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

Coronavirus slows U.S. push to produce electric vehicle minerals – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters Canada – March 26, 2020)

(Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic is hobbling U.S. efforts to produce lithium, rare earths and other materials used in electric vehicles and high-tech equipment, dealing a blow to President Donald Trump’s plan to curb Chinese control of the strategic minerals sector.

As the pandemic has killed nearly 20,000 across the globe, U.S. junior miners have slowed engineering work, environmental reviews and loan applications. “We can just hit pause,” said Keith Phillips, chief executive of North Carolina’s Piedmont Lithium Ltd.

Piedmont, Lithium Americas Corp and ioneer Ltd, both of which have Nevada projects, have said they now face engineering or regulatory setbacks that could push back mine construction. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-U.S. looks beyond tariffs to secure critical titanium supply – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – March 13, 2020)

LONDON, March 13 (Reuters) – First there was steel. Then there was aluminium. Now titanium joins the list of metals found to be threatening the national security of the United States.

The U.S. Commerce Department launched a so-called Section 232 investigation into titanium sponge imports in March last year and submitted it to the White House in November.

Commerce found that U.S. import dependency, amounting to 68% of the country’s consumption in 2018, threatens the viability of the last U.S. producer of this intermediate form of a metal critical to both civilian and military aircraft manufacturers. President Donald Trump agrees. Continue Reading →

Canada and the U.S. to co-operate on securing critical minerals for the green economy – by Robert Fife (Globe and Mail – March 3, 2020)

Canada and the United States need to take advantage of the rising global demand for clean energy by harnessing their rare-earth minerals that are critical to electric cars, solar panels and wind turbines, says a senior U.S. official.

Francis Fannon, assistant secretary of state for energy resources, told The Globe and Mail Monday that the two countries are working together to secure a stable supply of critical minerals for North America’s manufacturing and high-tech industries that will drive the green economy.

“The world is going to need more minerals because the call for cleaner forms of energy is significant and it is of a scale of the likes that the world has never seen before,” he said. “The public demand for clean forms of energy is skyrocketing.” Continue Reading →

U.S. Launches Tool to Stake Claim to World’s Rare Earth Minerals – by Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – March 1, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — In a high-tech twist on hammering pickets into the ground, the U.S. State Department has helped launch an online tool aimed at staking America’s claim to many of the world’s rare-earth minerals.

The U.S. has become increasingly concerned about securing a stable supply of critical minerals used in car batteries, solar panels and wind turbines. Many of those resources are located in emerging markets that may be seen as too risky by American investors looking for “best-in-class” standards.

That raises the potential for “two really bad outcomes,” Francis Fannon, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for energy resources, said in an interview. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-China hikes H1 rare earth output quota as industry grapples with virus – by Min Zhang and Tom Daly (Reuters U.S. – February 19, 2020)

BEIJING, Feb 19 (Reuters) – China has raised its output quota for rare earth minerals in the first half of 2020 by 10% from a year earlier, a government notice showed on Wednesday, looking to step up production after a coronavirus outbreak disrupted activity in the sector.

China is the world’s top producer of rare earths, a prized group of 17 elements used in everything from ceramics to consumer electronics. The quotas are typically issued twice a year and closely watched as a supply indicator.

The first rare earth mining output quota for 2020 was set at 66,000 tonnes, equal to 50% of last year’s total allocation of 132,000 tonnes, according to a notice from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Continue Reading →

Tesla’s China surprise big blow for cobalt, nickel price bulls – by Frik Els ( – February 19, 2020)

Long-suffering cobalt bulls were dealt another blow on Wednesday after reports that the world’s largest electric carmaker is shifting some production of its most popular model away from batteries that contain nickel and cobalt.

In a surprise move, China’s top battery manufacturer CATL will supply Tesla with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries for its Model 3 production at its newly built $2 billion factory outside Shanghai.

The Model 3 is Tesla’s most popular, and the US-made version uses the company’s nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) cathode chemistry. Most other automakers favour nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) cathode chemistries. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Tesla in talks to use CATL’s cobalt-free batteries in China-made cars – sources – by Zhang Yan, Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh (Reuters U.S. – February 18, 2020)

Beijing (Reuters) – Tesla (TSLA.O) is in advanced stages of talks to use batteries from CATL (300750.SZ) that contain no cobalt – one of the most expensive metals in electric vehicle (EV) batteries – in cars made at its China plant, people familiar with the matter said.

Adoption would mark the first time for the U.S. automaker to include so-called lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries in its lineup, as it seeks to lower production costs amid faltering overall EV sales in China.

Tesla has been talking to the Chinese manufacturer for more than a year to supply LFP batteries that will be cheaper than its existing batteries by a “double-digit percent,” said a person directly involved in the matter, who was not authorized to speak with media and so declined to be identified. Continue Reading →

Japan to pour investment into non-China rare-earth projects – by Ryosuke Hanafusa (Nikkei Asian Review – February 15, 2020)

TOKYO — The Japanese government will cooperate with the U.S. and Australia on investing in processing facilities for rare-earth metals, looking to ease reliance on imports from China.

Rare earths are essential to such high-tech machinery as motors for electric vehicles. But Japan imports 58% of its supply from China, leaving it vulnerable to manipulation by Beijing. Tokyo plans to bring the Chinese share down to 50% or less by 2025.

Tokyo is discussing a cooperation deal with the U.S. and Australia. Smelting facilities under construction in the U.S. state of Texas that will be operated by Australian rare-earths miner Lynas are a probable investment target. Continue Reading →

U.S. Drones Scouring for Rare Earths to End Reliance on China – by Luzi Ann Javier and Justina Vasquez (Bloomberg/Financial Post – February 9, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. is deploying drones and other technology as it scours for potential rare-earths reserves at home and abroad to wean the nation off its dependence on Chinese imports.

“We’ve been almost 100% dependent on foreign sources of rare earth elements for industrial applications,” Jim Reilly, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, said.

“It’s not only the domestic sources of the resource that we concentrate on. We look for those resources literally across the globe, and then we build collaboration with our partners.” Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Congo’s move to control artisanal cobalt is double-edged – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – February 9, 2020)

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has announced ambitious plans to take control of the country’s wild-west artisanal cobalt sector.

A new state company, Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC), has been given monopoly powers to purchase and market cobalt from the informal sector. The move is being hailed by the government as a way to clean up a sector that is tarnished with a reputation for child labour, lax safety and illegal activity.

That would be very good news for the cobalt market. The human cost of mining in the Congo, which accounts for more than 60% of global cobalt production, is one of the reasons companies such as Tesla are actively trying to engineer the metal out of their battery supply chain. Continue Reading →

Canadian rare earths metals look for shot in the arm from U.S. government funds – by Gabriel Friedman (Finacial Post – January 31, 2020)

The U.S. government is putting up millions of dollars for the construction of processing plants in North America, and Canadian companies are eligible to apply

In a development that could resuscitate Canada’s rare earths metals’ sector, the U.S. government is putting up millions of dollars for the construction of processing plants in North America, according to a document obtained by the Financial Post.

Rare earths metals are considered increasingly important for cutting-edge military and technological applications, but the supply chain is almost entirely located in Asia with Chinese companies dominating the sector.

Now, as part of a U.S. government-led effort to build out a North American supply chain amid rising tensions with China, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is planning to award an estimated US$40 million in matching funds to companies that can separate and process anywhere from 500 to 5,000 metric tons of rare earth elements on an annual basis. Continue Reading →

Canada boasts substantial REE resources – by Rose Ragsdale (Metal Tech News – January 21, 2020)

Rare earth elements in Canada have recaptured the spotlight now that the United States has entered a new alliance with its northern neighbor to develop robust supply chains for critical minerals needed for important manufacturing sectors, including communication technology, aerospace and defense, and clean technology.

A final agreement between the two countries, reported in December, delivers on a commitment made by their leaders in June to advance joint initiatives to address shared mineral security concerns and ensure continued economic growth and the national security of both nations.

“Canada is in a unique position to strengthen global supply chains for critical minerals. We are proud to partner with the United States through the Energy Resource Governance Initiative, to advance responsible development of critical minerals and ensure mineral security,” Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, said in a Dec. 18 statement. Continue Reading →

The Left’s Opposition To Mining Threatens Its Green Dream – OpEd – by William F. Shughart II (Eurasia Review – January 25, 2020)


Environmental activists who oppose mining minerals in the United States are threatening the same green agenda they claim to embrace. Among those leading the attack is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, who proposes banning mining on public lands.

Though environmentalists may not realize it, increased domestic production of “critical” minerals would benefit the environment. But existing restrictions on recovering these elements are forcing U.S. firms to purchase these resources overseas.

This can be problematic if our trading partners are unstable, unreliable or unfriendly, as was the case before the fracking revolution when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) dominated the global market for crude oil. Now the United States is a net exporter of oil and natural gas. But we continue to be dependent on imported minerals, not because domestic supplies don’t exist, but because restrictive regulatory policies prevent their recovery. Continue Reading →

“It’s time to be ambitious” on critical minerals: Mining Association of Canada – by Greg Klein (Resource Clips – January 24, 2020)

Canadian-American co-operation on essential elements means opportunity for this country’s wider economy, Pierre Gratton emphasizes. Speaking to the Vancouver Board of Trade, the president/CEO of the Mining Association of Canada commented on the recent Canada-U.S. Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration, as well as the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan.

Two weeks ago Natural Resources Canada announced the cross-border agreement to secure deposits and develop supply chains for minerals essential to the economy, defence, technology and clean energy.

The initiative takes place as the U.S. seeks ways to reduce its dependency on sources considered unreliable, unethical or potential economic and military rivals. Continue Reading →

China’s raw materials strategy: The next chapter in the US-China rivalry? – by Bashar Malkawi (Policy Forum – January 24, 2020)


“Without a domestic supply, the United States must rely on Chinese
sources of rare earths to build ‘Made in America’ military equipment.
It makes little sense to rely upon a security competitor for access to essential
military materials. Rare earths are not the only strategic

metal. Lithium, chromium, cobalt, graphite, copper, and manganese
are also essential for industrial purposes.”

The United States cannot rely upon products that originate in, or supply chains that run through, a potential adversary, Bashar Malkawi writes.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), publicly released in 2013 and formerly named ‘One Belt, One Road’, would, at first look, seem to be a force for good. China views the BRI as a way to enhance its trade connectivity, reduce surplus domestic industrial capacity, develop poorer interior provinces, promote energy security, and internationalise Chinese industrial and financial standards.

The BRI builds China’s commercial ties abroad by financing, constructing, and developing major transport, energy, technology, and other infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. Continue Reading →