January Newsletter – 04.01.2021
- Sample recovered 220 years ago turns out to be new mineral
- China Relaxes Foreign Investment Rules for Hainan Island
- Current domestic coal production inadequate to meet country’s demand: Govt
- Explainer-What’s driving New Caledonian protests against Brazilian mining giant Vale
- California Mine Becomes Key Part of Push to Revive US Rare Earths Processing
- Government Spending Package Includes $800 Million To Fund Rare Earths and Strategic Minerals Research
- Indonesia, LG in $9.8B deal for first integrated EV battery industry
Sample recovered 220 years ago turns out to be new mineral
Researchers from London’s Natural History Museum, the Diamond Lightsource in Harwell, Oxford, and Slovakia discovered a new mineral almost by accident when investigating a sample of liroconite, a bright blue mineral recovered from a mine in Cornwall 220 years ago.
In a quest to properly curate it, lead researcher Mike Rumsey was trying to understand why liroconite’s color varies from bright teal-blue all the way to dark emerald green.
“It turns out that the darkest green samples are sufficiently chemically different to the blue’s that we, as mineralogists, would define it as a new species,” Rumsey said in a media statement.
THE NEW SPECIES HAS BEEN NAMED KERNOWITE AFTER KERNOW, THE CORNISH WORD FOR CORNWALL
The new species has been named kernowite after Kernow, the Cornish word for Cornwall, which is the only location from where it has been recovered. Details about the new mineral’s existence will be published in an upcoming number of the Mineralogical Magazine.
To be described as a new species, a mineral needs to meet a number of criteria. These relate largely to determining what the chemistry of the new material is and how the atoms within the material are arranged in three-dimensional space and then how that arrangement repeats to make up the crystals that the human eye can see. This is what mineralogists call crystal structure.
According to Rumsey, in the crystal structure of liroconite, one of the positions where an atom is can contain either aluminum or iron. For liroconite, the position is dominantly filled with aluminum and the physical crystal ends up being blue.
For kernowite, on the other hand, the position is instead dominantly filled with iron and the result is a green crystal.
“We think that the more iron the darker the green, but that still needs some more work and more samples to confirm,” the researcher said. “Both minerals have exactly the same crystal structure meaning that all the atoms are in the same positions, it is just the chemical composition that varies.”
China Relaxes Foreign Investment Rules for Hainan Island
China relaxed foreign investment rules for its southern free trade port of Hainan island, allowing overseas funds into sectors such as mining, online trading, and market and social research.
Expansion of Haikou Meilan International Airport in Haikou, Hainan Province
Restrictions on foreign shareholding in carmakers will also be lifted, according to China’s National Development and Reform Commission on its website. The negative list on foreign investment rules for the Hainan free trade port will be effective from February.
The Chinese government said in 2018 that a relaxation of rules in the automobile manufacturing industry will be adopted nationwide in 2022.
Current domestic coal production inadequate to meet country’s demand: Govt
Commercial auction of coal mines along with transparent measures taken by the Centre has come at an opportune time to bridge the mismatch between demand and supply of coal in the country
New Delhi: The government on Thursday said the current domestic production is unable to meet the country’s demand, even though the country is the world’s second-largest producer of fossil fuel and the fifth-largest nation in terms of coal deposits. Currently, India is producing about 729 million tonnes of dry fuel, the coal ministry said in a statement.
“However, it is a fact that the domestic production is not able to meet the demand of coal in the country,” the statement said.
Last year, India imported 247 million tonnes (MT) of coal and spent Rs 1.58 lakh crore worth of foreign exchange.
Commercial auction of coal mines along with transparent measures taken by the Centre has come at an opportune time to bridge the mismatch between demand and supply of coal in the country.
“This will not only provide a huge opportunity for employment in the backward regions but will also save foreign exchange to the extent of almost Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore per year,” it said.
Explainer-What’s driving New Caledonian protests against Brazilian mining giant Vale
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Riots erupted in December in New Caledonia, a French territory in the Pacific, with protesters blockading nickel mines and challenging Brazilian mining giant Vale’s latest attempt to sell its local business.
Here is an explanation of what is behind tensions in the archipelago, 1,200 km (750 miles) east of Australia, in a region closely watched by Canberra, Paris and their allies as China’s influence rapidly grows in the South Pacific.
New Caledonia is the world’s fourth-largest nickel producer, behind Indonesia, Philippines and Russia. In 2019, it produced 220,000 tonnes, or 8% of global mined nickel.
Demand for nickel, mainly used in making stainless steel, is expected to grow rapidly as a raw material in electric vehicle batteries.
China accounts for a third of world refined nickel production and needs access to nickel concentrate imports for its refineries.
Vale Nouvelle-Calédonie (VNC), 95% owned by Vale and 5% owned by Société de Participation Minière du Sud Calédonien S.A.S (SPMSC), is one of three nickel miners in New Caledonia. It runs the Goro nickel complex in the Southern Province, a region dominated by New Caledonians of European origin.
California Mine Becomes Key Part of Push to Revive US Rare Earths Processing
In 2021, a more than 70-year-old mine in California’s Mojave Desert will become the center of an effort to revive an American mineral refining system that some say is critical to the country’s national security.
At issue is the availability of rare-earth metals, which are needed for hybrid electric cars, smartphones and certain types of military equipment. In fact, the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act directs most Pentagon systems to use rare earth metals that have been mined and refined outside of China within five years and dictates that the federal government give preference to U.S. suppliers of these materials in government acquisitions.
As part of the U.S. government’s strategy to ensure safe and reliable supplies of critical minerals, the Defense Department has recently announced contracts and agreements with several rare-earth element producers. Among them is MP Materials, owner and operator of Mountain Pass mine, the only rare earth mining site in North America.
Seventeen elements deemed critical to modern society were discovered at the Mountain Pass deposit, which, shortly after its discovery by American engineers in 1949, came to provide more than half of the world’s needs for rare earth minerals.
Government Spending Package Includes $800 Million To Fund Rare Earths and Strategic Minerals Research
(Reuters) – The pandemic aid and spending package signed by U.S. President Donald Trump last Sunday includes more than $800 million to fund rare earths and strategic minerals research, spending that mining companies say will help counteract China’s dominance over the sector.
The $2.3 trillion, 5,593-page bill essentially codifies Trump’s executive orders on rare earths, a group of 17 minerals used to make magnets for electric vehicles, other green technologies and weapons.
The bill requires better geological studies of federal lands, funds studies into the processing and recycling of rare earths, and supports improvements to mining education programs.
The National Mining Association, the industry trade group, as well as Energy Fuels Inc and other rare earth companies praised the bill’s minerals clauses.
Reviving domestic rare earths production has become a priority for Washington as relations with China have frayed.
The bill “will enable the United States to increase the responsible production and processing of critical minerals,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate’s energy committee, who introduced minerals legislation last year that was folded into the larger bill here.
The law requires the U.S. Geological Survey to forecast metals demand much like the Energy Department forecasts oil demand, a step that miners say will help them better plan projects.
Indonesia, LG in $9.8B deal for first integrated EV battery industry
Indonesia has sealed a deal worth $9.8 billion with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution to develop the world’s first integrated electric vehicle (EV) battery industry, Indonesia’s investment chief said on December 30.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) head Bahlil Lahadalia and LG Energy Solution representatives in Seoul on December 18 with South Korean Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Sung Yun-mo witnessing the signing.
The deal is the result of a series of negotiations that started with a meeting between President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in in Busan, South Korea in November 2019.
The MoU includes strategic investment projects in the EV battery cell industry that integrates the mining, smelting, refining, and precursor and cathode industries, according to a BKPM statement on December 30.
Bahlil told reporters in a virtual press briefing on December 30: “This investment will make Indonesia the first country in the world that is integrating the electric battery industry [supply chain], from mining to electric car lithium batteries.
Link for more detailed information