Brazil joins race to loosen China’s grip on rare earths industry – by Melanie Burton and Fabio Teixeira (Reuters – June 17, 2024)

MELBOURNE/RIO DE JANEIRO, June 17 (Reuters) – Mining giant Brazil has big ambitions to build a rare earths industry as Western economies push to secure the metals needed for magnets used in green energy and defence and break China’s dominance of the supply chain.

Working to its advantage are low labour costs, clean energy, established regulations and proximity to end markets, including Latin America’s first magnet plant which would provide a ready buyer for the metals. But low rare earths prices, technical challenges and nervous lenders pose challenges to the Latin American nation’s hopes to propel itself into the world’s top five rare earths producers.

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Opinion: Kashmiri Sapphires Set To Dazzle The World Again – by Shantanu Guha Ray ( – February 26, 2024)

A decade after a 19.88-carat Kashmir sapphireshattered auction records in Geneva, the potential return of the priceless gems from the strife-torn region to global markets is on the horizon.

The cushion-shaped sapphire, known as the Star of Kashmir, surprised buyers in 2013 with a sale price of nearly $3,483,017 (approximately ₹ 20 crore). Now, officials claim that more peacock blue-coloured sapphires will be mined in the Paddar region, one of the most inhospitable terrains in the bordering state.

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Serbia set to give green light to Rio Tinto lithium mine – by Marton Dunai, Alec Russell, Harry Dempsey and Alice Hancock (Financial Times – June 2024)

Exploitation of one of the world’s largest deposits of the metal would boost Europe’s electric vehicle industry

Serbia is preparing to give Rio Tinto the green light to develop Europe’s largest lithium mine two years after Belgrade called off the project, paving the way for a significant boost for the continent’s electric vehicle industry.

President Aleksandar Vučić said that “new guarantees” from the Anglo-Australian miner and EU looked set to address Serbia’s concerns over whether necessary environmental standards would be met at the Jadar site in the west of the country.

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The former Afghan soldiers turning to gem mining to survive – by Kern Hendricks (Al Jazeera – August 18, 2023)

In remote Nuristan province, some who lost their jobs after the Taliban takeover are now working in artisanal mines to support their families amid a struggling economy.

Nuristan, Afghanistan – Like a crack of thunder, a deep blast echoes down a tree-lined valley a few kilometres from Parun, the capital of the northeastern Afghan province of Nuristan. At the base of a rocky hillside, smoke and chunks of rock spew from the mouth of a low tunnel. Some of the debris reaches the edge of a glassy river which runs through a small valley, causing ripples on the water’s surface.

Sheltering to one side of the tunnel entrance is Abdul Qader Abid. As the final pieces of shrapnel clatter to a standstill, he squints into the darkness of the tunnel. Rising, he wraps a green shawl around his mouth and nose, and heads into the billowing dust. There’s a payday glimmering in the rubble, and he’s eager to find it.

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Furious debate breaks out over lab-grown diamonds – by Jane Herz (Daily Mail/ – June 13, 2024)

A wild debate has broken out about whether or not lab-grown diamonds are the real deal – with some claiming that they ‘hold no value’ and are not acceptable for an engagement ring. Lab-grown diamonds have long been mired in controversy, and are a huge topic of debate for many brides-to-be.

Like their name, lab-grown diamonds are in fact diamonds that are made in a lab instead of being mined underground. According to Brides, the lab-grown stones are produced in an environment that is extremely similar to the Earth’s surface, meaning that they have the same chemical and molecular makeup.

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A plan to mine lithium could eradicate a Nevada flower. Is extinction just the cost of green energy? – by Matthew Rozsa ( – June 13, 2024)

Botanists express alarm that a rare plant, the Tiehm’s buckwheat, won’t survive where a lithium mine is planned

Botanist Jerry Tiehm, the curator of herbarium at the University of Nevada Reno, discovered the plant that now bears his name more than 40 years ago. It was early in his career, and Tiehm was driving through a remote central Nevada canyon while collecting samples to study.

He was unaware at the time that it was an unknown species until a different expert informed him that the yellow, white and green plant was something altogether new. Indigenous to a tiny patch of land no larger than 10 acres in area, the new plant was named Tiehm’s buckwheat after its discoverer.

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Deadly and Wildly Profitable, Uranium Fever Breaks Out – by Geoffrey Morgan and Jacob Lorinc (Bloomberg News – June 12, 2024)

The radioactive metal’s price is up 233%, revealing the speed at which the world is embracing nuclear power once again.

Along the western edge of Canada’s Saskatchewan province, by a bend in a lake ringed by endless stands of black spruce, a small outpost has been carved out of the forest to mark what just might be the hottest new mining project on Earth today. It is a desolate, unforgiving spot.

Even in April, the snow is still caked hard to the ice that coats the lake. Bone-chilling winds howl day and night. And there are no towns or villages or, for that matter, signs of life at all — beyond the occasional black bear or wolf — within a 50-mile radius.

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A New Chinese Megaport in South America Is Rattling the U.S. – by Ryan Dubé and James T. Areddy (Wall Street Journal/ – June 14, 2024)

CHANCAY, Peru—In this serene town on South America’s Pacific coast, China is building a megaport that could challenge U.S. influence in a resource-rich region that Washington has long considered its backyard.

The Chancay deep-water port, rising here among pelicans and fishermen in small wooden boats, is important enough to Beijing that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to inaugurate it at the end of the year in his first trip to the continent since the pandemic.

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Polish-Czech coal mine deal having positive environmental effects (Notes From Poland – June 9, 2024)

Notes from Poland

An agreement between Poland and the Czech Republic to end an environmental dispute over the Turów coal mine, which sits on the Polish side of their shared border, is being successfully implemented and is having a positive effect, the countries have confirmed.

In particular, an underground barrier installed by the mine’s owner, Polish state energy group PGE, has resulted in groundwater levels on the Czech side of the border rising. Their earlier decline had been one of the main complaints from Prague, which took the issue to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in 2021.

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Never Rest On Your Ores: The Road To Restoring Canada’s Mining Industry – by Alp Bora (Forbes Magazine – June 12, 2024)

Founder & CEO of Alp Bora & Co., Alp Bora talks about mining, sustainability and corporate culture.

“Who earned it? Eh? I thought so. Your father. You stand on dead men’s legs. You’ve never had any of your own.” —The Sea-Wolf, Jack London

Canada’s mining industry is walking on dead men’s legs. The country inherited a mining legacy and set modern standards, but evidence suggests action is needed to renew it. Metal production in Canada has become irregular due to the depletion of reserves and more dependence on imports, and production of Canadian refined metals such as nickel, zinc, lead, and copper has fallen since 2005.

A Chinese saying goes “wealth does not last beyond three generations.” It was a generation ago that China made their policy to dominate metals and refining. Meanwhile, Canada has rested on its legacy and sold some of its more profitable companies. I believe this has endangered the country’s mining future and economy.

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For Diamonds, It Matters Who De Beers Hooks Up With Next – by Carol Ryan ( Street Journal – June 8, 2024)

Is it more romantic to buy a diamond that formed in the bowels of the earth than one grown in a lab? Young American couples don’t think so.

That is awkward for diamond miner De Beers, especially now that it is looking for a new owner. Mining conglomerate Anglo American, which has been a top shareholder in the world’s best-known diamond producer for almost a century, wants to sell or separately list it as part of a radical breakup plan.

The diamond industry is going through a rough patch, so the timing isn’t great. Jewelry sales boomed in 2022 as consumers splurged on luxury goods, but last year they pulled back. Weak demand has sent diamond prices to 2003 levels, says Liberum analyst Ben Davis.

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Gold rush grips Asia despite near-record prices – by Ashitha Shivaprasad and Brijesh Patel (Reuters – June 11, 2024)

SINGAPORE, June 12 (Reuters) – Demand for gold in Asia is surging despite prices hovering near the record highs it hit in May, industry officials say, as buyers snap up the metal to hedge against geopolitical and economic uncertainty.

Spot gold is trading a little over $2,300 per ounce, up about 12% year-to-date and only about 6% shy of the record high it hit last month. Lower confidence in other investment options, such as real estate and equities, is also a factor behind the demand for gold, analysts say.

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The True Story Behind the Hulu Documentary The Jewel Thief – by Mariah Espada (Time Magazine – July 13, 2023)

The Jewel Thief, a documentary out July 13 on Hulu, details the life of Gerald Blanchard, once called the “world’s most ingenious thief.” The film goes beyond the details of Blanchard’s notable crown jewel robbery, uncovering his complex, world-spanning decades of crimes and the story of the detectives who finally caught him.

Filmmaker Landon Van Soest first learned about Blanchard around 2007, when he made national headlines for returning an Austrian crown jewel known as the Sisi Star that he had stolen in 1998. In making the documentary, Van Soest aspired to dig deeper than what meets the eye about Blanchard and his crimes.

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New Caledonia crisis: Does France fear China will dominate Pacific colonies? – by Christine Rovoi (Pacific Media Network – June 7, 2024)

If you think the French Empire – powerful in the 19th and 20th centuries – no longer exists, you may want to think again. Thirteen colonies fly the French flag and speak the French language today. Independence has not yet come to these territories, and New Caledonia is among them.

Located less than 2400km north of Aotearoa New Zealand, New Caledonia has a population of 272,000 (2019 Census) with 40 per cent the Indigenous Kanaks. The Pacific island nation is reeling from political unrest following the 13 May protests, led by pro-independence supporters, in the capital Noumēa last month.

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China’s control and coercion in critical minerals – by Ian Satchewell (Australian Strategic Policy Institute – June 7, 2024)

Markets for critical minerals are no longer shaping up to be the next components of the global economy to be dominated by China. They already are.

While Western nations were sleeping, China built vertically integrated supply chains for several critical minerals vital to the energy transition and high technology applications, including defence equipment.

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