OPINION: There is no quick fix for Europe’s self-manufactured energy crisis – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – October 9, 2021)


Suppose you were told 10 years ago that you had 10 years to replace your soot-spewing diesel car. You did not. Now, you’ve missed the deadline and have no right to be surprised by your sudden lack of four-wheeled transportation – you had ample time to buy a hybrid or electric car.

So it is with Europe. A bit more than a decade ago, a concerted effort was launched within the European Union countries and a few others on the continent to phase out their coal-fired generating plants to clean the skies and slow the pace of global warming.

Read more

The Hottest Party in the Metals World Is Back, But Much Smaller – by Jack Farchy and Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – October 10, 2021)


(Bloomberg) — Near-record copper prices are usually a sure sign that the parties will be extravagant and the champagne will flow all night when the metals world descends on London. But with Covid-19 still raging across much of the globe, the famously rowdy annual gathering of traders, financiers and producers won’t be quite the same.

Several of the best-attended parties will be missing from this year’s London Metal Exchange Week, which is returning after skipping 2020 due to virus restrictions. And many regular attendees from Asia, the most important driver of metals demand, and from South America, the key mining region, are opting to stay at home.

Read more

Column: Europe races to fix its rare earths import dependency – by Andy Home (Reuters – October 8, 2021)


LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Europe is on a mission to wrest back control of its rare earth magnet supply chain from China. Permanent magnets, commonly using a neodymium-iron-boron chemistry, are one of the hidden enablers of modern technology, powering everything from robots to refrigerators to laptop speakers.

They also help power electric vehicle (EV) and wind turbine motors, placing them at the heart of the energy transition. However, as the rest of the world has come to realise, these critical minerals are also critically dependent on China, which dominates the global supply chain from rare earth processing through magnet production.

Read more

Climate Change Is Melting Russia’s Permafrost—and Challenging Its Oil Economy – by Ann M. Simmons and Georgi Kantchev (Wall Street Journal – October 5, 2021)


YAKUTSK, Russia—Thawing earth once thought to be permanently frozen is springing to life and threatening a crucial chunk of Russia’s economy. The melting of the thick layer of the earth known as permafrost is a result of climate change, according to scientists and Russia government research.

Two-thirds of the country sits on such soil, including much of its oil and gas infrastructure. Since 1976, Russia’s average temperature has risen 0.92 degree Fahrenheit per decade, or 2½ times the global pace, government data shows.

Read more

The World Wants Greenland’s Minerals, but Greenlanders Are Wary – by Jack Ewing (New York Times – October 1, 2021)


NARSAQ, Greenland — This huge, remote and barely habited island is known for frozen landscapes, remote fjords and glaciers that heave giant sheets of ice into the sea. But increasingly Greenland is known for something else: rare minerals. It’s all because of climate change and the world’s mad dash to accelerate the development of green technology.

As global warming melts the ice that covers 80 percent of the island, it has spurred demand for Greenland’s potentially abundant reserves of hard-to-find minerals with names like neodymium and dysprosium. These so-called rare earths, used in wind turbines, electric motors and many other electronic devices, are essential raw materials as the world tries to break its addiction to fossil fuels.

Read more

Europe Asking Russia for More Coal Is Set for Disappointment – by Anna Shiryaevskaya and Yuliya Fedorinova (Bloomberg News – September 30, 2021)


(Bloomberg) — It’s not just extra natural gas that Europe’s struggling energy markets are finding tough to get from Russia.

Power producers in the continent are being forced to ask Russia for more coal to ease an energy crunch with winter approaching and record-high gas prices denting profitability, according to officials at two Russian coal companies. But they may be left stranded as any increase in exports from the country won’t be substantial, they said.

Read more

Automakers Look to Hedge Against China’s Rare Earth Dominance – by Elisabeth Behrmann (Bloomberg News – September 22, 2021)


(Bloomberg) — European automakers are in discussions with Australian rare earths explorer Arafura Resources Ltd. about sourcing elements that help power electric cars from outside China, which dominates global supply.

The miner is developing the A$1 billion ($728 million) Nolans project in Australia’s Northern Territory that will cover as much as 10% of global demand for the type of rare earths used in permanent magnets for electric motors.

Read more

Serbs Protest Against Lithium Mining, Other Eco Problems – by Darko Vojinovic (U.S. News/Associated Press – September 11, 2021)


BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Several thousand people protested in Serbia on Saturday demanding a ban on planned lithium mining in the Balkan country as well as a resolution to scores of other environmental issues that made the region one of the most polluted in Europe.

The rally in downtown Belgrade was organized by about 30 ecological groups who recently gained popularity in Serbia amid widespread disillusionment with mainstream politicians and amid major pollution problems facing the region.

Read more

Portugal: War over lithium behind the mountains – by Jochen Faget (DW.com – September 8, 2021)


Birds are chirping, and the corn stands tall ready to be harvested. A cow is grazing at the roadside while a shepherd is accompanying his sheep on their way to the pasture. There’s no cloud in sight, only endless forests and huge letters reading “HELP,” mown into flat broom shrubs and visible from a distance.

This idyllic landscape near the village of Covas do Barroso is in danger of having to make way for open-cast lithium mining, ironically in the name of environment protection. The mine would extract a crucial raw material for the batteries of electric cars and thus contribute to reducing global CO2 emissions and Europe’s dependence on lithium imports.

Read more

‘Dangerous’: Scientists Say Gates and Bezos-Backed Mining Venture Could Threaten Arctic Ecosystem – by Noah Kirsch (The Daily Beast – August 10, 2021)


A phalanx of billionaires are backing a new mining initiative in Greenland, in what they hope will boost access to minerals used to manufacture electric cars. It’s significant news in a country that has not always celebrated natural resource exploration. And it has some environmental scientists concerned.

The source of the billionaire money is an initiative founded by Bill Gates, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, whose investors include Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Jack Ma, Ray Dalio, and Michael Bloomberg.

Gates founded Breakthrough Energy in 2015 as a vehicle for combating climate change, and it has raised $2 billion to date, including a $1 billion funding round completed earlier this year. The organization has invested in dozens of startups in the sustainable energy space.

Read more

U.S. Sanctions on Belarus Potash Leave Out Nation’s Sole Seller – by Yuliya Fedorinova (Bloomberg News – August 10, 2021)


Potash buyers fretting over U.S. sanctions on Belarus’s state-owned producer, which controls about a fifth of the global market for the crop nutrient, might not need to panic right away.

The penalties announced on Monday target Belaruskali OAO, which ships much of its products to China, India and Latin America, along with more than a dozen companies with ties to President Alexander Lukashenko.

Yet Belarusian Potash Co., in which Belaruskali owns a 48% stake and which is the sole handler all of the country’s potash exports, wasn’t included in the sanctions list.

Read more

Rosatom subsidiary plans for lithium mining on the Kola Peninsula – by Thomas Nilsen (Barents Observer – July 29, 2021)


The world’s hunger for lithium-ion batteries is sky-rocketing as the car industry rapidly changes from combustion engines to electric powertrains. A carbon-free future will additionally require huge amounts of batteries to store wind and solar power on the grid.

Data collected by Bloomberg shows how demand for lithium-ion batteries will surge from roughly 526 gigawatt hours in 2020 a predicted 9,300 gigawatt hours by 2030. To meet the demand, annual production of lithium carbonate should be boosted from today’s 520,000 metric tons existing mining capacity up to 2,8 million metric tons by 2028, a study by Rystad Energy suggests.

The study warns of the risk of a significant supply deficit from 2026-2027 unless new minings are started.

Read more

Column: Rio’s lithium project will test mining’s ESG credentials – by Andy Home (Reuters – July 29, 2021)


LONDON (Reuters) – Rio Tinto’s decision to invest $2.4 billion in developing the Jadar lithium mine in Serbia is big news. For the company with its heavy exposure to the iron ore sector, it’s a major strategic pivot to the fast evolving battery metals space.

For the lithium market, it marks the first entry of a big international mining company into what is a supply landscape dominated by specialty incumbents.

It’s hugely significant for Serbia, which is trying to attract investment to its mining sector, and it’s hugely important for the European Union, which has identified its Balkan neighbour as a key link in its mineral securities chain.

Read more

Romania’s Roman gold mines get UNESCO heritage status – by Stephen McGrath (Associated Press News – July 28, 2021)


BUCHAREST (AP) — Ancient Roman mining galleries in a mountainous Romanian region that has been at the center of a long, fierce battle between a Canadian mining company and environmentalists were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list Tuesday.

Rosia Montana, located in western Romania, is home to Europe’s largest gold deposits. Gabriel Resources, a Canadian mining company that gained concession rights in 1999, planned to extract the gold and silver over a 16-year period.

The mining project, which the Romanian government owned a 20% stake in, also would involve razing four mountain tops, displacing hundreds of local families and leaving behind a waste lake containing cyanide, a toxic chemical used in the process of gold extraction.

Read more

News Release: Rio Tinto commits funding for Jadar lithium project (July 27, 2021)

LONDON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Rio Tinto has committed $2.4 billion to the Jadar lithium-borates project in Serbia, one of the world’s largest greenfield lithium projects. The project remains subject to receiving all relevant approvals, permits and licences and ongoing engagement with local communities, the Government of Serbia and civil society.

The Jadar project would scale up Rio Tinto’s exposure to battery materials, and demonstrate the company’s commitment to investing capital in a disciplined manner to further strengthen its portfolio for the global energy transition.

Jadar will produce battery-grade lithium carbonate, a critical mineral used in large scale batteries for electric vehicles and storing renewable energy, and position Rio Tinto as the largest source of lithium supply in Europe for at least the next 15 years. In addition, Jadar will produce borates, which are used in solar panels and wind turbines.

Read more