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

Glencore Cuts Out Agents and Dealmakers as Scrutiny Grows – by Jack Farchy and Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – June 25, 2019)

(Bloomberg) — Glencore Plc is cutting out many of its intermediaries — the agents and dealmakers once essential to cracking the toughest markets — amid growing scrutiny of its operations around the world.

Under pressure from its compliance division, Glencore is dismantling much of its global network of trading agents, according to people familiar with the situation. To continue operating, the company is setting up teams in some countries, said the people, asking not to be named as the matter is private. In other places, Glencore is still using agents who pass strict compliance tests and have a clear role.

Glencore has long relied on intermediaries, who work on commission. The agents network with well-connected business and government officials in developing nations with the goal of securing commodity-trading deals. In a prospectus in 2003, for example, Glencore listed 64 field offices around the world, saying that included nine agents in eight countries “which act primarily for us.” Continue Reading →

Plummeting cobalt price takes toll on Democratic Republic of Congo – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – June 23, 2019)

Lubumbashi: The price of cobalt — a key metal in electric cars — has plummeted 65 per cent over the past year, putting a strain on the economy of the world’s largest producer, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Economic growth in the DRC, one of the world’s poorest countries, is likely to fall to 4.3 per cent this year from 5.8 per cent in 2018 — in part due to lower cobalt prices, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The DRC produces more than 60 per cent of the world’s supply of cobalt, a metal that is used in lithium-ion batteries for smartphones and electric cars. Last year the country’s former president Joseph Kabila declared the metal “strategic” and launched new regulations that require miners to pay 10 per cent of their revenues on sales of the metal to the state. Continue Reading →

Chinese Rare-Earth Magnet Producer to Expand as EV Demand Booms (Bloomberg News – June 23, 2019)

Industries around the world producing a host of electrical appliances will increasingly be forced to compete for rare-earth magnets with China’s burgeoning market for new energy vehicles, according to one Beijing-based magnet producer.

Jingci Material Science Co. is expanding its production capacity of neodymium-iron-boron — NdFeB for short — magnet material to 8,000 tons by the end of the year, from about 6,500 tons currently, sales director Qiu Yi said on the sidelines of an industry conference in Shanghai last week. The eventual goal is to raise capacity to 12,000 tons, he said, without giving a time-frame.

The importance of rare earths, ubiquitous across a range of applications from consumer goods to military gear, has been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks as China mulls whether to use its position as the world’s dominant supplier as a counter in its trade war with Washington. Continue Reading →

Lynas optimistic about rare earths boom (Australian Mining – June 24, 2019)

Lynas Corp has updated its 2025 growth plans, detailing a positive outlook on the rare earths market and regulatory issues in Malaysia.

The shareholder update emphasised the boom of rare earths in response to “global macroeconomic issues”, including the United States-China trade war that led to increased interest in Australian companies as the US looks to diversify supply sources.

It also reported that despite short term increases in the market, including prices for neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr) increasing by 40 per cent over the past 60 days, the company “remains focussed on longer term trends.” Continue Reading →

COLUMN-United States aims to reshape the critical minerals world – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – June 19, 2019)

China’s growing control of metals at the heart of the electric
transport revolution such as lithium and cobalt represents a
second front in the looming raw materials war.

LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) – The United States has laid out its strategy to rebuild collapsed domestic supply chains for metals and minerals deemed “critical” to its defence and manufacturing sectors.

“A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals”, released earlier this month by the Department of Commerce, includes 61 recommendations, ranging from revamping mine permitting rules to stimulating recycling activities to forging alliances with “friendly” suppliers such as Canada and Australia.

This is very much work in progress. It’s only last year that the United States decided on what exactly constitutes a “critical” mineral. But added urgency has come from China’s veiled threats to use its dominance of rare earths production as a weapon in the broader trade stand-off with the Trump Administration. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Trump Administration Announces Strategy to Strengthen America’s Economy, Defense (U.S. Department of the Interior – June 4, 2019)

For the full report:

Interior to Support Critical Minerals Strategy through Faster Permitting, Better Information, Nationwide Examination of Minerals Potential

WASHINGTON – Today, the Trump Administration released, “A Federal Strategy to Ensure a Reliable Supply of Critical Minerals,” to make America’s economy and defense more secure. The strategy directs the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to locate domestic supplies of those minerals, ensure access to information necessary for the study and production of minerals, and expedite permitting for minerals projects.

“Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, today’s federal strategy lays out a blueprint for America to once again be a leader in the critical minerals sector,” said Secretary David Bernhardt.

“As with our energy security, the Trump Administration is dedicated to ensuring that we are never held hostage to foreign powers for the natural resources critical to our national security and economic growth. The Department will work expeditiously to implement the President’s strategy from streamlining the permitting process to locating domestic supplies of minerals.” Continue Reading →

‘The future is nickel’: Cobalt 27 sells off its namesake metal after tough year – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – June 18, 2019)

Toronto-based Cobalt 27 Capital Corp. is selling out at a low point for its namesake metal, a crucial component in the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and other devices.

The company, which stockpiles and streams cobalt, on Tuesday announced a $510-million deal that splits the company along cobalt and nickel asset lines.

Its largest shareholder, Swiss private-equity firm Pala Investment Ltd., which owns more than 19 per cent, will pay $3.57 cash per share for the company’s cobalt assets. The rest of the shareholders will also receive equity in a new company that retains the company’s nickel assets plus $5 million in cash. Continue Reading →

Don’t Be in a Rush to Do Business in World’s Top Cobalt Producer – by Pauline Bax and William Clowes (Bloomberg News – June 18, 2019)

When a foreign investor with multimillion-dollar projects across Africa was told the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo wanted to see him, he booked a suite at one of the country’s top hotels. After six days of waiting, he left.

Since Felix Tshisekedi took the helm of the world’s biggest cobalt producer almost five months ago, private planes jam the main airport in Kinshasa, the capital, and hotel lobbies teem with businessmen and Congolese who’ve returned from countries such as the U.S. and South Africa with hopes of working with his administration.

But it’s been slow going. Tshisekedi only appointed a prime minister last month and hasn’t yet named a cabinet. Continue Reading →

Rare earths minerals a global issue, says Defence Minister – by Phillip Coorey (Australian Financial Review – June 13, 2019)

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds says access to rare earths minerals has become an issue of strategic importance for much of the western world, along with the Pacific allies of South Korea and Japan.

Following revelations Australia was working with the United States to secure a supply of the minerals and reduce Chinese dominance, Senator Reynolds confirmed there had been discussions at senior security levels of government “for some time”.

“There is increasing awareness globally on the importance of strategic metals and rare earth and Australia has been having discussions. “My colleagues, my ministerial colleagues have been looking at this for some time. Continue Reading →

U.S. says it will help boost world minerals output to reduce reliance on China (Reuters U.K. – June 11, 2019)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States plans to help countries around the world develop their reserves of minerals like lithium, copper and cobalt, the State Department said on Tuesday, part of a multi-pronged strategy to reduce U.S. reliance on China for materials crucial to high-tech industries.

Washington grew more concerned recently about dependence on mineral imports after Beijing suggested using them as leverage here in the trade war between the world’s largest economic powers.

This would interrupt the manufacture of a wide range of consumer, industrial and military goods, from mobile phones to batteries and fighter jets. Continue Reading →

How China Overpowered the U.S. to Win the Battle for Rare Earths (Bloomberg News – June 11, 2019)

It was Beijing’s decision almost 30 years ago to make rare earths a strategic material, and ban foreigners from mining them, that helped pave the way for China to elbow aside the U.S. as the world’s leading producer.

In the intervening period, as China tightened control of domestic output of rare earths — a broad group of 17 elements used in everything from electric vehicles to military hardware — the U.S. all but surrendered to China’s dominance of the sector.

With China now accounting for 70 percent of global production, and only one U.S. mine in operation, American industries outside of defense have “no immediate avenues” to break their reliance on China for supply of rare earth elements, according to Citigroup Inc. Continue Reading →

Manganese poised to make its mark as EV metal – by Martin Creamer ( – June 5, 2019)

JOHANNESBURG ( – Manganese could make its mark in the battery electric vehicle (EV) arena by displacing cobalt to a large extent in many of the cathode formulations, where the bulk of battery metals are used.

The Junior Indaba heard on Wednesday that manganese, which South Africa hosts in abundance, is in a race with nickel, cobalt and aluminium to win the favour of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) concerned about cobalt’s high concentration in a single country, where ethical issues also cloud its use. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

The favourable positioning of manganese surfaced during a panel discussion on strategic metals, led by Impala Platinum mining executive and Women in Mining chairperson Thabile Makgala, and made up of Standard Bank commodities analyst Thabang Thlaku, Manganese Metal Company chief marketing officer Madelein Todd, Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe executive director Paul Chimbodza and Ivanplats senior VP Gerick Mouton. Continue Reading →

The booming battery market brings significant opportunities to mineral-rich Finland – by Harry Sandström (World Finance – June 5, 2019)

Harry Sandström, Programme Director at Geological Survey of Finland.

The forecasted increase of electric vehicles (EVs) is huge: according to the International Energy Agency, there will be around 125 million EVs on the road globally by 2030.

The battery market is surging in parallel, with the raw materials market set to join it. However, until circulation technology is developed further and totally new battery technologies appear, there is sure to be a shortage of primary raw materials, such as cobalt.

In Europe, Norway is racing ahead in terms of EVs, but China will soon become the frontrunner on a global level. Even so, other markets are making progress of their own. Finland may only be a small economy, but it has notable strengths in the development of battery technology, particularly in terms of raw materials, chemicals, control systems and industry machinery. Continue Reading →

U.S. report urges steps to reduce reliance on foreign critical minerals – by Andrea Shalal and Valerie Volcovici (Reuters U.S. – June 4, 2019)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday recommended urgent steps to boost domestic production of rare earths and other critical minerals, warning that a halt in Chinese or Russian exports could cause “significant shocks” in global supply chains.

The report includes 61 specific recommendations – including low-interest loans and “Buy American” requirements for defense companies – to boost domestic production of minerals essential for the manufacture of mobile phones and a host of other consumer goods, as well as fighter jets.

It also called for closer cooperation with allies such as Japan, Australia and the European Union, and directed reviews of government permitting processes to speed up domestic mining. Continue Reading →

Pentagon seeks funds to reduce U.S. reliance on China’s rare earth metals – by Phil Stewart and Andrea Shalal (Reuters U.S. – May 29, 2019)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Defense Department is seeking new federal funds to bolster domestic production of rare earth minerals and reduce dependence on China, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, amid mounting concern in Washington about Beijing’s role as a supplier.

The Pentagon’s request was outlined in a report that has been sent to the White House and briefed to Congress, said Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman.

Rare earths are a group of 17 chemical elements used in both consumer products, from iPhones to electric car motors, and critical military applications including jet engines, satellites and lasers. Continue Reading →