Ukraine’s Titanium Can Armor the West – by Stephen Blank (CEPA.org – September 14, 2022)

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Support for Ukraine has been driven by strategic concerns and moral-political values. But long-term Western help should also be based on solid material interests.

Ukraine is blessed with many natural resources and an abundant agricultural sector, as Andrew Michta, Dean of the College of International Studies at the Marshall Center, has reminded us. Supporting it now, and throughout its postwar reconstruction, makes eminent good sense and could help drive the regeneration of Eastern European economies, while also cementing Ukraine’s integration into Europe. This is a vital US and allied interest.

Also consider Ukraine’s substantial titanium deposits, a good example of a key resource critical to the West. The metal is integral to many defense systems (aircraft parts, missiles, armor plating, and naval vessels) as well as surgical procedures. Its strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to corrosion allow the manufacture of lightweight and durable equipment which works even in extreme conditions.

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Two years after start of Ukraine war, Russian titanium keeps flowing to West – by Adam Taylor (Washington Post/Yahoo News – March 22, 2024)

https://www.yahoo.com/

Western firms bought hundreds of millions of dollars of titanium metal from a Russian company with deep ties to the country’s defense industry after the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, according to a review of Russian export data.

The purchases illustrate how the West remains dependent on Russia for certain products despite pledges to break economic ties with Moscow. In the case of titanium, that dependence raises security concerns, industry and defense analysts say, as the metal is vital in the manufacturing of both commercial and military airplanes.

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Savannah could request compulsory land acquisitions for Portuguese lithium project – by Catarina Demony and Pietro Lombardi (Reuters – May 9, 2024)

https://www.reuters.com/

LISBON, May 9 (Reuters) – London-based Savannah Resources will if necessary ask Portugal’s government to authorise compulsory land acquisitions for its planned lithium mines in the country’s north, CEO Emanuel Proenca said, adding that it prefers “friendly deals”.

The company requires around 840 hectares for its four-mine project in the Barroso region, but according to data from September 2023, it had acquired or was in process of acquiring just 93 hectares.

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Column: LME checks Russian aluminum play but is it game over? – by Andy Home (Reuters – May 7, 2024)

https://www.reuters.com/

The London Metal Exchange’s (LME) warning shot to those looking to game the new sanctions on Russian aluminum appears to have worked, for now at least. Traders swooped on the LME’s stocks of Russian brand aluminum after the US and UK governments banned exchanges from taking delivery of Russian metal produced after April 12.

Over half of registered tonnage was cancelled over the ensuing week, destined for a creative run-around that would see it re-warranted under more restrictive trading conditions and locked into a lucrative rent-sharing warehouse deal.

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[Russian Commodities] Bust Sanction Busters – by Diane Francis (Substack – May 2, 2024)

https://dianefrancis.substack.com/

Russia’s economy has been sanctioned, punished, and distorted as a result of its war. But loopholes and workarounds have been devised to avoid sanctions, fossil fuel bans, and the G7 oil price cap. The West must escalate its economic war against Moscow by increasing restrictions and by punishing sanctions-busters.

In December, Washington announced sanctions on foreign banks facilitating transactions with Russia — a measure aimed at China, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and India — which is starting to work. But Ukraine’s allies must crack down on illegal trade by China and confiscate the $300 billion of Russian central bank assets that were frozen after the 2022 invasion.

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Nornickel moves production to China to circumvent sanctions – by Thomas Nilsen (Barents Observer – April 24, 2024)

https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/

War sanctions bite hard on Russia’s Arctic mining and metallurgical giant producing nickel and copper on the Kola Peninsula and in Norilsk.

Vladimir Potanin, the main shareholder of mega-polluter Nornickel, admits in a remarkable statement with Kremlin’s information agency Interfax that Western sanctions reduces the company’s revenue by up to 20%.

To circumnavigate sanctions, Potanin says Nornickel plans to establish a joint venture with a Chinese company and move parts of the copper smelting to China. It was earlier in April that the United States and United Kingdom imposed sanctions on nonferrous metals from Russia.

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Airbus granted reprieve from Canadian sanctions on Russian titanium, sources say – by Steven Chase and Robert Fife (Globe and Mail – April 25, 2024)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Ottawa has granted Airbus a waiver from sanctions targeting Russian titanium that could interfere with its business in Canada, two government sources say. Reports of the decision Wednesday prompted anger from Ukrainian Canadians and criticism from the Official Opposition.

The sanctions in question were only applied by Canada in February this year. Back then, Ottawa announced sanctions on Russia’s VSMPO-AVISMA Corporation, one of the world’s largest producers of titanium.

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In Portugal’s Rural North, Communities Are Resisting Lithium Mining – by Marta Vidal and Diana Takacsova (New Lines Magazine – April 24, 2024)

https://newlinesmag.com/

The remarkable heritage and ecology of Barroso are at risk amid an EU push to secure minerals for a ‘green transition’

As the sun begins its gradual descent in the mountains of Barroso, in northeast Portugal, it casts golden hues upon the region’s vast pine and oak forests. The air fills with the gentle hum of bees collecting nectar from the heather that blankets the rugged landscape in swaths of vivid purple and pink.

August is the peak season for honey, when the heather is in full bloom. Carlos “Libo” Goncalves is as busy as his bees. After taking his horses up the oak-studded hills that surround the village of Covas do Barroso, he dons his protective gear and hurries to the hives he has spread across his village’s common lands.

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New bans on Russian metals mean China will buy low and sell high to supply the U.S., Europe, and UK – by Ernest Hoffman (Kitco News – April 19, 2024)

https://www.kitco.com/

(Kitco News) – Last Friday at midnight, the London Metal Exchange (LME) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) enacted the most comprehensive limitation on Russian exports to date: a ban on all Russian metal produced after April 12. The move was made to bring the LME into compliance with the latest U.S. and U.K. sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The goal is to prevent Russia from being able to profit from the export of metal produced by companies such as Rusal (aluminum) and Nornickel (nickel) which help the country fund its ongoing military operations in Ukraine.

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Gina Rinehart-Backed Lithium Hopeful Surges After Pilot Batch – by Paul-Alain Hunt (Bloomberg News – April 10, 2024)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — Australia-listed lithium developer Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd. has gained nearly 40% this week after announcing its first viable output using direct-extraction technology, an emerging technique for producing the battery material.

The firm’s demonstration plant in Landau, Germany, delivered a batch of lithium chloride in line with the quality it eventually plans to make commercially, Vulcan said in a statement on Thursday. The firm backed by Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart has agreements to supply European carmakers including Stellantis, Renault SA, and Volkswagen AG.

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US, EU Are Set to Miss Critical Minerals Agreement This Week – by Alberto Nardelli, Jorge Valero and Eric Martin (Bloomberg News/MSN.com – April 3, 2024)

https://www.msn.com/

(Bloomberg) — A US and European Union push to reach an accord on fostering critical mineral supply chains is set to miss another target this week, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The final draft statement for a high-level trade and technology meeting in Leuven, Belgium, on Thursday falls short of a deal, instead it says the transatlantic allies “are advancing negotiations toward a critical minerals agreement,” according to a document seen by Bloomberg. An earlier version of the statement left open the door to an “agreement in principle.”

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Russia’s Nornickel: Some EU clients refuse to buy products made of Russian metal (Reuters – March 30, 2024)

https://www.reuters.com/

MOSCOW, March 29 (Reuters) – Russia’s Nornickel, the world’s largest palladium producer and a major producer of high-grade nickel, said on Friday that some clients in the European Union had refused to buy products made with Russian metals.

Although Nornickel itself and its metals is not a target of Western sanctions some consumers are voluntarily shunning deals for its metals and of products made from Russian raw materials, said Anton Berlin, vice president for sales.

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This refurbished mine in Wales is the world’s ‘deepest’ hotel – by Vibhuti Pathak (Eastern Eye – March 22, 2024)

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The mine where the hotel is built was shut down and left empty in the 1900s.

The rugged peaks of Snowdonia National Park in Wales are a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts. Lush valleys unfurl beneath dramatic mountains, promising breathtaking vistas and crisp mountain air. But for the truly adventurous, a different kind of escape awaits—an escape not into the wild, but deep beneath it. Nestled a staggering 1,375 feet underground, the Deep Sleep Hotel beckons slumberers with a unique proposition: the world’s deepest sleep experience.

You will forget the usual hotel lobby hustle. Here, check-in transforms into an Indiana Jones-esque prelude to your slumber. Helmets, headlamps, and sturdy boots replace room keys.

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EU to Keep Tabs on Norway Deep Sea Mining Efforts, Sefcovic Says – by John Ainger (Bloomberg News – March 21, 2024)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — The European Union will monitor Norway’s progress in exploring the deep sea bed for potential mining of critical raw materials as the bloc seeks to reduce its dependence on China.

Norway is one of the first countries to formally authorize seabed mining activities in its waters after its parliament backed plans in January to prospect for minerals across 280,000 square kilometers (108,000 square miles) of its Arctic continental shelf.

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Gabriel Resources investors flee after miner loses $4.4-billion arbitration claim against Romania – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – March 15, 2024)

https://financialpost.com/

Investors shave nearly $900 million off market cap in one of swiftest, largest single-day losses for a Canadian junior miner

Yukon-based Gabriel Resources Ltd. once harboured ambitions to build one of Europe’s largest gold and silver mines in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, which has been mined by humans for at least 2,000 years. But the proposed mining area is now on the UNESCO World Heritage list and Gabriel just lost an eight-year legal battle with Romania that has left the company’s future uncertain.

Gabriel’s experience is a cautionary tale that shows how shifting attitudes around resource extraction and an evolving global financial system have changed the business of mining.

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