What the ban on Russia’s gold imports means for its increasingly isolated economy – by Patricia Cohen (New York Times – June 27, 2022)

https://www.nytimes.com/

The decision over the weekend to ban the purchase of newly mined and refined gold from Russia is the latest effort by the United States, Britain and their allies to notch up the wave of sanctions concentrated on Russia in response to its four-month-old invasion of Ukraine.

The announcement, made as President Biden and other leaders from the Group of 7 nations gathered for meetings this week in Germany, builds on steps already taken to cut off Russia from the international financial system, deprive it of additional revenues that are helping fund its war in Ukraine and punish President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and wealthy business executives in his circle.

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Race to the Bottom: Deep Sea Mining Is the Next Frontier – by Christina Lu (Foreign Policy – June 26, 2022)

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The untapped trove of metals on the ocean floor might be the key to a greener future—or an environmental catastrophe.

To power the energy revolution, nations have stripped their lands for the metals crucial to build everything from Teslas to wind turbines. The hunt for cobalt has left a trail of pollution and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo while Zambia’s copper mining industry has poisoned nearby rivers. In nickel-rich Indonesia, mining has generated enough runoff to dye the country’s waters red.

Many countries have now set their sights on a new market: the deep ocean floor. These depths potentially hold an untapped trove of metals—nickel, cobalt, copper, and manganese—tucked into polymetallic nodules, potato-shaped deposits that are millions of years old. Mining these riches, they say, is the key to a greener future. Some are already fiddling with the lock.

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Sayona and Piedmont approve C$98m Quebec lithium restart – by Mariaan Webb (MiningWeekly.com – June 28, 2022)

https://www.miningweekly.com/

Emerging lithium producer Sayona Mining has cemented plans to get its North American spodumene production off the ground in 2023, following a formal agreement of the North American Lithium (NAL) restart programme.

Sayona Quebec, which is 75% owned by Sayona and 25% by Piedmont, has formally authorised the restart of spodumene concentrate production at the NAL operation, in Quebec, requiring significant plant and infrastructure upgrades.

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Ukraine war robs India’s ‘Diamond City’ of its sparkle (Economic Times India – June 26, 2022)

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/

Yogesh Zanzamera lays out his bed on the floor of the factory where he works and lives, one of around two million Indians polishing diamonds in an industry being hit hard by the Ukraine war.

The air reeking from the only toilet for 35-40 people, conditions at workshops like this in Gujarat state leave workers at risk of lung disease, deteriorating vision and other illnesses. But Zanzamera and others like him have other more immediate worries: the faraway war in Europe and the resulting sanctions on Russia, India’s biggest supplier of “rough” gemstones and a long-standing strategic ally.

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Lawless South Africa has bulk commodity chrome pirates stripping its wealth – by Schalk Burger (MiningWeekly.com – June 22, 2022)

https://www.miningweekly.com/

South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of chrome ore and it is estimated that about 10% of South Africa’s yearly production of chrome is lost to illegal mining. There has been an emergence of a bulk commodity illegal industry in South African chrome mining, said global law enforcement network organisation the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC) in its latest Risk Bulletin report.

According to the report, soldiers, police and security guards in April descended on a mine in North West to disrupt a large illegal mining operation. The miners had been excavating chrome ore, which is an essential mineral for manufacturing stainless steel.

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The race is on to make EV batteries truly sustainable – by Mike Finelli (Fortune Magazine – June 23, 2022)

https://fortune.com/

The electric vehicle battery supply chain that has been built over the last 20 years will not be the same one that carries us through the next 20 years. With demand for EVs growing rapidly, fundamental changes are needed to address the ethical and sustainable challenges in creating EV batteries.

As a growing number of Americans trade in their gas guzzlers for environmentally friendly EVs, auto manufacturers and those who create EV batteries should prepare to go under the American consumer’s microscope on issues like semiconductor supply chains, carbon footprints in manufacturing, and circularity.

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Are Russian diamonds now conflict diamonds? Depends on who you ask – by Samanth Subramanian (Quartz.com – June 21, 2022)

https://qz.com/

Russia has thwarted a Western effort to have its crude diamonds labeled as “conflict diamonds”—thwarted it so effectively that the Russia-Ukraine war won’t even be discussed at a crucial meeting of diamond producers this week.

The phrase “conflict diamonds” refers to those that finance “violence by rebel movements and their allies seeking to undermine legitimate governments,” a definition outlined in its charter by the Kimberley Process, a global watchdog forum set up in 2003 to block the sales of conflict diamonds.

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Nickel, Tesla and two decades of environmental activism: Q&A with leader Raphaël Mapou – by Nick Rodway (Mongabay.com – June 22, 2022)

https://news.mongabay.com/

GORO, New Caledonia – Known widely as the “Madagascar of the Pacific,” New Caledonia is coated in remnant Gondwana rainforest and surrounded by reefs rich in marine life that constitute one of the largest marine parks on earth. It is a French territory located approximately 1,470 kilometers (900 miles) northeast of Brisbane, Australia.

Despite its size, New Caledonia punches far above its weight ecologically. It houses the longest continuous barrier reef in the world and is internationally renowned for its plant species, over 80% of which are endemic. The territory is also one of the world’s largest producers of nickel and holds a quarter of the earth’s known reserves.

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What is Australia doing about sexual harassment in mining camps? – by Praveen Menon (Reuters – June 21, 2022)

https://www.reuters.com/

SYDNEY, June 21 (Reuters) – Australia will release on Thursday a state government report on sexual harassment in the country’s mineral-rich west after more than a year of investigations, as the sector tries to fix a culture of sexism and bullying.

Women have long complained of sexual harassment in “fly in, fly out” (FIFO) mining camps. Major miners including BHP Group (BHP.AX), Rio Tinto (RIO.AX) and Fortescue (FMG.AX) have made submissions to the inquiry, which is expected to recommend steps to address the issue.

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PDAC 2022 features a heavy emphasis on optimizing the mining world for the EV revolution – by Mehanaz Yakub (Electric Autonomy – June 20, 2022)

https://electricautonomy.ca/

As the world moves toward electrification and electric vehicles, many discussions at PDAC, the annual international mining conference in Toronto, centred around Canada’s opportunity to leverage its unique resource base and policy environment to supply the critical minerals that will drive the revolution forward

After going virtual for the previous two years, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention, one of the mining industry’s largest annual conferences, returned in person this year, with thousands of executives, suppliers, investors and government officials attending the three-day event.

With stakeholders flooding to the conference from around the world, PDAC 2022 offered the first real in-person opportunity to marry the mining industry and the electric vehicle transition with Canada at the centre of the conversation.

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Europe turns back to coal as Russia cuts gas supplies – by ELENA SÁNCHEZ NICOLÁS (Euobserver.com – June 21, 2022)

https://euobserver.com/

With Russia reducing natural gas supplies to Europe, several EU countries are considering burning further carbon-intensive coal to secure energy supplies for next winter. Germany and Austria this weekend announced emergency measures to cope with lower Russian gas flows, including the potential use of coal-fired power plants to produce energy.

The move comes after weeks of gas-supply cuts and reduced flows to Europe, which has prompted EU governments to seek alternative supplies and build up reserves. Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom has turned off supplies to several EU countries for refusing to pay for gas in roubles — including Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, and the Netherlands.

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All eyes on Tesla as it invests in a troubled nickel mine – by Nick Rodway (Mongabay News – June 22, 2022)

https://news.mongabay.com/

GORO, New Caledonia — On the south side of Grand Terre, the largest and principal island of New Caledonia in the south Pacific, mountains rise like a spine out of a vast, turquoise lagoon that forms part of the longest continuous barrier reef in the world.

Although a French overseas territory, New Caledonia—located approximately 1,470 kilometers (900 miles) northeast of Brisbane, Australia—has been home to the Indigenous Kanak people for thousands of years and has a history and culture as rich as its ecology.

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More uranium mining near the Grand Canyon? Might as well just poison our water now – by Carletta Tilousi (AZ Central.com – June 21, 2022)

https://www.azcentral.com/

Tribal leader Carletta Tilousi is a citizen of the Havasupai Tribe and sits on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

The Pinyon Plain uranium mine sits fewer than 10 miles from Grand Canyon National Park on the ancestral homelands of my people, the Havasupai, the “people of the blue-green water.” As the guardians of the Grand Canyon, we are fighting to protect our sacred lands and waters against harm that federal and state agencies continue to permit.

The Biden administration has promised to prioritize environmental justice and listen to Indigenous voices. Yet it is considering moving forward with a uranium reserve program that would use taxpayer dollars to buy uranium from operations like the Pinyon Plain Mine.

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Nuclear industry hopes to expand output with new reactors – by Jennifer McDermott (Associated Press/ABC News – June 21, 2022)

https://abcnews.go.com/

The trade association for U.S. nuclear plant operators says it hopes to nearly double their output over the next three decades

The U.S. nuclear industry is generating less electricity as reactors retire, but now plant operators are hoping to nearly double their output over the next three decades, according to the industry’s trade association.

The massive scaling-up envisioned by the utilities hangs on the functionality of a new type of nuclear reactor that’s far smaller than traditional reactors. About two dozen U.S. companies are developing advanced reactors, with some that could come online by the end of the decade if the technology succeeds and federal regulators approve.

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Piedmont Lithium looks abroad amid North Carolina uncertainty – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters – June 22, 2022)

https://www.reuters.com/

June 22 (Reuters) – Piedmont Lithium Inc’s (PLL.O) first steps toward securing lithium supplies will be in Quebec or Ghana, not the United States, as an intensifying North Carolina regulatory review delays the miner’s goal of anchoring America’s electric vehicle battery renaissance.

The delay has forced Piedmont to expand its strategy beyond its proposed North Carolina mine – a project it has touted as the best way to help secure American energy independence, but one that now faces a regulatory quagmire – and fund mines abroad.

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