The $2 Million Coal Mine That Might Hold a $37 Billion Treasure – by Julie Steinberg (Wall Street Journal – November 9, 2023)

Wyoming discovery could be America’s first new source of rare-earth elements since 1952

Twelve years ago, former Wall Street banker Randall Atkins bought an old coal mine outside Sheridan, Wyo., sight unseen, for about $2 million. He thought the mine might eke out a profit. Instead, Atkins recently learned it could bring a windfall.

Several years after Atkins bought the Brook Mine, government researchers came around asking if they could run some tests to see if the ground contained something called “rare-earth elements.” When Atkins acquired the mine, he says he “didn’t know the difference between rare earths and rare coins.”

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What green energy transition? Half of mining still exploring for gold – by Frik Els ( – November 7, 2023)

New study shows a $1.1 billion drop in gold exploration budgets this year as juniors struggle to raise capital, but the precious metal still accounts for 46% of the total.

According to a new study by S&P Global Market Intelligence, overall mining exploration budgets fell this year for the first time since 2020, dropping 3% to $12.8 billion at the 2,235 companies that allocated funds to find or expand deposits.

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NEWS RELEASE: Biden-Harris administration provides $2 million to states to identify critical mineral potential in mine waste (United States Geological Survey – November 7, 2023)

The new agreements funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will support critical mineral mapping and the creation of a national mine waste inventory

RESTON, Va. — The U.S. Geological Survey has invested more than $2 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in cooperative agreements with 14 states to study the potential for critical mineral resources in mine waste. This funding will allow the USGS and these states to better map the locations of mine waste and measure the potential for critical minerals that might exist in that mine waste.

“These agreements are allowing us and the states to take a second look at places that were once known for their mineral production to see if there might yet be some new critical mineral potential, just waiting to be found,” said Darcy McPhee, program manager for the USGS Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI), which provided the funding for the agreements.

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Battery Metals Lose Luster as Surge in Supply Outpaces Demand (Bloomberg News – November 6, 2023)

In the fast-moving world of battery metals, 2022 already feels like a bygone era. Back then, prices were soaring, automakers were fretting about long-term shortages and Elon Musk was describing lithium costs as “insane.”

A year-and-half on from the Tesla Inc. CEO’s comments, the market dynamics for metals crucial to the energy transition have flipped. Lithium has tumbled almost 70% so far this year, while nickel has plummeted around 40%. Cobalt too has dropped.

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The U.S. Can Counter China’s Control of Minerals for the Energy Transition – by By James Morton Turner(New York Times – November 6, 2023)

Dr. Turner is a professor of environmental studies at Wellesley College and the author, most recently, of “Charged: A History of Batteries and Lessons for a Clean Energy Future.”

China recently rattled the world’s electric vehicle supply chains by announcing new export controls on graphite, a key component of lithium-ion batteries. If China uses the export controls, which take effect on Dec. 1, to reduce exports of graphite or to favor Chinese-owned companies operating abroad, it could slow down efforts to scale up advanced battery manufacturing globally.

Welcome to the geopolitics of the clean energy transition. Unlike in the 20th century, when China was largely a bystander in petroleum politics, the country has achieved new geopolitical significance by scaling up investments in clean energy manufacturing and the critical minerals that work requires.

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Mission critical: Europe eyes new suppliers in geopolitical race for metals – by Eurydice Bersi, Maxence Peigné and Maria Maggiore (Inestigate Europe – November 6, 2023)

The EU is brokering deals with Africa and Latin America for critical raw materials. But it finds itself squeezed between China, Russia and the US for the minerals essential to the green transition.

“It is very important that Africa is not seen as a reservoir of raw materials that continues to be exploited by Westerners to create added value elsewhere.” The warning comes from Celine Tshizena Pegasus, a Congolese lawyer and advocacy director at Afrewatch, a natural resources watchdog.

In July, Afrewatch and dozens of international NGOs sent an open letter to the European Commission, slamming its strategy to source critical raw materials from the Global South. Deposits of minerals such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and rare earths are barely explored in Europe, let alone mined in the quantities required for the green transition.

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China’s Grip on Africa’s Minerals Sparks a US Response – by Matthew Hill (Bloomberg News – November 2, 2023)

(Bloomberg) — The US is going full steam ahead in its effort to catch up with China in a part of the world that’s become central to the green transition: Africa’s “Copperbelt.” Loaded with minerals critical to the production of batteries and other renewable energy components, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have become the latest venue in the struggle for advantage between Washington and Beijing.

As part of its stated ambition to challenge China’s dominance, the Biden administration saw an opportunity to revitalize a century-old rail line linking key African mines to an Atlantic Ocean port. Called the Lobito corridor, the US is investing hundreds of millions of dollars on the project.

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Canada, U.S. must spur critical-mineral mining, refining at home to secure clean-energy shift, American envoy says – by Steven Chase (Globe and Mail – November 1, 2023)

The shift to clean energy from fossil fuels by Canadian and American governments will succeed or fail depending on whether they can obtain a sufficient supply of critical minerals to make electric-vehicle batteries, the U.S. ambassador to Canada says. Both countries need to build up their mining, refining and battery-making capacity quickly, David Cohen told a business audience Tuesday.

“We need to help each other to make this possible – to drive demand for electric vehicles, to help fund critical-mineral mines, and to move manufacturing, refining and mining back to North America, in a responsible way,” he said in a speech to the Canadian Club of Ottawa. “The United States and Canada are investing billions to make all that happen.”

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Ottawa outlines eligibility for companies seeking $1.5B in critical minerals infrastructure funding – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – November 2, 2023)

Ottawa is finally getting ready to accept applications for a $1.5-billion infrastructure fund to support critical minerals mines, with stakeholders in Ontario’s Ring of Fire hoping they will be among the recipients.

Natural Resources Canada announced Tuesday that projects eligible to apply for the new Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund include clean energy and transportation projects that support critical minerals mines. Eligible recipients include the private sector, the provinces and territories, and Indigenous groups.

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Metals and the invasion: Russian war reconfigures commodity supply flows – by Taylor Kuykendall (SP Global – February 21, 2023)

World traders have turned away from the Moscow-based economy in favor of trade with other suppliers of metals and mines as experts expect permanent changes to how the world thinks about its supply chains.

One year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, metals and mining trade flows have shifted as countries look to regionalize supply chains for crucial raw materials due to aversions to purchases that could support the Kremlin.

The start of the war in late February 2022 sent the price of many commodities skyrocketing, but buyers have adjusted after much of the world opted to bench Russian metal suppliers. However, Russian commodities are moving despite countries looking elsewhere for supplies, including by increasing domestic sourcing of crucial materials.

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Advancing critical mineral exploration research in Northern Ontario – by Dr Andrew P Dean (Innovation News Network – October 30, 2023)


Dr Andrew P Dean, Vice-President of Research and Innovation at Lakehead University, discusses the future of sustainable critical mineral exploration and development in Northern Ontario.

Canada is a world leader in critical mineral exploration and mining technology. Northern Ontario, in particular, has long been viewed as one of the country’s major centres for mining activities.

However, there are challenges facing our region and the industry in general. Expenditures for critical mineral exploration are increasing, but discoveries of new mineral resources are in decline. Companies, governments and communities are tasked with finding ways to undertake sustainable economic development while also ensuring environmental protection and respect for constitutionally protected Indigenous and Treaty rights.

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Race to break China’s lithium stranglehold heats up – by Michael Smith (Australian Financial Review – October 30, 2023)

China’s dominance of the EV supply chain has raised global fears of a new trade war, as tensions between Beijing and Washington intensify over critical minerals.

Rows of multicoloured electric vehicles built by China’s BYD are the star attraction in Singapore’s Suntec City shopping mall. The glitzy showroom featuring discounted “Surf Blue” or “Parkour Red” Atto 3 model cars is often packed with customers – a reminder of China’s dominance of the electric vehicle market in Asia, and increasingly the world.

Further upstream, national champion CATL has quickly become the global leader in battery-making for EVs, powering one in three on the road worldwide today. The company and Shenzhen-based BYD have raced ahead of rivals in South Korea and Japan, leaving the US and Europe contemplating how to stoke an electric car industry without relying on China for the most important and costly piece of the puzzle.

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OPINION: Sapped of both hard and soft power, Canada needs action to keep up in a dangerous world – by Charles Burton (Globe and Mail – October 30, 2023)

Charles Burton is a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, non-resident senior fellow of the European Values Center for Security Policy in Prague, and former diplomat at Canada’s embassy in Beijing.

Speaking to an international crowd of leaders, ministers and other representatives who had gathered earlier this month in Beijing for a forum that marked 10 years of China’s Belt and Road Initiative global infrastructure program, Chinese leader Xi Jinping declared that “changes of the world, of our times, and of historical significance are unfolding like never before.”

Quite right. Will the Russian invasion of Ukraine be resolved without war with NATO? Will armed conflict in the Middle East, fomented by Iran, spiral into a regional war? Would China open a third front by invading Taiwan? If the atrocious provocations to war by Iran, Russia and China develop simultaneously on three fronts – setting off a world war in Asia, the Middle East and Indo-Pacific – where will Canada stand?

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Green transition, dirty business: Europe’s struggle to tear loose from Chinese minerals – by Attila Kálmán and Amund Trellevik (Investigate Europe – October 26, 2023)

A global rush for minerals is underway. Europe wants to revive its mining industry to secure the lithium, nickel, copper and rare earth elements needed for a green future. Investigate Europe sieves fact from fiction in the hunt for critical raw materials.

“This has been 130 years of encroachment on our nature and abuse of us Sámi in this area,” says Karin Kvarfordt Niia. The ground is slowly caving in around Kiruna in northern Sweden, where Europe’s largest iron ore mine has operated since the late 19th century.

Excessive excavation has left Kiruna buckling under the strain of its mineral riches. There are fears that part of the town, with around 20,000 people, will literally sink into the ground. To avoid this, authorities are moving the whole city centre to new land, a mega operation paid for by the state-owned mining company LKAB.

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$4b for mining companies to produce minerals for US renewables – by David Crowe and Farrah Tomazin (Sydney Morning Herald – October 24, 2023)

Mining companies will gain an extra $2 billion to expand the production of critical minerals needed for renewable energy and high-tech devices under a federal plan to meet soaring demand for the components tightly controlled by China.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will double the finance available to key exporters from $2 billion to $4 billion in the hope of unlocking vast reserves of lithium, nickel and other essential elements for batteries and other renewable technologies.

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