Is China’s lithium quest fuelled by business or politics, and how far will it go to secure ‘white gold’? – by Ji Siqi (South China Morning Post – February 22, 2022)

https://www.scmp.com/

South America’s Lithium Triangle contains more than half of the world’s reserves of the critical metal that is used in batteries, and China is looking to carve out a bigger piece of the pie

Just days after Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez signed his country up for China’s Belt and Road Initiative during a high-profile trip to Beijing this month, the spot price of lithium metal in the Chinese market reached 2 million yuan (US$315,000) per tonne for the first time – more than four times what it cost a year ago.

The two countries happen to be the world’s major players in the supply chain of the metal – an essential material used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

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Barrick Gold near Pueblo Viejo tailings decision – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – February 17, 2022)

https://www.mining.com/

Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX)(NYSE: GOLD) is close to reaching an agreement with the government of the Dominican Republic on where to build a new tailings storage facility (TSF) for its $1.3 billion Pueblo Viejo gold mine.

The world’s second largest gold producer had warned last year that production at the mine would have to end in 2030 without a new mining waste depository. Building a new dam is part of the planned expansion for Pueblo Viejo, which will extend its productive life beyond 2040.

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Brazil’s Bolsonaro issues decrees to boost mining of Amazon – by David Biller (The Publics Radio – February 14, 2022)

https://thepublicsradio.org/

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has issued two decrees to drive gold prospecting with a focus on the Amazon rainforest, according to the texts published Monday in the official gazette.

The Program to Support Development of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining created by one decree aims to strengthen policies and stimulate best practices, according to the text. The Amazon “will be the priority region for the development of works,” it says.

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Chile’s Green Dream to Reinvent Itself Is Spooking Investors – by Valentina Fuentes and Ethan Bronner (Bloomberg News – February 10, 2022)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The country’s efforts to create a new constitution could serve as a model or warning for tackling climate change and inequality.

Constanza San Juan is feeling optimistic. She sits on a committee of Chile’s constitutional convention that on Feb. 1 voted to nationalize the country’s mineral wealth—its deep veins of copper, lithium, magnesium, and silver—a notion that has mining companies and markets hyperventilating.

The idea is sufficiently radical that few believe it will be endorsed by the required two-thirds of the full convention. But San Juan, a 36-year-old historian, not only hopes it will—she wants it to go further.

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MMG to halt Las Bambas copper mine amid fresh blockade – by Cecilia Jamasmie February 7, 2022 (Mining.com – February 7, 2022)

https://www.mining.com/

MMG (HKG: 1208) said on Monday that it will have to halt production at its Las Bambas copper mine in Peru by February 20, following a new and ongoing blockade of the road used by the company, which has already forced the Chinese miner to curtail operations.

Residents of the Chumbivilcas province have been blocking the main access to Las Bambas on and off since November 20. They demand jobs and economic contributions from the company, a unit of state-owned China Minmetals, which they say has failed to benefit residents despite its great wealth.

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Mexico Declares Lithium Too Strategic for Private Investors – by James Attwood and Maya Averbuch (Bloomberg News – February 2, 2022)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is ratcheting up nationalistic rhetoric around the country’s untapped lithium deposits, signaling private capital isn’t welcome in the industry.

Unlike other metals such as gold and silver, lithium is a strategic mineral like oil that belongs to the nation, AMLO, as the populist president is known, told reporters in Mexico City on Wednesday, announcing plans to create a state lithium company.

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It’s absurd for Trudeau to let China buy a Canadian lithium firm — especially without a security review – by Peter MacKay (National Post – January 24, 2022)

https://nationalpost.com/

The Liberals must stop rewarding Beijing’s unconscionable behaviour

For some time now, it has seemed as if Canada’s foreign policy approach toward China has been similar to that old Abbott and Costello baseball shtick of “Who’s on First?”

That is to say, Ottawa’s strategy, insofar as one can even call it that, has been a circular, confusing and nonsensical parody. The major difference is, clearly, there is no humour to be found; rather, this comedy of errors carries only dire consequences for Canada.

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Deadly Mining Disaster Still Tests Vale Three Years Later – by Alistair MacDonald and Samantha Pearson (Wall Street Journal – January 29, 2022)

https://www.wsj.com/

Mining company ponders its metals future as costs from Brumadinho continue to rise—along with tensions with locals, regulators and investors

NOVA LIMA, Brazil—Three years after Vale SA’s Brumadinho disaster, the fallout from the dam collapse that killed 270 people still looms large over the mining giant.

Costs related to the incident have continued to rack up, Brazilian authorities have been slow to permit further mining amid safety concerns, simmering tensions between the miner and locals have resulted in a shower of lawsuits and some investors say it is too soon to reinvest in the company.

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Alarming Levels of Mercury Are Found in Old Growth Amazon Forest – by Catrin Einhorn (New York Times – January 28, 2022)

https://www.nytimes.com/

The protected old-growth forest in the Amazon of southeastern Peru appears pristine: Ancient trees with massive trunks grow alongside young, slender ones, forming a canopy so thick it sometimes feels to scientists like evening during the day.

But a new analysis of what’s inside the forest’s leaves and birds’ feathers tells a different story: The same canopy that supports some of the richest biodiversity on the planet is also sucking up alarming levels of toxic mercury, according to a study published on Friday.

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Industry Minister mum on when he became aware of Chinese firm’s plans to acquire Neo Lithium – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – January 27, 2022)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne would not say when he was notified of Chinese state-owned Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd.’s ZIJMF unchno change plans to acquire Canadian lithium company Neo Lithium Corp., despite being repeatedly pressed in a parliamentary committee.

During a hearing called on Thursday by the industry and technology committee, Mr. Champagne was asked on multiple occasions when he became aware of Zijin’s plans to buy Neo Lithium, but he would not answer. Instead he repeatedly insisted the deal was subject to a rigorous security review.

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Politics turning against copper mining – Freeport’s Adkerson – by Staff (Mining.com – January 26, 2022)

https://www.mining.com/

The copper market has cooled since touching record levels above $10,000 a tonne in May, but longer-term fundamentals for the bellwether metal remain bullish thanks to a global effort to electrify transport and shift to renewable power generation.

While there is consensus on demand growth, the supply side outlook is murky. Some 40% of the world’s copper production is controlled by just two countries – Chile and Peru – and political developments in South America are turning the tide against copper miners, Freeport-McMoRan CEO Rich Adkerson told investors in a conference call on Wednesday.

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Canada’s mineral policy in need of a critical review after China’s lithium firm purchase – by Anja Karadeglija (National Post – January 26, 2022)

https://nationalpost.com/

The Conservatives accuse the Liberals of not taking Canada’s national security seriously, while the Liberals say there was no need for a security review

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne will appear at a parliamentary committee Thursday to defend the government’s decision not to hold a national security review of the acquisition of a Canadian lithium mining company by a Chinese enterprise.

The Conservatives have charged that means the Liberals aren’t taking Canada’s national security seriously, while the Liberals say there was no need for a security review. The National Post’s Anja Karadeglija examines the issues.

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No national security issue in Chinese takeover of Canadian lithium company: Liberals – by Joan Bryden (Canadian Press/Sask Today – January 20, 2022)

https://www.sasktoday.ca/

OTTAWA — The pending takeover of a Canadian lithium mining company by a Chinese state-owned company raises no national security concerns, federal Liberals argued Thursday.

Liberal MP Andy Fillmore, parliamentary secretary to Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, told a House of Commons committee that the Industry Department reviewed last fall the proposed takeover of Neo Lithium Corp. by China’s Zijin Mining Group Ltd.

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Is A Lithium Cartel Inevitable? – by Robert Rapier (Forbes Magazine – January 20, 2022)

https://www.forbes.com/

The more people I speak with about lithium, the bigger this story gets. Following my previous article — How The U.S. Is Losing The Lithium Industry To China — several readers told me that this battle is already lost. And, I have to admit that the trajectory we are currently on gives little reason to believe that China’s dominance will be threatened any time soon.

In today’s article, I want to reiterate two threats to U.S. national security based on the current trajectory. Then, I want to revisit why China jumped ahead of the U.S. Finally, I want to talk about steps that are aimed at addressing this.

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Copper Majors Are Taking Another Look at Argentina, McEwen Says – by James Attwood (Bloomberg News – January 20, 2022)

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/

(Bloomberg) — Vast deposits and more welcoming policies have turned Argentina into a lithium hot-spot in recent years. Now the global copper industry is taking another look at the South American nation.

That’s the view of Rob McEwen, whose namesake company is drilling a property in San Juan province near the border with Chile. Called Los Azules, it’s attracted the attention of large producers such as Vale SA, Anglo American Plc and Barrick Gold Corp. as a potential acquisition, he said. All three companies declined to comment.

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