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Unknown - November 21, 2021
Americans failed to safeguard decades of diplomatic and financial investments in Congo, where the world’s largest supply of cobalt is controlled by Chinese companies backed by Beijing

Tom Perriello saw it coming but could do nothing to stop it. André Kapanga too. Despite urgent emails, phone calls and personal pleas, they watched helplessly as a company backed by the Chinese government took ownership from the Americans of one of the world’s largest cobalt mines…It was 2016, and a deal had been struck by the Arizona-based mining giant Freeport-McMoRan to sell the site, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which now figures prominently in China’s grip on the global cobalt supply. The metal has been among several essential raw materials needed for the production of electric car batteries — and is now critical to retiring the combustion engine and weaning the world off climate-changing fossil fuels…Presidents starting with Dwight D. Eisenhower had sent hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, including transport planes and other military equipment, to the mineral-rich nation. Richard Nixon intervened, as did the State Department under Hillary Clinton, to sustain the relationship. And Freeport-McMoRan had invested billions of its own — before it sold the mine to a Chinese company…Not only did the Chinese purchase of the mine, known as Tenke Fungurume, go through uninterrupted during the final months of the Obama administration, but four years later, during the twilight of the Trump presidency, so did the purchase of an even more impressive cobalt reserve that Freeport-McMoRan put on the market. The buyer was the same company, China Molybdenum…China’s pursuit of Congo’s cobalt wealth is part of a disciplined playbook that has given it an enormous head start over the United States in the race to dominate the electrification of the auto industry, long a key driver of the global economy…But an investigation by The New York Times revealed a hidden history of the cobalt acquisitions in which the United States essentially surrendered the resources to China, failing to safeguard decades of diplomatic and financial investments in Congo. The sale of the two mines, also flush with copper, highlights the shifting geography and politics of the clean energy revolution, with countries rich in cobalt, lithium and other raw materials needed for batteries suddenly playing the role of oil giants…Freeport-McMoRan had been determined to sell. The company, one of the world’s largest copper-mining outfits, had made a catastrophically bad bet on the oil and gas industry just before oil prices tanked and the world began to shift to renewable energy. With debt piling up, the company saw no option but to unload its Congo operations…The American response, in essence, was nothing because it was a straight financial transaction. Though the country, through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, reviews overseas investments in American companies for national security risks, it has no oversight of transactions by American companies abroad…Over the past year, as the clean energy transition has accelerated, the U.S. government and the private sector have moved more rapidly to recover from past mistakes, scouring the world for new cobalt supplies and deploying cobalt-free batteries in some shorter-range electric cars…But all of that falls far short of Chinese efforts to take over resources critical to a green future, including cobalt, lithium and others…The lack of a formal industrial policy for minerals and metals has come at a cost to the United States, diplomats from the last two administrations said…The fallout is now complicating Mr. Biden’s push to make electric vehicles a central pillar of his climate change agenda. At a General Motors factory in Detroit last week, Mr. Biden acknowledged that “something went wrong along the way,” adding, “You know, up until now, China has been leading in this race, but that’s about to change.”..The Tenke Fungurume mine, now controlled by a Chinese company, produces twice as much cobalt as any other country in the world…Freeport-McMoRan made a monumental blunder. Instead of doubling down on mining, it ventured into fossil fuels, spending $20 billion in 2012 to buy two oil and gas companies…When oil prices plummeted, Freeport-McMoRan found itself mired in debt. The company shut down offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and laid off hundreds of workers. It fired the president and other top executives at its money-losing oil and gas division and searched in vain for a buyer… “It breaks my heart to do it,” Mr. Adkerson told Wall Street analysts in May 2016 when he announced the company would sell Tenke Fungurume…The only bidders that wanted all of the company’s stake were from China. Backed by billions of dollars in government loans, Chinese mining companies had been waiting for just this kind of opportunity…The top bidder was China Molybdenum, which offered $2.65 billion. The company had the money available, and it “allowed them to move very quickly,” Mr. Adkerson said.

Unknown - November 20, 2021
The quest for Congo’s cobalt, which is vital for electric vehicles and the worldwide push against climate change, is caught in an international cycle of exploitation, greed and gamesmanship

This wooded stretch of southeast Democratic Republic of Congo, called Kisanfu, holds one of the largest and purest untapped reserves of cobalt in the world…The gray metal, typically extracted from copper deposits, has historically been of secondary interest to miners. But demand is set to explode worldwide because it is used in electric-car batteries, helping them run longer without a charge…Now, with more than two-thirds of the world’s cobalt production coming from Congo, the country is once again taking center stage as major automakers commit to battling climate change by transitioning from gasoline-burning vehicles to battery-powered ones. The new automobiles rely on a host of minerals and metals often not abundant in the United States or the oil-rich Middle East, which sustained the last energy era…But the quest for Congo’s cobalt has demonstrated how the clean energy revolution, meant to save the planet from perilously warming temperatures in an age of enlightened self-interest, is caught in a familiar cycle of exploitation, greed and gamesmanship that often puts narrow national aspirations above all else, an investigation by The New York Times found…More than 100 interviews and thousands of pages of documents show that the race for cobalt has set off a power struggle in Congo, a storehouse of these increasingly prized resources, and lured foreigners intent on dominating the next epoch in global energy…In particular, a rivalry between China and the United States could have far-reaching implications for the shared goal of safeguarding the earth. At least here in Congo, China is so far winning that contest, with both the Obama and Trump administrations having stood idly by as a company backed by the Chinese government bought two of the country’s largest cobalt deposits over the past five years…China Molybdenum, the new owner of the Kisanfu site since late last year, bought it from Freeport-McMoRan, an American mining giant with a checkered history that five years ago was one of the largest producers of cobalt in Congo — and now has left the country entirely…In June, just six months after the sale, the Biden administration warned that China might use its growing dominance of cobalt to disrupt the American push toward electric vehicles by squeezing out U.S. manufacturers. In response, the United States is pressing for access to cobalt supplies from allies, including Australia and Canada, according to a national security official with knowledge of the matter…American automakers like Ford, General Motors and Tesla buy cobalt battery components from suppliers that depend in part on Chinese-owned mines in Congo. A Tesla longer-range vehicle requires about 10 pounds of cobalt, more than 400 times the amount in a cellphone…Increased mining and refining of cobalt by Chinese companies has helped meet the growing demand and advanced the fight against climate change. But as more electric vehicles are produced by more automakers worldwide, the International Energy Agency expects a cobalt shortage by 2030, based on an analysis of existing mines and those under construction. Other forecasters say a shortage could hit as soon as 2025…A review by The Times of documents filed with regulatory authorities in China shows the acquisitions in Congo have followed a disciplined playbook, announced with great fanfare by Beijing in 2015, to dominate the world’s emerging clean energy economy…As of last year, 15 of the 19 cobalt-producing mines in Congo were owned or financed by Chinese companies, according to a data analysis by The Times and Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. The biggest alternative to Chinese operators is Glencore, a Switzerland-based company that runs two of the largest cobalt mines there…China’s goal is to control the global supply chain from the metals in the ground to the batteries themselves, no matter where the vehicles are made. The approach, in part, echoes Henry Ford’s investments in Amazonian rubber plantations as the auto industry turned to mass production in the early 20th century…The frenzy for Congo’s cobalt has attracted an international cast of opportunists, luminaries and shadowy characters eager to benefit. At one point, it also drew in a Chinese-based private equity firm that Hunter Biden helped found and that was later scrutinized in the 2020 presidential campaign…Congolese officials are carrying out a broad review of past mining contracts, work they are doing with financial help from the American government as part of its broader anti-corruption effort…And then in August, China Molybdenum announced plans to spend $2.5 billion at Tenke Fungurume to double production over the next two years. When the expansion is complete, the mine will produce nearly 40,000 tons a year. Last year, the United States produced just 600 tons.

Argus - November 19, 2021
Chinese power battery material manufacturer Ningbo Ronbay New Energy Technology has signed a strategic co-operation agreement with the country's major cobalt refiner and lithium nickel-cobalt-manganese oxide (NCM) precursor producer Huayou Cobalt for battery ternary precursor supplies.

Huayou will supply a minimum 180,000t of precursors to Ronbay in 2022-25. Purchase volumes are expected to be up to 415,000t through to the end of 2030, on condition that Huayou provides Ronbay with a competitive pricing mechanism for metal feedstock purchases and processing fees for precursors…The firms will jointly develop upstream nickel and cobalt resources and production technology for precursors…Huayou is the world's largest cobalt refinery with a design capacity of 39,000 t/yr of metal equivalent for refined cobalt products, including cobalt salts, cobalt tetroxide, NCM ternary precursors and cobalt metal, followed by China's GEM with a planned capacity of 35,000 t/yr for 2021…Ronbay is China's largest NCM ternary material manufacturer, with 8-1-1 grade NCM its core product. Its NCM sales rose by 15.5pc from a year earlier to 26,000t in 2020, accounting for about 13pc of China's NCM market. 

Mining Weekly - November 21, 2021
Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has demanded a ban on issuing and trading mining permits until the country's ...
-billion "infrastructure-for-minerals" deal with Chinese investors. Congo is the world's top producer of cobalt and Africa's biggest copper

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi has demanded a ban on issuing and trading mining permits until the country's mining registry has been audited, a measure aimed at combating fraud within the sector…Tshisekedi told ministers he wanted to end the squandering of mining assets by unnamed political actors and officials involved in the administration of the mining register, which records mining concessions, according to minutes of the meeting seen by Reuters…The move is an escalation of Tshisekedi's ongoing review of deals struck by his predecessor Joseph Kabila, which includes a $6-billion "infrastructure-for-minerals" deal with Chinese investors…Congo is the world's top producer of cobalt and Africa's biggest copper producer, but more than 70% of its roughly 100-million people live on less than $1.90 per day, according to the World Bank.

Reuters - November 21, 2021
BUKAVU, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Gunmen killed a policeman and kidnapped five Chinese nationals near a mine in ...
world's largest producer of cobalt and Africa's leading miner of copper. Even without disputes over contracts, restive eastern Congo is a

Gunmen killed a policeman and kidnapped five Chinese nationals near a mine in southeast Democratic Republic of Congo overnight, a local official and an army spokesman said on Sunday…It was not clear who carried out the attack near the village of Mukera in South Kivu province. Relations are already strained between Chinese mining companies and local authorities, who say some firms are operating illegally without licenses…Even without disputes over contracts, restive eastern Congo is a difficult place to operate. Various militias fight to control land and natural resources. In recent weeks, the army has clashed with the M23 rebel group a few hundred miles north of this weekend's attack, near the border with Uganda, forcing thousands to flee. 

Fortune In The Media
North of 60 Mining News - November 22, 2021
A Canadian vertically integrated critical minerals project to enable the transition to new technologies

As the clean energy transition accelerates, the world’s major economic and industrial powerhouses are becoming increasingly concerned about their supply chain vulnerabilities with the critical minerals needed to pursue new technologies. Foremost in this evolution is the transformation of the automotive industry to electric vehicles (EVs) and the demand for battery metals in response to unprecedented investment in the energy systems required to power them… The mining industry will be challenged to keep up with the advancement of new technologies and increasing demand for metals. New discoveries are increasingly scarce and it typically takes more than a decade to advance a new mine to commercial production after the higher risk exploration stage has successfully identified a deposit. Higher metal prices are needed to incentivize exploration and build the mines needed to balance the markets for these commodities. Governments will also need to assist developers to build the raw material supply chains required to keep our factories operating. Fortune Minerals is well positioned for this transition to new technologies with its NICO Cobalt-Gold-Bismuth-Copper vertically integrated development project. It will consist of a mine and concentrator in the Northwest Territories and a related hydrometallurgical refinery in southern Canada where it will process concentrates from the mine to higher value metals and chemicals.

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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