Newsletter 18-03-2024

Newsletter – 18.03.2024

18/03/24                                      WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
  • Deep-sea miner wants Greenpeace out of UN
  • Copper price surges on supply threat as iron ore shows economic risks
  • Congo, Chinese partners sign reviewed Sicomines copper-cobalt joint venture agreement
  • China is planning to break its dependency on Australia and Brazil for iron ore. Africa is the key
  • Lithium permit freeze limited to new projects, Argentina province says
  • MinRes to develop lithium processing hub in goldfields region

Deep-sea miner wants Greenpeace out of UN

Greenpeace could be thrown out of the UN body overseeing controversial plans to begin deep-sea mining.

One mining company claims the campaign group disrupted a research expedition in the remote Pacific.

Member states of the UN's International Seabed Association could choose to strip Greenpeace of its observer status within the group.

Greenpeace says the incident in question was a peaceful protest aimed at protecting a pristine ecosystem.

The mining company involved, The Metals Company, accuses Greenpeace of being "anti-science".

It is the latest salvo in a long-running battle over access to a trove of hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of metals lying on the surface of the seabed in some parts of the deep ocean.

Green campaigners say it will cause terrible damage to one of the few remaining ecosystems on Earth untouched by humanity.

The metals the companies want to exploit have built up over tens of millions of years into potato-sized lumps, known as polymetallic nodules.

Mining companies say the copper, cobalt, nickel and manganese they contain are crucial battery metals.

The International Energy Agency forecasts demand for these metals will soar as the world continues the effort to transition towards a low-carbon economy.

Copper price surges on supply threat as iron ore shows economic risks

Prices for two of the worldb s most important mined commodities are diverging quickly, with copper rallying above $9,000 a ton as supply cuts hit the market and iron ore sinking as demand headwinds mount.

Copper has surged 5% this week, ending a months-long spell of inertia, as investors hone in on risks to supply at mines and smelters. Tentatively, traders are also warming to the idea that the worst of a global downturn is in the past, particularly for metals like copper that are increasingly used in electric vehicles and renewables.

But signs of the headwinds in traditional industrial sectors are still plain to see in the iron ore market, where futures fell below $100 a ton for the first time in seven months on Friday. Investors are betting that Chinab s years-long property crisis will run through 2024, keeping a lid on demand.

The steelmaking ingredient has shed more than 30% since early January as hopes of a meaningful revival in construction activity faded. Loss-making steel mills are buying less ore, and stockpiles are piling up at Chinese ports.

Congo, Chinese partners sign reviewed Sicomines copper-cobalt joint venture agreement

Democratic Republic of Congo and Chinese investors on Thursday signed an agreement reached in January that revises some terms of their Sicomines copper and cobalt joint venture, Congob s Infrastructure Minister Alexis Gisaro Muvunyi said on Thursday.

President Felix Tshisekedi had sought to re-negotiate the terms of the joint venture to bring more benefits for Congo, the worldb s biggest cobalt producer.

Under the revised deal, both parties have agreed that China will invest up to $7 billion in infrastructure projects in the central African country, up from $3 billion in the original agreement.

They have also agreed Chinese partners, including Sinohydro and China Railway group, will pay 1.2% of royalties annually to Congo while maintaining the same shareholding structure.

China is planning to break its dependency on Australia and Brazil for iron ore. Africa is the key

Sierra Leone may be a small country on Africab s Atlantic coast, but it is part of Chinab s big ambitions to break its dependency on Australia and Brazil for its iron ore. More than 80 per cent of Chinab s iron ore comes from Australia and Brazil but Beijing wants to de-risk that supply. And the West African nation, along with other countries including Guinea, Liberia, Cameroon and Congo-Brazzaville, are the key to making that happen. In the northern province of Sierra Leone, a 12 million tonne iron ore processing plant is being built b  at a cost of US$230 million b  at the Tonkolili iron ore mine by Leone Rock Metal Group, a subsidiary of Chinese mining and metals company China Kingho Energy Group. The mine has an estimated 13.7 billion tonnes of iron ore. Meanwhile, in neighbouring Guinea, after 27 years of false starts, Chinese investors together with British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, are on track to make their first shipment from the Simandou iron ore mine next year. Simandou is the worldb s largest-known undeveloped reserve of high-grade iron ore.

This is after Guineab s parliament, the National Transitional Council, voted to approve laws that ratified the US$20 billion deal which, as well as the iron ore extraction, will see the development of a railway and port. Chinese state-owned entities, including steelmaker Baowu Group, have also agreed to invest in the massive project, which has an annual production capacity of 120 million tonnes.

Chinese companies are also investing in the Mbalam-Nabeba project, which will develop large-scale iron ore deposits that straddle Cameroon and neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville in central-west Africa.

Lithium permit freeze limited to new projects, Argentina province says

The Argentine province of Catamarca said a court ruling to halt the awarding of lithium permits only affects new projects, leaving companies such as Arcadium Lithium Plc and Posco Holdings Inc. free to continue producing the metal and developing existing projects.

The ruling, which comes amid community concerns over miningb s impact on waterways, requires the Catamarca government to abstain from handing out new licenses as it prepares a report into the industryb s environmental impact, a provincial official said. The provinceb s first step will be to deliver to the court existing environmental reports that have already been approved.

The courtb s decision, which follows a suit filed by an Indigenous group, covers the Los Patos River-Salar del Hombre Muerto area, home to some of countryb s biggest lithium deposits. While four projects awaiting licenses will be affected by the permitting freeze, existing operations and projects already under development can continue as normal, the official said.

MinRes to develop lithium processing hub in goldfields region

Lake Johnston primary mill

Australiab s Mineral Resources on Monday said it intends to develop a lithium processing hub in Goldfields region of Western Australia via acquisition of the Lake Johnston nickel concentrator plant and tenure from Poseidon Nickel.

b The acquisition aligns with the strategy to process fines from the Companyb s Bald Hill and Mt Marion lithium operations, new discoveries made by MinRes in the region and third-party ore in exchange for project equity,b  the diversified miner said.

This comes at a time when the Australian government is considering a tax credit for companies that build processing facilities to boost the value of green energy minerals such as nickel and lithium.

MinRes will pay A$1 million ($655,900) on execution of the acquisition agreement, A$6.5 million on completion of the deal and a further A$7.5 million, a year after the completion.


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