#NYTimes: #Pentagon Halts Rare Earths Funding Program Pending ‘Further Research’

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HOUSTON — The U.S. Department of Defense last month reversed its decision to fund two projects to process rare earth minerals for military weapons, one of which has controversial ties to China, according to a government document seen by Reuters and three sources familiar with the matter.

The Pentagon decision is a step backward for President Donald Trump’s plan to redevelop the U.S. rare earths supply chain and reduce reliance on China, the world’s largest producer of the strategic minerals used to build a range of weapons.

Australia’s Lynas Corp and privately held U.S. firm MP Materials both said on April 22 they had been awarded funding by the Pentagon for rare earths separation facilities in Texas and California, respectively.

Read more at: https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2020/05/22/us/22reuters-usa-rareearths-exclusive.html

#Bloomberg: Carmakers Urged to Invest in Mines to Avoid Battery Metal Pinch


Mine developers scrambling to fund projects to meet forecast demand for battery metals see the threat of looming supply crunches as a trigger for electric-vehicle makers to step in with investments.

An already tough environment to raise project finance for the mines is being made worse by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and plunging global auto sales. It’s a scenario that’s threatening to slow a pipeline of operations planned to supply lithium, nickel and cobalt materials.

With “mind-blowing” projections from the auto industry on its future raw material needs, the best solution could be for vehicle producers to invest directly in mining operations, according to Sam Riggall, chief executive officer of developer Clean TeQ Holdings Ltd.

“Having to invest upstream is not what a car company wants to do, we understand that, but the rules have changed,” Riggall said. “We’re building a supply chain that’s never existed before, for a range of metals that have never been needed before by this industry.”

Auto companies have outlined plans to spend more than $140 billion on electric vehicle production, an industry shift that’ll need producers of specialist materials and metals for batteries to dramatically lift output. Nickel demand is forecast to surge about 16-fold through 2030 from 2018, while there will also be a significant rise in demand for graphite, lithium, copper and aluminum, according to BloombergNEF.

Read more at: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/carmakers-urged-invest-mines-avoid-035517514.html

Lynas #US rare earth bid hits resistance


Washington | It has been another torrid week for Australia’s rare earth champion Lynas Corporation as it tries to walk a geopolitical tightrope.

The desire by the West to break China’s stranglehold on supply of heavy rare earths materials essential in military applications continues to work in the company’s favour but there are no easy wins in a jumpy, pandemic-ridden world.

Lynas learned on Friday that its $1 billion processing plant in Malaysia, shut since March 23, can re-start on May 4 as that country makes progress in the battle to contain COVID-19. However, the extent of the re-start remains unclear.

The company also faces a political backlash in the US after emerging as a frontrunner to win a coveted contract with the Department of Defense.

The shutdown and the US backlash are not unconnected with those pushing back against the possibility that Lynas could win the US military contract citing the location of the processing plant as a potential liability.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a 2016 presidential candidate, is leading the charge of a powerful group of establishment Republican foreign policy hawks.

Cruz and five fellow conservative senators warned the Department of Defence it shouldn’t do deals with companies that have supply chains in any country that “presents a risk of supply disruption”.

The group also urged the military to lean in favour of projects that extract and process rare earths from “US sources and at US facilities”.

Source: https://www.afr.com/world/north-america/lynas-us-rare-earth-bid-hits-resistance-20200501-p54ou1


#Reuters: #VW to start using high-#Nickel batteries for #ElectricCar

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) will raise the amount of nickel used in it electric car battery cells to 80% in the next year from 65% at present, Frank Blome, head of battery cells at the carmaker said on Tuesday.

Volkswagen’s current electric car battery cell contains 65% nickel, 15% cobalt and 20% manganese. Next generation batteries will have 80% nickel, 10% cobalt and 10% manganese, Blome told analysts on a call.

Read more at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-volkswagen-electric-batteries/vw-to-start-using-high-nickel-batteries-for-electric-car-idUSKBN2142HW

#BillGates-Led Fund Invests in Making #Lithium Mining More Sustainable


As the world looks to cut carbon emissions, people are increasingly turning to lithium-ion batteries for solutions such as powering electric vehicles or storing renewable energy. While there’s enough lithium available to meet today’s demand, BloombergNEF expects the market could see a shortfall as soon as 2023 as demand for the metal grows fourfold over the next decade.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, helmed by Bill Gates, and MIT’s The Engine fund are leading an investment round of $20 million for Lilac Solutions, a U.S. startup aimed at making the extraction of lithium less water-intensive and more sustainable.

Read more at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-20/bill-gates-led-fund-invests-in-making-lithium-mining-more-sustainable

#Bloomberg: #US Scours for Rare Earths to End Addiction to #Chinese Imports


The U.S. government is scouring the country and elsewhere for potential rare earths reserves to wean the nation off its dependence on Chinese imports of minerals used to make missiles and cellphones.

“We’ve been almost 100% dependent on foreign sources of rare earth elements for industrial applications,” Jim Reilly, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, said. “It’s not only the domestic sources of the resource that we concentrate on. We look for those resources literally across the globe, and then we build collaboration with our partners.”

Read more at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-07/u-s-scours-for-rare-earths-to-end-addiction-to-chinese-imports

#US Mine Production Increasing, Estimated Value of $86.3 Billion in Minerals

MSHA map highlighting mining operations

The U.S. Geological Survey announced today that U.S. mines produced approximately $86.3 billion in minerals in 2019 –- more than $2 billion higher than revised 2018 production totals.

“The data we are releasing today is vital to understanding which minerals are vulnerable to disruptions in America’s supply chains and provides the analytical foundation for President Trump’s broader strategy to make our economy and defense more secure,” said Jim Reilly, USGS Director. “American production of minerals – having an estimated value of more than $86 billion – is critical for all means of commerce and manufacturing with many of these minerals being used in every day household items.”

The Trump administration released, “A Federal Strategy to Ensure a Reliable Supply of Critical Minerals,” last year to make America’s economy and defense more secure. The strategy directed the U.S. Department of the Interior to locate domestic supplies of critical minerals, ensure access to information necessary for the study and production of minerals and expedite permitting for minerals projects. Pursuant to the federal strategy, USGS launched its Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) to acquire geologic, geophysical and topographic data to help characterize the distribution of critical minerals and identify areas in which more data would improve our understanding of undiscovered critical mineral resources.

Read more at: https://www.usgs.gov/news/us-mine-production-increasing-estimated-value-863-billion-minerals

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