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Excerpt from June 28, 2021 BMO Metals Brief:

South Africa has moved to a level 4 lockdown today for a two-week duration, owing to increasing infections in the country. While this has no direct restriction on mining operations and logistics, given the likelihood of more worker absence and a reluctance of truck drivers to travel too far from home, there is potential for short-term disruption to supply of chrome, manganese and PGMs, plus copper-cobalt concentrates from the DRC which are exported through South African ports.
Metal Bulletin - June 25, 2021
The standard grade cobalt metal price rally continued through to the final assessment of the week on Friday June 25, pushed higher by a mix ...
to pick up units – helping the price move higher. Fastmarkets assessed the price for cobalt standard grade, in-whs Rotterdam at $21.60-22

The standard grade cobalt metal price rally continued through to the final assessment of the week on Friday June 25, pushed higher by a mix of consumer and trader buying…Fastmarkets assessed the price for cobalt standard grade, in-whs Rotterdam at $21.60-22.65 per lb on Friday, up from $21.20-22.25 per lb a day earlier and compared with $20.70-21.10 per lb at the start of the week…The price has risen for eight consecutive days - the first time this has happened since late February through to March 1. The price has risen 8.48% since June 16…Consumers that are price sensitive have seen the price increases and are returning to the market, sources said. Meanwhile, the majority of producers are either sold out or wish to sell material on a contract basis, sources told Fastmarkets.

Metal Bulletin - June 28, 2021
Key data from the Friday June 25 pricing session in China. Key drivers China’s cobalt metal market rose further due to strengthening ...
Key data from the Friday June 25 pricing session in China. Key drivers China’s cobalt metal market rose further due to strengthening

China's cobalt metal market rose further due to strengthening Chinese futures amid bullish sentiment following continuous increases experienced by global benchmark metal prices. Most sellers held back from selling in anticipation of higher prices in July…"The strength in China's cobalt metal prices is driven by the recent momentum for international benchmark cobalt metal prices amid renewed buying in the European market. 

Reuters - June 25, 2021
(Reuters) - Nanjing Hanrui Cobalt Co, one of China’s biggest producers of the metal used in EVs, has applied to list shares in Hong Kong as ...
per year of cobalt chemicals, such as cobalt sulphate, and 26,000 tonnes per year of battery precursor materials. “Completion of these

Nanjing Hanrui Cobalt Co, one of China’s biggest producers of the metal used in EVs, has applied to list shares in Hong Kong as it seeks funds to expand production and diversify into other battery metals such as lithium and nickel…The company, which is already listed in Shenzhen and has market capitalisation of 24.1 billion yuan ($3.7 billion), said on Friday it had filed an application to list H-shares on the main board of the Hong Kong stock exchange after receiving approval from China’s securities regulator on June 9…Its application comes as prices for cobalt have risen by more than 40% this year amid resurgent demand from the electric vehicle (EV) sector…Hanrui can currently produce 10,500 tonnes of cobalt products and 35,000 tonnes of copper annually through its operations in China and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s main source of cobalt…Funds from the Hong Kong share offering will be used for “overseas investment, acquisition and exploration of upstream mineral resources related to (EVs) such as cobalt, nickel and lithium,” Hanrui said in an application to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd…Hanrui said it is new building facilities in the southern Chinese city of Ganzhou to produce 10,000 tonnes per year of cobalt chemicals, such as cobalt sulphate, and 26,000 tonnes per year of battery precursor materials.

Rome News-Tribune - June 25, 2021
WASHINGTON — U.S. policymakers hoping to power an electric vehicle boom acknowledge the country lacks a robust and reliable supply chain ...
US looks to Canada for critical minerals to support EV battery plans

U.S. policymakers hoping to power an electric vehicle boom acknowledge the country lacks a robust and reliable supply chain for the minerals needed to power next-generation cars…That reality — exposed by the economic aftershocks delivered by the COVID-19 pandemic — looms as a national security risk the administration plans to remedy, in part, by working with like-minded nations. Increasingly, Canada appears to be among the first in line…The White House is signaling plans to increase collaboration between the U.S. and Canada on critical minerals, according to a recent supply chain review that highlighted the country’s mineral assets. It’s one of several indications the administration sees Canada as a crucial ally to realize its EV goals, including a joint announcement Thursday to collaborate on reducing emissions through clean energy, mineral sourcing and accelerating EV adoption…“No two countries in the world have their energy sectors as closely linked as Canada and the United States do,” Canadian Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said in a statement. “It’s a relationship that supports thousands of jobs and drives economic activity on both sides of the border. We’re strengthening our bilateral energy relationship to build a clean energy future.”..In the long term, President Joe Biden and his administration hope the U.S. can build up domestic mining operations to provide reliable mineral sources such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite at home. But in the short term, they’re looking to allied countries like Canada with robust mining operations and compatible environmental standards to help out…It’s part of a larger strategy in which Canada is positioning itself to be a “premium” supplier of battery minerals to the U.S. and other countries looking for transparent supply chains with requirements for environmental and labor safety, analysts say. And compared to other allies like Australia and Japan, Canada enjoys an advantaged tax status and proximity to auto manufacturing centers in Michigan and Ohio…In particular, the latter possibility is sending chills up lawmakers’ spines. The leading economic and political rival to the United States on the world stage, China, is home to more than 75% of all battery production capacity and around 80% of global refining capacity for EV minerals, giving it immense influence over the battery supply chain…“It is reasonable to expect that China could restrict exports of any or all of the battery supply chain materials it produces” due to trade tensions or interest in giving priority to Chinese customers, Department of Energy researchers wrote in a recent supply chain review for electric vehicle batteries and critical minerals. “Alternatively, China could dump processed materials or finished anode and cathode materials on global markets to reduce competition.”…Biden has pledged to make the U.S. a leader in battery manufacturing and to ensure new jobs supported by the growth of electric vehicles will be kept in the U.S… “A lot of these EV raw materials aren’t necessarily scarce around the world,” said Miller of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. “But attracting the financing and having the technical capabilities to turn that into something that the battery industry can use — that’s where the gap is.”…While Canada has an established mining industry, it’s not yet producing electric vehicle battery minerals at scale, he said. However, U.S.-Canada trade in critical minerals already exceeds $76 billion, according to the Department of Defense, and Canada also has some unique advantages as a frequent trade partner and geographic neighbor…Being close to auto manufacturing centers in Michigan and Ohio makes Canada a natural supplier choice, as the cost of shipping goes up the further away resources are coming from. Canada also plans to become a center for battery recycling for this reason, Sands said, as lithium-ion batteries are heavy and shipping them from Detroit to Quebec is cheaper than other far-flung areas…Plus, Canada is the only country that can be considered a “domestic source” under the Defense Production Act, making Canadian companies eligible for some U.S. government funding…This is not the first time Canada and the U.S. have indicated they’re planning to collaborate on critical minerals. Former President Donald Trump’s administration agreed upon an action plan to secure critical minerals supply chains early last year. The Biden administration doubled down on that commitment in February.

The Guardian - June 27, 2021
Renewable energy will rely heavily on an industry already berated for human rights violations
production in Indonesia and Australia is at the heart of battles over water pollution. Cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (

Expanding renewable energy is a mineral intensive enterprise. Nature might provide the solar radiation and wind providing renewable energy, but the arteries through which the electricity flows are made of copper – and lots of it. Wind turbine gearboxes need manganese, platinum and rare earth magnets. EV batteries are made with lithium, cobalt and nickel. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), a mid-century zero-carbon world will take a sixfold increase in the production of these and other transition minerals by 2030. Prices are already surging…The supply chains through which transition minerals flow are highly concentrated. Small groups of countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo (cobalt), Indonesia and the Philippines (nickel), Australia and Chile (lithium) – dominate production. But Chinese mining companies are rapidly increasing investments…In processing, China is the main game in town. Its refining companies account for more than half of the world’s cobalt and lithium production. Global value chains for EV batteries are dominated from top to bottom by Chinese suppliers. They account for more than 80% of the raw materials for advanced battery materials…That market structure explains why the prospect of a global mining boom is causing concern among human rights activists. “Make a list of the companies and countries producing transition minerals,” says Phil Bloomer, the director of the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), “and you have a window on egregious and systematic violations of human rights”…Current approaches to resource governance have followed a familiar pattern. Listed western mining companies and users of transition minerals report to shareholders through a bewildering array of voluntary arrangements and corporate social responsibility initiatives covering specific metals, countries, and financial transparency. Environmental, social and corporate governance investors have focused overwhelmingly on the environment and carbon footprint of mining, in effect downplaying human rights…None of which appears remotely fit for the purpose. The absence of Chinese companies leaves much of the supply chain hidden from view. Financial disclosure on links to offshore-listed companies is often limited. Meanwhile, human rights reporting standards are uneven, inconsistent and sometimes derisory. Constructive engagement with China is critical to transition mineral governance…But mandatory human rights reporting, allied to strengthened disclosure on shell companies and ownership of offshore enterprises, would help raise reporting standards and strengthen the hands of local communities and others defending human rights. The alternative is a wave of activist protest, legal challenge and investor hesitancy that will slow the development of the mineral resources needed to secure our climate future.

EVs & Energy Storage
South China Morning Post - June 27, 2021
French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to unveil the agreements on Monday at Renault’s assembly plant in Douai Envision’s plans for ...

China’s Envision Group plans to spend as much as €2 billion (US$2.4 billion) on a battery plant in northern France to power an affordable range of Renault SA electric vehicles…The deal is part of the European carmaker’s EV strategy that will also see it acquire a stake of slightly more than 20 per cent in a year-old French start-up called Verkor for higher-performance power packs destined for larger and premium models, according to a Renault statement…French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to unveil the agreements on Monday at Renault’s assembly plant in Douai, where the Envision battery plant – the first in Europe for the company that also makes wind turbines – will be located…Renault is the latest among European carmakers to map out a battery plan in recent months, a sign that competition to ensure adequate supply for their electric cars is heating up. Porsche and Volvo Car Group last week announced plans to produce power packs, while Peugeot maker Stellantis NV will update investors on its EV strategy July 8. Volkswagen AG in March unveiled a multibillion-euro plan for six European battery factories…Renault’s plans will “greatly bolster our position as we ensure the Europe-based production of 1 million electric vehicles by 2030,” CEO Officer Luca de Meo said in the statement…Envision AESC, the battery unit of the Shanghai-based parent, is planning for production of 9 gigawatt-hours of batteries in 2024 and 24 gigawatt-hours by 2030 to outfit the future Renault 5 model…Envision’s plans for the Douai site could also go beyond Renault. Its building permit application is for capacity of 43 gigawatt-hours by the end of the decade, a goal that CEO Lei Zhang said could be achieved if deals are reached with other carmakers…Renault’s decision to buy batteries from the Envision AESC division can be traced to its alliance with Japanese carmaker Nissan Motor Co, which sold a controlling stake in its AESC battery operations to Envision in 2018 but retained a 20 per cent holding…Renault’s deal with Grenoble-based Verkor could see the carmaker phasing out its current battery supply agreement with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution around mid-decade. No financial terms were given for Renault’s stake in the start-up…Verkor is planning to start work on a battery factory in France in 2023 for 16 gigawatt-hours, with 10 gigawatt-hours going to Renault, it said in a separate statement. Production could reach 50 gigawatt-hours in 2030 with 20 gigawatt-hours going to the carmaker. Renault said the power packs would be destined for larger and pricier models in its range, including the Alpine brand…In taking a stake in Verkor, Renault will join shareholders EIT InnoEnergy, Groupe IDEC, Schneider Electric and Capgemini. Verkor and Renault declined to provide details on funding for the French battery plant.

Reuters - June 28, 2021
FILE PHOTO: Xia Yiping, chief executive officer of Jidu Auto, an electric vehicle (EV) joint venture by Baidu and Geely, attends an ...
/File Photo BEIJING (Reuters) -Jidu Auto, a smart electric vehicle venture between China’s tech giant Baidu Inc and Chinese automaker Geely,

Jidu Auto, a smart electric vehicle venture between China’s tech giant Baidu Inc and Chinese automaker Geely, said it has hired Frank Wu, formerly at Cadillac, to lead its design studio…Jidu’s chief executive Xia Yiping told Reuters in April that the new company, founded in January, aims to invest 50 billion yuan ($7.7 billion) into producing smart cars over the next five years…Wu previously worked for General Motors Co’s premium Cadillac brand in Warren, Michigan, and led design studio of Beijing brand of Chinese state-owned automaker BAIC in Beijing…Baidu’s EV making plan comes as tech companies around the world are racing to develop smart cars after Tesla’s success in commercializing EVs. The collaboration is based on Geely’s EV-focused platform, Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA). Baidu currently owns 55% of Jidu and Geely has a 45% stake.

For further information about the NICO Project and its Mineral Reserves, please refer to the Technical Report on the Feasibility Study for NICO, entitled "Technical Report on the Feasibility Study for the NICO-Gold-Cobalt-Bismuth-Copper Project, Northwest Territories, Canada", dated April 2, 2014 and prepared by Micon, which has been filed on SEDAR and is available under the Company's profile at


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