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

Lack of critical minerals processing capacity U.S. ‘Achilles heel’ – Wyden – by Dorothy Kosich ( – January 29, 2014)

U.S. Senate leaders say the nation must address inadequate U.S. mining processing capacity as well as promoting domestic mining of critical and strategic minerals.

RENO (MINEWEB) – During a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday on S. 1600, the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, noted, “A crucial but too often neglected part of this [U.S. critical minerals] supply conversation is mineral processing.”

“Although mining is an important part of the supply equation, and S. 1600 encourages federal agencies to expedite permitting for new critical minerals extraction, it is the lack of processing capacity—transforming the raw materials that we pull out of the ground into the high-purity compounds needed for manufacturing—it is that challenge that is my concern and the concern of many experts,” he observed. Continue Reading →

Opposition to Critical Minerals Policy Act is misguided – by Colin T. Hayes (Alaska Journal of Commerce – January 9, 2014)

Colin T. Hayes is an executive vice president at McBee Strategic Consulting and formerly served as senior professional staff to Sen. Lisa Murkowski on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources.

As someone deeply familiar with Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s leadership on the “Critical Minerals Policy Act,” John Kemp’s Dec. 9 Reuters column criticizing the bill struck me as a cynically misguided reaction to her important work.

Sen. Murkowski introduced the legislation in order to, as she put it, “keep the United States competitive and begin the process of modernizing our federal mineral policies.” This is a laudable goal and an important process, particularly as our foreign reliance increases for materials needed to build semiconductors, skyscrapers, and everything in between.

In Kemp’s view, however, the bill “deserves to die” because it would authorize new federal funding that he views as a sop to “special interests.” With all due respect, he’s wrong. Continue Reading →

INTERVIEW-Greenland eyes mines as melting ice cap unlocks mineral riches – by Balazs Koranyi (Reuters India – January 21, 2014)

TROMSOE, Norway – Jan 21 (Reuters) – Greenland will push ahead with a uranium and rare earths mine despite the objections of its former colonial ruler and main benefactor as the melting of the polar ice cap unlocks the country’s natural resources, its prime minister said.

Arctic Greenland, with the lowest population density in the world, could open its first big iron ore mine in five years and award the first rare earths exploitation licence by 2017, hoping for riches that could attract thousands of workers and leave the locals in a minority, Aleqa Hammond told Reuters.

“We simply refuse to go under as a culture because of climate change,” Hammond, 48, said on Tuesday on a visit to Norway. “We have to adapt because the ice is disappearing and hunting is no longer the main source of income.

“But climate change gives us a new chance to survive because our minerals become accessible so we’ll adapt,” Hammond, an Inuit woman brought up to skin seals, said. “We are one of the very few countries around the world where climate change is giving us benefits.” Continue Reading →

Call for greater State participation in mining could lead to conflicts of interest – by Leandi Kolver ( – January 17, 2014)

JOHANNESBURG ( – Should the State play a larger role in South Africa’s mining sector, as envisaged by the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) 2014 election manifesto and the ‘State Intervention in the Minerals Sector’ (Sims) report, the establishment of an independent regulator would be essential to prevent conflicts of interest, Webber Wentzel head of Africa mining and energy projects Peter Leon said.

In his yearly January 8 statement, ANC and State President Jacob Zuma indicated that the ANC was moving ahead with measures to strengthen the State mining company and to ensure increased beneficiation for industrialisation. This statement was echoed in the ANC’s election manifesto, which stated that “the role of the State-owned mining company will be strengthened”.

Leon told Mining Weekly Online that, while the manifesto did not deal with the issue of the State-owned mining company in detail, the Sims document explained that the State would play a key role by ensuring the compulsory beneficiation of “strategic” minerals at “competitive” and “affordable” prices, and that a more direct role would be played by the State mining company through the “development of strategic minerals” and “supporting, where appropriate, vertically integrated value chains that strengthen strategic industries”. Continue Reading →

Afghanistan’s rare earth element bonanza – by Alan Dowd – Fraser Institute ( – January 15, 2014)

After more than a decade of war and nation building, members of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan are heading for the exits. Although what ISAF will leave behind is better than what was there in 2001, Afghanistan remains a battered land. However, the resources Afghanistan’s land holds — copper, cobalt, iron, barite, sulfur, lead, silver, zinc, niobium, and 1.4 million metric tons of rare-earth elements (REEs) — may be a silver lining.

U.S. agencies estimate Afghanistan’s mineral deposits to be worth upwards of $1 trillion. In fact, a classified Pentagon memo called Afghanistan the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” (Although lithium is technically not a rare earth element, it serves some of the same purposes.)

Of course, the fact that Afghanistan is rich in minerals is not necessarily new information. The Soviets identified mineral deposits in Afghanistan during their decade-long occupation. What is new is the volume and precision of mineral-related information. Afghanistan has been mapped using what is known as “broad-scale hyper-spectral data” — highly precise technologies deployed by aircraft that, in effect, allow U.S. military and geological experts to peer beneath Afghanistan’s skin and paint a picture of its vast mineral wealth. According to Jim Bullion, who heads a Pentagon task force on postwar development, these maps reveal that Afghanistan could “become a world leader in the minerals sector.” Continue Reading →

Jack Lifton refutes WSJ article: ‘How the Great Rare-Earth Metals Crisis Vanished’ – by Jack Lifton (Investor Intel – January 12, 2014)

The WSJ article published on January 8, 2014 How the Great Rare-Earth Metals Crisis Vanished declares that the “rare earth crisis” is over, and as support refers to the conclusions of a “leaked” Pentagon report. It glibly declares, analyses, and dismisses, as a failure, a Chinese plot to maintain control of the production and pricing of the rare earths as having been defeated by the forces of the market and capitalism.

But the real crisis is that western end-users of rare earth enabled components have proved that if you don’t capitalize the security of supply then when the market turns in your favor you are unprepared to take advantage of it. It is in the naked greed of the stock market where the real rare earth crisis was invented, fomented, sucked dry — and forgotten. The stock market flies no national flag and its players care little for apple pie or mom.

Notwithstanding what this author states there is today no nation other than China that has in place a total domestic rare earth supply chain. Thus even if you do produce rare earths outside of China you must send them to China if you want to first refine mining concentrates and then to fabricate rare earth metals and alloys for use, for example, as magnets. In particular none whatsoever today of the “critical” heavy rare earths are produced outside of China. Continue Reading →

How the Great Rare-Earth Metals Crisis Vanished – by Joseph Sternberg (Wall Street Journal – January 8, 2014)

China’s attempt to control the market for materials essential to the tech industry is turning to dust.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the world feared China was going to use its dominance of the global rare-earth-element industry to crush Western economies and militaries in a strategic vise. Those were the days. Recent developments highlight how wrong those alarmist predictions were.

Rare earths are the metals at the bottom of the periodic table that are exceptionally useful in many high-tech applications, from lasers to solar panels to electric car batteries to smartphones. China is the world’s major extractor and only processor of rare-earth ores.

Beijing aroused worries in late 2010 when it apparently limited exports of the minerals to Japan amid a territorial dispute. The episode stoked fears that China would use its sole-supplier status for nefarious ends.

Except that it turns out Beijing doesn’t have the wherewithal to execute such a dastardly plan. Consider the new plan Beijing unveiled last week to consolidate its rare-earth industry into six large extraction and processing companies. Continue Reading →