February Newsletter – 21.02.2022


  • India to be self-dependent in coal production for thermal power generation by 2024: Secy
  • How China beat out the United States to dominate South America
  • IGO wins auction for Glencore CSA Australia mine
  • New project to investigate if California’s Lithium Valley is world’s largest brine source of lithium
  • Cobalt miners seeking to expand in Congo face human rights accusations
  • ‘Endangered metals’ no longer needed to produce hydrogen from water
  • France should start mining lithium at home, minister says
  • Saudi Arabia announces next steps in licensing process for its largest mining site

India to be self-dependent in coal production for thermal power generation by 2024: Secy

Nagpur: Coal Secretary Anil Kumar Jain on Tuesday said the import of coal for thermal power generation will end in India by 2024 and the domestic production of the dry-fuel is expected to rise by 10 per cent. Jain was in Nagpur for a review meeting with Western Coalfields Ltd (WCL), a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd.

WCL Chairman and Managing Director Manoj Kumar, its directors, chief vigilance officers and other senior officers were present at the meeting.

Speaking with journalists during the visit, Jain said the coal import for thermal power generation will end in India by 2024.


How China beat out the United States to dominate South America

It’s no secret that China has been pouring resources into South America this century, chipping away at the United States’ historic dominance. But an important shift has gone largely unnoticed in the country’s approach to the region: going local to expand and strengthen its financial grip.

In the hinterland of Argentina, Mario Pizarro’s office looks like a shrine to China. There’s the framed photo of a Chinese peasant with Pizarro’s face superimposed beneath the conical farmer hat. There’s the blue-robed smiling Buddha statue. And there’s the model wind turbine from a Chinese company with an inscription in English and Mandarin: “Create Our Future Together.”

Pizarro, 62, is the energy secretary of Jujuy, a province high in the Andes that borders Bolivia and Chile. Overlooking a river, his office building is ordinary, shabby even, but the projects he and his colleagues oversee are anything but. And the one country that’s made them all possible is China.

Chinese technology and money have helped build one of Latin America’s largest solar energy plants in Jujuy, where hundreds of thousands of panels coat the desert like giant dominoes. Chinese security cameras guard government buildings across the provincial capital. Servers hum in a Chinese data storage plant. Beneath the remote, craggy hills and vast salt lakes lie veins of copper, lithium, and zinc, the raw materials of 21st century ­technology — including ­Chinese-made electric-car batteries.


IGO wins auction for Glencore CSA Australia mine

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The underground copper mine, located in the state of New South Wales, produces about 50,000 tonnes of copper concentrate per year.

IGO Ltd has won an auction to buy Glencore Plc’s CSA copper mine in western New South Wales, according to a local media report.

The auction had previously been between Perth-based miner IGO and New York Stock Exchange listed Metals Acquisition Corp., Australian Financial Review reported Sunday without citing where it got the information from. IGO is the preferred bidder and is in final negotiations around terms of the deal, according to the newspaper.

The mine produces about 50,000 tons of copper, according to Glencore data and is expected to be worth above A$1 billion ($718 million).

Last December, IGO agreed to buy nickel miner Western Areas Ltd. in a A$1.1 billion cash deal that provides it with scale to compete with BHP Group Ltd., which dominates Australian production of the battery metal.


New project to investigate if California’s Lithium Valley is world’s largest brine source of lithium

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Riverside, and Geologica Geothermal Group have launched a project to both quantify and characterize the lithium resource in the  Salton Sea geothermal field in California.

After receiving a $1.2-million grant from the US Department of Energy, the scientists plan to use an electron microscope and other advanced analytical tools to learn what are the mineral sources of lithium in the area and whether the rocks will “recharge” the brine with lithium after it has been extracted from the produced fluids.

At present, 11 commercial plants operating at the Salton Sea field produce geothermal energy by pumping up hot fluids from deep underground and converting the heat to electricity. Normally, the cooled fluid would simply be reinjected underground, but the researchers want to first extract the lithium from the brine before injecting it back.


Cobalt miners seeking to expand in Congo face human rights accusations

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Miners fill bags with cobalt ore at the depot of the Kasulo mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt demand has been skyrocketing amid global efforts to transition to low-carbon energy.

Mounting demand for cobalt has multinational mining companies restarting and expanding mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where reports of human rights abuses persist.

Mining giants operating in the region say they have made efforts to ensure their products are free of human rights abuses in the years following a 2016 Amnesty International report on child labor and forced labor within the DRC’s cobalt mining sector. Cobalt is a metal used in many of the rechargeable batteries crucial for the low-carbon energy transition and demand has been skyrocketing in recent years, resulting in efforts to expand DRC mining operations.

At the same time, mining companies have tried to allay concerns from investor activists and customers unwilling to be a party to the kinds of human rights violations documented by watchdog groups. At least some cobalt buyers appear to be appeased by the actions of the biggest miners, even as they have avoided small-scale mining companies at the heart of last decade’s scandal.


‘Endangered metals’ no longer needed to produce hydrogen from water

A new, rare metal-free method for producing hydrogen from water has been discovered by a team of researchers at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) in Japan.

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Hyundai NEXO hydrogen fuel cell car.

Instead of scarce materials, the scientists found a way to use cobalt and manganese to produce hydrogen for fuel cells and agricultural fertilizers.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Catalysis, the group behind the study explained that their goal was to address the issue of hydrogen extraction – or electrolysis –being an expensive and unsustainable process.

“This is primarily due to a lack of good catalysts,” lead researcher Ryuhei Nakamura said in a media statement. “In addition to being able to withstand the harsh acidic environment, the catalyst must be very active. If not, the amount of electricity needed for the reaction to produce a given amount of hydrogen soars, and with it, so does the cost.”

Nakamura explained that currently, the most active catalysts for water electrolysis are rare metals like platinum and iridium, which creates a dilemma because they are expensive and considered “endangered species” among metals.


France should start mining lithium at home, minister says

France should start exploiting its own lithium resources to meet increased demand stemming from a shift away from fossil fuels, Barbara Pompili, the country’s environment minister, said in a video interview published on Thursday by business daily Les Echos.

France needs “long-term import contracts … but also to get lithium at home,” Pompili told the paper in the interview. “If we want to become a society which emits less greenhouse gases, we have to face the consequences: We need materials like lithium.”

Lithium, used in batteries for electric vehicles and smartphones, is seen as a key resource for the 21st century.


Saudi Arabia announces next steps in licensing process for its largest mining site

RIYADH — Building on efforts to expand its mining industry, the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources (MIM) has announced the opening of the next steps associated with awarding the license for the Khnaiguiyah site.

Interested prospective investors now can submit their Expression of Interest and complete their Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ).

Khnaiguiyah is the Kingdom’s largest exploration site, covering more than 350 km2. Located in Al Rayn Terrane, it forms part of the Arabian Shield, which has a potential value of $1.3 trillion across 48 commodities.

Monday’s announcement follows the licensing round announcement made during the recent Future Minerals Forum, where interested parties were invited to access the ministry’s data room with historical studies by visiting the Ministry’s online portal.

The award process will include three stages — qualification, proposal and auction, which could feature multiple rounds. The Ministry expects to conclude the award process in the second quarter of 2022.

The PQQ requests that prospective bidders submit customary information regarding their technical knowledge and experience, capability, capacity, and organizational and financial standing, mapped to the project’s outlined criteria.

The PQQ enables the Ministry to assess an organization’s professional and technical qualifications, and competence to become the license holder. Qualified bidders are invited to submit their completed PQQ by March 14, 2022.

This tender process is based on the new Saudi Mining Investment Law, which was developed following extensive global benchmarking and is among the most competitive in the world.

The law is part of an overarching effort led by MIM to transform and attract investment in its mining sector, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which identified mining as the third pillar of industrial growth.

Extensive exploration work already has been carried out at Khnaiguiyah site, covering 100,000 meters drilled and a 3D geological model.

The Saudi Geological Survey has confirmed the site’s considerable geological potential of approximately 26 million tons of zinc and copper, both critical minerals for the global energy transition.



Link for more detailed information

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