Saturday 21st July 2018

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘cobalt’

Selected bulk sample hits 2.46% cobalt, 6,173 g/t silver for Canada Cobalt Works’ Ontario project

March 16th, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 16, 2018

High grades continue as Canada Cobalt Works TSXV:CCW conducts underground bulk sampling at the past-producing Castle mine in eastern Ontario. A pulp assay on a 35-kilogram sample released March 16 showed 2.46% cobalt, 1% nickel and 6,173 g/t or 198.5 ounces per tonne silver.

Selected bulk sample hits 2.46% cobalt, 6,173 g/t silver for Canada Cobalt Works’ Ontario project

Visible cobalt mineralization can be seen
in the former Castle mine’s first level.

A metallic screen fire assay on a 66-gram native silver sample not included in the previous assay brought “a head grade of 818,254 g/t (26,307 ounces per tonne),” Canada Cobalt stated. The samples were selective and not representative, the company emphasized.

Samples came from the historic mine’s first level, where rehab engineers have observed cobalt mineralization in the stopes, Canada Cobalt added. In operation off and on between 1917 and 1989, Castle’s underground workings extend through 11 levels totalling about 18 kilometres.

Last month the company reported two mini-bulk samples, with one assaying 2.47% cobalt, 23.4 g/t silver, 0.68% nickel and 1.83 g/t gold, and the other showing 0.91% cobalt and 460 g/t silver. That followed two mini-bulk samples of 3.124% and 1.036% cobalt released in December. The company also has assays pending from a 2,405-metre surface drill program conducted last summer.

As for the former Beaver mine in Ontario’s Cobalt camp 80 kilometres southeast of Castle, in December Canada Cobalt released three composite samples averaging 4.68% cobalt, 3.09% nickel and 46.9 g/t silver.

Canada Cobalt appointed Ron Molnar as an adviser on the company’s proprietary Re-2OX process for extracting cobalt and lithium from used Li-ion batteries. “Molnar has designed, built and operated over 60 pilot plant circuits extracting, separating and purifying a wide range of metallic elements from cobalt to rare earths,” the company stated.

Canada Cobalt also plans to build a 600-tpd gold processing facility to be financed by Granada Gold Mine TSXV:GGM, which holds a project near Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. The two companies share overlapping management and directors.

Canada Cobalt closed a private placement of $1.03 million in January.

Deep-sensing geophysics precedes Belmont Resources’ Nevada lithium drilling

March 2nd, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 2, 2018

Recently received geophysical results will help Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA select drill targets for its Kibby Basin lithium property in Nevada. Described as a “full tensor magnetotelluric technology that acquires resistivity data in the 10 kHz to 0.001 Hz frequency band,” the survey covered about 36 square kilometres to depths of three kilometres over a playa basin and some adjoining turf.

Deep-sensing geophysics precedes Belmont Resources’ Nevada lithium drilling

Located 65 kilometres from Clayton Valley, Belmont Resources’
Kibby Basin project advances towards Phase II drilling.

While a 2016 gravity survey suggested the presence of a basin about 4,000 metres deep, the new results “clearly map a more conductive zone beginning at approximately 500 metres’ depth,” Belmont stated. Targets for a 2018 drill program on the 2,760-hectare property are being considered where potential brine contacts are closest to the playa surface, the company added.

Core samples from last year’s two-hole, 624-metre campaign assayed between 70 ppm and 200 ppm Li2O, with 13 of 25 samples exceeding 100 ppm.

A November acquisition added the Mid Corner-Johnson Croft zinc-cobalt prospect in New Brunswick to Belmont’s portfolio. Belmont also holds a 50% interest in two Saskatchewan uranium properties.

This week the company offered an amended private placement of up to $100,000, following an oversubscribed financing that closed on $312,000 in December.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Belmont Resources CFO/director Gary Musil.

Caution steadies the hand for Canada’s top miners: PwC

March 1st, 2018

by Greg Klein | March 1, 2018

Last year saw “few eye-popping deals and only limited financing activity” as TSX-listed mining companies responded cautiously to improved markets, according to a new PricewaterhouseCoopers report. Like many of their peers internationally, the big board’s top 25 miners focused on “paying down debt, improving balance sheets and judiciously investing in capital projects as commodity prices largely stabilized.”

The findings come from Preparing for Growth: Capitalizing on a Period of Progress and Stability, released March 1.

Gold, the raison d’être for most of the miners, fell 3% during the year ending September 30. During that period the 225 TSX-listed miners (down from 230 the previous year) lost 4% of their aggregate value, compared with a 10% combined improvement for other sectors. Miners slipped to a 9% share of the entire TSX market, compared with 11% the previous year, holding ninth place among industries on the exchange. (Financial services came in first.)

Barrick Gold TSX:ABX, still the world’s top gold producer despite Newmont Mining’s (NYSE:NEM) challenge, held top place among TSX mining market caps as of September 30. The top stock was Kirkland Lake Gold TSX:KL, with a 175% price increase over the full year, following its billion-dollar takeout of Newmarket Gold. The acquisition represented part of a trend of “mid-market, intermediate gold companies looking to build scale and gain efficiencies through consolidation,” said John Matheson of PwC Canada.

Two since-merged companies, Potash Corp of Saskatchewan and Agrium, followed Barrick with second and third place among TSX mining valuations. Currently at about $41 billion, the potash combination Nutrien Ltd TSX:NTR has far surpassed Barrick’s $16.8-billion market cap.

Nearly half of the 225 companies had valuations of $150 million or less. But the category between $150 million and $1 billion boasted 74 companies, compared with 59 the previous year.

Nineteen of the top 25 had exposure to gold, 10 to copper, seven to zinc, six to silver and four to nickel, PwC stated. The report noted increasingly bullish sentiment for copper, zinc, cobalt and lithium. The latter mineral did especially well for five companies, with an approximately 39% total increase in valuations over nine months to September 30 for Orocobre TSX:ORL, Lithium Americas TSX:LAC, Nemaska Lithium TSX:NMX, Avalon Advanced Materials TSX:AVL and Globex Mining Enterprises TSX:GMX.

But overall, TSX miners “raised only half the equity capital in 2017 that they did the previous year. And for the second consecutive year, there were no mining initial public offerings on the TSX.”

That contrasts with a more buoyant, although still cautious mood among Venture-listed junior miners reported in November by PwC, which found a substantial increase in market caps, financings, M&A and IPOs for TSXV explorers.

Download Preparing for Growth: Capitalizing on a Period of Progress and Stability.

Underground mini-bulk sampling brings Canada Cobalt Works 2.47% cobalt in Ontario

February 27th, 2018

by Greg Klein | February 27, 2018

Eastern Ontario’s former Castle mine gave up more high-grade assays as Canada Cobalt Works TSXV:CCW takes initial permitting steps for dewatering the underground workings and building a processing facility for another project. A 13-kilogram sample showed 2.47% cobalt, 23.4 g/t silver, 0.68% nickel and 1.83 g/t gold. A 14-kilo sample brought 0.91% cobalt, 460 g/t silver and anomalous nickel and gold. The company, formerly Castle Silver Resources, warned that the samples are selective and not necessarily representative.

Underground mini-bulk sampling brings Canada Cobalt Works 2.47% cobalt in Ontario

Two mini-bulk samples released in early December graded 3.124% and 1.036% cobalt, along with silver and nickel. Assays are pending from last summer’s 2,405-metre surface drill campaign, from where a single intercept released so far graded 1.55% cobalt, along with nickel, gold and silver over 0.65 metres.

The company’s now preparing to apply for government permission to dewater levels two to 11 of the former mine, which operated intermittently between 1917 and 1989.

With plans to build a 600-tpd gravity flotation cyanidation mill, Canada Cobalt has retained an engineering firm to begin earthworks studies for permitting. The plant would be financed by Granada Gold Mine TSXV:GGM to process material from its project near Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, about 200 road kilometres away. Granada’s gold project reached pre-feasibility in 2014 and a resource update in June.

Canada Cobalt also holds the former Beaver mine in Ontario’s Cobalt camp, about 80 kilometres southeast of the flagship Castle project. In December the company released assays for three composite samples that averaged 4.68% cobalt, 3.09% nickel, 46.9 g/t silver and 0.08 g/t gold.

A private placement that closed in mid-January brought the company $1.03 million.

Deep-penetrating geophysics to probe Belmont Resources’ Nevada lithium project

January 17th, 2018

by Greg Klein | January 17, 2018

Now being mobilized, an electromagnetic survey will help target brine aquifers on Belmont Resources’ (TSXV:BEA) Kibby Basin property. The company describes Quantec Geoscience’s Spartan AMT/MT method as “a full tensor magnetotelluric technology that acquires resistivity data in the 10 kHz to 0.001 Hz frequency band. The result is a measurement that is applicable from near-surface to potential depths of three kilometres or more.” Belmont credits Quantec with over 5,000 geophysical programs in over 50 countries.

Deep-penetrating geophysics to probe Belmont Resources’ Nevada lithium project

Two holes sunk on Kibby Basin last year brought
core samples between 70 ppm and 200 ppm lithium.

The Kibby Basin survey should take nine days, with another two weeks for an initial report.

The program follows a satellite data review and two-hole 2017 drill campaign on the 2,760-hectare Nevada property 65 kilometres north of Clayton Valley. Thirteen of 25 core samples surpassed 100 ppm lithium, “indicating that the sediments could be a potential source of lithium for the underlying aquifers,” the company stated.

A gravity survey the previous year suggested the property hosts a closed basin which the company later estimated to cover four square kilometres, extending to at least 1.5 kilometres in depth.

Last week Belmont announced its lawyers would request the annulment of a decision by the International Centre For Settlement Of Investment Disputes reported in August. The tribunal stated it had no jurisdiction in a dispute involving Belmont, EuroGas Inc and the Slovak Republic regarding Rozmin SRO’s ownership of the Gemerska Poloma talc deposit. Belmont seeks to be restored as a claimant in the arbitration proceedings.

The company also holds the Mid Corner-Johnson Croft property in New Brunswick, a prospect with some historic, non-43-101 zinc-copper-cobalt sampling results that has yet to undergo modern geophysics.

In northern Saskatchewan, Belmont and International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT share a 50/50 stake in the Crackingstone and Orbit Lake uranium properties.

Belmont closed an oversubscribed private placement of $312,200 in December.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Belmont Resources CFO/director Gary Musil.

King’s Bay Resources reports initial drill results from Labrador nickel-cobalt project

January 16th, 2018

by Greg Klein | January 16, 2018

Although collared 150 metres apart, the first two holes on King’s Bay Resources’ (TSXV:KBG) Lynx Lake property both showed nickel-cobalt values above background levels over wide intervals.

King’s Bay Resources reports initial drill results from Labrador nickel-cobalt project

Lynx Lake has the Trans-Labrador Highway
bisecting the property, as well as adjacent power lines.

Hole LL-17-01 brought 0.058% nickel and 0.013% cobalt over 115.2 metres. LL-17-02 returned 0.057% nickel and 0.014% cobalt over 110.8 metres (not true widths). The thickness of the intervals and distance between the holes suggest “potential for a more localized zone of economic mineralization in the area,” the company stated. Assays for gold, platinum and palladium are expected later this month.

The initial drill campaign tested a small part of an approximately 24,200-hectare property. Under focus was the project’s West Pit, where airborne VTEM found a shallow anomaly of high resistivity measuring about 400 metres in diameter and 50 to 300 metres in depth. Historic, non-43-101 grab sample assays from the area graded up to 1.03% copper, 0.566% cobalt, 0.1% nickel, 5 g/t silver, 0.36% chromium, 0.39% molybdenum and 0.23% vanadium.

Other historic, non-43-101 grab samples from the property’s east side showed up to 1.39% copper, 0.94% cobalt, 0.21% nickel and 6.5 g/t silver.

King’s Bay now plans geostatistical and structural analysis to identify more drill targets. A field crew returns later this year.

Meanwhile a 6% copper grade highlighted last month’s results from the company’s Trump Island project in northern Newfoundland. Four of 15 outcrop samples surpassed 1% copper and also showed cobalt assays up to 0.12%.

In September King’s Bay offered a $250,000 private placement that followed financings totalling $402,000 that closed the previous month.

Kapuskasing drills near-surface Newfoundland copper in historic mining region

January 11th, 2018

by Greg Klein | January 11, 2018

The past-producing area’s first significant drill program since the 1960s supported historic reports of copper at northern Newfoundland’s Lady Pond property, Kapuskasing Gold TSXV:KAP reports. An initial eight holes totalling 780 metres focused on two parallel zones about a kilometre apart, the Twin Pond and Sterling prospects. Among the highlights were Sterling hole KSP17-03:

  • 1.54% copper over 3.56 metres, starting at 71 metres in downhole depth
  • (including 5.69% over 0.8 metres)
Kapuskasing drills near-surface Newfoundland copper in historic mining region

Also at Sterling, KSP17-04 showed:

  • 1.7% over 1.2 metres, starting at 26 metres
  • (including 12.9% over 0.13 metres)

Twin Pond’s KTP17-01 showed:

  • 0.31% over 9.04 metres, starting at 56.96 metres
  • (including 1.06% over 0.48 metres)

KTP17-02, again at Twin Pond, revealed:

  • 0.69% over 16.39 metres, starting at 35.61 metres
  • (including 1.06% over 1.33 metres)
  • (and including 0.98% over 8 metres)
  • (which included 1.48% over 3 metres)

  • 1.66% over 2 metres, starting at 63 metres
  • (including 2.28% over 1 metre)

True widths weren’t available.

The autumn campaign found significant mineralization despite inaccurate historic info. “It was not until hole KTP17-03 was collared that it became clear the historic holes were plotted approximately 50 metres away from their proper locations,” Kapuskasing noted. “Given this new information, the best grades noted historically were not duplicated during this drill program.”

Based on 1960s work, Sterling hosts an historic, non-43-101 estimate of about one million tonnes averaging 1% copper, reportedly open in all directions. Historic, non-43-101 drill results for Twin Pond have reached up to 4.2% copper over 3.35 metres, starting at 82.3 metres. Grab samples released last October graded up to 9.03% copper for Twin Pond, 7.19% copper for Sterling and 1.54% copper with cobalt and silver for the Lady Pond prospect.

Phase I left several priority targets untested on all three prospects. Now being planned is Phase II to attack the priorities and better identify the 2,450-hectare property’s high-grade zones at depth and along strike, the company added.

With logging road and ATV access, the project sits adjacent to the town of Springdale, near Newfoundland’s north coast. Rambler Mining and Metals TSXV:RAB holds a base metals mill 94 road kilometres away. Rambler also holds two historic, non-43-101 copper resources contiguously west of Lady Pond.

Two days earlier Kapuskasing announced its entry into the Gunners Cove area, where White Metal Resources TSXV:WHM and other companies are exploring a potentially unique gold-bearing geological environment. Kapuskasing’s newly staked ground lies roughly 200 kilometres southwest of the company’s Daniel’s Harbour zinc project.

In August the company closed private placements totalling $115,000, following a $201,200 placement that closed in June.

Read Isabel Belger’s interview with Kapuskasing Gold president/CEO Jon Armes.

Read Gianni Kovacevic’s comments on future copper demand.

Visual Capitalist and VRIC 2018 look at the raw materials that fuel the green revolution

January 10th, 2018

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | January 10, 2018

 

Records for renewable energy consumption were smashed around the world in 2017.

Looking at national and state grids, progress has been extremely impressive. In Costa Rica, for example, renewable energy supplied five million people with all of their electricity needs for a stretch of 300 consecutive days. Meanwhile, the UK broke 13 green energy records in 2017 alone, and California’s largest grid operator announced it got 67.2% of its energy from renewables (excluding hydro) on May 13, 2017.

The corporate front also looks promising and Google has led the way by buying 536 MW of wind power to offset 100% of the company’s electricity usage. This makes the tech giant the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy on the planet.

But while these examples are plentiful, this progress is only the tip of the iceberg—and green energy still represents a small but rapidly growing segment. For a full green shift to occur, we’ll need 10 times what we’re currently sourcing from renewables.

To do this, we will need to procure massive amounts of natural resources—they just won’t be the fossil fuels that we’re used to.

Green metals required

Today’s infographic comes from Cambridge House as a part of the lead-up to its flagship conference, the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2018.

A major theme of the conference is sustainable energy—and the math indeed makes it clear that to fully transition to a green economy, we’ll need vast amounts of metals like copper, silicon, aluminum, lithium, cobalt, rare earths and silver.

These metals and minerals are needed to generate, store and distribute green energy. Without them, the reality is that technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, lithium-ion batteries, nuclear reactors and electric vehicles are simply not possible.

First principles

How do you get a Tesla to drive over 300 miles (480 kilometres) on just one charge?

Here’s what you need: a lightweight body, a powerful electric motor, a cutting-edge battery that can store energy efficiently and a lot of engineering prowess.

Putting the engineering aside, all of these things need special metals to work. For the lightweight body, aluminum is being substituted for steel. For the electric motor, Tesla is using AC induction motors (Models S and X) that require large amounts of copper and aluminum. Meanwhile, Chevy Bolts and soon Tesla will use permanent magnet motors (in the Model 3) that use rare earths like neodymium, dysprosium and praseodymium.

The batteries, as we’ve shown in our five-part Battery Series, are a whole other supply chain challenge. The lithium-ion batteries used in EVs need lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and many other metals or minerals to function. Each Tesla battery, by the way, weighs about 1,200 pounds (540 kilograms) and makes up 25% of the total mass of the car.

While EVs are a topic we’ve studied in depth, the same principles apply for solar panels, wind turbines, nuclear reactors, grid-scale energy storage solutions or anything else we need to secure a sustainable future. Solar panels need silicon and silver, while wind turbines need rare earths, steel and aluminum.

Even nuclear, which is the safest energy type by deaths per TWh and generates barely any emissions, needs uranium in order to generate power.

The pace of progress

The green revolution is happening at breakneck speed—and new records will continue to be set each year.

Over $200 billion was invested into renewables in 2016 and more net renewable capacity was added than coal and gas put together:

Power Type Net Global Capacity Added (2016)
Renewable (excl. large hydro) 138 GW
Coal 54 GW
Gas 37 GW
Large hydro 15 GW
Nuclear 10 GW
Other flexible capacity 5 GW

The numbers suggest that this is only the start of the green revolution.

However, to fully work our way off of fossil fuels, we will need to procure large amounts of the metals that make sustainable energy possible.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2018 takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre West from January 21 to 22. Click here for more details and free registration.

Copper crusader

December 29th, 2017

Gianni Kovacevic sees even greater price potential for the conductive commodity

by Greg Klein

Evangelist he may be, but Gianni Kovacevic’s hardly a voice crying in the wilderness. His favourite metal displayed stellar performance last year, reaching more peaks than valleys as it climbed from about $2.50 to nearly $3.30 a pound. But Kovacevic believes copper has a long way to go yet. That will be a function of necessity as the metal shows “the strongest demand growth of any of the major commodities.” Especially persuasive in his optimism, Kovacevic brings his message to the 2018 Vancouver Resource Investment Conference on January 21 and 22.

Gianni Kovacevic sees even greater price potential for the conductive commodity

Increasing copper demand will unlock
lower-grade resources, says Kovacevic.

As a researcher, commentator and investor who’s also the CEO/chairperson of CopperBank Resources CSE:CBK, co-founder of CO2 Master Solutions Partnership and author of My Electrician Drives a Porsche, he brings new approaches that link topics of energy demand, commodity supply and environmental stewardship.

Kovacevic sees a new paradigm driving copper’s future. “The invisible hand in commodities during the last cycle was China,” he says. “Its economic growth just came out of nowhere. This time the invisible hand is this pervasive use of copper in everything that’s electrified. That means even the smallest village in Africa, which per capita has negligible copper consumption, is becoming a line item. When you create, transfer and utilize greener and cleaner energy, it takes more copper by a power of magnitude. For example to establish a megawatt of windpower it takes five times more copper than it does a megawatt of conventional thermal-generated energy.”

Then there’s the battery-powered revolution and the attention it’s brought to lithium, cobalt and graphite. Saying “I like anything in electric metals,” Kovacevic stresses the importance of nickel as well. Still, “copper wins because the interconnectivity will always be copper and copper plays a role in each battery as well.”

That leads to a supply problem that can have only one solution. “I believe we’re going to have to make uneconomic deposits economic. And there’s only one way to do that—with a higher copper price.”

With no foreseeable hope of a copper mining “renaissance” comparable to the effect that fracking brought to oil and gas, the metal will simply require more money. “We’ve got the old legacy mines,” Kovacevic points out. “We’ve spent a lot of money on exploration in the last cycle and didn’t find a lot. What we do have is lower-grade resources. They are simply not economic at a low copper price.”

Gianni Kovacevic sees even greater price potential for the conductive commodity

Kovacevic: Electrical generation, storage and
connectivity put copper at the top of energy metals.

Apart from diminishing grades, the business of putting new mines into operation is “taking longer with water, electricity and permitting issues, and it’s getting into funkier places,” he continues. “The Elliott Wave [technical/fundamental analysis] on copper is $7.50 a pound. I find that very interesting. All the buy-out action in the copper space happened for the most part between 2006 and 2012. The mean price for copper during that time was about $3.50 a pound. The all-time high was about $4.50 for a short while, but the mean was $3.50.”

Copper’s 2017 performance makes that figure look viable again. Kovacevic, however, cites analysis from BHP Billiton NYSE:BHP stating that 75% of future projects will require more than $3.50. “Could we see a scenario in which the copper price goes past the old all-time high and stays there for a while? And will the buy-outs in the next wave, if they occur, be higher on average than those in the previous 2006-to-2012 cycle? I believe the answer will be yes. But if you look at the average grade that went through the top 15 copper producers’ mills in 2010, it was 1.2% copper. In 2016 it was 0.72% copper. So if you were mining 30 million tonnes a year, now you have to mine 40 or 45 million tonnes for the same metal yield. And without higher copper prices, that doesn’t make much of a business case.

“So the first question is, are we going to need more copper in the next five, 10, 15 years? The answer in my opinion is yes. In fact it has the strongest demand growth of any of the major commodities. And where will that copper come from? Well, it’s going to come from a mix of places but we’ll have to make these projects economic. That should bode well for people who have invested in the copper junior space.”

Addressing the topic of how investors might look at the energy revolution in 2018 and beyond, Kovacevic speaks at the 2018 Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, to be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre West from January 21 to 22. Click here for more details and free registration.

Critical attention

December 21st, 2017

The U.S. embarks on a national strategy of greater self-reliance for critical minerals

by Greg Klein

A geopolitical absurdity on par with some aspects of Dr. Strangelove and Catch 22 can’t be reduced simply through an executive order from the U.S. president. But an executive order from the U.S. president doesn’t hurt. On December 20 Donald Trump called for a “federal strategy to ensure secure and reliable supplies of critical minerals.” The move came one day after the U.S. Geological Survey released the first comprehensive update on the subject since 1973, taking a thorough look—nearly 900-pages thorough—at commodities vital to our neighbour’s, and ultimately the West’s, well-being.

U.S. president Trump calls for a national strategy to reduce foreign dependence on critical minerals

The U.S. 5th Security Forces Squadron takes part in a
September exercise at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota.
(Photo: Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong/U.S. Air Force)

The study, Critical Mineral Resources of the United States, details 23 commodities deemed crucial due to their possibility of supply disruption with serious consequences. Many of them come primarily from China. Others originate in unstable countries or countries with a dangerous near-monopoly. For several minerals, the U.S. imports its entire supply.

They’re necessary for medicine, clean energy, transportation and electronics but maybe most worrisome, for national security. That last point prompted comments from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, whose jurisdiction includes the USGS. He formerly spent 23 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer.

“I commend the team of scientists at USGS for the extensive work put into the report, but the findings are shocking,” he stated. “The fact that previous administrations allowed the United States to become reliant on foreign nations, including our competitors and adversaries, for minerals that are so strategically important to our security and economy is deeply troubling. As both a former military commander and geologist, I know the very real national security risk of relying on foreign nations for what the military needs to keep our soldiers and our homeland safe.”

Trump acknowledged a number of domestic roadblocks to production “despite the presence of significant deposits of some of these minerals across the United States.” Among the challenges, he lists “a lack of comprehensive, machine-readable data concerning topographical, geological and geophysical surveys; permitting delays; and the potential for protracted litigation regarding permits that are issued.”

[Trump’s order also calls for] options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with our allies and partners.

Trump ordered a national strategy to be outlined within six months. Topics will include recycling and reprocessing critical minerals, finding alternatives, making improved geoscientific data available to the private sector, providing greater land access to potential resources, streamlining reviews and, not to leave out America’s friends, “options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with our allies and partners.”

Apart from economic benefits, such measures would “enhance the technological superiority and readiness of our armed forces, which are among the nation’s most significant consumers of critical minerals.”

In fact the USGS report finds several significant uses for most of the periodic table’s 92 naturally occurring elements. A single computer chip requires well over half of the table. Industrialization, technological progress and rising standards of living have helped bring about an all-time high in minerals demand that’s expected to keep increasing, according to the study.

“For instance, in the 1970s rare earth elements had few uses outside of some specialty fields, and were produced mostly in the United States. Today, rare earth elements are integral to nearly all high-end electronics and are produced almost entirely in China.”

The USGS tracks 88 minerals regularly but also works with the country’s Defense Logistics Agency on a watch list of about 160 minerals crucial to national security. This week’s USGS study deems the critical 23 as follows:

  • antimony
  • barite
  • beryllium
  • cobalt
  • fluorite or fluorspar
  • gallium
  • germanium
  • graphite
  • hafnium
  • indium
  • lithium
  • manganese
  • niobium
  • platinum group elements
  • rare earth elements
  • rhenium
  • selenium
  • tantalum
  • tellurium
  • tin
  • titanium
  • vanadium
  • zirconium

A January 2017 USGS report listed 20 minerals for which the U.S. imports 100% of its supply. Several of the above critical minerals were included: fluorspar, gallium, graphite, indium, manganese, niobium, rare earths, tantalum and vanadium.

This comprehensive work follows related USGS reports released in April, including a breakdown of smartphone ingredients to illustrate the range of countries and often precarious supply chains that supply those materials. That report quoted Larry Meinert of the USGS saying, “With minerals being sourced from all over the world, the possibility of supply disruption is more critical than ever.”

As both a former military commander and geologist, I know the very real national security risk of relying on foreign nations for what the military needs to keep our soldiers and our homeland safe.—Ryan Zinke,
U.S. Secretary of the Interior

David S. Abraham has been a prominent advocate of a rare minerals strategy for Western countries. But in an e-mail to the Washington Post, the author of The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age warned that Trump’s action could trigger a partisan battle. He told the Post that Republicans tend to use the issue to loosen mining restrictions while Democrats focus on “building up human capacity to develop supply chains rather than the resources themselves.”

Excessive and redundant permitting procedures came under criticism in a Hill op-ed published a few days earlier. Jeff Green, a Washington D.C.-based defence lobbyist and advocate of increased American self-reliance for critical commodities, argued that streamlining would comprise “a positive first step toward strengthening our economy and our military for years to come.”

In a bill presented to U.S. Congress last March, Rep. Duncan Hunter proposed incentives for developing domestic resources and supply chains for critical minerals. His METALS Act (Materials Essential to American Leadership and Security) has been in committee since.

Speaking to ResourceClips.com at the time, Abraham doubted the success of Hunter’s bill, while Green spoke of “a totally different dynamic” in the current administration, showing willingness to “invest in America to protect our national security and grow our manufacturing base.”

Update: Read about Jeff Green’s response to the U.S. national strategy.