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

A Canadian firm wants to start mining on Utah lands that used to be part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – by Brian Maffly (Salt Lake Tribune – June 21, 2018)

A Canadian firm has announced its intention to mine copper and cobalt on public lands in Utah’s scenic Circle Cliffs east of Boulder, telling potential investors it has acquired what appear to be the first mining claims filed on lands removed from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

The move set off alarms among environmental groups seeking the monument’s restoration, but it remains unlikely that Glacier Lake Resources’ plans will be realized anytime soon. The Bureau of Land Management will continue to manage these lands as a monument until a new management plan is in place.

“No one has validly changed the status of these lands. It’s still a national monument. It’s still closed to mining and any mineral exploration. Any claims like this are invalid,” said Nada Culver, senior counsel to The Wilderness Society. Continue Reading →

US risked Chinese battery monopoly had Gertler dispute escalated – by David McKay ( – June 19, 2018)

GLENCORE’S workaround the US sanctions placed on Dan Gertler, the Congo’s mining tycoon, was a remarkable piece of pragmatism on behalf of the Swiss miner and minerals trader, but it may have also been informed by a broader concern.

The concern is that in failing to settle the matter, the assets from which Gertler was demanding the resumption of royalties – the Mutanda and Kamoto Copper mines – would have been expropriated by the Congolese government with whom Gertler is close.

It’s quite likely then, given China’s obvious comfort in operating in the Congo, that its companies may have bought the mines and taken control of a large slug of world cobalt (and copper) supply that is crucial to battery manufacture. Controlling the cobalt market would give the Chinese unprecedented control over the world automotive sector. Continue Reading →

Mineral deposits at Voisey’s Bay ‘exquisite,’ says geology professor – by Terry Roberts (CBC News Newfoundland and Labrador -June 19, 2018)

Experts call Labrador operation ‘perfect battery metals mine’

Questions about the fate of mining operations at Voisey’s Bay over the past year have been replaced by unbridled hope and enthusiasm.

A green light for a multibillion-dollar underground expansion, a lifespan extended by many years, a workforce that will nearly double, and an operation poised to capitalize on what many expect will be an explosion in the demand for electric vehicles in the coming years.

You only need to pick up a metallurgical core sample from Voisey’s Bay to understand what all the hype is about, and you don’t need to be a geologist to know you’re holding something unique. Continue Reading →

China Marks Cobalt, Copper Ascendancy in Congo With New Group – by William Clowes (Bloomberg News – June 18, 2018)

More than 30 Chinese companies active in the Democratic Republic of Congo formed a business association backed by both countries’ governments, further cementing China’s ascendancy in copper and cobalt production in the central African nation.

The 35-member Union of Mining Companies with Chinese Capital will facilitate “communication and exchange between the Chinese mining companies and the government of our country,” Cheng Yonghong, the group’s president, said at an inauguration event in Lubumbashi in southeast Congo on June 16.

The group, known by the French acronym USMCC, was founded at the initiative of China’s embassy and on the advice of Congo’s mines minister, he said. Continue Reading →

Glencore settles with Gertler over Congo royalties – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.S. – June 15, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – Glencore has settled a mining row in Democratic Republic of Congo with Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler by agreeing to pay royalties in a currency other than U.S. dollars, lowering the risk of disruption to copper and cobalt supplies.

U.S. sanctions on Gertler, Glencore’s former Israeli partner in Congo, had triggered litigation and a legal tangle that investors said might affect supplies of cobalt, needed for electric vehicle batteries, from the world’s biggest producer of the metal.

Glencore earlier this week reached a settlement in another dispute involving its Kamoto copper and cobalt mine in Congo, although it remains at odds with the Congolese government over a mining code that increases taxes and royalties on minerals. Continue Reading →

After cobalt-free pledge, Panasonic to triple consumption for auto batteries: sources – by Pratima Desai (Reuters U.S. – June 14, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – Panasonic Corp expects to more than triple its cobalt consumption in five years’ time, industry sources said, even as the company aims to develop cobalt-free automotive batteries in the near future.

Panasonic is the exclusive battery cell supplier for all new Tesla vehicles, including the mass-market Model 3 electric car. Sources say cobalt-free batteries are many years away.

The scramble to secure supplies of cobalt, which stabilizes and extends the life of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries used to power electric vehicles, has seen prices rise to around $40 a lb from below $10 a lb in December 2015. Continue Reading →

Congo’s Miners Face Harsh New Reality as Mining Law Finalized – by Thomas Wilson (Bloomberg News – June 13, 2018)

The options for mining companies battling new legislation in the Democratic Republic of Congo — Africa’s biggest copper producer and the source of two-thirds of the world’s cobalt — have just about run out.

After six months of lobbying, companies including Glencore Plc and Randgold Resources Ltd. have got nowhere in their battle to push back against the mining law, which voids existing agreements and increases their costs. Congo approved the final part of the bill on Friday, and despite earlier indications from President Joseph Kabila that the rules might be eased, the law hasn’t been weakened in any way.

While the constitution bars Kabila from running for a third term, Congo’s embattled leader has refused to rule himself out as a candidate in elections later this year, and his campaign to wring more revenue out of mining companies is proving popular with voters. Continue Reading →

Cobalt Hunt Takes Aussie Explorer to Forest on BMW’s Doorstep – by Elisabeth Behrmann (Bloomberg News – June 13, 2018)

The search for cobalt, a key component of the battery-powered auto fleets of the future, has arrived on BMW AG’s doorstep with a discovery of an ore deposit not far from the plant where the German manufacturer makes its i3 electric city car.

The cobalt find in a forested section of Saxony’s Eichigt municipality, Germany’s first detection of the metal in modern times, could revive mining in an area that last saw activity during the Renaissance, and help diversify raw-materials supply, exploration company Lithium Australia NL said.

Some 60 percent of the world’s cobalt is concentrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where concerns over working practices and political strife have sparked a global hunt for alternatives sources. Continue Reading →

Vale in deal with two Canadian companies to sell cobalt – by Nicole Mordant (Reuters U.S. – June 11, 2018)

(Reuters) – Brazil’s Vale on Monday unveiled a $690 million financing to expand a Canadian nickel mine, agreeing to sell unmined cobalt from Voisey’s Bay as a booming electric vehicle market propels demand for the critical battery ingredient.

Vale said it would sell cobalt mined after 2021 as a by-product from the mine in Canada’s northern Labrador region to Wheaton Precious Metals Corp and Cobalt 27 Capital Corp in a so-called stream financing deal.

The transaction is the world’s biggest cobalt stream to date, a form of alternative financing that allows an investor to make an upfront payment in exchange for future production at a discounted price. Continue Reading →

Vale Reaches $700 Million Deal to Sell Cobalt Output – by Jack Farchy and R.T. Watson (Bloomberg News – June 8, 2018)

Vale SA reached an agreement to sell future production of cobalt as battery makers look to shore up supply of the metal amid a nascent electric-vehicle boom, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The deal is for about $700 million of cobalt produced at the Voisey’s Bay complex in Canada that predominately churns out nickel, the people said, asking not to be identified because talks are private. Vale’s Rio de Janeiro-based press department declined to comment.

The Brazilian miner has been looking for financing to extend the life of the mine by transiting to underground from open-pit operations and has said publicly that a so-called streaming arrangement was among options. Continue Reading →

Taylor: Eying the critical mineral supply – by Dr. Danny Taylor (Elko Daily Free Press – June 8, 2018)

Mining consultant and professional engineer Dr. Danny Taylor is an industry expert specializing in mine operation economic analysis.

One of the hot topics over the past several months for the mining industry has been a resurgence of discussions on “Strategic and Critical” minerals. On December 20, 2017, just two days before he signed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” President Donald Trump issued Executive Order No. 13817, “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.”Now this is nothing new.

In the early 1980s, then-Senate Majority Leader Paul Laxalt secured funding for a new 60,000-square-foot building for the Mackay School of Mines (the Laxalt Mineral Research Building) designated to house a Center for the Study of Strategic and Critical Minerals.

This was during the Cold War era, and folks in Washington were very concerned about the U.S. not having access to minerals essential to national defense (Strategic) due to disruptions in import supply lines (Critical). The initial report from the Center identified four mineral groups that met the criteria of Strategic and Critical: platinum group metals, chrome ores, manganese and rare earth elements. Continue Reading →

Glencore Faces New Legal Challenge Against Congo Cobalt Mine – by William Clowes and Thomas Wilson (Bloomberg News – June 8, 2018)

(Bloomberg) — For Glencore Plc in the Democratic Republic of Congo, problems don’t form an orderly queue: they pile up on top of each other.

In the latest example of the commodity giant’s deteriorating relationships in the country, a convicted fraudster has resurrected a legal claim the company considered dead, launching a billion-dollar bid for compensation for a 19 percent stake he previously held in Mutanda Mining Sarl — the world’s biggest cobalt miner.

The lawsuit, the third court action this year challenging Glencore’s control of its prized Congolese mines, is another headache for the Swiss commodity trader as it faces down the government over a new mining code that hiked taxes. Continue Reading →

ALTERNATIVES TO COBALT, THE BLOOD DIAMOND OF BATTERIES – by Ellen Airhart (Wired Magazine – June 7, 2018)

WHEN JOHN GOODENOUGH created the first lithium-ion rechargeable battery at Oxford in 1980, he needed some cobalt. Experiments had already established that the metal is energy-dense, perfect for small batteries that need a lot of power.1 So Goodenough made the cobalt himself, heating the precursors at very high temperatures.

Today, cobalt appears in most commercial lithium-ion batteries—but it comes at a price. The silvery metal is expensive, yes. But it also has a darker cost: a long history of human rights violations, including child mining, associated with production in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Electronics devices and electric car companies don’t want to pay big bucks and connect themselves with these atrocities, so they have tried to cut down on the amount of cobalt their batteries use. Panasonic, Tesla’s battery supplier, announced at the end of last month that they are developing batteries that don’t need cobalt. And they have some help: Goodenough and other researchers have also developed rechargeable batteries that don’t need cobalt. Continue Reading →

Commentary: Tesla leads electric vehicle race to cut cobalt dependency – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – June 6, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – If Elon Musk had his way, there would be no cobalt in any of the batteries powering the next generation of Tesla. At the very least, “we think we can get the cobalt to almost nothing”, he told analysts on the company’s first quarter results call.

Panasonic, which supplies the batteries for Tesla’s electric cars, is “aiming to achieve zero usage in the near future and development is under way”, according to Kenji Tamura, who is in charge of the Japanese firm’s automotive battery business.

The two companies are leading an industry race to reduce exposure to the metal even before the electric vehicle (EV)revolution truly builds momentum. It’s not difficult to see why. The London Metal Exchange price of the battery input has already rocketed from under $30,000 per tonne at the end of 2016 to a current $86,750. Continue Reading →

Reliance on Congo Cobalt Grows Despite European Discoveries – by Jason Deign (Green Tech Media – June 5, 2018)

“Ultimately, there will be no lithium-ion industry without DRC cobalt.”

The lithium-ion battery industry’s dependence on cobalt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo will rise despite ore discoveries in Europe, analysts believe.

Caspar Rawles, an analyst with Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, said the percentage of global cobalt supply coming from the DRC was set to go up from 66 percent in 2017 to more than 73 percent by 2023, even though mining firms are rushing to uncover deposits elsewhere.

Last month, for example, the Australian production and processing company Lithium Australia announced the discovery of cobalt mineralization at mines in Eichigt, in the state of Saxony in Germany. Continue Reading →