The periodic table and the road to resource nationalism – by Kurt Breede (Northern Miner/ – February 11, 2020)

This year marked the 150th anniversary of the periodic table, which UNESCO has dubbed the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. Developed in 1869 by Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian chemist and inventor, the periodic table is the foundation on which nearly all modern science is based.

Even in its earliest form, Mendeleev used his newfound creation not only to hypothesize the properties of already identified elements, but also to predict as-yet discovered substances, including those now coveted by today’s modern fuel-cell industry, like germanium (Ge) and gallium (Ga).

To mark the occasion, the European Chemical Society published a periodic table infographic designed to highlight the relative abundance and scarcity of elements based on current and forecast supply and demand. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Germany’s Volkswagen and Daimler push for more ‘sustainable’ Chile lithium – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters Canada – February 11, 2020)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – German automakers Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and Daimler (DAIGn.DE) have launched a study to push for more “sustainable” lithium mining in Chile, according to lobbyist filings reviewed by Reuters, a sign of growing supply chain concerns ahead of an expected electric vehicle boom.

Chile’s Atacama salt flat is by far the biggest source of supply of the ultralight battery metal in South America’s so-called “lithium triangle.” The region, whose fragile ecosystem relies on a limited water supply, is home to the globe’s top two producers, U.S.-based Albemarle Corp (ALB.N) and Chile’s SQM (SQMA.SN).

But concerns over sustainability have long plagued Atacama’s miners, which extract the metal from pools of brine beneath the world’s driest desert. Residents and environmental groups worry about potential damage to a regional ecosystem home to an ancient indigenous culture, lagoons inhabited with rare flamingos and a booming tourism industry. Continue Reading →

Vale’s Sudbury operations face challenge and opportunity, COO says – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – February 11, 2020)

Demand for nickel will grow, but there is ‘unparalleled competition’ to supply the metal, Dino Otranto says

The future looks bright, if challenging, for Sudbury’s biggest miner, members of the local business community heard Tuesday.

“We have fundamentally a fantastic business,” said Dino Otranto, the new boss of base metals with Vale, at a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “There is great opportunity and great potential, but we’ve got some hard work to do, and that’s the message — we truly have a transformation ahead of us.”

Otranto, appointed last year as COO for Vale’s North Atlantic Operations, said there is still an ample supply of ore in the Sudbury Basin and demand for nickel and other metals will only grow with the expansion of the electrical-vehicle market. Continue Reading →

Column: Virus another wild card in nickel’s year of uncertainty – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – February 11, 2020)

LONDON (Reuters) – Nickel is the weakest performer in the London Metal Exchange (LME) base metals pack so far this year. It’s a dramatic change of fortune after last year’s bull rally.

At a current $13,135 per tonne London nickel is down by almost 8% since the start of January and back to where it was last July, when Indonesia announced it was bringing forward a ban on the export of nickel ore from 2022 to this year.

The ban “remains a structurally bullish event”, according to analysts at Citi, given the flow of Indonesian ore to China accounts for around 12% of global mined nickel production. (“Nickel: it gets worse before it gets better, but still a medium-to-long term buy,” Feb. 5, 2020) Continue Reading →

Ivanhoe’s Friedland hits out at ‘fiction’ that mining copper in Chile is safer than Congo – by Brendan Ryan ( – February 11, 2020)


BILLIONAIRE mining entrepreneur, Robert Friedland, put the boot into Chile and its established major copper mining groups.

Friedland, whose company Ivanhoe Mines is developing major new copper and zinc mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said at the Mining Indaba last week: “It’s absolutely silly to think that Chile is a safe place to mine and should have a three or four per cent discount rate and, somehow, the DRC should have a 12% discount rate.

“There’s this fiction that somehow Africa is dangerous and it’s safe for industry to go to Chile or Peru. I challenge that. I would rather be in Africa – in the DRC – which was the world’s largest producer of copper until Chile got invented in the 1970’s.” Continue Reading →

The First World problem of pipeline building – by Kelly McParland (National Post – February 11, 2020)

It is possible, it appears, to build an oil pipeline in Canada.

Though not a 100 per cent, absolute dead certainty — Lord knows what schemes opponents may still have hidden away — this would appear to be the outcome of two recent court cases, one of which ruled that British Columbia can’t stop a pipeline from Alberta just because it makes some of them feel good, the second that Indigenous Canadians do not have an absolute veto over legislation affecting them, despite whatever impression the prime minister may have given, and no matter what the United Nations may think of the situation.

It is a big moment in Canadian history. Other countries have civil wars, coups d’etat, plagues of locusts and demented presidents. In Canada we devote vast resources to arguing over whether one pipelinethat goes to an ocean port can be joined by another pipeline going to the ocean port. Of all First World countries, Canada must have the most spare time to fight over First World problems. Continue Reading →

Energy Emissions Stall as Rich Nations Kick Their Coal Habit – by Dan Murtaugh and Jeremy Hodges (Bloomberg News – February 11, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — Global emissions from energy held steady in 2019 for the first time in three years. But the restraint all came from the U.S. and Europe as developing countries boosted use of the most polluting fossil fuels.

The findings from the International Energy Agency show energy-related carbon dioxide emissions remained at a record 33.3 billion tons. While industrial countries cut pollution levels to the lowest since 1993, the developing world led by India and China offset those declines.

The result leave a glimmer of hope that policy makers can contain the greenhouse gases damaging the atmosphere. That would require China, which is the biggest polluter, and India, whose emissions are growing rapidly, to embrace the economy-wide limits that European countries are adopting. Scientists say increasing heat waves and more violent storms are likely without rapid cuts in greenhouse gases. Continue Reading →

The Liberals have reached a crossroad with Alberta. What they do next could define them – by John Ivison (National Post – February 11, 2020)

The decision over whether to approve Teck Resources’ Frontier oilsands mine in Alberta has brought the federal Liberals to a crossroads in their pursuit of economic growth and a cleaner environment. One path leads to more jobs but a despoiled environment; the other to lower greenhouse gas emissions but rising Western alienation and lower tax receipts.

As director Woody Allen noted in his film Side Effects, when forced to choose between utter hopelessness and total extinction: “Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” It is a defining moment in the life of this government.

The Liberals would prefer to deflect the blame elsewhere – in this case, dumping the inevitable tailings deposits over the head of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Continue Reading →

Jabiluka mine call slammed by traditional owners – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – February 11, 2020)

Traditional land owners have rejected suggestions the Jabiluka uranium deposit should be developed and say they do not believe Rio Tinto has a ”secret agenda” to eventually mine the deposit.

The rare comments from the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) counter Zentree Investments founder Richard Magides’ belief that Jabiluka’s uranium will be valuable in future amid rising demand for carbon-free electricity from nuclear power stations.

Zentree is the second biggest shareholder in ASX listed Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) and has accused the biggest shareholder, Rio, of deliberately structuring a $476 million equity raising to enable it to take 100 per cent ownership of ERA. Continue Reading →

Canada wants to phase out fossil fuels. First, it needs to learn from phasing out coal – by Heather Scoffield (Toronto Star – February 8, 2020)

Wendy Berry says people will drive a couple of hours from Red Deer, Alta., for the made-from-scratch pizza that she serves up at her restaurant in the hamlet of Tomahawk, but that’s not enough to keep her going these days.

She is worried sick about paying the mortgage and having enough left over to feed her family now that the shuttering of Canada’s coal industry put an end to the catering side of her business.

It was supposed to be a “just transition” — that buzzy phrase that was on the tips of everyone’s tongues at the global climate talks in Madrid this winter, and that made it into the federal Liberal election platform as a commitment to help fossil-fuel workers who are regulated out of a job as the government pushes us towards a low-carbon economy. Continue Reading →

BHP tries to delay China shipments due to virus – by Sarah Danckert and Nick Toscano (Brisbane Times – February 9, 2020)

BHP Group is starting to feel the impact of the coronavirus on its business with the mining giant in talks with its Chinese customers to delay shipments of copper concentrate as plants are shutdown around the nation.

BHP confirmed on Sunday that it is working with its customers in China to stem the impact of the virus on its exports after importers in China were offered force majeure certificates by the country’s international trade promotion agency.

In response, suppliers are considering giving buyers in China flexibility on deliveries to discourage them from declaring force majeure, offering them a way out of contractual obligations. Continue Reading →

Which Way to Buy Gold: The Metal or the Companies? – by Simon Constable (Wall Street Journal – February 9, 2020)

After years stuck in the doldrums, gold is back in fashion. A common question from individual investors is, should they put their money into the precious metal itself or gold-mining stocks?

“It boils down to what you are trying to achieve” says Rohit Savant, vice president of research at New York commodities consulting firm CPM Group. For those seeking a strategic, long-term investment, Mr. Savant and other experts advise buying bullion—that is, bars or coins of the metal or funds that focus on such.

For those seeking to make a tactical bet on the gold rally, shares of gold miners might be preferable in that they offer the potential for bigger gains over a shorter period. Either way, investors should brace for a wild ride. Continue Reading →

Remote desert powering electric car revolution (Crossroads Today – February 10, 2020)


Lithium is the key element for rechargeable batteries used in phones and Formula E cars. But where is it farmed and how? The answer lies in Chile.

Sleek and futuristic Formula E cars zoom through cityscapes across the globe at speeds of over 170 miles per hour, traveling from zero to 60 in just 2.8 seconds. If electricity is the crucial “E” of Formula E that’s because cars on the track are powered by a 200 kilowatt battery provided by McLaren Applied.

Last month the Formula E circus was in South America for the Santiago ePrix — the city has been the noisy metropolitan home to Chile’s Formula E race for three consecutive years. Seven hundred miles north of the capital is the utterly desolate Atacama desert and it’s here that you find the source helping power Formula E. Continue Reading →

India’s ancient tribes battle to save their forest home from mining – by Brian Cassey (The Guardian – February 10, 2020)

Laksmi Shankar Porte emerged from the forest. In his hands were an axe, a small scythe and a large crop of grass. Like many of the Gond people living in India’s Hasdeo Arand forest, he will use the grass to make ropes, brooms and mats.

The Hasdeo Arand is one of the largest contiguous stretches of dense forest in central India, covering about 170,000 hectares (420,080 acres) of the state of Chhattisgarh. It is rich in biodiversity, contains many threatened species and is home to elephants, leopards and sloth bears.

It is also home to the Gond, one of India’s Adivasis, the name given to the country’s original indigenous peoples. Unfortunately for Porte, the Gond and other Adivasis forest dwellers, the Hasdeo Arand sits on top of more than a billion metric tonnes of coal reserves. Continue Reading →

“Bit of a quiet year” for Northern Prospectors Association, says President – by Brad Sherratt (Kirkland Lake Northern News – February 10, 2020)

The President of the Northern Prospectors Association says his group “had a bit of quiet year In as much as that most of our meetings and discussions were not so much based on being reactionary in context when compared to dealing with the past provincial Liberal government and its hostility toward exploration and mining.”

During the association’s recent Annual General Meeting, Gino Chitaroni said “since the Ford Government took over, there has been serious relief from government stress and pressure on our industry as a whole. Yes, the MMAC government committee is gone and many of us are quite happy it is. Nonetheless, exploration appears to be somewhat forgotten even though the Ontario Government created the Mining Working Group.

“This working group is heavily slanted toward red tape reduction at the mining development and operations stage. At least this group is trying to bring in “Made in Ontario” solutions for flow through financing, renewed JEAP financing and early stage engagement with First Nations and for exploration permitting. Continue Reading →