‘An elephant starting to run’: With China’s economy slowing, all eyes turn to India in search of growth – by Joe Chidley (Financial Post – December 6, 2018)


The sixth-largest economy, India’s GDP growth was recently upwardly revised more than half a point to 7.3%

When Donald Trump, who is no stranger to Twitter hyperbole, describes a meeting with another world leader as “hopefully historic,” it’s hard not to consider it a case of damning with faint praise. But that’s the way he described his talks with Xi Jinping, China’s president, in Argentina at the G20 summit last week.

And no wonder. Days after the summit, what kind of trade truce the two superpowers actually struck seems to depend on which White House official you listen to, which Chinese state-controlled media outlet you read, or which way the wind is blowing. At best, it looks like the U.S. has agreed to withhold raising the tariff rate on US$250 billion worth of Chinese imports for 90 days while negotiators try to work out a longer-term deal. Hopefully.

In any event, investors who had been hoping for even a short-term respite from trade jitters — and the gathering storm of global economic gloom — didn’t get much of one from the G20. And until there’s clarity, worries over China’s economic growth won’t diminish. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Risky rocks: Open up US mines or let China control strategic minerals – by Mark J. Perry (Washington Examiner – December 4, 2018)


It is time to recognize that the United States will benefit economically and politically by ending our reliance on imports of strategically important minerals needed for weapons systems and an array of high-tech consumer products ranging from lithium-ion EV batteries to cellphones and flat-screen televisions.

The political and economic costs of foreign minerals dependency are far too high, particularly in a period of intense trade competition with China, the world’s No. 1 supplier of minerals. Instead, we should strengthen our own domestic mining capability.

Meaningful legislation to address the problem is needed before the situation gets much worse. The real danger is not that the cost of minerals commodities could get out of hand (last year the U.S. spent more than $7 billion on imports of minerals and metals), but rather that U.S. mines that are essential to our nation’s well-being are closing. Continue Reading →

JV Article: Cobalt 27 is Ready to Ride the EV Revolution – by Staff (Northern Miner – December 6, 2018)

Northern Miner

The preceding Joint-Venture Article is PROMOTED CONTENT sponsored by Cobalt 27 Capital Corp., and compiled in cooperation with The Northern Miner. Visit www.cobalt27.com for more information.

Cobalt 27 Capital Corp. (TSXV: KBLT; OTCQX: CBLLF; FRA: 270) is ramping up its exposure to the electric vehicle (EV) revolution with substantial cobalt stream acquisitions to complement its portfolio of battery metal royalties and inventory of physical cobalt.

This year Cobalt 27 acquired from Vale, the world’s first pure cobalt stream for US$300 million on Vale’s Voisey’s Bay mine located in Labrador. The stream, which is expected to deliver approximately 1.9 million pounds of cobalt per year to Cobalt 27, is to be settled in physical delivery for the life of the mine.

Also in 2018, Cobalt 27 acquired a 1.75% net smelter return royalty (NSR) on RNC Minerals’ construction-ready Dumont nickel-cobalt project in Quebec, which includes the world’s largest undeveloped cobalt reserve; and, a 2% NSR on Giga Metals’ Turnagain nickel-cobalt project located in British Columbia, one of the largest undeveloped sulphide nickel-cobalt deposits in the world (in terms of total contained nickel). Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Albemarle pushes Chile to reverse lithium quota decision – filings – by Dave Sherwood and Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – December 5, 2018)


SANTIAGO/HOUSTON (Reuters) – Albemarle Corp (ALB.N) has launched an aggressive lobbying campaign after Chilean regulators denied its request to boost lithium output, stressing the company’s importance to Chile’s economy and workers, according to records reviewed by Reuters.

The behind-the-scenes moves come even as Albemarle has publicly brushed off worries from analysts and investors about rising regulatory pressure in Chile, home to the world’s largest reserves of lithium, a crucial ingredient in electric car batteries and mobile phones.

Ellen Lenny-Pessagno, who became Albemarle’s Chile country manager in October, met with the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN) on Nov. 23 to discuss the rejection, according to filings with Chile’s lobbyist transparency website that have been previously unreported. Continue Reading →

Pioneering nickel sulphate venture draws down on loan – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – December 6, 2018)


JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Black-controlled Thakadu Battery Materials, a pioneering South African high-purity battery-grade nickel sulphate developer, has made its first drawdown from South Africa’s State-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) under a R152-million loan facility agreement.

The IDC loan is funding yet another important milestone in the construction of Thakadu’s modular nickel sulphate purification plant at the Base Metals Refinery of Lonmin Platinum, in North West province.

The cold commissioning of the R250-million plant, which will have the capacity to produce 25 000 t of high-purity battery-grade nickel sulphate a year, is scheduled to begin towards the end of April, with commercial production planned for end of the first half of 2019. Continue Reading →

The City of Kiruna Is Being Relocated So It Doesn’t Get Swallowed By A Mine – by Laura Paddison (HuffPost US – December 5, 2018)


KIRUNA, Sweden ― Near the top of the world, more than 90 miles into the Arctic Circle, lies Kiruna. Nestled between two mountains, it’s a small but sprawling city of 18,000 people with views over two mountains. To the north, Luossavaara is cleaved open, a legacy from its former life as an open pit mine, to the southwest is Kiirunavaara, a working mine, belching out columns of smoke.

This is the century-old mine on which Kiruna’s fortunes are made and broken. Workers toil nearly 1 mile below ground, sending out 6,800 tons of iron ore a day on trains destined for the Norwegian port of Narvik and then to the rest of the world. Refined into steel, it’s enough ore to produce 40,000 cars a day.

“We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have the mine,” says Gun-Britt Landin, who leads guided mine tours with the local tourist center and was born in Kiruna. “The city and the mine have been living in symbiosis all these years, and when things happen in the mine, well, it has an effect on the city.” Continue Reading →

Palladium Threatens Gold’s Reign as Most Precious Metal – by Amrith Ramkumar (Wall Street Journal – December 2018)


Gold and palladium prices have narrowed to their closest proximity since 2002

A rare silvery-white material is close to dethroning gold as the most valuable precious metal. Palladium, which is used to filter emissions in gasoline car engines, has climbed to record highs recently. Prices are up more than 25% since the start of August and about 10% for the year, making the metal one of the market’s best-performing assets of 2018.

Meanwhile, gold is down about 5% for the year, with investors preferring the safety of the dollar and U.S. Treasurys amid market volatility. A stronger dollar makes metals denominated in the currency more expensive for overseas buyers, while the prospect of higher interest rates makes gold less attractive than interest-bearing assets.

These dynamics can affect palladium as well. But it has been boosted by projections showing supply shortages and steady auto demand. Continue Reading →

Glencore Makes a $36 Billion Bet on Dirty Coal – by Chris Bryant (Bloomberg News – December 4, 2018)


CEO thinks shareholders are missing the picture on Glencore’s strong cash flow. If you’re happy with investing in coal, he may have a point.

Higher U.S. bond yields have made the payouts offered by most stocks look pretty underwhelming lately. Not so Glencore Plc, whose implied yield is startlingly high even though it’s throwing off cash like it’s going out of fashion.

The miner-cum-trader thinks it can generate $7.5 billion of free cash flow next year at current commodity prices. Absent a downturn in the economy, it’s conceivable that the company will return all of that to shareholders via dividends and buybacks, it said on Monday. Here’s the relevant slide:

The market shrugged at its largess, even erasing some of the gains Glencore had enjoyed from the easing of U.S.-China trade tensions. The shares have dropped more than 21 per cent this year and trade on less than 8 times estimated earnings. Continue Reading →

Teck sells stake in Chilean copper project to Japan’s Sumitomo for US$1.2-billion – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – December 5, 2018)


Teck Resources Ltd. is selling a stake in a large Chilean copper project for US$1.2-billion to a Japanese mining company in a deal that will see Canada’s biggest diversified miner proceed with a major expansion of its copper business.

On Tuesday, Vancouver-based Teck said its board had approved the US$4.7-billion construction of Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 (QB2) after selling a 30-per-cent share in the project to Sumitomo Metal Mining and Sumitomo Corporation.

Teck will put the proceeds raised from Sumitomo toward the construction of QB2, which it hopes to have in production in about three years. After those funds are exhausted, two-thirds of the future costs of construction will come from Teck and one-third from Sumitomo. Chile’s state-owned Empresa Nacional de Mineria (ENAMI), which owns 10 per cent of the project, has no funding commitments. Continue Reading →

Treasures of the Earth: Metals – (Nova Documentary – December 1, 2016)


Treasures of the Earth: Metals


What is it about the nature of metals that have made them a pillar of human civilization?

“Treasures of the Earth: Gems, Metals, and Power” is a 3-part series that will take us on a journey deep inside Earth to uncover the mysteries of how these treasures were created, and to explore how they have allowed humankind to progress and build our great civilizations. Continue Reading →

Commentary: Vanadium’s electric future hobbled by its industrial past – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – December 5, 2018)


LONDON (Reuters) – Last year it was cobalt. The year before that it was lithium. This year it is vanadium, another esoteric element of the periodic table that is on a wild bull rampage.

Vanadium prices in China have more than tripled over the course of 2018, albeit with some recent softening from their early-November peaks. The share price of South Africa’s Bushveld Minerals, one of only a handful of primary producers, has soared from less than 10 pence per share at the start of the year to 42 pence currently.

Vanadium is the latest exotic metal to feel the new energy heat. The vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) is a breakthrough technology in energy storage, a fast-growing component of the infrastructure needed to accommodate the global shift to renewable energy. Continue Reading →

High Risk-High Reward Lithium Bet Drives Argentina Mining Surge – by Laura Millan Lombrana and Jonathan Gilbert (Bloomberg News – December 5, 2018)


High risk/high reward. That’s the bet being made by global lithium miners in Argentina who are brushing aside a recession, a currency crisis and political uncertainty in their hunger for the mineral that helps power electric cars.

Rising demand and limited supply have resulted in lithium prices tripling over four years. In response, companies have been scrambling to build new mines, putting Argentina and Chile, two of the world’s largest producers of the mineral, squarely in their sights.

But while Chile may be more economically stable, top producers there — Albemarle Corp. and Soc. Quimica y Minera de Chile SA — have struggled to obtain licenses to expand. Meanwhile, Argentina President Mauricio Macri is pushing a more pro-market agenda. Continue Reading →

The most important country for the global climate no one is talking about – by Nithin Coca (Vox.com – December 5, 2018)


Indonesia is one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, but manages to fly well below the radar.

World leaders are gathered this month in Katowice, Poland, for COP24, the most important global meeting on climate change since the 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris. At the top of agenda: getting countries to agree on rules to implement the Paris climate accords for 2020, when the pact goes into effect.

The meeting serves as a reminder of troubling facts — President Donald Trump still intends to withdraw the United States from the accord, and the most recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s warns that we have just 12 years to limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But flying well below the radar in all of this is Indonesia, currently the world’s fifth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, which come mainly from land use, land use change, and forestry. Today Indonesia stands out for how little it has done to implement policies that would enable it to meet its commitment under the Paris agreement: cutting emissions from deforestation by 29 percent below business-as-usual projections by 2030. Continue Reading →

Brazil’s Vale to pump $500 million into nickel mine, ends partner quest – by Rodrigo Campos (Reuters U.S. – December 4, 2018)


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Brazilian miner Vale SA (VALE3.SA), the world’s top nickel producer, plans to invest $500 million in its struggling New Caledonia nickel mine on its own after previously vowing to find a partner for the venture.

Vale’s decision to invest in the project alone, from 2019 to 2022, reflects the company’s new understanding of the importance of an expected surge in electric vehicle (EV) sales, Chief Executive Fabio Schvartsman said on Tuesday.

“The decision to continue on our own was made because (New Caledonia) could be a very important part of strategy to supply nickel especially given the EV revolution,” he told journalists after Vale’s investor day presentation in New York. “We thought initially that we could have a partner but it was in a moment when we had no clarity on the incoming EV revolution.” Continue Reading →

The Ring of Fire: Some clarification and context from Stan Sudol – by Greg Klein (Recource Clips – December 4, 2018)


Urban journalists hundreds of kilometres away might not get it, but regional opposition to Ring of Fire development is anything but unanimous. That’s emphasized in a recent post by Republic of Mining commentator Stan Sudol: Not all the region’s native bands oppose development. Those that do, moreover, have traditional territories outside the proposed mining areas.

“As with non-Aboriginal society, First Nations do not speak with one voice,” he points out. Two of five regional chiefs got considerable news coverage by criticizing a proposed road that would connect the provincial highway system with the mineral-rich region. Those chiefs represent the Eabametoong and Neskantaga bands, both with traditional territories outside the Ring of Fire.

“In fact, the Eabametoong reserve is a little over 170 kilometres southwest of the proposed first mine in the Ring of Fire—Noront Resources’ Eagle’s Nest underground nickel-copper mine—while Neskantaga is about 130 kilometres in the same direction.” Continue Reading →