Madagascar: for better or for sapphire – by Lola Fourmy and Martin Huré (Equal Times – July 12, 2024)

https://www.equaltimes.org/

Madagascar is the fifth poorest country in the world, yet it accounts for almost 40 per cent of global production of one of the most sought-after precious stones: sapphire. Several deposits discovered in 1998 in the south of the country continue to attract miners and buyers. These stones are prized by investors as “safe haven” assets, and the emergence of the middle classes in China and India has sent the prices soaring.

The mines in the south of the island are the scene of outdated working conditions and proven cases of child labour, and violent crime is plaguing the region. French journalists Lola Fourmy and Martin Huré take us on a journey to the heart of dreams of economic emancipation that, for many Malagasy people, has turned into a nightmare.

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After another boom and bust, where next for lithium? – by Andy Home (Reuters – July 11, 2024)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, July 11 (Reuters) – Lithium boom has turned to lithium bust over the last two years as a wave of new supply overwhelms weaker-than-expected demand for electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

The CME contract for lithium hydroxide has collapsed from a 2022 high of $85,000 per metric ton to $11,930. The CME carbonate contract was above $40,000 when it began trading in July 2023 and has since slumped to $12,850.

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India’s Diamond Trade Is Suffering. Why Isn’t America’s? – by Joshua Freedman (Rapaport Magazine – July 11, 2024)

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Weak demand and a supply glut have created a perfect storm for manufacturers. But the only true solution is at the consumer level.

Indian manufacturers view the current market situation as something close to a crisis. The desperation is similar to that during last year’s deep downturn. Polished prices are falling, and sightholders are losing money on rough.

But American dealers are happier. They say there is demand from retailers, albeit not at the peak levels they saw in 2021 and early 2022. They enjoyed decent sales at the Las Vegas shows, and trading is better now than before the exhibitions. So why the discrepancy?

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Glencore warns of nickel job losses unless labour costs controlled – by Brad Thompson, Tom Rabe and James Hall (Australian Financial Review – July 12, 2024)

https://www.afr.com/

Global mining heavyweight Glencore says the future of its nickel and cobalt operations in Australia will hinge on keeping a lid on labour and energy costs and access to infrastructure.

In what shapes as another blow to Anthony Albanese’s critical minerals ambitions, Glencore warned it was closely monitoring the situation and the future of its Murrin Murrin mine in Western Australia, which employs about 1500 people and is the nation’s biggest source of cobalt.

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Bolivian President Alleges Failed ‘Coup’ Attempt All About Lithium – by Alex Kimani Oil Price.com – July 7, 2024)

https://oilprice.com/

Last week, a significant political crisis unfolded in Bolivia after soldiers led by Army Commander General Juan José Zúñiga engulfed the Bolivian government palace using armored vehicles, calling to “restore democracy and free political prisoners.”

The attempted coup lasted only a few hours with leftist President Luis Arce quickly installing a new brass who called off the troops. However, the authenticity of the coup has come into question, with former president and Arce’s onetime mentor Evo Morales claiming it was staged in a bid to strengthen Arce’s position, “Lucho lied and deceived the Bolivian people and the entire world with this kind of coup or self coup,” Morales said in a speech on Sunday, referring to Arce by his nickname.

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BHP’s Nickel West closure could mark end of Australian nickel industry, analyst says – by Emily JB Smith and Ethan French (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – July 11, 2024)

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

The closure of mining giant BHP’s nickel operations in Western Australia will have ripple effects far and wide and could signal “the end of the Australian nickel industry”, according to a prominent mining analyst.

BHP announced yesterday it would begin suspending operations at the Kwinana nickel refinery in Perth, the Kalgoorlie smelter and its major mines at Mt Keith and Leinster in the state’s Goldfields from October. BHP said market conditions were to blame for its decision to either redeploy or offer redundancies to 1,600 of its frontline workers, while hundreds more contractors would be impacted.

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Opinion | Canada Is a NATO Scofflaw – by The Editorial Board (Wall Street Journal/MSN.com – July 11, 2024)

https://www.msn.com/

The Trudeau government free rides on everyone else’s defense dollars, even as threats in the Arctic grow.

Canada is a member of the G-7 group of leading democracies, but why? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau isn’t leading anything, and he won’t even commit his country to meet its minimum obligation as a member of NATO.

When we wrote last year about Canada’s status as a defense scofflaw, it created a stir in Ottawa. But the Trudeau government remains as much a deadbeat as ever.

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Fight Over Seabed Agency Leadership Turns Nasty – by Eric Lipton (New York Times – July 4, 2024)

https://www.nytimes.com/

An election over the future of a United Nations-affiliated organization could determine whether the Pacific Ocean floor will soon be mined for metals used in electric vehicles.

Allegations of possible payments to help secure votes. Claims of abuse of agency funds by top diplomats. A possible job offer to entice a candidate to withdraw from a race.

These are not the shenanigans of a corrupt election in an unstable country. Rather, they are efforts in the seemingly genteel parlors of a United Nations-affiliated agency, meant to sway decisions related to the start of seabed mining of the metals used in electric vehicles. It is all part of a nasty fight over who will be the next leader of the International Seabed Authority, which controls mining in international waters worldwide.

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Uranium mining: A Colorado company pumps out ore, with implications for economy and national security – by Scott Weiser (Denver Gazette – July 7, 2024)

https://denvergazette.com/

Travis Chiotti puts a brass tag bearing his name on a hook on the “in” board before heading 1,400 feet down-shaft. It’s a pair — the other tag goes in his pocket. Just in case. Helmet, headlamp, heavy steel-toed rubber boots, emergency respirator. Check.

Mining is hard work. Simply moving around is taxing. In these wet tunnels, the slopes are steep and slippery. The mud clings, and calf-deep pools of water can trap a boot. Underground miners are a special breed. Absent the cacophony of pumps, ventilation air blasting at 140,000 cubic feet per minute, drilling, blasting, and moving rock with diesel skip loaders, the absolute silence is deafening.

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Cancellation of Nickel Investments Should Be a Wake-Up Call for Indonesia – by Krista Shennum (The Diplomat – July 05, 2024)

https://thediplomat.com/

The government’s break-neck drive to exploit its nickel deposits should not come at the expense of human rights and the environment.

On June 24, two multinational mining and mineral processing giants, France-based Eramet and Germany-based BASF, announced that they would cancel plans for a $2.6 billion nickel-cobalt refinery located within the Indonesia Weda Bay Industrial Park (IWIP), in North Maluku, Indonesia.

The companies cited commercial reasons, but the Indonesian government would be short-sighted to ignore other concerns. In an indirect reference to human rights and environmental concerns with nickel processing operations at IWIP, a BASF spokesperson said the company needs a “secure, responsible, and sustainable supply of critical raw materials.” Implicit in the companies’ statements is that they are concerned about increasing their reputational risk through a new investment at IWIP.

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US miners push Washington to revive long-dormant Bureau of Mines – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters – July 5, 2024)

https://www.reuters.com/

July 5 (Reuters) – Mining trade groups plan to push Washington to revive and expand the long-dormant Bureau of Mines, an effort aimed at streamlining how the U.S. government regulates and supports critical minerals production and timed to coincide with the 2024 presidential election.

The lobbying campaign, details of which have not previously been reported, is set to launch this month ahead of the Republican and Democratic political conventions. It will contrast scattered U.S. mining oversight with Australia and other countries where senior mining-related agencies report directly to heads of government, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the effort.

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[American] Mining Hall of Fame announces 2024 inductees (Leadville Herald Democrat – July 3, 2024)

https://www.leadvilleherald.com/

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum (NMHFM) recently announced the class of 2024 National Mining Hall of Fame inductees and the recipient of the Prazen Living Legend of Mining Award. The 37th Induction Gala will be Nov. 2 at The Cable Center in Denver.

Arthur C. Daman – (1889-1968)

Arthur C. Daman, known as “Mr. Denver Equipment,” was a pioneer in modern mineral processing. He founded Denver Equipment Company (DECO) and obtained over 50 patents during his 40-year leadership. Daman and his team wrote what many called “the bible on mineral processing and process equipment.” Published in 1954, his Denver Equipment handbook is still well known today.

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U.S. Nuclear Fears as Iran Targets African Uranium – by Hugh Cameron (Newsweek Magazine – July 2, 2024)

https://www.newsweek.com/

Iran is trying to source uranium from West Africa, signaling a further expansion of the nuclear program that has long rattled states in the West.

Despite continued scrutiny and multiple efforts at curtailment, Iran still hosts one of the most advanced nuclear programs in the world, and reports have emerged that the country’s weapons program is gaining steam. One expert told Newsweek that, while the country has not definitively begun weaponizing its nuclear capabilities, continued attempts to boost its enriched stockpile should raise concern.

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Tin outperforms as broader base metals rally falters – by Andy Home (Reuters – July 4, 2024)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) – The London Metal Exchange (LME) Index hit a two-year high in May when funds surged into base metals, chasing a narrative of manufacturing recovery, super-charged energy transition demand and constrained supply.

Doctor Copper, investors’ favourite barometer of industrial activity, soared to an all-time high, spurred by a ferocious squeeze on the CME contract. Both gold and silver markets also climbed as the metals complex returned to the investor spotlight after years of neglect.

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Do Consumers Care About Diamond Origin? – by Joshua Freedman (Rapaport Magazine – June 20, 2024)

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Panelists at RapNet event highlight provenance challenges.

One of the ongoing questions in the diamond industry is whether shoppers care about the source of the stones they buy. For Olivia Landau, CEO of online natural-diamond retailer The Clear Cut, the problem is more fundamental.

“Everyone just assumes that natural diamonds come from one place, and it’s Africa, and Africa’s one country, and it is a blood diamond,” Landau said in a RapNet panel discussion at the recent JCK Las Vegas show. “We are starting from square one.”

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