A mid-term look at critical mining in North America – by P.J. Kwong (Canadian Mining Journal – March 1, 2023)

https://www.canadianminingjournal.com/

The government policies defined to meet net-zero emissions targets require leveraging green technologies globally to ensure the health of the planet. For countries to meet their respective net-zero targets, the importance placed on the development of critical minerals’ projects has never been higher.

In some cases, the need to accelerate project development is required to meet projected shortfalls in some critical minerals’ supplies; for example, the demand for lithium will quickly outpace supply as new operations are slow to come on-line.

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Critical Minerals Pushed by GOP Wary of Biden Climate Policies – by Kellie Lunney (Bloomberg – February 28, 2023)

https://about.bgov.com/

House Republicans, leery of Democrats’ climate policies, are pushing an alternative agenda: reducing US reliance on foreign-sourced critical minerals for everything from green energy to military equipment.

“This country would be in dire straits” if adversary nations stopped selling the US critical minerals, Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee, said in an interview. “We need to move on this, and keep the safety and security of this country in the palm of our own hands.”

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Australia blocks Chinese investor from raising stake in rare earths miner – by Staff (Mining.com – February 28, 2023)

https://www.mining.com/

Australian rare earths producer Northern Minerals (ASX: NTU) said on Tuesday that the federal government had prevented its largest shareholder, China’s Yuxiao Fund, from raising its stake in the company on grounds of national interest.

Yuxiao Fund needed the Foreign Investment Review Board’s (FIRB) approval to increase its holding in Northern Minerals to 19.9% from 9.92%. Beijing has condemned Australia for previously blocking Chinese investment on national security grounds, saying those moves have contributed to a years-long diplomatic freeze.

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How America plans to break China’s grip on African minerals (The Economist – February 28, 2023)

https://www.economist.com/

Mining Indaba, Africa’s largest mining conference, is an anthropologist’s dream. There are the corporate chief executives: alpha males keen to cut big deals for big rocks. There are the engineers staffing stands in bright corporate attire, resembling darts teams on tour, and the colourful African delegations: Ghanaians draped in kente cloth or Congolese dandies with watches the size of clocks. They are offset by Chinese officials in dark suits and Saudis in white thawbs.

This year’s event, which took place in Cape Town in February, attracted America’s largest delegation ever, including officials from the White House and departments of state, commerce and energy. Its size reflects America’s hunger for the 50 “critical minerals” it deems essential to reduce carbon emissions and create green jobs in the process.

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Base and battery metals Snapshot: Eight companies targeting critical minerals – by Staff (Northern Miner – February 2023)

Global mining news

The growing demand for clean energy technologies is driving exploration and development of critical mineral deposits around the world. Here’s a look at eight companies on the hunt for everything from cobalt and copper to graphite, lithium and nickel.

ACME Lithium

ACME Lithium Inc. (CSE: ACME; US-OTC: ACLHF) is focused on battery metal projects and its flagship asset is the Clayton Valley lithium project in Esmeralda County, Nev., 145 km northwest of Las Vegas. ACME Lithium has the option to earn 100% of 122 claims of the 9.9-sq.-km project, which sits contiguous to the northwest of Albemarle’s (NYSE: ALB) Silver Peak lithium mine, and borders Pure Energy Metals’ Clayton Valley lithium brine project, a joint-venture with Schlumberger Technology Corp.

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A critical look at critical minerals – by Philippe Tortell, Nadja Kunz, Allen Edzerza, Dave Porter (Policy Options – February 21, 2023)

Policy Options

Canada needs to modernize its mining legislation and draw on Indigenous leadership to truly achieve its global mineral ambitions.

In late 2022, the federal government released its much-anticipated critical minerals strategy. This is the latest in a series of national plans aimed at securing minerals vital for renewable energy, electric vehicles and other low-carbon technologies.

The strategy aims to position Canada as a globally significant supplier of copper, nickel, lithium and other elements whose demand is expected to increase over the coming decades.

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Cobalt, a crucial battery material, is suddenly superabundant (The Economist – February 6, 2023)

https://www.economist.com/

Just a year ago a global crunch in one metal looked likely to single-handedly derail the energy transition. Not only was cobalt, a crucial battery material, being dug up far too slowly to meet soaring demand, but the lion’s share of known reserves sat in Congo, a country rife with instability, corruption and child labour.

Fast forward to today and the price of the blue metal, which had more than doubled between summer 2021 and spring 2022, to $82,000 a tonne, has collapsed to $35,000, not far from historic lows.

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Queen’s Park provides stimulus funding in the hunt for much-needed critical minerals – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – February 16, 2023)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Ontario Junior Exploration Program offers exploration funding for junior miners

There’s a looming global crunch for high-tech metals to feed the electric vehicle industry and not enough mines currently in production to meet that increasing demand.

To incentivize more exploration in Ontario, the provincial government announced in Sault Ste. Marie that it has invested $5.8 million to help a handful of exploration companies hunt for critical metals like nickel, copper, cobalt and lithium. The funding will be delivered through the Ontario Junior Exploration Program (OJEP) as part of a special critical minerals stream, launched in 2021.

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Iron ore remains the Pilbara’s sturdy trunk, but greener roots are starting to emerge – by Mark Foreman (Australian Broadcasting Corp. – February 18, 2023)

https://www.abc.net.au/

Iron ore looks set to continue its surge in 2023 but the rise of green energy is creating massive opportunities for the Pilbara. Rare earth minerals, lithium, wind and solar are just some of the emerging commodities setting the pace in one of WA’s most productive regions.

Pilbara Development Commission chief executive Terry Hill said the changing landscape was exciting for the region. “One of the really significant changes in the region of the last few years is the diversification in the range of exploration and mineral projects,” Mr Hill said. “One of the ones that is going to come through really strongly this year, and will be at the forefront of growth for the next few years is green energy.”

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Russia’s Lesser-Known Intentions in Ukraine – by Olivia Lazard (Carnegie Europe – June 14, 2022)

https://carnegieeurope.eu/

Up until the last days before Russia’s invasion, the European Union did not believe that Putin was about to attack Ukraine. If the EU—an organization whose premise was based on “never again”—missed a war, what else could it be missing?

Quite a lot, as it turns out. For all the violence already unfolding in Ukraine, the war may actually be but a single fragment in a much larger puzzle that Russia has been piecing together through trial and error in the last few years.

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For Mining EV Metals, the Arctic Is Hot – by Stephen Wilmot (Wall Street Journal – February 14, 2023)

https://www.wsj.com/

As the U.S. turns to Canada for ‘critical minerals,’ Europe might come to rely on the historic mining hub of Sweden

The rush to secure green-energy metals is bringing new life to one of the world’s oldest mining hubs. Like the U.S., Europe is worried that it is too reliant on China for supplies of once-obscure natural resources, such as lithium and rare-earth metals, that are seen as climate-friendly successors to oil and gas.

The European Union is due to announce policies to improve its green-energy security in a “critical raw materials act” next month. Self-sufficiency targets are among the options being discussed.

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BOOKS: The horrors behind the mining industry that powers your life – by Russ Mitchell (Los Angeles Times – February 13, 2023)

https://www.latimes.com/

You, the smartphone addict. The modern nomad, lugging your fancy laptop. The electric car driver, smug in your certainty that you’re making the world a better place. Look over here, under this rock; look at what you’d rather not see.

That’s what Siddharth Kara invites you to do in his damning new book, “Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives.” Maybe you already know our booming battery-based economy depends on cobalt mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. You’ve heard things are bad there. But I’d guess that, like me — smartphone addict, laptop lugger, owner of an electric car — you had no idea just how bad.

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The Biggest Source of Cobalt Outside Africa is Now Indonesia – by Annie Lee and Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – February 7, 2023)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — Indonesia has become the world’s second-largest cobalt producer, bolstering its bid to be a big player in the electric-vehicle supply chain.

Production of the battery material in the Southeast Asian country surged past others including Russia and Australia to grab the No. 2 spot last year, according to US government data.

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Microsoft calls for ‘coalition’ to improve Congo’s informal cobalt mines (Reuters – February 8, 2023)

https://www.reuters.com/

CAPE TOWN, Feb 8 (Reuters) – Microsoft visited an artisanal cobalt mine in Democratic Republic of Congo in December as part of attempts to jump-start formalisation of the little-regulated and dangerous industry that experts say is key to meeting global demand for the battery material.

Congo accounts for three-quarters of the world’s mined cobalt supply. Industrial mines produce most of Congo’s cobalt, but “artisanal” miners, who dig by hand and often die when tunnels cave in, account for up to 30% of production, though that fluctuates depending on price.

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Column: Cobalt price slump triggers lift-off in futures trading – by Andy Home (Reuters – February 7, 2023)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Cobalt prices have crashed over the last six months with demand growth slowing just as a wave of new supply washes through the market. After hitting a four-year high of $40 per lb in May last year, cobalt has slumped to $17 per lb, extending a long history of boom-and-bust price cycles.

There were hopes that this time might be different, thanks to rising demand from the electric vehicle (EV) sector but not all battery inputs are equal when it comes to the bullish narrative around “green” metals.

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