#Pentagon races to track #US #RareEarths output amid #China trade dispute

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REUTERS: The Pentagon is rapidly assessing the United States’ rare earths capability in a race to secure stable supply of the specialized material amid the country’s trade conflict with China, which controls the rare earths industry, according to a government document seen by Reuters.

Innovation is needed in processing of battery raw materials

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With the increasing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and energy storage technologies, there is little doubt demand will grow for battery raw materials that must be sourced from the mining industry.

We expect automotive companies and battery manufacturers to invest US$300 billion in the sector in the next 10 years, and they will require new battery mineral deposits to be developed.

Over the next 10 years, we expect demand related to battery raw materials to increase four times for lithium, five times for cobalt, and up to seven times for graphite.

Beyond that, vanadium will be required in increasing volumes for use in stationary batteries for energy storage in renewable energy installations, while rare earths already have a place in high-performance magnets widely used in electric motors and wind turbines.

Processing innovation

There will be pressure on the supply of specialty raw materials, and new deposit types are already being assessed for economic viability.

Innovation in mineral extraction and process development is needed to meet the challenges posed by end-use markets — especially in green technology, renewable energy and battery applications.

Already, physical and chemical specifications on mineral products and processed materials are only getting more stringent. Many products must reach 99.99% purity (“four nines”), but even more pronounced are the impurities themselves, at the parts per million level, as they risk affecting the performance of the final product.

Read more at: https://www.northernminer.com/news/commentary-innovation-is-needed-in-processing-of-battery-raw-materials/1003807563/

#China Wrestles with the Toxic Aftermath of Rare Earth Mining

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The mountains north of the village of Lingbeizhen in southern Jiangxi province no longer echo with the rumble of bulldozers and trucks. New bamboo groves climb the ravines. Tropical pines and navel orange trees grace terraces carved from the mountainsides, covering what was a hive of activity a few years back.

Higher up, where it is more difficult to replant and where erosion has taken its toll, nearly every knoll and mountaintop is scarred from mining activity. Black rubber hoses curl in the sun. PVC pipes, their ragged edges protruding from the red clay, mark where small crews of miners injected tons of ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, and other chemicals into the earth to separate valuable rare earth metals from the surrounding soil.

Beginning in the 1990s, rare earth mining took off in this region, located in Southeast China about 300 miles north of Hong Kong. As China began to produce more smartphones, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and other high-tech products requiring rare earth elements, the mining intensified. But the removal of these elements from the earth’s crust, using a mix of water and chemicals, caused extensive water and soil pollution.

Today, concrete leaching ponds and plastic-lined wastewater pools dot the hills. At one abandoned site, large wastewater ponds sit uncovered and open to the elements. Satellite images show dozens of similar pools dotting the mountains, all just one landslide or barrier failure away from a spill of their contaminated contents into waterways or groundwater.

Read more at: https://e360.yale.edu/features/china-wrestles-with-the-toxic-aftermath-of-rare-earth-mining

#CNN: #Trump – #Xi meeting / #TradeWar – #China wants even more control over rare earths

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Hong Kong (CNN Business) China is preparing to tighten its grip on the supply of a group of minerals the global tech industry can’t live without.

 

Chinese state media reported that the government of Jiangxi province was planning to provide support to China Southern Rare Earth Group (CSRE) — the biggest producer of heavy rare earths — “to increase its power and gain the upper hand and say in the resource.”
Jiangxi, where most of China’s heavy rare earths are produced, is considering how to boost the role of state-owned CSRE and encourage “high-quality development,” the state-run Securities Times added.
The report highlights China’s willingness to consolidate the industry and strengthen control of rare earths production, which Beijing sees as a powerful bargaining chip in the trade war. It comes on the eve of a crucial meeting between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
The outcome of the Trump-Xi meeting on Saturday is likely to determine what happens next in a trade war that has already damaged global growth and hurt technology companies in particular.
On a visit to Jiangxi province in May, Xi described rare earths as an important strategic resource. Days later, the country’s top economic planner signaled in a statement that Beijing was willing to play the rare earth card in the trade war.

#CITIC ok’d to complete C$612m investment in #Ivanhoe Mines

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Ivanhoe Mines secured on Tuesday an additional C$612 million (about $464m) granted by its largest shareholder, China’s state-owned CITIC Metal, in April this year, which the Canadian miner is using to build a giant copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The investment, now fully approved, is CITIC’s second major one in less than a year, bringing its total financing to about $1 billion.

Read more at: https://www.mining.com/citic-metal-okd-to-complete-c612m-investment-in-ivanhoe-mines/?utm_source=Daily_Digest&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MNG-DIGESTS&utm_content=citic-okd-to-complete-c612m-investment-in-ivanhoe-mines

#Trump, #Trudeau seek collaboration on ‘critical minerals’ – #WhiteHouse

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WASHINGTON, June 20 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered officials on Thursday to develop a plan for U.S.-Canada collaboration on “critical minerals,” the White House said in a statement after a meeting of the two leaders.

Washington has grown concerned about its dependence on imports of rare earth minerals from China after Beijing suggested using them as leverage in their trade war.

Rare earths, a group of 17 elements that appear in low concentrations in the ground, are used in a wide variety of products ranging from lasers and military equipment to magnets found in consumer electronics.

China supplied 80% of the rare earths imported by the United States from 2014 to 2017.

Trump and Trudeau “instructed officials to develop a joint action plan on critical minerals collaboration,” the White House statement said. (Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Jonathan Oatis)

Source: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/1-trump-trudeau-seek-collaboration-215739132.html

#Graphene-based ink may lead to printable energy storage devices

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A key goal in graphene research is the mass production of graphene with high quality and at low cost. Energy-storage applications typically require graphene in powder form, but so far production methods have resulted in powders with a large number of structural defects and chemical impurities, as well as nonuniform layer thickness. This has made it difficult to prepare high-quality graphene inks.

In the new paper, the researchers have demonstrated a new method for preparing graphene inks that overcomes these challenges. The method involves growing nitrogen-doped graphene nanosheets over NaCl crystals using direct chemical vapor deposition, which causes molecular fragments of nitrogen and carbon to diffuse on the surface of the NaCl crystals. The researchers chose NaCl due to its natural abundance and low cost, as well as its water solubility. To remove the NaCl, the coated crystals are submerged in water, which causes the NaCl to dissolve and leave behind pure nitrogen-doped graphene cages. In the final step, treating the cages with ultrasound transforms the cages into 2-D nanosheets, each about 5-7 graphite layers thick.

The resulting nitrogen-doped graphene nanosheets have relatively few defects and an ideal size (about 5 micrometers in side length) for printing, as larger flakes can block the nozzle. To demonstrate the nanosheets’ effectiveness, the researchers printed a wide variety of 3-D structures using inks based on the graphene sheets. Among their demonstrations, the researchers used the ink as a conductive additive for an electrode material (vanadium nitride) and used the composite ink to print flexible electrodes for supercapacitors with high power density and good cyclic stability.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2019-06-graphene-based-ink-printable-energy-storage.html

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