[California Lithium-rich Salton Sea] The green treasure below a toxic lake – by Jean-François Bélanger (CBC News – March 31, 2024)


The place is as little-known as it is majestic. It’s a deep blue lake bordered by the desert and mountain ranges as far as the eye can see. As the largest body of water in California, the Salton Sea used to be a favorite vacation hotspot for Hollywood stars back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis and the Marx brothers were among the regulars. The Beach Boys as well.

This is what drew Donna Winters to settle in Desert Shores, about 130 kilometres east of San Diego, a quarter of a century ago. The retiree, in her 80s, keeps very fond memories of her first years here. Her once-lakefront home had stunning views.

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US, Philippines Eye Partnership to Cut China’s Nickel Dominance – by Peter Martin and Jennifer Jacobs (Bloomberg News – April 30, 2024)


(Bloomberg) — The U.S. and the Philippines are in discussions over ways to prevent China from dominating nickel processing in the Southeast Asian nation, a key supplier of the metal that’s crucial for electric vehicle batteries.

One measure under consideration is a trilateral arrangement through which the Philippines would supply raw nickel material, the U.S. would provide financing, and a third country such as Japan, South Korea or Australia would offer the technology required for smelting and refining, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Australian Billionaire May Fuel Consolidation Of Wyoming Rare Earths Industry – by Pat Maio (Cowboy State Daily – April 30, 2024)


The richest woman in Australia, who is worth more than $30 billion, could be eyeing a move to buy a significant chunk of Wyoming’s rare earths deposits, and has even made a play in the related lithium field.

A consolidation of Wyoming’s rare earths strategic minerals industry might be right around the corner. While nobody’s saying anything for sure, regulatory filings across the globe seem to hint something may be brewing.

The rare earth minerals bonanza is the result of consumers starved for magnet metals integral to the green transition to electric vehicles, wind turbines, consumer goods, robots and military drones, missiles and chips needed for sophisticated computing power.

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New bans on Russian metals mean China will buy low and sell high to supply the U.S., Europe, and UK – by Ernest Hoffman (Kitco News – April 19, 2024)


(Kitco News) – Last Friday at midnight, the London Metal Exchange (LME) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) enacted the most comprehensive limitation on Russian exports to date: a ban on all Russian metal produced after April 12. The move was made to bring the LME into compliance with the latest U.S. and U.K. sanctions imposed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The goal is to prevent Russia from being able to profit from the export of metal produced by companies such as Rusal (aluminum) and Nornickel (nickel) which help the country fund its ongoing military operations in Ukraine.

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Biden vows to shield US steel industry by blocking Japanese merger and seeking new Chinese tariffs – by Chris Megerian and Will Weissert (Associated Press – April 16, 2024)


PITTSBURGH (AP) — President Joe Biden suggested to cheering, unionized steelworkers on Wednesday that his administration would thwart the acquisition of U.S. Steel by a Japanese company, and he called for a tripling of tariffs on Chinese steel, seeking to use trade policy to win over working-class votes in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

The Democratic president’s pitch comes as Donald Trump, his likely Republican opponent, tries to chart a path back to the White House with tough-on-China rhetoric and steep tariff proposals of his own.

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Tesla supplier Piedmont Lithium gets key North Carolina mining permit – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters – April 15, 2024)


April 15 (Reuters) – North Carolina regulators have approved a state mining permit for Tesla (TSLA.O), opens new tab supplier Piedmont Lithium to develop one of the largest U.S. sources of the key electric vehicle battery metal, although key financing and local regulatory challenges remain.

The approval from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, which was announced by the company on Monday and is conditional on the posting of a $1 million reclamation bond, removes a major hurdle to Piedmont’s plans to tap a large lithium deposit just outside Charlotte.

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US must boost Africa ties to secure key minerals, report says – by Felix Njini (Reuters – April 9, 2024)


JOHANNESBURG/WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) – The U.S. must boost commercial ties with African countries to curb reliance on China for supplies of critical minerals, a Washington-based think tank said on Tuesday.

“U.S. economic and national security depend on securing a reliable supply of critical minerals, including from Africa,” the United States Institute of Peace said in a report.

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BMO drops anti-coal policy amid Wall Street rebuke of ESG – by Amanda Albright (Bloomberg News – April 8, 2024)


BMO Bank quietly dropped its policy restricting lending to the coal industry in late 2023, helping it avoid being labelled an energy “boycotter” in West Virginia. The change came to light Monday after West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore took a victory lap in an announcement of the financial firms it was adding to its boycott list, which doesn’t include BMO.

In late February, the bank received a warning that it could be put on a state list of companies that Moore’s office considers to boycott the fossil fuels industry. BMO is the U.S. subsidiary of Toronto-based Bank of Montreal.

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US, EU Are Set to Miss Critical Minerals Agreement This Week – by Alberto Nardelli, Jorge Valero and Eric Martin (Bloomberg News/MSN.com – April 3, 2024)


(Bloomberg) — A US and European Union push to reach an accord on fostering critical mineral supply chains is set to miss another target this week, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The final draft statement for a high-level trade and technology meeting in Leuven, Belgium, on Thursday falls short of a deal, instead it says the transatlantic allies “are advancing negotiations toward a critical minerals agreement,” according to a document seen by Bloomberg. An earlier version of the statement left open the door to an “agreement in principle.”

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Michigan’s $50M support of copper mine project comes with caveat – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – April 3, 2024)


Highland Copper on the spot to raise financing for Upper Peninsula mine

The State of Michigan is prepared to give a Vancouver copper company a funding kickstart to support a proposed mine in western Upper Peninsula. The board of the Michigan Strategic Fund has approved a $50-million “performance-based grant” to Highland Copper Company. Final approval still needs to come from the state legislature.

The grant, which comes from a Strategic Site Readiness Program, is specifically intended for mine-related infrastructure development, meaning installing roads, communications and extending power to the site.

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A Nuclear Power Revival Is Sparking a Surge in Uranium Mining – by Jim Robbins (Yale Environment 360 – April 4, 2024)


A push for nuclear power is fueling demand for uranium, spurring the opening of new mines. The industry says new technologies will eliminate pollution from uranium mining, but its toxic legacy, particularly in the U.S. Southwest, leaves many wary of an incipient mining boom.

After sitting dormant since the 1980s, the Pinyon Plain uranium mine began operating in January on the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona, about seven miles south of the Grand Canyon. Thanks to new interest in expanding nuclear power, the price of uranium is on a tear, making undeveloped and long-shuttered mines viable. Pinyon Plain, which has some of the highest-grade uranium ore in the country, is one of the first uranium mines to open in the United States in eight years.

It will not be the last. In the U.S. and around the world, uranium mining is experiencing a revival. At least five producers in the U.S. are reactivating mines in Texas, Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona, all of which closed after the 2011 disaster at Fukushima sent the price of uranium plummeting. Other projects are underway internationally, including new mines planned in Canada, India, and Mongolia.

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Uranium mined near Grand Canyon as prices soar, US pushes more nuclear power – by Susan Montoya Bryan (Associated Press/Arizona Capital Times – March 31, 2024)

Arizona Capitol Times

The largest uranium producer in the United States is ramping up work just south of Grand Canyon National Park on a long-contested project that largely has sat dormant since the 1980s. The work is unfolding as global instability and growing demand drive uranium prices higher.

The Biden administration and dozens of other countries have pledged to triple the capacity of nuclear power worldwide in their battle against climate change, ensuring uranium will remain a key commodity for decades as the government offers incentives for developing the next generation of nuclear reactors and new policies take aim at Russia’s influence over the supply chain.

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Baltimore Bridge Collapse Will Likely Block Coal Exports for Weeks – by Josh Saul (Bloomberg News – March 26, 2024)


(Bloomberg) — The collapse of a major Baltimore bridge Tuesday is likely to shut down the port’s coal exports for as many as six weeks and block the transport of up to 2.5 million tons of coal, said Ernie Thrasher, chief executive officer of Xcoal Energy & Resources LLC.

The US exported about 74 million tons of coal last year, with Baltimore the second-largest terminal for the commodity. Plugging up a major coal hub threatens to disrupt global energy supply chains that have finally begun to work out the kinks left over from pandemic slowdowns.

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America’s lithium laws fail to keep pace with rapid development – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters – March 25, 2024)


March 25 (Reuters) – Washington’s drive to make the United States a major global lithium producer is being held back by a confusing mix of state regulations that are deterring developers and hampering efforts to break China’s control of the critical minerals sector.

Across Texas, Louisiana and other mineral-rich states, it’s unclear who owns the millions of metric tons of lithium locked in salty brines underneath U.S. soils, how the battery metal should be valued by regulators and who ultimately should pay to process it into a form usable by manufacturers.

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Cleveland Cliffs gets part of $6 billion funding to slash emissions in industrial facilities – by Rick McCrabb (Dayton Daily News/Associated Press – March 25, 2024)


Middletown steel plant among projects that will slash planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

MIDDLETOWN — Cleveland-Cliffs Middletown Works is expected to receive a major investment up to $500 million to overhaul the ironmaking systems and install a new environmentally friendly system.

The 100% hydrogen-ready, flex-fuel direct reduction plant will be directly coupled to two electric melting furnaces to produce iron with nearly zero greenhouse gas emissions, according to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) office.

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