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Cobalt (The next Uranium)


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Congo poll leaves uncertainty for miners at heart of EV revolution

extract

âââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬Ãƒâ€Â¦ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“It could be that, as a mining sector, weâââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬ÃƒÂ¢Ãƒ¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚¾ÃƒÆ’‚¢re worse off than when we were under Kabila,âââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚ said one mining operator, who asked not to be identified. âââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬Ãƒâ€Â¦ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“There may be some improvements, but weâââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬ÃƒÂ¢Ãƒ¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚¾ÃƒÆ’‚¢re not counting on it.âââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚ÂÂ

Five mining executives contacted by Reuters said they were not yet operating on the assumption that Tshisekediâââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬ÃƒÂ¢Ãƒ¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚¾ÃƒÆ’‚¢s win would be validated by the Kabila-appointed Constitutional Court and expected the outgoing president to fight to keep his stranglehold on the sector. None wanted to speak on the record.

 

Companies could find themselves caught in the crossfire of turf wars over ministry jobs and positions in the bureaucracy, not knowing who is really in charge.

 

âââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬Ãƒâ€Â¦ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are always people you have to sway if you want a contract or a mining permit,âââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚ Stearns said. âââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬Ãƒâ€Â¦ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“At the top, these are Kabilaâââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬ÃƒÂ¢Ãƒ¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚¾ÃƒÆ’‚¢s people. Thatâââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬ÃƒÂ¢Ãƒ¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚¾ÃƒÆ’‚¢s now going to be in a state of flux that, I think, is going to last months.âââ€Å¡Ãƒ‚¬Ãƒâہ¡ÃƒÆ’‚ÂÂ

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-congo-el...n-idUSKCN1P70DR

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ERG will suspend copper, cobalt output at Congo mine this month

Bloomberg News | about 5 hours ago |

 

The company plans to dismiss 2,700 workers and the conditions of their departure are being negotiated, according to the person familiar with the matter.

 

Boss is a joint venture between ERG, which owns 51 percent of the Lubumbashi-based company, and state-owned Gecamines. Albert Yuma, the president of Gecamines, didnâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢t answer calls and emails seeking comment. Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu said in an email he didnâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢t have any official information about Bossâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s closing.

 

Yuma has repeatedly criticized Gecaminesâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢ existing partnerships as too generous to international mining companies, yielding minimal benefits to the government and state miner in the form of profit taxes and dividends.

http://www.mining.com/web/erg-will-suspend...ngo-mine-month/

 

Glencore to cut output, jobs at copper, cobalt mine in Congo âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“ WSJ

Reuters | about 8 hours ago |

Glencore Plc is planning to cut production at one of its largest copper and cobalt mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Wall Street Journal reported citing sources on Tuesday.

 

The output cut is likely to be temporary as the company looks for new ways to mine copper, the report said.

 

The company also plans to lay off about 2,000 employees, mostly contractors, at the Mutanda mine in the Katanga province, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

http://www.mining.com/web/glencore-cut-out...mine-congo-wsj/

 

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An opinion piece by Andy Home - extract

Last year it was the Democratic Republic of Congo. This year it is Zambia.

 

Both African countries have driven through draconian changes to their mineral tax regimes, overcoming the entrenched opposition of some of the worldâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s biggest mining houses.

 

Both are betting that the worldâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s need for their resources, particularly copper and cobalt, will keep the tax receipts flowing.

 

Right now, however, the push for a greater share of the wealth lying beneath the African Copperbelt is causing supply-chain disruption for both copper and cobalt.

read more - https://www.reuters.com/article/us-africa-m...e-idUSKCN1QG04X

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How the cobalt market fell victim to allure of electric cars

Bloomberg News

Cobalt prices were surging so much last year that thieves were carrying out elaborate heists at warehouses in Europeâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s busiest port. Now, prices are in free fall and mining companies are taking the financial hit.

 

The story of what happened is the classic boom-bust in commodities. In the case of cobalt, it was Elon Muskâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s vision of electric cars gaining mass appeal and an ensuing rush of money to bet that the world will need a lot more cobalt, a critical component of lithium-ion batteries.

 

Adding to the allure was a widely-held view that cobalt supply is constrained. Geologically speaking, the metal isnâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢t rare, but almost exclusively produced as a byproduct of copper and nickel mining. The idea that more cobalt supply depended on higher prices for those metals turned out to be a myth.

 

Instead, the surge in cobalt prices triggered a boom in supply from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Prices have plunged more than 60 percent from a peak in April 2018, to $15.88 a pound, according to Fastmarkets MB.

 

Here are four charts that tell how the bubble burst

.post-330173-1551656452_thumb.png

read more - http://www.mining.com/web/cobalt-market-fe...-electric-cars/

 

One ASX company - who at least is telling the cobalt story as it currently is - CLA, is slowing the evaluation of their project "until such time as the cobalt price improves markedly from current levels" Others continue in hype mode, while yet others who hyped the cobalt price on the way up remain silent on the way down :sadsmiley02:

 

CLA SP plunged 65% on the open

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for what its worth, First Cobalt Corp. - ASX: FCC; TSX-V: FCC; OTCQX: FTSSF - has successfully produced a battery grade cobalt sulfate using the First Cobalt Refinery flowsheet.

 

This .... brings the Company closer to recommissioning the only permitted primary cobalt refinery in North America; discussions currently underway with automotive companies, cobalt miners and capital providers [to] now move to a more advanced stage.

Highlights

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Product assayed 20.8% cobalt, surpassing the reference grade for sulfate pricing

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Product classified as âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’…âہ“high purityâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚ÂÂ, achieving over 99.9% purity

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Test work carried out in single batches, offering opportunity to improve product specifications to meet offtake partner requirements through process optimization

âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’‚¢ Potential to produce up to 2,000 tonnes of cobalt in product pa as the process excluded use of autoclave circuit, allowing for increase in plant throughput

- SP for FCC is up 30% this morning

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German carmaker BMW will buy cobalt, a key component for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, directly from mines in Australia and Morocco to ensure they are not produced by child labour, an executive said on Tuesday..

 

Andreas Wendt, BMW board member responsible for procurement, told a briefing in Paris that the new supply of cobalt would be used in the carmaker's next generation of EVs in 2020.

 

The worldâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s largest known reserves of cobalt are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the raw ingredient is often mined by small, artisanal operations and supply chains are not strictly monitored.

 

BMW said last year it was exploring ways to improve working conditions for mining cobalt in Congo through a pilot project.

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Surge in battery nickel use is more bad news for cobalt price

Frik Els | July 10, 2019

 

Battery metals tracker Adamas Intelligence says electric vehicle manufacturers deployed 57% more nickel in passenger EV batteries in May this year compared to 2018.

 

The Toronto-based research company, which tracks EV registrations and battery chemistries in more than 80 countries says the nickel metal equivalent used in lithium-ion batteries (primarily in the form of nickel sulphate) increased by 69% whereas the amount used in nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries (primarily in the form of nickel hydroxide and AB5 nickel-REE alloy) increased 26%.

 

THE DEPLOYMENT OF NICKEL IS OUTPACING THE GROWTH OF THE OVERALL EV BATTERY MARKET

 

The deployment of nickel also outpaced the growth of the EV market overall. In May this year, total passenger EV battery capacity deployed globally was 48% higher year-on-year according to Adamas data.

 

Nickelâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s inroads is due to shifting chemistries of nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) battery cathodes.

 

Nickel touched $13,000 a tonne for the first time since April on Wednesday. The price is up just over 19% in 2019 as the EV boom creates additional demand and primary use of the metal today âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“ stainless steel production âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“ continues to grow.

 

Cobalt is now worth $28,000 a tonne after peaking at $95,000 little more than a year ago as miners in the Congo âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“ responsible for two-thirds of output âââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒâ€¦Ã¢â‚¬Å“ ramp up production.

https://www.mining.com/surge-in-battery-nic...r-cobalt-price/

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Eurasian Resources is said to weigh sale of Congo mining assets

Bloomberg News | July 19, 2019

 

ERG, which mines copper and cobalt in DRC, has been reviewing its investments and has already sold assets valued at about $1 billion, according to its website. The company is a major producer of cobalt, a material used in rechargeable batteries powering iPhones and Tesla cars, though itâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s had to grapple with a supply glut and declining prices. Congo produced 72% of the worldâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s supply of cobalt last year.

 

read more - https://www.mining.com/web/eurasian-resourc...-mining-assets/

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Another cobalt mine shuttered - and not just any old cobalt mine. Cobalt prices have fallen more than 40% this year due to a surge of supply - mainly from DRC

Glencore to shutter giant cobalt and copper mine in Congo

Bloomberg News | August 6, 2019

Glencore Plc is planning to halt production at one of the worldâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s biggest cobalt mines after prices for the battery metal collapsed and costs at the project increased, according to a person familiar with the situation.

 

The announcement that Glencore will close its Mutanda mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo is expected to come as the company lays out an overhaul of its key African copper and cobalt business when it releases first-half results on Wednesday. It would be another setback for Glencore, which has been dogged by operational problems, legal challenges and a rift with Congoâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s government over a new mining code.

 

Even though African copper and cobalt is a small part of Glencoreâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s overall business, itâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s considered a key source of future profits. The company ranks as the worldâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s top producer of cobalt and investors have hoped Glencore would ride the boom in electric cars and battery demand. Mutanda produced 27,300 tons of cobalt last year, more than half Glencoreâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s total output, and 199,000 tons of copper.

 

The decision to shutter the mine highlights how quickly cobalt has shifted from a prized asset to a headache. After quadrupling in two years, prices have collapsed to the lowest since 2016 as new supplies pour into the market.

 

With few hedging tools available, the plunge has left Glencore exposed. The company said last week that itâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢ll report a $350 million non-cash hit to its trading business from cobalt thatâââہ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¬ÃƒÆ’¢Ã¢Ã¢â€š¬Ã…¾Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¢s been mined, but not yet sold.

 

https://www.mining.com/web/glencore-plans-t...-mine-in-congo/

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