Sunday 21st April 2019

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Posts tagged ‘rare earths’

‘The Asian century’

April 4th, 2019

East has surpassed West, whether the West knows it or not, says Peter Frankopan

by Greg Klein

East has surpassed West, whether we know it or not, says Peter Frankopan

“Silk roads” can refer to the process of connecting people and cultures
through trade, according to Peter Frankopan’s recently published book.

 

Less than two years ago tensions along an especially sensitive border area sparked fighting between Chinese and Indian troops. Outside Asia, who knew? “As most of the world focused on the Twitter account of the US president and the circus surrounding Brexit, the threat of the two most populous countries on earth going to war was not just a possibility, it looked like becoming a fact,” writes Peter Frankopan. An uneasy truce eventually stalled hostilities but the West’s ignorance of the wider world remains. That’s both symptom and cause of the West’s decline, the author says.

The decisions being made in today’s world that really matter are not being made in Paris, London, Berlin or Rome—as they were a hundred years ago—but in Beijing and Moscow, in Tehran and Riyadh, in Delhi and Islamabad, in Kabul and in Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan, in Ankara, Damascus and Jerusalem. The world’s past has been shaped by what happens along the Silk Roads; so too will its future.—Peter Frankopan

Relatively few Westerners realize the extent of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Actually a complex suite of alliances concerning resources, infrastructure, trade, security and even culture, the BRI forms just part of an Asian awakening that’s shifting the planet’s centre of importance while strengthening Eastern influence beyond Asia and Africa to make inroads into Europe, the Americas, the Arctic, cyberspace and outer space.

That’s the message of historian Frankopan’s latest book, The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World. While present and future aren’t normally the precinct of historians, it was historical perspective that brought Frankopan to the topic. In context, Western global supremacy has been a recent, short-lived development.

Since announcing the BRI in 2013, China has promised nearly $1 trillion, mostly in loans, for about 1,000 projects, Frankopan reports. That money could “multiply several times over, to create an interlinked world of train lines, highways, deep-water ports and airports that will enable trade links to grow ever stronger and faster.”

That would enhance China’s access to, and control over, resources ranging from oil and gas to mines and farmland; provide markets for Chinese exports including surplus steel, cement and metals, as well as manufactured goods; create projects for Chinese contractors; secure foreign ports and other strategic commercial and military locations; and build closer foreign alliances for geopolitical as well as economic benefits.

Backed by Chinese money and local sovereign debt, Chinese companies have pushed roads, railways, power plants, grids and pipelines through Africa and Asia at a much faster rate than ever seen through Western aid. Of course that can put the supposed beneficiaries at the mercy of their Chinese creditors.

East has surpassed West, whether we know it or not, says Peter Frankopan

In 2011, for example, China forgave neighbouring Tajikistan’s infrastructure-related debt in exchange for several hundred square kilometres of territory. A $7-billion rail line in Laos represents over 60% of the country’s GDP. A rail-building boom in Angola left citizens with a per capita debt to China of $754 out of a per capita income of $6,200. In 2017 a Chinese company got a 99-year lease in lieu of debt on the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, a strategic site for both commercial and military reasons. Other ports in Maldives, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Djibouti could face a similar fate.

Even so, something like 85% of BRI projects “have proceeded without difficulty,” Frankopan states. China conducts many of its most opportunistic acquisitions openly, like buying a controlling interest in Piraeus, the Athenian port since antiquity. Other seaport purchases have taken place in Spain, Italy and Belgium.

Strategic ports and an alliance with Pakistan help position China in the Indian Ocean, while China continues to expand its South China Sea presence by building artificial islands for military bases. This isn’t just “the crossroads of the global economy” but a ploy to extend military power thousands of miles farther, according to a U.S. Navy admiral. China’s ambitions continue in the disputed East China Sea, location of the 2010 Senkaku conflict, in which China’s rare earths tactics demonstrated yet another weapon in the country’s arsenal.

As an economic powerhouse as well as a “geopolitical alternative to the US,” China can profit from American sanctions on countries like Iran. Russia too challenges U.S. policies towards countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, while the latter shows its willingness to trade with Iran and buy arms from Moscow.

Military co-operation can create unlikely allies. Last summer, in Russian’s largest war games since 1981, Beijing contributed 30 fighter jets and helicopters along with more than 3,000 troops. Included in the exercises were simulated nuclear attacks.

While futurologists and networking pioneers often talk about how the exciting world of artificial intelligence, Big Earth Data and machine learning promise to change the way we live, work and think, few ever ask where the materials on which the digital new world come from—or what happens if supply either dries up or is used as a commercial or a political weapon by those who have a near-monopoly on global supply.—Peter Frankopan

Even India, America’s strongest Asian ally and the Asian country most wary of Chinese expansion, stands to undermine U.S. influence with proposed transportation connections and free trade with Iran and Afghanistan.

Yet obvious perils weaken any notion of a united Asia working harmoniously towards a common goal. Russian-Chinese military co-operation doesn’t preclude Moscow stationing its 29th Army 3rd Missile Brigade, with nuclear missile capabilities, near the Chinese border.

Time will tell whether other countries can overcome the Eurasian chaos that inspired this maxim of Canadian miners: “Never invest in a country with a name ending in ‘stan’.”

Then there’s extremist Islam. Uighurs from western China have fought in Syria for the Islamic State in numbers estimated “from several thousand to many times that number.” China risks wider Muslim anger by running a gulag archipelago for Muslims. The country’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region hosts “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”

Oddly enough for someone who knocks Western insularity, Frankopan seems to share the current preoccupation with the U.S. president. Among Frankopan’s criticisms of the West is its supposed opposition to immigration, even though that’s a marginal position within liberal countries but official policy in most of the East.

Nor does Frankopan mention the weird ideological zealotry that threatens to destabilize if not destroy the West from within.

Still, history’s greatest value might be perspective on the present. This historian’s view of the present and future can help Westerners understand their not-so-esteemed status in the Asian century.

Infographic: Climate Smart Mining and minerals for climate action

March 14th, 2019

sponsored by the World Bank | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | March 14, 2019

Climate Smart Mining Minerals for climate action

 

Countries are taking steps to decarbonize their economies by using wind, solar and battery technologies, with an end goal of reducing carbon-emitting fossil fuels from the energy mix.

But this global energy transition also has a trade-off: to cut emissions, more minerals are needed.

Therefore, in order for the transition to renewables to be meaningful and to achieve significant reductions in the Earth’s carbon footprint, mining will have to better mitigate its own environmental and social impacts.

Advocates for renewable technology are not walking blindly into a new energy paradigm without understanding these impacts. A policy and regulatory framework can help governments meet their targets, and mitigate and manage the impacts of the next wave of mineral demand to help the communities most affected by mining.

This infographic comes from the World Bank and it highlights this energy transition, how it will create demand for minerals and also the Climate Smart Mining building blocks.

Renewable power and mineral demand

In 2017, the World Bank published The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low Carbon Future, which concluded that to build a lower carbon future there will be a substantial increase in demand for several key minerals and metals to manufacture clean energy technologies.

Wind
Wind power technology has drastically improved its energy output. By 2025, a 300-metre-tall wind turbine could produce about 13 to 15 MW, enough to power a small town. With increased size and energy output comes increased material demand.

A single 3 MW turbine requires:

  • 4.7 tons of copper

  • 335 tons of steel

  • 1,200 tons of concrete

  • 2 tons of rare earth elements

  • 3 tons of aluminum

Solar
In 2017 global renewable capacity was 178 GW, of which 54.5% was solar photo-voltaic technology (PV). By 2023, it’s expected that this capacity will increase to one terawatt with PV accounting for 57.5% of the mix. PV cells require polymers, aluminum, silicon, glass, silver and tin.

Batteries
Everything from your home, your vehicle and your everyday devices will require battery technology to keep them powered and your life on the move.

Lithium, cobalt and nickel are at the centre of battery technology that will see the greatest explosion in demand in the coming energy transition.

Top five minerals for energy technologies

Add it all up, and these new sources of demand will translate into a need for more minerals:

 

  2017 production 2050 demand from energy technology Percentage change (%)
Lithium 43 KT 415 KT 965%
Cobalt 110 KT 644 KT 585%
Graphite 1200 KT 4590 KT 383%
Indium 0.72 KT 1.73 KT 241%
Vanadium 80 KT 138 KT 173%

 

Minimizing mining’s impact with Climate Smart Mining

The World Bank’s Climate Smart Mining (CSM) supports the sustainable extraction and processing of minerals and metals to secure supply for clean energy technologies, while also minimizing the environmental and climate footprints throughout the value chain.

The World Bank has established four building blocks for Climate Smart Mining:

  • Climate change mitigation

  • Climate change adaptation

  • Reducing material impacts

  • Creating market opportunities

Given the foresight into the pending energy revolution, a coordinated global effort early on could give nations a greater chance to mitigate the impacts of mining, avoid haphazard mineral development and contribute to the improvement of living standards in mineral-rich countries.

The World Bank works closely with the United Nations to ensure that Climate Smart Mining policies will support the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

A sustainable future

The potential is there for a low carbon economy, but it’s going to require a concerted global effort and sound policies to help guide responsible mineral development.

The mining industry can deliver the minerals for climate action.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Got the minerals?

March 4th, 2019

A new book says self-imposed obstacles block U.S. self-sufficiency

by Greg Klein

“The Middle East has oil, China has rare earths.”

Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 implied threat became all too real eight years later in the Senkaku aftermath, when RE dependency put Japan and the West at China’s mercy. But just as the United States overcame the 1973 OPEC embargo to become the world’s leading oil producer, that country can overcome its growing reliance on dodgy sources of mineral production and processing. So say authors Ned Mamula and Ann Bridges in Groundbreaking! America’s New Quest for Mineral Independence.

Their country’s problem isn’t geology but policies, the book argues. Repeatedly pointing to Canada and Australia as role models, the authors say their own country’s mining potential can restore mining self-sufficiency, or at least minimize a crippling dependency.

A new book says self-imposed obstacles block U.S. self-sufficiency

Indeed, the mighty nation has a mighty problem with minerals: Imports supply many critical minerals and metals in their entirety, with heavy reliance on Russia and especially China, “countries we consider at best our competitors, and at worst our adversaries.”

Rare earths stand out as the “poster child for U.S. critical mineral vulnerability.” As the authors note, REs remain “essential for military and civilian use, for the production of high-performance permanent magnets, GPS guidance systems, satellite imaging and night vision equipment, cellphones, iPads, flat screens, MRIs and electric toothbrushes, sunglasses, and a myriad of other technology products. Since they offer that extra boost to so many new technologies, these rare earth metals rival energy in importance to our 21st century lifestyle.”

Industrial countries not only surrendered rare earths mining and processing to China, but gave up technological secrets too. That happened when China forced RE-dependent manufacturers to move their operations to China. After Apple transplanted some of its manufacturing to that country, China copied and reproduced the company’s products, at times outselling the iPhone with knock-offs.

A new book says self-imposed obstacles block U.S. self-sufficiency

Other intellectual property faces threats. “U.S. companies—Intematix, GE (Healthcare/MRI Division), Ford (Starter Motor Division), and Battery 1,2,3—have all added manufacturing capacity in China, and so has Japan’s Showa Denko, Santoku, and scores of other global electronics companies.”

RE dominance has also allowed China to lead the world in technology for electric vehicles, renewable energy and next-generation nuclear power. And America relies on its rival for defence: “Most of the U.S.’ advanced weapon systems procurement is 100% dependent on China for advanced metallurgical materials.”

Foreign dependency includes tantalum, “critical to the economy and national defense,” gallium, cobalt, uranium and the list goes on.

According to a just-published report from the U.S. Geological Survey, “in 2018, imports made up more than half of U.S apparent consumption for 48 non-fuel mineral commodities, and the U.S. was 100% net import-reliant for 18 of those.

“For 2018, critical minerals comprised 14 of the 18 mineral commodities with 100% net import reliance and 15 additional critical mineral commodities had a net import reliance greater than 50% of apparent consumption. The largest number of non-fuel mineral commodities were supplied to the U.S. from China, followed by Canada.”

The takeover of former TSX listing Uranium One by Russia’s state-owned Rosatom brings threats worse than most observers realized, the authors say. The acquisition granted the Russian government membership in trade organizations and therefore valuable intel formerly available only through espionage. Uranium One also gives Russia the ability to curtail future American uranium production and use its influence on Kazakhstan, the world’s top producer, to flood the U.S. with cheaper, subsidized supply. That could put both U.S. production and processing out of business in a tactic reminiscent of China’s RE machinations.

China’s communist government uses a ‘debt trap’ model of economic development and finance which proffers substantial financing to developing countries in exchange for an encumbrance on their minerals resources and access to markets. This predatory model has been particularly effective in countries characterized by weak rule of law and authoritarian regimes.—Ned Mamula
and Ann Bridges

The Chinese “are now masters at securing and controlling core natural resources globally, especially minerals.” The country uses long-term contracts, equity investments and joint ventures, as well as the “debt trap” that provides “substantial financing to developing countries in exchange for an encumbrance on their minerals resources and access to markets. This predatory model has been particularly effective in countries characterized by weak rule of law and authoritarian regimes.”

The U.S., meanwhile, suffers not only from naivete and short-term thinking, but from self-induced challenges. The authors devote an entire chapter to Alaska’s Pebble project, maybe the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold-molybdenum deposit. After more than two decades and over $150 million in spending, “Pebble is still more about politics than geology, much less mining the minerals known to exist there.”

The story stands out as “the classic cautionary tale in U.S. history of how a powerful federal regulatory agency can go rogue and impose its will on an unsuspecting permit applicant.”

Suggestions to alleviate these ills include streamlining the permitting process, among other recommendations to open up domestic production and re-build supply chains. One of the authors’ more interesting ideas concerns teaming up with environmental activists to promote ethical green supply chains that would shut out conflict minerals.

The book’s marred by repetition, sloppy English and some bold-faced typographical shouting. It’s also cluttered with a few questionable information sources and excerpts from a novel that would have been better left unwritten. The portrayal of Canada as a role model, moreover, might induce bitter laughter from this side of the border. But Groundbreaking offers a vital message to general readers. In doing so, it could reinforce a growing awareness in the U.S. about the need to minimize foreign dependency.

Read more about U.S. efforts to secure critical minerals here and here.

Visual Capitalist: The bull case for energy metals going into 2019

January 10th, 2019

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | January 10, 2019

 

The rapid emergence of the world’s renewable energy sector is helping set the stage for a commodity boom.

While oil has traditionally been the most interesting commodity to investors in the past, the green energy sector is reliant on the unique electrical and physical properties of many different metals to work optimally.

To build more renewable capacity and to store that energy efficiently, we will need to increase the available supply for these specific raw materials, or face higher costs for each material.

Metal bull cases

Ahead of Cambridge House’s annual Vancouver Resource Investment Conference on January 20 and 21, 2019, we thought it would be prudent to highlight the “bull case” for relevant metals as we start the year.

It’s important to recognize that the commodity market is often cyclical and dependent on a multitude of factors, and that these cases are not meant to be predictive in any sense.

In other words, the facts and arguments illustrated sum up what we think investors may see as the most compelling stories for these metals—but what actually happens in the market, especially in the short term, may be different.

Overarching trends

While we highlight 12 minerals ranging from copper to lithium, most of the raw materials in the infographic fit into four overarching, big-picture stories that will drive the future of green energy:

Solar and wind
The world hit 1 TW of wind and solar generation capacity in 2018. The second TW will be up and running by 2023, and will cost 46% less than the first.

Electric vehicles
Ownership of electric vehicles will increase 40 times in the next 13 years, reaching 125 million vehicles in 2030.

Energy storage
The global market for energy storage is rapidly growing, and will leap from $194 billion to $296 billion between 2017 and 2024.

Nuclear
150 nuclear reactors with a total gross capacity of about 160,000 MW are on order or planned, and about 300 more are proposed—mostly in Asia.

Which of these stories has the most potential as a catalyst for driving the entire sector?

Based on these narratives, and the individual bull cases above, which metal has the most individual potential?

Visit Visual Capitalist at Booth #1228 at #VRIC19.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Click here for free VRIC registration up to January 11.

Read more about the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference.

Infographic: Igniting innovation

January 2nd, 2019

Infographic by Natural Resources Canada | text by Visual Capitalist

Infographic Igniting innovation

 

Canada’s mineral sector is at the forefront of technological innovation. Industry experts, academics, government scientists and engineers generate the innovations to ensure the discovery and development of mineral deposits, and the operation and closure of mines.

These innovations support jobs, communities and businesses and are leading the way in reducing and improving the industry’s environmental impact and providing the necessary minerals to build a sustainable future.

The above infographic comes from the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan and it draws out the use of technology and innovation at every stage of mining.

Innovation and discovery

The first stage of mining is discovering sources of minerals. It is not easy but with advances in exploration techniques geologists are uncovering the minerals for the future, today.

The future will require uncommon types of mineral deposits, such as chromite and rare earth elements. Canada is host to the Ring of Fire chromite deposits in northern Ontario and several well-advanced REE exploration projects to meet demand.

In order to improve the discovery of these deposits, the mineral sector deploys the latest in technology to improve the chances of making the next discovery. Field equipment such as laser-induced spectrometers detect the composition of minerals while in the field.

However, the majority of mineral discoveries will be deeper in the Earth’s crust. This requires collaborative data to identify patterns in complex geology at depth.

The Canadian government sponsors the Targeted Geoscience Initiative, a comprehensive source for information on ore systems throughout Canada. Geologists will be able to contrast and compare mineral resources across the country to develop new insights into economic deposits.

Mapping and mineral analysis generate large amounts of data and the patterns of ore systems. New deposits are not immediately apparent from this data. Through the application of machine learning and computer processing power, geologists could identify new sources of minerals.

Data will drive this initiative as 3D mapping technology and geophysical modelling provide the inputs to uncover ore deposits. These technologies can also lead to more efficient and effective mineral exploration and could extend the life of currently operating mines by identifying new zones for mining.

Finding the resources is the first step. The next is mining.

Innovation for productivity

Once a mine is built on top of an economic deposit, it is time to start moving the rocks.

Using alternative energy such as hydrogen fuel cells and battery-powered vehicles could reduce greenhouse gases of an underground mine by up to 25%.

The knock-on effects go beyond reducing the mineral sector’s carbon footprint, but alternative energy offers cost and productivity savings, as well as improved workers’ health.

Once equipment brings the ore to the mill, it is sorted using high-pulse microwave technologies and sensors that can improve crushing and milling.

Extracting minerals through comminution (the process of crushing or grinding rock into smaller pieces) is the most energy-intensive stage of the mining process. Up to 53% of a mine site’s electricity consumption is due to crushing and milling.

Technological innovation in mine management is not limited to the underground or the earth’s surface. GPS satellites will connect and monitor the mine of the future.

High-accuracy GPS can vastly improve mining safety, productivity, efficiency and environmental management by enabling increasingly precise and automated operations.

Areas that will benefit from GPS will include:

  • Road maintenance

  • Drill guidance

  • Surveying

  • Fleet management

  • Autonomous vehicles

Efficient management of mines during operation will improve the restoration of the ecosystem after mining ends.

Innovation for sustainability and resilience

Mining temporarily changes its surrounding environment but its products supply the critical material for a sustainable future. Innovation and technology will provide the greatest benefits to Earth’s other valuable natural resources, its water, land and communities, by minimizing impact.

Water is crucial to mining and is required at every step of the process. Mining operations deploy successful water recycling to minimize usage and the release of potentially contaminated water to the environment.

Canadian mines generate between 200 and 250 million tonnes of tailings waste annually. New mining techniques can extract and recycle valuable minerals from these tailings.

The critical and final stage of mining is ecosystem restoration. Returning the environment of a mine site to its natural state will help build resilience to the effects of climate change.

Industry experts and academia regularly collaborate to develop and update the best practice guidelines to maintain and monitor the high environmental standards all Canadians benefit from.

Coming full circle

At every stage of the life of a mine, innovation will improve mining’s environmental and economic footprint to deliver tangible benefits to all Canadians.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Read more about Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan.

Niobium-tantalum in Quebec

December 5th, 2018

Successful sampling readies Saville Resources to drill for critical metals

by Greg Klein

“Building momentum” is the way Saville Resources TSXV:SRE president Mike Hodge puts it. Steady progress, shown most recently through another encouraging sampling program, puts the company’s early-stage niobium-tantalum project in Quebec on track for drilling this winter. Assays so far have the company hopeful about proving up a maiden resource in this mining-friendly jurisdiction next door to a country increasingly concerned about sourcing critical metals.

Successful sampling readies Saville Resources to drill for critical metals

Conducted by Dahrouge Geological Consulting, the fall
program brought the Niobium claim group to drill-ready status.

The autumn field program met all of its objectives, Hodge enthuses. Twenty-two boulder samples surpassed 0.7% Nb2O5, with 14 of them exceeding 0.8% and one peaking at 1.5%. Tantalum made its presence known too. Those same 14 niobium samples also graded between 160 ppm and 1,080 ppm Ta2O5.

The project gained yet another target, where boulders reached 0.88% and 1.28% Nb2O5. A ground magnetics survey highlighted the prospectivity of the Moira area, already the location of exceptionally high-grade samples. In all, the results show a drill-ready project that should see action this winter.

Saville holds a 75% earn-in from Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE on the Niobium claim group, a 1,223-hectare package on the latter company’s Eldor property in Quebec. Just a few kilometres from the Niobium project and with obvious synergistic potential for Saville, Commerce has its Ashram rare earths deposit moving towards pre-feasibility. All this takes place in a province that demonstrates its support for mining through a number of initiatives, including direct investment and the Plan Nord infrastructure program. The northeastern Quebec region has two treaties in place that clearly define procedures for native consultation. Saville’s three-quarters stake in the Niobium claim group calls for $5 million in work over five years.

A 43-101 technical report filed in September followed field programs by previous companies including 41 holes totalling 8,175 metres drilled by Commerce. In addition to niobium-tantalum, the report noted phosphate and fluorspar as potential secondary commodities.

Some of the standout results from previous sampling came from the property’s as-yet undrilled Miranna area, where boulder samples graded as high as 2.75%, 4.24%, 4.3% and an exceptional 5.93% Nb2O5.

Other locations have been drilled, but not since 2010. Some 17 holes and 4,328 metres on the Southeast area brought near-surface highlights that include:

  • 0.82% Nb2O5 over 21.89 metres, starting at 58.93 metres in downhole depth

  • 0.72% over 21.35 metres, starting at 4.22 metres
  • (including 0.9% over 4.78 metres)

  • 0.72% over 17.35 metres, starting at 70 metres

  • 0.71% over 15.33 metres, starting at 55.1 metres

True widths were unavailable. Southeast results also showed tantalum and phosphate, as well as suggesting a possible fluorspar zone.

A wide, near-surface interval from the Northwest area showed:

  • 0.46% Nb2O5 over 46.88 metres, starting at 30.65 metres
  • (including 0.61% over 11.96 metres)
Successful sampling readies Saville Resources to drill for critical metals

Surface outcrops and near-surface core
produce encouraging grades for Saville Resources.

As in the Southeast, the Northwest area showed encouraging signs of tantalum and phosphate. But tantalum came through most strongly in the property’s Star Trench area, with results as high as 1,810 ppm Ta2O5 (with 1.5% Nb2O5) over 0.52 metres, as well as 2,220 ppm Ta2O5 (with 1.69% Nb2O5, and phosphate grading 20.5% P2O5) over 0.31 metres.

Another area gains greater prominence too, thanks to this autumn’s ground magnetics survey. A strong anomaly at the Moira target, about 250 metres north of Miranna, coincides with several overlapping boulder trains that suggest Moira could be one of several possible sources of mineralization.

And a new, yet-to-be-named area gave up two of the fall program’s best assays. About 400 metres south of the drill area, the new target produced boulder samples hitting 1.28% Nb2O5 and 260 ppm Ta2O5, along with 0.88% Nb2O5 and 1,080 ppm Ta2O5.

Intriguingly, glacial ice suggests the two rocks, found about 100 metres apart, originated in an area farther southeast that’s had very little attention so far.

Saville also holds the 3,370-hectare Covette project in Quebec’s James Bay region, where last summer’s field program found surface samples including 1.2% zinc and 68.7 g/t silver. Three other samples returned nickel values ranging from 0.13% to 0.19%.

Work focused on a highly conductive area identified by a 2016 VTEM survey. Samples gathered in 2017 included grades of 0.18% nickel, 0.09% copper and 87 ppm cobalt. One historic, non-43-101 grab sample brought 4.7% molybdenum, 0.73% bismuth, 0.09% lead and 6 g/t silver, while another historic sample returned 1.2 g/t silver and 0.18% copper.

As for niobium, it’s considered a critical metal by the American government for its use in steels and super-alloys necessary for jet engine components, rocket sub-assemblies, and heat-resisting and combustion equipment, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Almost 90% of last year’s world production came from Brazil, where new president Jair Bolsonaro has expressed concern about increasing Chinese ownership of resources.

Also a component of military super-alloys, tantalum additionally plays a vital role in personal electronics including phones and computers. The U.S. imports its entire supply of tantalum. About 60% of last year’s world production came from the troubled countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

With the advantages of markets, jurisdiction and geology, Hodge looks forward to winter drilling. “We’ve now got about 20 targets that we can go after,” he says. “One priority would be to define the Southeast area because we’ve got such good niobium numbers there. On getting a potential inferred resource, we’d go after Miranna or Moira and the untested targets. We’re looking forward to a busy, productive season.”

Read more about U.S. efforts to secure critical minerals here and here.

Visual Capitalist: How much copper is in an electric vehicle?

November 13th, 2018

by Nicholas LePan | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | November 13, 2018

Visual Capitalist How much copper is in an electric vehicle?

 

Copper’s special relationship with electricity has been apparent since ship designers first regularly began installing copper to protect the masts of wooden ships from lightning in the early 19th century.

Today, of course, you might be more used to seeing copper’s electrical applications through the use of power lines, telephone wires and wiring in practically every major home appliance you own.

Millions of tons get used for these applications every year, but it is still early days for copper’s use in electrification. That’s because copper will continue to be a critical component of the green energy revolution, thanks to the rising adoption of battery-powered vehicles.

Why copper?

This visualization comes to us from Canadian Platinum TSXV:CPC and it focuses on showing how much copper is in an electric vehicle, along with the properties that make it the ideal choice for an EV-powered future.

Here is why copper is a crucial component to vehicle manufacturers:

Cost:
Copper costs roughly $0.20 per ounce, compared with silver ($15 an ounce) and gold ($1,200 an ounce), making it by far the cheapest option for electrical wire.

Conductivity:
Copper is nearly as conductive as silver—the most conductive metal—but comes at a fraction of the cost.

Ductility:
Copper can easily be shaped into wire, which is important for most electrical applications.

It’s also important to note that temperature does not affect copper’s conductivity, which makes the metal ideal for automobiles in all climates.

Copper in gas versus electric vehicles

The UBS Evidence Lab tore apart a traditional gas-powered vehicle as well as an EV to compare the different quantities of raw materials used.

What they found was crucial: There is 80% more copper in a Chevrolet Bolt, in comparison with a similar-sized Volkswagen Golf.

The major reason for this is that at the heart of every EV is an electric motor, which is built with copper, steel and permanent magnets (rare earths). Electric motors tend to be much simpler than gas-powered engines, which have hundreds of moving parts.

Incredibly, in an electric motor, there can be more than a mile of copper wiring inside the stator.

The more electric, the more copper

According to Copper.org, along the scale from gas-powered cars to fully electrical vehicles, copper use increases dramatically.

Conventional gas-powered cars contain 18 to 49 pounds of copper while a battery-powered EV contains 183 pounds. Meanwhile, for a fully electrical bus, a whopping 814 pounds of copper is needed.

With the rapidly increasing adoption of electric vehicles, copper will be an essential material for the coming electrification of all forms of ground transport.

Copper is at the heart of the electric vehicle and the world will need more. By 2027, copper demand stemming from EVs is expected to increase by 1.7 million tonnes, which is a number just shy of China’s entire copper production in 2017.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Depending on the enemy

October 10th, 2018

The U.S. calls for new supply strategies to meet economic and defence risks

by Greg Klein

The goal might be summed up by a new slogan: Make America Self-Reliant Again. Or, with a tad less concision: Let’s Stop Relying on an Economic Rival that’s a Potential Military Threat for the Stuff We Need to Compete with an Economic Rival that’s a Potential Military Threat.

A newly released study from the U.S. Secretary of Defense illustrates that absurd dilemma. The dependency runs the gamut from sourcing raw materials to refining them, manufacturing key components, developing R&D, training workers, even setting prices. As the report says, “The central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model—gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.”

The U.S. calls for new supply chain strategies to meet economic and defence risks

But Russia merits little mention in the 146-page document. China comes up again and again as the pre-eminent economic and military threat with a long-term hegemonic strategy.

That strategy’s been very successful, leaving the U.S. sorely unprepared for the resulting risks. Ordered by President Donald Trump in July 2017, the report urges a government-wide program to address the entire range of supply chain challenges.

The 2010 Senkaku incident, dramatic as it was, can be seen as a mere microcosm of a much bigger threat.

“China’s domination of the rare earth element market illustrates the potentially dangerous interaction between Chinese economic aggression guided by its strategic industrial policies and vulnerabilities and gaps in America’s manufacturing and defense industrial base,” the report warns. “China has strategically flooded the global market with rare earths at subsidized prices, driven out competitors, and deterred new market entrants. When China needs to flex its soft power muscles by embargoing rare earths, it does not hesitate, as Japan learned in a 2010 maritime dispute.”

It was a lesson learned by other countries too. The report describes rare earths as “critical elements used across many of the major weapons systems the U.S. relies on for national security, including lasers, radar, sonar, night vision systems, missile guidance, jet engines, and even alloys for armored vehicles.”

Rare earths figure prominently in the U.S. list of 35 critical minerals drafted last February and confirmed in May. American dependency was further highlighted when the country dropped rare earths from a revised list of tariffs on Chinese imports announced in September.

China’s soft power hardball has targeted other American allies as well, waging “aggressive economic warfare” against South Korea after the country installed an American air defence system. Other examples of “economic coercion” include “a ban on Philippine bananas over territorial disputes in the South China Sea; the aforementioned restriction of rare earth exports to Japan following the Senkaku Islands dispute in 2010; persistent economic intimidation against Taiwan; and the recent ceding of a Sri Lankan port.”

China can play nice too. But at a price. The country invests heavily in developing countries, often building infrastructure “in exchange for an encumbrance on their natural resources and access to their markets.”

As for Chinese electronics exports, they “lack the level of scrutiny placed on U.S. manufacturers, driving lower yields and higher rates of failures in downstream production, and raising the risk of ‘Trojan’ chips and viruses infiltrating U.S. defense systems.”

Technological expertise becomes a strategic weapon too. “As part of its industrial policy aggression, China has forced many American companies to offshore their R&D in exchange for access to the Chinese market.”

With an advanced-stage rare earths project in northern Quebec as well as advanced-stage tantalum-niobium in southern British Columbia, Commerce Resources TSXV:CCE president Chris Grove keeps tabs on Canada’s neighbour. “People in Washington tell me the anxiety level on these issues has never been higher,” he notes.

Here’s the world’s biggest military and they’re saying, ‘We need Chinese stuff to make it all work?’ That’s really for most Americans an absolutely untenable and unbelievable position of weakness.—Chris Grove,
president of Commerce Resources

“Apart from the trade imbalance between the U.S. and China, there’s the vulnerability of the U.S. military. Here’s the world’s biggest military and they’re saying, ‘We need Chinese stuff to make it all work?’ That’s really for most Americans an absolutely untenable and unbelievable position of weakness.”

Sources in Washington encouraged Grove to apply for a research grant from the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency. If successful, the application would bring up to $3 million to further metallurgical progress on his company’s Ashram rare earths project, advancing a potential source in a stable and allied country.

That would complement one of the report’s key recommendations, to “diversify away from complete dependency on sources of supply in politically unstable countries who may cut off U.S. access; diversification strategies may include re-engineering, expanded use of the National Defense Stockpile program, or qualification of new suppliers.”

Other recommendations include creating an industrial policy that supports national security, working with allies and partners on industrial development, expanding industrial investment, addressing manufacturing and industrial risk within the energy and nuclear sectors, encouraging home-grown scientific expertise and occupational skills, and exploring next generation technology for future threats.

In ordering the study, Trump stated the loss of key companies, over 60,000 American factories and almost five million manufacturing jobs since 2000 “threatens to undermine the capacity and capabilities of United States manufacturers to meet national defense requirements and raises concerns about the health of the manufacturing and defense industrial base.”

Digital addictions reach new dimensions in British Columbia

September 27th, 2018

by Greg Klein | September 27, 2018

Maybe this represents a distinctly West Coast weirdness inapplicable to the real world. If not and the trend grows, however, the engagement diamond trade looks doomed, as does procreation. But while waiting for our species to die out, we should be heartened by increased demand for rare earths, tantalum and other necessities of the electronic age.

Digital addictions reach new dimensions in British Columbia

B.C. has long been liberal on issues of sexual preference.

A BC Hydro study found its customers devote an average of 4.7 hours a day, 33 hours a week and 132 hours a month—about a third of their waking time—with the electronic love of their lives, smartphones and tablets. So strong is the passion for smartphones that it can take precedence over human relationships.

“Over a quarter of British Columbians aged 25 to 54 would rather give up seeing their spouse or partner for a day than give up their smartphone or tablet for 24 hours,” the provincial utility reports. “This jumps to one-third for those aged 55 to 64.”

Nor does the preference preclude intimacy. “One-fifth of British Columbians admit to sleeping with their smartphone in bed—and 70% of those aged 18 to 24 at least occasionally sleep with their device.”

Not surprisingly, then, nearly a third of the province between 18 and 24 would give up home heating on a cold winter day rather than their smartphone. Same thing for a day’s pay in the 18-to-34 age bracket.

Maybe most startling of all, “two-thirds of British Columbians would be willing to forgo their morning coffee for two days than their smartphone or tablet for the same time frame.”

Although the BC Hydro report focuses on the implications of electronic devices for electricity consumption, there’s no mention of even greater demand from electric vehicles.

A separate subject, of course, concerns supply of the materials that make up electronic devices. Last year the U.S. Geological Survey broke down the smartphone’s ingredients to demonstrate society’s dependency on wide-ranging and often insecure supply chains. Among them are rare earths from China and tantalum from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, both sources of conflict metals. Heightened supply concern has brought an increasing American government focus on critical minerals, while the potential effects of a U.S.-China trade war threaten to exacerbate the situation.

Saville Resources mobilizes for niobium-tantalum field work in northern Quebec

September 25th, 2018

by Greg Klein | September 25, 2018

Encouraging assays and heightening concern for critical minerals bring an exploration team back to Saville Resources’ (TSXV:SRE) Niobium claim group in Quebec’s Labrador Trough region. The program follows earlier drilling as well as more recent niobium-tantalum boulder samples that reached as high as 4.3% Nb2O5 and 700 ppm Ta2O5. With work carried out by Dahrouge Geological Consulting, the autumn agenda calls for prospecting and ground geophysics to identify future drill targets.

Saville Resources mobilizes for niobium-tantalum field work in northern Quebec

A view from a ridge on Saville Resources’ Niobium claim
group, now progressing towards an updated geological model.

The 1,223-hectare project sits on the Eldor property which also hosts Commerce Resources’ (TSXV:CCE) Ashram rare earths deposit, now moving towards pre-feasibility. Under an agreement with Commerce, Saville may earn 75% of the Niobium claim group. The company has two weeks planned for the current campaign.

A 43-101 technical report filed earlier this month “concludes there is a ‘strong potential for carbonatite-hosted niobium-tantalum deposit(s) of significance’,” noted president Mike Hodge. “Discoveries start with boots on the ground and we look forward to following this work up with an aggressive and targeted drill campaign to further unlock this potential.”

Among places slated for ground magnetics is the Southeast area, where mineralization is often associated with magnetite. Prospecting will focus on relatively untouched areas but also the vicinity of drill programs dating to 2008 and 2010. Hole EC10-033 returned 0.72% Nb2O5 and 145 ppm Ta2O5 over 21.35 metres, starting just below overburden at 4.22 metres’ depth. The same hole also delivered 0.82% Nb2O5 over 21.89 metres starting at 58.9 metres.

The shallow intersections “indicate that strong mineralization extends to surface in the immediate area,” the company stated. “In terms of ground follow-up, there is a sizable corridor to the south of EC10-033 that has not been traversed and is therefore a high-priority area for assessment.”

Results from the program will help update the Southeast area’s geological model, which currently dates to 2010 despite an improved understanding of the Eldor complex. A partial photo re-log of the core, a revised rock classification scheme, geophysical results and other data will delineate future drill targets.

Reporting from Quebec’s James Bay region last month, Saville announced a new zinc-silver-nickel zone at surface on the company’s Covette property. Sampling took place along an area hosting strong magnetic anomalies and several EM conductors, with one sample grading 1.2% zinc and 68.7 g/t silver, and three others ranging from 0.13% to 0.19% nickel.

Also last month Saville closed an $877,700 first tranche of a private placement offered in July up to $2 million.

Read more about Saville Resources.