Congo cobalt mined by children may be in your mobile phone – Amnesty – by Aaron Ross (Reuters U.K. – January 19, 2016)

http://uk.reuters.com/

KINSHASA – Cobalt used in batteries for phones, laptops and electric vehicles could come from mines in Democratic Republic of Congo that use child labour, an Amnesty International report said on Tuesday.

Working with campaign group African Resources Watch (Afrewatch), Amnesty accused technology giants including Apple, Samsung SDI and Sony of lax oversight of the supply of cobalt from mines in Congo to smelters and on to battery-makers.

As a result, consumer products sold across the globe could contain traces of the metal produced each year by informal Congolese mines without companies knowing, the report said.

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Lithium, graphite and potash to shine in 2016 as battery storage, electric car demand grows along with food – by Babs McHugh (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – January 13, 2016)

http://www.abc.net.au/

The price of lithium has surged on the back of growing global demand for high-tech devices, storage batteries and electric cars.

Lithium Australia recently took advantage of the positive sentiment by completing a $6.55 million share placement during one of the worst weeks in trading history.

It is a stark contrast to a major price drop in key bulk mineral commodities like coal and iron ore. Managing director Adrian Griffin says the demand for lithium will only grow, especially for lithium-ion batteries.

“I think we’re talking about a paradigm shift in the way people think about power,” Mr Griffin said.

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How the iron ore rout is helping rare earth prices – by Frik Els (Mining.com – January 13, 2016)

http://www.mining.com/

In order to crack down on illegal mining, pollution and modernize the country’s mostly low-tech industry China consolidated its rare earth industry under six large organizations in 2014.

By far China and the world’s leading rare earth producer is China North Rare Earth Group Co (formerly Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi-Tech Co).

CNRE’s giant mine in Bayan Obo, Inner Mongolia near Baotou City, produces more than the rest of world’s rare earths mines combined and does so as a byproduct of iron ore mining. The 470 million tonne iron deposit was discovered in 1927 and REEs a decade later. According to some estimates Bayan Obo boasts 70% of the world’s proven REE reserves at more than 40 million tonnes.

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Lifton on Kingsnorth and the global rare earth market – by Jack Lifton (InvestorIntel.com – November 30, 2015)

http://investorintel.com/

My colleague, Professor Dudley Kingsnorth, now of Curtin University in Perth, Australia, is arguably the world’s most experienced; up-to-date; and knowledgeable expert in the global rare earths’ markets. To me therefore his keynote address to the Roskill Conference on Rare Earths, two weeks ago in Singapore, was a definitive analysis of the current situation in the global rare earths’ markets.

I believe that he and I are very much in agreement on most of the issues in those markets, and on how we got to where we are today. Prof Kingsnorth and I were, I think, both a bit surprised, although he to a lesser extent than I, that we agreed on which non-Chinese rare earth juniors were the best and were most likely to succeed. Both of us heartily agreed that the other had finally come to his senses on that topic.

I think that in order to have a discussion about the global rare earths’ markets we need first to determine exactly what or which problem(s) we are trying to investigate and understand.

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The No Breakfast Fallacy: Why the Club of Rome was wrong about us running out of resources – by Tim Worstall (The Adam Smith Institute – 2015)

http://www.adamsmith.org/

1. Introduction

The scene is an early morning current affairs radio show. Very important people talk to the nation here. Evan Humphries (for it is he): “Mr. Worstall, why is it that your new report shows that soon all will be dead?”

Worstall: “Evan, it’s 7 am. Currently there is food in the fridges of the nation for breakfast. But in two hours time that will be eaten, gone, there will be no more. Therefore everyone will die because NO BREAKFAST.” Sorry, might I just rerecord that?

Worstall: “Evan, mineral reserves are disappearing at an alarming rate. Official figures show that within 30 years most of them will be used up and there are no more reserves. Industrial civilisation will crash, billions die, because NO MINERALS.”

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The Next Resource Shortage? – by David S. Abraham (New York Times – November 20, 2015)

http://www.nytimes.com/

WHEN world leaders gather in Paris later this month to forge an agreement on climate change, they will discuss ways to use less fossil fuel, expand energy-efficient technologies and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Yet even as our leaders are pushing us to use fewer resources, their vision will force us to use more.

Though energy from the sun and wind appears boundless, the resources needed to turn it into power are not. And as we move away from oil, gas and coal, there is increasing demand for the rare metals that are at the heart of green technology. In the process, we are trading one resource dependency for another, and unleashing a new set of economic and environmental ramifications.

These rare metals — a group of roughly 50 that includes indium, rare earths and gallium — are produced in small quantities, often several thousands of tons annually or less;

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Cuts in China’s rare earth output not enough to revive hard-hit market – by Eric Onstad (Reuters U.S. – November 6, 2015)

http://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) – An output cut by six top rare-earth producers in China has spurred a modest rise in prices and is helping to steady a hard-hit market, but a continued glut of illegal output will likely cap any rebound.

Prices of 17 rare-earth elements used in high-tech sectors such as electronics, defence and renewable energy have been sliding over the past four years, hit by heavy oversupply.

Last month, the country’s top producer China Northern Rare Earth High Tech Corp and five other main suppliers said that due to weak prices, they would produce around 10 percent less than their 2015 government-set output targets.

China is the world’s dominant producer of rare earths, accounting for 90 percent of global supplies. “The cuts caused a short-term bump (in prices), but the real problem is that it’s only a small drop in the ocean,” said David Merriman, senior analyst at consultancy Roskill Information Services in London.

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Japan Gambles on Rare Earth Elements in Kazakhstan – by John C. K. Daly (Silk Road Reporters – November 3, 2015)

http://www.silkroadreporters.com/

In the past year, China, India, Japan, and the U.S. have all “rediscovered” Central Asia. While U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lectures the five “Stans” on human rights and democracy, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe all focused on the more prosaic issues of increasing bilateral trade and seeking investment opportunities.

In Kazakhstan, Abe, accompanied by 50 high-level company executives, scored a deal that will benefit Japan’s high technology sector as well as lessen its dependency on China, with whom relations have been fraying. Japan is the world’s largest importer of rare earth elements (REEs).

Minister of Investment and Development Asset Issekeshev met Nipponese Oil, Gas, and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) executives during Abe’s visit. The Ministry subsequently issued a statement noting, “JOGMEC and Kazgeologiia National Geological Exploration Company are expecting to start exploration works in spring 2016, primarily in territories rich in yttrium in Karaganda and Kostanai regions.”

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The threats to America’s minerals – by William Perry Pendley (Washington Times – November 1, 2015)

http://www.washingtontimes.com/

Death by a thousand paper cuts

William Perry Pendley, a lawyer, is president of Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver and author of “Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s Battle with Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today” (Regnery, 2013).
Much has been written about the impossibility of developing America’s rich natural resources given the opposition of the Obama administration, radical environmentalists and actively empathetic judges; it has been a horror show for oil pipelines, energy on federal lands and coal anywhere.

What happens, however, when the minerals at issue are deemed critical to national defense, key to green technology innovation and crucial to contesting Chinese combativeness and therefore: the stars align, the White House gives its support and environmental groups eschew the courthouse? Sadly, as an essential rare earth elements mine in Wyoming reveals: death by a thousand bureaucratic paper cuts.

In 1980, Congressman Jim Santini, Nevada Democrat, warned of America’s risky reliance for strategic and critical minerals on foreign sources, primarily Africa. Gov. Ronald Reagan, in his 1977 radio address, decried a “campaign” by the Soviet Union and Cuba “to achieve strategic dominance over Africa with all its mineral riches.”

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Lithium – Lifting the Spirits – by Christopher Ecclestone (InvestorIntel.com – October 28, 2015)

http://investorintel.com/

You don’t get to hear a specialty metal mentioned often in a Woody Allen movie, but Lithium has managed to score a mention more than a few times. Of course it’s not that the gnomic director has suddenly been converted to a new variety of battery but rather that so many of his characters (and maybe his audience) need a pick-me up of some Lithium to cure (or ameliorate) what ails them.

Then again until 20 years ago the only mention the public ever heard of Lithium was in reference to its medical properties, even though its ceramic applications were massively more important volume-wise. Indeed Lithium was the word on everyone’s lips pre-1950 when it was a standard ingredient in 7-Up (the “up” being literal) and farther back it went into Lithia Coke (give me that over Cherry Coke any day!).

Indeed, it has been speculated (and even tried in some places) that putting Lithium into water supplies might lift people’s mood and reduce suicides. In 1990, a study in 27 counties in Texas found lower rates of not only suicide but also homicide and rape in those where the drinking water contained lithium. In 2009, research in Japan found lower suicide rates in areas with lithium in the water.

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Lithium prices tipped to rise 20 per cent by 2017 on demand for electric cars – by Peter Ker (Sydney Morning Herald – October 27, 2015)

http://www.smh.com.au/

Prices for lithium are forecast to rise strongly in the next two years, with widespread adoption of electric cars tipped to be a game changer for the third element on the periodic table.

While most demand for lithium carbonate comes from industrial companies producing ceramics and glass, Citi analyst Matthew Schembri believes demand will rise significantly when electric vehicles become mainstream and need the commodity for lithium-ion batteries.

Citi is very bullish about electric cars, and forecasts production of pure electric models (not hybrids) like the Nissan Leaf or the Tesla Model S to rise from about 150,000 in 2015 to about 290,000 in 2016. By 2020, Citi expects 1.04 million electric cars to be in production, implying sevenfold growth over five years.

In an extensive study of what the boom in electric cars will mean for lithium carbonate markets, Mr Schembri said demand for the commodity would rise almost 65 per cent over the next five years.

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The War Over the Periodic Table – by David S. Abraham (Bloomberg News – October 23, 2015)

http://www.bloombergview.com/

A little past 9:30 on the morning of Sept. 7, 2010, a Japanese Coast Guard vessel in the East China Sea spots a Chinese fishing trawler off the coast of islands, known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

The Japanese have little tolerance for such incursions in the Senkakus, which they annexed in 1895 after the Sino-Japanese War. But recently China has asserted claims to these islands extending hundreds of years earlier. The island dispute is wrapped up in a morass of misunderstanding and oneupmanship, with an eye toward the rich seabed resources nearby.

When you ask Japanese officials about the territorial dispute, they will look at you as if it is almost insulting to answer the question. “It’s our land,” one government official told me, as if an American diplomat had been asked if Hawaii is part of the United States.

On that morning, the Japanese vessel pulls alongside the smaller Chinese trawler and blares messages to the crew in Chinese from loudspeakers: “You are inside Japanese territorial waters. Leave these waters.”

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The ‘Electronification’ of Everything – by David S. Abraham (Bloomberg News – October 22, 2015)

http://www.bloombergview.com/

Only about 150 years ago, almost all materials in a person’s home came from a nearby forest or quarry. By the 1960s, with more developed supply lines and more consumer appliances, the average American home contained about 20 different elements.

Since then, a revolution has transformed the products we use and the materials that allow them to work. Products now rely on elements that were once mere scientific oddities just a couple decades ago. In the 1990s Intel used only 15 elements in its computer chips.

Now the company demands close to 60 elements. While rare metals have been around since the beginning of time, most were just discovered in the past few hundred years, and some just in the past century.

This transformation in the products we use appear subtle to the untrained eye. Modern lights, for example, emanate hues slightly different from predecessors. But these subtle changes mask a profound change in resource use. Whereas Edison’s lightbulb contained a simple metal filament, the resources in today’s LED lights are more akin to computer hardware, powered by gallium, indium and rare-earth elements.

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The Elements of Power in the Rare-Metal Age – by David S. Abraham (Bloomberg News – October 21, 2015)

http://www.bloombergview.com/

“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share — no chance,” Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer told a CEO forum before Steve Jobs released the iPhone in June 2007.

By the end of the first week of sales, however, most storeroom shelves were bare; Apple and its AT&T partner sold hundreds of thousands of phones. The company was on its way to taking more than 20 percent of the smartphone market within just a few months.

Only eight years later, we forget what a revolution the iPhone was. It became the first mainstream product to rely on a multi-touch glass screen, allowing the tapping, sliding and pinching that are now second nature for writing emails, determining directions and hailing a cab. As Steve Jobs himself said, “It works like magic.”

But in the initial hubbub little attention was paid to the iPhone’s most remarkable characteristic. The reason such a powerful device can sit comfortably in the palm of your hand is that it relies on nearly half the elements on the planet.

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Russia may face with shortage of gold and strategic commercial minerals during next 20 years – by Eugene Gerden (InvestorIntel.com – October 19, 2015)

http://investorintel.com/

Russia may face with a shortage of gold and some other strategic commercial minerals during the next 20 years, which is mainly due to the decline of the volume of exploration works in the country in recent years.

In the case of gold, the predicted growth of gold production in Russia up to 350 tonnes per year may result in the gradual depletion of gold reserves in Russia already by 2035, taking into account even projected resources.

This will be mainly due to lack of attention to the technological aspects of gold production in Russia, as well as the reduction of exploration works in recent years, because of the economic crisis in the country.

In the case of production methods, due to poor technologies, the losses of gold during ore processing usually reach 27%.

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