How Lack of Copper Could Slow the Energy Transition – by James Attwood (Washington Post/Bloomberg – June 1, 2023)

Avoiding a climate catastrophe is often portrayed as a question of political will. Yet the push to reduce carbon emissions is also a daunting technical challenge. Retooling power and transportation systems to run on renewable energy will require far more copper than the companies able to produce it are currently equipped to deliver.

The question is whether a traditionally cautious mining industry will embrace the scale of investment needed to rewire the world. Failure would throw the transition to cleaner power sources off course.

1. Why is copper so important?

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Minnesota plans rewrite of rules for copper-nickel mining near popular wilderness (Associated Press – June 1, 2023)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota regulators have concluded that state rules governing where copper-nickel mines can be built are insufficient to protect the pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from noise and light pollution, creating another potential obstacle to the proposed Twin Metals mine in northeastern Minnesota.

But the Department of Natural Resources declined as part of that decision Wednesday to declare a watershed that flows into the Boundary Waters off-limits to copper-nickel mining altogether, which had been a goal of the environmental group that challenged the regulations, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

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Russian mercenaries exploit a war-torn African nation as they lead Putin’s fight in Ukraine – by Gabe Joselow (NBC News – June 1, 2023)

“I asked everyone for help. … Was I supposed to refuse the help from those who wanted to help us?” Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadéra tells NBC News.

BANGUI, Central African Republic — President Faustin-Archange Touadéra says he called in the Russians because he was stuck. It was 2016, soon after his election, and rebels had overrun swaths of the resource-rich country, which is among the world’s poorest nations. Former colonial power France announced it would withdraw its soldiers, the backbone of a United Nations force aimed at quelling the country’s civil war.

And Touadéra’s army and militia didn’t have enough weapons to defeat fighters threatening the capital, Bangui, because the Central African Republic was under a U.N. arms embargo put in place after a previous rebel takeover. So the former mathematics professor turned to Moscow.

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China’s Monopoly over Critical Minerals – by Katherine Wells (Georgetown Security Studies Review – June 1, 2023)

As part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has taken to investing in critical mineral mines globally. One of these investment hotspots is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2020, the DRC was the world’s largest cobalt miner, producing 41 of all cobalt resources.

Although not the largest producer of copper – Chile produces 27 percent of the global copper production – the DRC boasts the highest-quality copper reserves in the world, with mines estimated to contain copper with grades above 3 percent, 2.4 percent higher than the average supply globally. The mining industry is central to the DRC’s economy, making up over 90 percent of its exports.

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Massive rare earth discoveries could mean a new mining rush in the Mountain West – by Will Walkey (Jackson Hole Community Radio/Wyoming Public Media – June 1, 2023)

Down a bumpy dirt road next to a small meandering creek in southeast Wyoming lies the site of a potentially massive rare earth mineral mine. These elements are used in many emerging technologies, including cell phones and solar panels, and they’re a growing part of the future of extractive industry in the Mountain West.

But mining them here and in other places around the region is sure to have big impacts on nearby communities and the environment. This site in the Laramie Mountains is remote. Just a couple of ranches are visible below, and the desolate hillsides contain cacti, animal droppings, shrubs and rocks. A few wooden stakes remain from previous surveys of the land.

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Federal court allows international mining giant to oppose tribes in Oak Flat lawsuit – by Debra Utacia Krol (Arizona Republic – May 31, 2023)

The U.S. District Court in Arizona granted mining giant Resolution Copper permission on Monday to join the U.S. government as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by grassroots group Apache Stronghold.

The Native organization has been fighting to prevent Resolution from building a huge copper mining operation that would obliterate Oak Flat, one of the Apaches peoples’ most sacred sites. Oak Flat, or Chi’chil Biłdagoteel, “the place where the Emory oak grows,” is also culturally important to other Southwestern tribes, and is one of Arizona’s remaining riparian zones and a popular site for recreational users.

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Harry Oppenheimer biography shows the South African mining magnate’s hand in economic policies – by Roger Southall (The Conversation – June 1, 2023)

In Harry Oppenheimer: Diamonds, Gold and Dynasty, his outstanding biography of the South African mining magnate who died in 2000, Michael Cardo shows that there is still mileage to be made in the study of dead white males who played a role in the making of South Africa. Based on a remarkable depth of research, it is written in an elegant style which makes for a delightfully easy read.

It is rendered the more impressive by the author’s deep conversance with the debates over the relationships between mining capital, Afrikaner nationalism and apartheid. Cardo is an opposition MP.

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Miners lining up to take legal action against Mexico’s reforms (BN – June 2, 2023)

At least 10 mining companies are presenting or preparing to file injunctions against reforms to four Mexican laws that impact mining and took effect at the beginning of May, a legal expert with knowledge of the matter told BNamericas. The deadline to present the measures expires next week, according to the lawyer, who asked not to be identified.

“There are many companies that are already preparing their injunction requests. Initially, the injunctions are against those provisions that are called self-enforcing, which by the mere entry into force of the law are already applicable and, therefore, represent a grievance,” the legal expert said in an interview.

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Whitehaven says coal is a ‘critical mineral’ for defence allies – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – June 1, 2023)

Whitehaven Coal managing director Paul Flynn has urged the Albanese government to consider coal’s role in powering defence allies like Japan and South Korea when reviewing its list of minerals that are “critical” to economic growth and national security.

Coal is not among the 26 minerals considered “critical” by the Australian government although coking coal for steelmaking is one of the 34 minerals considered “critical” by the European Commission.

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Column: China’s soft economic data will mean lower commodity imports, but not yet – by Clyde Russell (Reuters – June 1, 2023)

LAUNCESTON — A run of weak economic data in China is likely to show up in softer imports of key commodities, albeit with a lag given the time taken to physically ship resources from around the globe.

The manufacturing indicator, the official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), dropped to a five-month low of 48.8 points in May, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Wednesday. This was the second month the measure was below the 50-level that separates expansion from contraction, and it was also weaker than the median forecast for a rise in May to 49.4 from April’s 49.2.

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Coal firms owned by family of West Virginia governor sued over unpaid penalties – by John Raby and Denise Lavoie (Associated Press – May 31, 2023)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Thirteen coal companies owned by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice are being sued over unpaid penalties for previous mining law violations that the federal government says pose health and safety risks or threaten environmental harm.

Justice, who was not named in the lawsuit, accused the Biden administration of retaliation. A Republican two-term governor, Justice announced in April that he is running for Democrat Joe Manchin’s U.S. Senate seat in 2024. He will face current U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney in the GOP primary.

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Australia and Canada are one economy—with one set of flaws (The Economist – June 1, 2023)

Welcome to Ozanada. Beware its business weakness

If australia and Canada were one economy, this “Ozanada” would be the world’s fifth-largest, bigger than India and just behind Germany. Considering the two in tandem is not as nutty as it seems.

Weather aside, they have a remarkable amount in common. Both are vast land masses populated by comparatively few people and dangerous wildlife. Both are (mostly) English-speaking realms of King Charles III. Both export their rich natural resources around the planet. And both are magnets for immigration.

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Protesters clash with soldiers at Ghana gold mining town (Al Jazeera – May 31, 2023)

The clashes come as hundreds remain trapped in mining pits, unable or unwilling to resurface out of fear of arrest.

Heavily armed soldiers have fired shots to disperse protesters in the gold mining town of Obuasi, in the Ashanti region of Ghana, amid an army crackdown on miners whom the government sees as illegal. Authorities arrested seven illegal miners on Monday for exiting a shaft belonging to one of the world’s largest gold miners, AngloGold, according to the company.

Reports then trickled in on Tuesday that hundreds of other miners were trapped underground. It was unclear whether those still underground were unable or reluctant to get out.

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Brazilian Amazon at risk of being taken over by mafia, ex-police chief warns – by Tom Phillips and Jonathan Watts (The Guardian – June 1, 2023)

Alexandre Saraiva gives alert on organised crime in region ahead of anniversary of killings of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira

The rapid advance of organised crime groups in the Brazilian Amazon risks turning the region into a vast, conflict-stricken hinterland plagued by heavily armed “criminal insurgents”, a former senior federal police chief has warned.

Alexandre Saraiva, who worked in the Amazon from 2011 to 2021, said he feared the growing footprint of drug-trafficking mafias in the region could spawn a situation similar to the decades-long drug conflict in Rio de Janeiro, where the police’s battle with drug gangs and paramilitaries has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

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BHP and Microsoft collaborate on AI in copper extraction – by Ashima Sharma (Mining Technology – May 30, 2023)

BHP Group estimates the world needs to double the copper supply in the next 30 years to keep pace with green technologies.

The BHP Group and Microsoft have collaborated to improve copper recovery from the Escondida mine in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Producing more than one million tonnes of copper in 2022, Escondida is the world’s biggest copper mine and will use using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve operations. Microsoft’s Azure platform will optimise concentrator performance and retrieve better ore grades. The mine is jointly owned by BHP, Rio Tinto and Japan’s JECO.

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