ago, we have reached a new gear in this energy storage revolution which is now having a profound impact on supply chains and the raw materials that fuel it.

The advent of electric vehicles (EVs) and the emergence of battery energy storage has sparked a wave of lithium ion battery megafactories being built. Continue Reading →

Lithium and cobalt – what to look for in 2019 – by Wood Mackenzie (Mining.com – January 30, 2019)

http://www.mining.com/

Last year saw perhaps less exuberance in the lithium sector. The muted response to the IPOs of industry majors Ganfeng and Livent (ex-FMC) probably best exemplified the lull in excitement. Meanwhile, stocks of already traded lithium companies also had a painful time of it in 2018.

For lithium spot prices in the Chinese domestic market, 2018 saw only one direction – down. Rising domestic supply, EV subsidy changes, and destocking all combined to send prices for 99.5% lithium carbonate from RMB160,000/t at the start of 2018 to RMB77,500/t by the end of the year.

Yet conversely, average prices for seaborne material – largely sold on contract basis – seemingly bucked the trend, with realised prices for SQM and Albermarle increasing up to Q3 2018. Continue Reading →

How the US lost the plot on rare earths – by Rick Rule (AheadoftheHerd.com – January 2019)

http://aheadoftheherd.com/

On Wednesday morning, a rocket blasted off from Blue Origin’s West Texas facility in West Texas, carrying eight NASA experiments into space with it. Climbing past an altitude of 350,000 feet (over 100 kilometers), the New Shepard rocket launched its capsule, from which the company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos plans to conduct space tourism. Blue Origin tweeted that it plans to begin flying humans to space next year.

Those watching Wednesday’s launch probably assume that the parts for American rockets are made in the United States. While that may be true for space-travel companies like Space X, Blue Origin and Virgin, it isn’t for rockets sent skyward for national security missions, through something called the United Launch Alliance. These rockets are powered by Russian engines. Yes, you read that right.

Our Cold War enemy for 30-odd years, which ironically started the space race with the 1957 launch of Sputnik, all use RD-180 engines made by NPO Energomash, a Russian state-owned company. Continue Reading →

Periodic table: new version warns of elements that are endangered – by David Cole-Hamilton (The Conversation – January 24, 2019)

https://theconversation.com/

It is amazing to think that everything around us is made up from just 90 building blocks – the naturally occurring chemical elements. Dmitri Mendeleev put the 63 of these known at the time into order and published his first version of what we now recognise as the periodic table in 1869. In that year, the American civil war was just over, Germany was about to be unified, Tolstoy published War and Peace, and the Suez Canal was opened.

There are now 118 known elements but only 90 that occur in nature. The rest are mostly super-heavy substances that have been created in laboratories in recent decades through nuclear reactions, and rapidly decay into one or more of the natural elements.

Where each of these natural elements sits in the periodic table allows us to know immediately a great deal about how it will behave. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of this amazing resource, UNESCO has proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table. Continue Reading →

REVIEW: Groundbreaking! America’s new quest for mineral independence (Canadian Mining Journal – January 21, 2019)

http://www.canadianminingjournal.com/

Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence. Dr. Ned Mamula and Ann Bridges. 294 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1729669525 / ISBN-10: 1729669522.

What happens when a geologist and an author whose chief interest is California’s Silicon Valley get together to take a look at the United States’ dependence on foreign supplies of critical minerals? The result is a long hard look at how our southern neighbour failed to take advantage of its mineral resources. Instead the authors say that the reliance on foreign supply has created a national security issue.

Groundbreaking! looks first at risk/reward, why minerals matter, and the U.S. dependence foreign suppliers for critical minerals. There is a run-down of mineral wealth in the U.S., and how the country should rediscover that wealth. The book has a running theme of the role of domestic mineral production as a national security issue.

There are separate chapters on rare earths, the American uranium debacle, and the Pebble gold mine in Alaska. Each is packed with facts, illustrations and tables about its topic. Continue Reading →

Ford launches blockchain project to trace cobalt in the Congo – by Hasan Chowdhury (The Telegraph – January 16, 2019)

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

Ford is preparing to clamp down on labour exploitation in the cobalt mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo by using blockchain technology to keep a record of supplies in the metal, a key ingredient for electric vehicle batteries.

The US carmaker will partner with LG Chem, a South Korean chemicals specialist and Chinese mining firm Huayou Cobalt for a pilot programme that will aim to ensure the in-demand metal is responsibly sourced. Concerns have mounted around a practice known as artisanal mining, which often involves children mining for metals by hand.

According to the Congo’s Chamber of Mines, 2m people are involved in artisanal mining in the country, with around 200,000 miners specifically digging in copper mines. Cobalt is usually obtained as a byproduct of copper and nickel mining. Continue Reading →

Congo poll leaves uncertainty for miners at heart of EV revolution – by Joe Bavier (Reuters U.S. – January 13, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The surprise outcome of Congo’s election – a vote meant to bring closure to years of turmoil under President Joseph Kabila – has done little to ease uncertainty for miners and investors in a country crucial to the electric vehicle revolution.

Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s leading miner of cobalt, a mineral used in electric car batteries which has seen a surge in demand in recent years, with mines run by firms including Glencore (GLEN.L) and China Molybdenum (603993.SS).

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi, an unknown quantity for mining executives, was declared the winner of last month’s chaotic vote on Thursday, defeating Kabila’s chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. Continue Reading →

Green New Deal will only happen if we go back to the moon – by Mark R. Whittington (The Hill – January 11, 2019)

https://thehill.com/

You have to hand it to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez (D-N.Y.). For someone who was, just a year ago, a bartender, she has some ambitious plans now that she is a member of Congress.

Among Ocasio–Cortez’s projects is something called the Green New Deal. The plan would mandate that the United States transform its energy infrastructure from one based on fossil fuels to one based on renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. Thus, the problem of climate change will have been solved and the Earth would be saved. Big-pocketed people like Tom Steyer, an environmentalist billionaire donor, view the idea with favor.

Lots of reasons exist to dismiss the Green New Deal, it being a product born more of delusion than sound analysis. However, if the government were to embark upon making it a reality, the scheme might have an unintended side effect of supporting a return to the moon. Continue Reading →

Malaysia’s Rare Earth Debate: May forgo an opportunity to enter the lucrative market in favor of environmental protection – by Austin Bodetti (The Diplomat – January 10, 2019)

https://thediplomat.com/

The customs war between China and the United States has affected countless facets of the world economy, but the consequences for the trade in rare earth elements, little-known minerals critical to the functionality of cellphones, electric cars, and televisions, may reverberate the farthest.

Malaysia, whose concerns over falling into China’s sphere of influence have only grown with the ascent of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, once seemed well positioned to seize a small but lucrative piece of this market for itself.

In recent months, though, Mahathir has signaled his willingness to listen to environmental organizations opposed to refining rare earths on Malaysian soil. How Mahathir proceeds will set the tone for the environmental movement in Malaysia for years to come. Continue Reading →