October Newsletter – 18.10.2021


  • What the energy transition may bring for five battery metals – report
  • Scientists propose new ‘salty,’ non-toxic gold extraction process
  • Turquoise Hill stock crushed after Oyu Tolgoi funding gap swells by $1.2 billion
  • BHP’s London investors back critiqued climate change plan
  • CHARTS: Chinese investment in overseas copper projects just beginning
  • S. African port operator Transnet declares force majeure at Richards Bay terminal
  • Powerful new novel exposes how government regulation of mine safety and health can jeopardize miners’ safety
  • Ideology, not market, driving coal decisions -Australia resources minister
  • China’s power woes may worsen as demand surges amid coal supply lag

What the energy transition may bring for five battery metals – report

ING Economics published a new report in which its experts predict what the ongoing energy transition might bring for five key metals – copper, aluminum, nickel, cobalt, and lithium.

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Solar car Stella presented by the Dutch Solar Team Eindhoven at the 2013 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge

Taking into consideration where different regions of the world stand when it comes to moving towards a low-carbon future where global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, ING’s analysts developed three scenarios that they use as a background to assess the possible performance of battery metals.

The ‘fast forward scenario’ represents a world of rapid change towards a more sustainable future, in which technology and policy reinforce each other to phase out fossil fuels and limit global warming to 2 degrees Celcius.
The ‘wait-and-see scenario,’ on the other hand, would see the majority of businesses continue to operate as normal, boosting emissions and global warming, which could increase by 3-5 degrees Celcius by the end of the century.
Finally, the ‘likely tech scenario’ pictures a plausible path for the global energy transition and corresponding metals demand.


Scientists propose new ‘salty,’ non-toxic gold extraction process
Researchers at Finland’s Aalto University published a paper in the journal Chemical Engineering where they describe a new scalable, non-toxic alternative to cyanide for gold extraction from ore.
The new process is based on the use of chloride, one of two elements in table salt, for the leaching and recovery of the yellow metal.
“With our process, the amount of gold we’ve been able to recover using chloride is as high as 84%,” Ivan Korolev, lead author of the study, said in a media statement. “In comparison, using the standard cyanide process with the same ore yielded only 64% in our control experiment.”
The novel approach is called electrodeposition-redox replacement (EDRR) and it combines electrolysis, which uses electric currents to reduce gold or other metals present in the leaching solution, and cementation, which adds particles of other metals to the solution to react with the gold.


Turquoise Hill stock crushed after Oyu Tolgoi funding gap swells by $1.2 billion
Shares in Canada’s Turquoise Hill Resources (TSX, NYSE: TRQ) cratered on Friday after the company shocked the market late on Thursday by announcing the ongoing expansion of the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia required $1.2 billion in additional funding than previously expected.
The Vancouver-based miner, in which Rio Tinto (ASX, LON, NYSE: RIO) has a 50.8% stake, lost almost 22% of its value on Friday in both New York and Toronto, with the stock dropping to $12.09 and C$14.88 respectively in early trading.
Delays in underground mining as well as some deferred open-pit metal production have caused an increase in estimated incremental funding requirement to $3.6 billion — up from the $2.4 billion expected in July.
Total costs for the move underground is now approaching the approved total budget of $6.75 billion, which already is significantly higher than the original $5.3 billion set in 2016.


BHP’s London investors back critiqued climate change plan
BHP (ASX, LON: BHP) secured this week key backing for its climate transition strategy, despite concerns that the long-term plan to tackle customers’ greenhouse gas emissions did not go far enough.
At its annual general meeting in London, the world’s largest miner’s climate change roadmap won 83% support — a much stronger outcome than the knife-edge result some analysts had predicted.
“It is important that all of our shareholders have an opportunity to engage with us on our climate strategy and actions, and this advisory vote is intended to provide a forum for discussion and feedback on the plan,” Chairman Ken MacKenzie said at the meeting.


CHARTS: Chinese investment in overseas copper projects just beginning
China consumes nearly 14 million tonnes of copper each year – more than the rest of the world combined. But domestic supply last year was only around 2m tonnes, including scrap, and mined output has been stagnant for years.
In a presentation at the Wood Mackenzie LME Forum, Nick Pickens, research director for copper markets, showed two graphs that put China’s significant copper supply challenges in perspective.
Imported concentrate, including from roughly 30 Chinese-owned mines in Africa and elsewhere, now supplies 40% of the country’s needs, a share that has more than doubled over the past decade as imports set fresh records every year.
Tanked up on Tenge
Over and above direct foreign investment in mining projects around the world China, has splashed more than $16 billion on buying overseas copper companies and assets since 2010.
Glencore’s disposal, under some duress, of Las Bambas in Peru to a Chinese consortium, China Moly’s 2016 acquisition of the Tenke Fungurume mine from Freeport for $2.65 billion and Zijin Mining’s joint venture with Ivanhoe Mines on the Kamoa-Kakula mine, both in the Congo, are three high-profile examples.


S. African port operator Transnet declares force majeure at Richards Bay terminal
South Africa’s monopoly port operator Transnet late Friday declared a force majeure at its Richards Bay Bulk Terminal, it said in a statement, following a fire that broke out at the port on Wednesday.
Richards Bay Bulk Terminal, Africa’s largest coal export facility, is located off the Richards Bay port – one of seven commercial ports that Transnet operates along South Africa’s coastline.
Transnet did not say whether or to what extent exports of commodities such as coal, steel and other minerals would be impacted.
“The terminal is engaging with its affected customers and is in the process of putting the necessary contingencies in place as some routes are operational,” the state-owned company said in a statement issued on Friday night.


Powerful new novel exposes how government regulation of mine safety and health can jeopardize miners’ safety
(WASHINGTON, SEPTEMBER 16, 2021) Author Tim Means has just announced the publication of Copper Canyon, a suspenseful legal thriller that traces an underground coal mine disaster back to the federal laws that were intended to safeguard miners’ safety. When asked for his reaction to the new novel, Dave Lauriski, former chief of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, the agency that enforces those laws, said “Every miner should read this book.” Lauriski acclaimed it as “a masterpiece of story-telling that speaks truth to power and shines with authenticity.”

Other experts have agreed. Mike McKown, the former General Counsel of Murray Energy, then the largest underground coal company in America, described Copper Canyon as “a fast-moving novel set in a world with which few are familiar, underground mining. Copper Canyon succeeds in capturing the dilemmas mine operators sometimes face in trying to maintain compliance with government mandates without compromising the safety and jobs of their employees.”
Former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Roscoe Howard describes Copper Canyon as “a realistic and harrowing portrayal of a mine accident” and praised it as “a riveting story of the dysfunctions often found with our federal laws and their tragic human consequences.”

Copper Canyon will engage readers in questioning the proper balance between too little and too much government regulation and the role of law and morality in the battle between good and evil in determining the fate and fortunes of individuals and business enterprises. It is available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/0578914220/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1631722581&sr=1-17

Author Tim Means is a retired attorney who spent much of his life representing miners and mine operators before, during, and after mine accidents. He studied at Princeton Theological Seminary, and obtained degrees from Dartmouth College, the University of Colorado, and the George Washington University School of Law before practicing law at Washington, D.C. law firms Jones Day and Crowell & Moring LLP.

For further information please contact Tim Means, tcmeans@gmail.com, Mobile: 1.301.704.8575

Ideology, not market, driving coal decisions -Australia resources minister

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Coal is unloaded onto large piles at the Ulan Coal mines near the central New South Wales rural town of Mudgee in Australia, March 8, 2018.

MELBOURNE, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Global regulators, banks and investors are making ideological rather than market-based investment decisions around coal, which will still have solid demand in the coming decades, Australia’s Resources Minister Keith Pitt told Reuters on Thursday.

Pitt’s National Party, a junior member of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s governing coalition that represents many Australians in coal-producing districts, has refused to support a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050 for the country, the world’s biggest coal exporter.

The National’s position has held Morrison back from committing to attend the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow next month, where global leaders will meet to set further climate goals to follow on from the landmark 2015 Paris accord.

Pitt said that record high prices for the fuel show that Australia’s second-most lucrative export should be supported and financiers and insurers that are divesting from the industry are not making decisions based on the economics.


China’s power woes may worsen as demand surges amid coal supply lag

  • China thermal coal futures hit record high
  • China Sept coal output falls adding to power crunch concerns
  • Power curbs hurt orders for end of year shopping festivals

BEIJING, Oct 18 (Reuters) – China’s power woes look set to intensify as coal prices rose to a record on Monday following data showing supply of the fuel fell in September adding to concerns that domestic output may be unable to meet surging electric generation demand.



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