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

COLUMN-Unexpected bump on the EV road hits battery metals – by Andy Home (Reuters – December 18, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, Dec 18 (Reuters) – It’s been a tough year for electric vehicle (EV) metal bulls. The previous speculative heat surrounding any and every material that goes into an EV battery has dissipated over the course of 2019. Two years ago the spot lithium price in China was $26 per kilogram. Today it is assessed by Fastmarkets at below $8.

Cobalt, a key input for lithium-ion battery chemistry, has experienced a similar boom and bust cycle, the price of standard grade metal sliding from over $44 per lb in the second quarter of 2018 to a current $15.75.

Nickel has fared better but only thanks to strength in its traditional end-use sector, stainless steel, rather than any pull from the battery sector. Both lithium and cobalt are living with the consequences of previous price exuberance in the form of a supply surge that has swamped processing capacity and left an overhang of stock. Continue Reading →

OEMs ‘fail to understand need to source EV battery raw materials’ – by Steve Garnsey (Automotive Logistics – December 23, 2019)

https://www.automotivelogistics.media/

OEMs and companies in the automotive supply chain show a lack of comprehension of how serious the situation is in accessing key metals required for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, according to Scott Williamson, managing director of Australian mineral explorer and mine developer Blackstone Minerals.

“I don’t think they [the automotive industry] understand how critical and difficult it is to get hold of these metals,” he told Automotive Logistics.

“There’s a disconnect between the amounts of money at the automotive level and what comes down to us,” he added. “If the money doesn’t come down to the mining level, there will be no EV revolution.” Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Pentagon to stockpile rare earth magnets for missiles, fighter jets – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – December 20, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

(Reuters) – The U.S. military plans to stockpile rare earth magnets used in Javelin missiles and F-35 fighter jets, according to a government document seen by Reuters, a step that critics say does little to help create a domestic industry to build specialized magnets now made almost exclusively in Asia.

The Pentagon is seeking proposals to cache a rotating six-month supply of neodymium iron boron (NdFeB) magnets, a type of rare earth magnet essential to weapons manufacturing, according to the document, detailing the latest attempt to weaken China’s control over the rare earths sector.

Beijing has been using that prowess for leverage in its trade war with Washington. The request effectively seeks someone to warehouse a six-month supply of the specialized magnets and maintain it for at least 30 months. It does not offer financial support for NdFeB magnet manufacturing, which industry analysts and executives say is a short-sighted misstep by the Pentagon. Continue Reading →

How rare earth shocks lifted an upstart Australian mining company – by Melanie Burton, Yuka Obayashi and Aaron Sheldrick (Reuters Canada – December 17, 2019)

https://ca.reuters.com/

MOUNT WELD, Australia/TOKYO (Reuters) – Sprawled across a spent volcano on the remote edge of the Great Victoria Desert in Western Australia, the Mount Weld mine seems a world away from the U.S.-China trade war.

But the dispute has been a lucrative one for Lynas Corp (LYC.AX), Mount Weld’s Australian owner. The mine boasts one of the world’s richest deposits of rare earths, crucial components of everything from iPhones to weapons systems.

Hints this year by China that it could cut off rare earths exports to the United States as a trade war raged between the two countries sparked a U.S. scramble for new supplies – and sent Lynas shares soaring. Continue Reading →

How the race for cobalt risks turning it from miracle metal to deadly chemical – by Jonathan Watts (The Guardian – December 18, 2019)

https://www.theguardian.com/

If the prophets of technology are to be believed, the best hope for solving the climate crisis is ever more efficient batteries. But the race to produce enough materials for this energy-storage revolution is creating a host of other environmental problems, as cobalt-producing nations like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia and Cuba are discovering.

Lung disease and heart failure have been linked to high levels of this element, while the mines that produce it are blamed for devastated landscapes, water pollution, contaminated crops and a loss of soil fertility. Scientists are also investigating a possible link to cancer.

As with any chemical, the risks depend on the amount and duration of exposure. Cobalt is a metal that occurs naturally in rocks, water, plants, and animals. It is less toxic than many other metals. At low levels, it is beneficial to human health and is a component of vitamin B12. Continue Reading →

Texas rare earths mine developers to build U.S. refinery – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – December 16, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

(Reuters) – Developers of a Texas rare earths mine said on Monday they will build a pilot plant to refine the strategic minerals, the latest domestic processing project announced at a time when more Americans are voicing concern about China’s control over the sector.

China is the largest global processor of rare earths, a group of 17 minerals used to make a range of electronics and military equipment.

Texas Mineral Resources Corp (TMRC.PK) and privately held USA Rare Earth said they will spend $10 million to $12 million to build the pilot plant in Colorado, near industry consultants and academics. Continue Reading →

Tech firms named in US lawsuit over DRC cobalt mining child labour (MiningWeekly.com – December 16, 2019)

https://www.miningweekly.com/

The world’s largest technology companies are being sued by the families of children who died or were maimed while mining for cobalt in the world’s largest cobalt producing nation, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The federal class action lawsuit, filed in Washington DC by human rights firm International Rights Advocates, names Apple, Alphabet – the parent company of Google, Dell Technologies, Microsoft and Tesla as defendants.

It is understood other technology firms and automotive companies were also on the human rights firm’s radar and that additional entities could be added to the lawsuit. Continue Reading →

The next mining boom? Rare earths and the rise of Australia’s ‘other’ minerals – by Nick Toscano (Sydney Morning Herald – December 13, 2019)

https://www.smh.com.au/

Lithium, cobalt, titanium, rare earths – expect to hear more about them as we transition to green technologies. But what are they, actually? And what are they for?

Coal and iron ore are the heavy hitters of minerals in Australia. They’re our two top mining commodities by far, together accounting for 30 per cent of national exports.

But a handful of other minerals have become rather fashionable in recent times. They account for a small fraction of our export earnings and it’s mostly small operators that dig them out of the ground, with just a couple of big names in the mix. Yet they are rapidly becoming more important and edging their way into common parlance as result.

The sci-fi-sounding rare earths is one. Titanium is another. “He’s a man of titanium,” US President Donald Trump declared of our Prime Minister Scott Morrison this year, adding a zeitgeisty, if incomplete, fast fact: “You know, titanium’s much tougher than steel.” Continue Reading →

Exclusive: U.S. Army will fund rare earths plant for weapons development – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – December 11, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

(Reuters) – The U.S. Army plans to fund construction of rare earths processing facilities, part of an urgent push by Washington to secure domestic supply of the minerals used to make military weapons and electronics, according to a government document seen by Reuters.

The move would mark the first financial investment by the U.S. military into commercial-scale rare earths production since World War Two’s Manhattan Project built the first atomic bomb.

It comes after President Donald Trump earlier this year ordered the military to update its supply chain for the niche materials, warning that reliance on other nations for the strategic minerals could hamper U.S. defenses. Continue Reading →

Trudeau government does spadework on minerals crucial to future economy – by Jim Bronskill (Canadian Press/Financial Post – December 3, 2019)

https://business.financialpost.com/

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is digging for intelligence on the role Canada’s mining sector could play in providing the United States and other key trading partners with crucial minerals and metals — from cobalt to tellurium — considered building blocks of the new economy.

Natural Resources Canada plans to hire a British firm to provide pricing forecasts and analysis of global supply and demand between 2020 and 2030 for about two dozen vital minerals used in products like solar cells, permanent magnets and rechargeable batteries.

The move comes as Canada works on a joint plan with the United States to ensure reliable access to these minerals and foster future competitiveness of the U.S. and Canadian mining industries. Continue Reading →

Glencore’s Glasenberg says successor could be in place next year – by Barbara Lewis and Eric Onstad (Reuters Canada – December 3, 2019)

https://ca.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Glencore could announce a new chief executive next year once a new management team is in place, its current boss told an investor meeting on Tuesday as the commodities giant laid out its priorities for 2020.

The mining and trading company faces a challenging year as it contends with problems on multiple fronts, from a series of mine fatalities and climate politics to a continuing U.S. Department of Justice investigation and difficulties in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Speculation about Ivan Glasenberg’s departure has intensified after he said last year that he expected to retire in between three and five years. Asked for detail on a planned management transition, Glasenberg said there was “a good crop of people” but did not offer names. Continue Reading →

US must counter China’s stranglehold on key minerals – by Matthew Kandrach (Casper Star Tribune – November 29, 2019)

https://trib.com/

Matthew Kandrach is the president of Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, a free-market oriented consumer advocacy organization.

The element cobalt isn’t something most people think of every day. And yet cobalt is critically important for the production of cell phones, wind turbines, and satellites. It’s also a key part of the lithium-ion battery — making it an essential resource for the emerging green revolution.

Right now, much of the world’s cobalt comes from one source — the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC produces roughly two-thirds of the world’s cobalt. Unfortunately, much of that mining is done by child labor, with revenues that often end up in the hands of autocratic rulers and warlords.

As global competition for resources like cobalt continues to grow, one country has moved quickly to dominate the field. Thanks to heavy investment in the DRC, China now owns much of the world’s cobalt production. In fact, China’s heavy investment in both copper and cobalt has given it a strong stake in global metal and mineral supplies. Continue Reading →

Denmark says Greenland is a national security concern as ‘great powers’ circle – by Nick Allen (The Telegraph – November 30, 2019)

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

Denmark has made Greenland a top national security priority after Donald Trump expressed an interest in buying the territory. Mr Trump raised the possibility of purchasing the vast land mass for the United States earlier this year, due to its abundant natural resources and potential future logistical value.

Mette Frederiksen, the Danish prime minister responded at the time that it was not for sale, leading to a diplomatic spat in which Mr Trump called her “nasty” and cancelled a trip to Denmark.

Now, Denmark’s foreign and military intelligence agency has warned of increasing tensions over Greenland involving major powers, including the US, China and Russia, and highlighted the threat ahead of others like terrorism and cybercrime. Continue Reading →

The World’s Biggest Battery Recycler Is Helping Fuel The Future of Cars (Bloomberg News – November 26, 2019)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg) — The former university professor leading one of the firms most crucial to the future of transport has a warning for anyone eyeing his patch.

“I want to tell everyone who wants to enter this market: don’t do it, you are wasting your money,” said Xu Kaihua, chairman of Chinese battery metals maker GEM Co. “Only the top five will survive.”

The firm Xu founded in Shenzhen in 2001 has adopted an expansive business model that’s made it central to supply chains stretching from the cobalt and nickel mines of Africa and Southeast Asia to the motors of Volkswagen and BMW cars. GEM’s diverse footprint includes a plant in Indonesia that will allow it to avoid that nation’s export ban on nickel, a key raw material. And, the company is already the world’s biggest recycler of metals from used batteries. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Producing More Valuable Minerals in the U.S. – by J. Winston Porter (November 20, 2019)

https://www.insidesources.com/

A large majority of important minerals used in America are imported from other countries, but the United States needs to produce more minerals in our country. In addition, now some want to obtain minerals via recycling in America.

Although the idea of recycling has obvious appeal, it simply isn’t easy or inexpensive. As for this issue, about 85 percent of all used automobiles are recycled, providing large quantities of iron and steel. And other recycling comes from scrap lead, copper and aluminum.

But even with significant political and financial incentives, recycling’s contribution to the supply of critically important minerals like indium, manganese, cobalt, cesium and vanadium has not budged. The result is that we are heavily dependent on imports of key minerals from overseas locations. Continue Reading →