Komatsu and its mining customers Rio Tinto, BHP, Codelco and Boliden have formed the Komatsu Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Alliance. Through the alliance framework, Komatsu’s GHG partners will work directly with Komatsu to collaborate on product planning, development, testing and deployment of the next generation of zero-emission mining equipment and infrastructure.... Read more →


Renault Group and Vulcan Energy Resources, a lithium developer targeting carbon-neutral lithium production (earlier post), have signed a lithium offtake term sheet. This agreement is for an initial five-year term which can be extended if mutually agreed, with a start of commercial delivery set for 2026. Vulcan announced a similar... Read more →


Czech government, ČEZ sign MOU on $2.4B, 40GWh gigafactory; ČEZ lithium mine project progressing

The Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIT) and majority state-owned energy group ČEZ signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the construction of a gigafactory for battery cells for electric vehicles. The document sets forth the basic conditions for the establishment of the factory and is a prerequisite for agreements... Read more →


A region of the central Pacific—the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ)—is estimated to contain vast reserves of polymetallic nodules that are rich in nickel and cobalt—minerals that are commonly mined on land for the production of lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles, laptops, and mobile phones. Deep-sea-mining schemes propose sending down... Read more →


Rio Tinto has committed $2.4 billion to the Jadar lithium-borates project in Serbia, one of the world’s largest greenfield lithium projects. (Earlier post.) The project remains subject to receiving all relevant approvals, permits and licences and ongoing engagement with local communities, the Government of Serbia and civil society. Jadar Project... Read more →


BHP to supply nickel to Tesla; focus on supply chain sustainability

BHP will supply Tesla Inc. with nickel from BHP’s Nickel West asset in Western Australia; BHP says that Nickel West is one of the most sustainable and lowest carbon emission nickel producers in the world. Nickel is a key metal used in Tesla’s battery technology. Demand for nickel in batteries... Read more →


Rio Tinto advances studies for underground mining at Kennecott copper with $108M investment; testing underground BEVs

Rio Tinto has approved a $108-million investment in underground development to enable early orebody access and undertake orebody characterisation studies for underground mining at the Kennecott copper operations in the United States. The investment builds on $25 million approved in early-2020 to complete a pre-feasibility study to determine the viability... Read more →


A new study from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and WWF finds that nearly 20% of tropical Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs) overlap with concessions for extractive industries such as mining, oil and gas. The total area of overlap is 376,449 square miles (975,000 square kilometers), about the size of Egypt. The... Read more →


Japan-based Chiyoda Corporation has been awarded a $2.7-billion engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract by PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI)—a mineral mining company affiliate of US-based Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) and MIND ID Indonesia’s Mining Industry—for a copper smelter in Gresik, East Java, Indonesia. The new plant will include smelting and converting furnaces,... Read more →


Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have conducted life cycle analyses (LCAs) for battery-grade lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) and lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LiOH•H2O) produced from Chilean brines (Salar de Atacama) and Australian spodumene ores. An open-access paper on the study is published in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling. The team also... Read more →


Missouri S&T professor: Green energy increases the need for mining and metals production

Clean energy may mean less mining for coal, but it also means opening or expanding mines to unearth minerals such as cobalt for use in alloys and batteries, tellurium for solar cells and semiconductors, and germanium for transistors in electronic devices. That’s according to Dr. Michael Moats, professor and interim... Read more →


BASF, Daimler, Fairphone & Volkswagen Group funding partnership for sustainable lithium mining in Chile

Several companies have initiated a “Responsible Lithium Partnership” aiming to work towards responsible natural resource management, including lithium, in Chile’s Salar de Atacama. This cross-industry partnership is funded at its inception by BASF, Daimler AG, Fairphone, and Volkswagen Group. The partnership intends to foster a dialogue among local stakeholders, generating—and... Read more →


General Motors has agreed to form a strategic investment and commercial collaboration with Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) to secure sustainably produced lithium from the CTR’s Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power development, located in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field in California. This lithium will be produced from geothermal brine through a... Read more →


Battery metal prices have recovered strongly in the first half of the year, incentivizing new projects to come online. China controls the battery chemical industry, with the biggest market share for all of the five main battery materials: lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt and graphite. Diversifying the global supply chain would... Read more →


BrineMine Project at KIT: responsible extraction of energy, raw materials, and drinking water from geothermal wells

In the BrineMine research project, researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, together with their partners, are developing strategies and methods for extracting mineral resources directly in geothermal power plants. Here, not only energy and minerals are to be extracted, but also drinking water. Important process steps have already been successfully... Read more →


Rio Tinto, Schneider Electric partner to drive decarbonization

Rio Tinto, a leading global mining and metals company, and Schneider Electric signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a collaboration to develop a circular and sustainable market ecosystem for both companies and their customers. This multi-product partnership will see Schneider Electric use responsibly sourced materials produced by Rio Tinto.... Read more →


Ford, Ford Fund to support, promote responsible mineral sourcing pilot to empower, assist women; DRC copper & cobalt

Ford is working with its international nonprofit and grantmaking partners to support and promote a pilot program that will empower women working in the copper and cobalt supply chains in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The region has emerged as a key resource for critical metals that have become... Read more →


Rio Tinto will deploy the world’s first fully autonomous water trucks at its $2.6-billion Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. The new vehicles, primarily used for dust suppression on site, will enhance productivity by enabling mine operations to track water consumption digitally and reduce waste. Rio Tinto... Read more →


Schlumberger New Energy and Panasonic Energy of North America, a division of Panasonic Corporation of North America, have entered into a collaboration agreement for the validation and optimization of the innovative and sustainable lithium extraction and production process to be used by Schlumberger New Energy at its Neolith Energy pilot... Read more →


Biden Administration reports highlight supply chain vulnerabilities for batteries, critical materials

The Biden Administration has released reports assessing the vulnerabilities of four critical supply chains: semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging; large capacity batteries, such as those for electric vehicles; critical minerals and materials; and pharmaceuticals and advanced pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Four federal agencies took the lead in authoring each of the... Read more →


Minmetals reports successful test of new direct lithium extraction process

China-based Minmetals Group subsidiary Minmetals Salt Lake announced the successful testing of an improved direct lithium extraction process. The process, developed by Xi’an Lanshen New Material Technology, uses aluminum hydroxide as an adsorbent to separate lithium from other impurities. R&D investment totalled RMB44.8 million (US$7.0 million) and a 1kt-scale pilot... Read more →


DRC bans export of cobalt, copper concentrates

Fastmarkets reported that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has banned the export of copper and cobalt concentrate. Fastmarkets confirmed with three companies operating copper and cobalt mines in DRC that they all received the notice, although the effective date of the order is not mentioned and trucks carrying the... Read more →


Rio Tinto and InoBat partner to explore full life-cycle lithium battery initiative

Rio Tinto and InoBat, a European battery technology and manufacturing company, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to accelerate the establishment of a “cradle-to-cradle” battery manufacturing and recycling value chain in Serbia. The partnership will cover the full commodity life-cycle from mining through to recycling of lithium. Rio... Read more →


Rare earth materials are essential to a variety of economic sectors, including healthcare and clean energy. In a new study, scientists at Argonne National Laboratory highlighted which rare earth elements may be particularly vulnerable to disruptions such as mine shutdowns. A range of devices and machines rely on rare earth... Read more →


CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has released a report that outlines the significant potential for Australia to reshape its mining sector to capitalize on its rich critical materials resources and turn them into high purity materials and products through refining and manufacturing. The Critical Energy Minerals Roadmap shows how the... Read more →


During Benchmark’s most recent cobalt webinar, Glencore made the first public confirmation outlining more detailed plans for the restart of its DRC-based Mutanda Mining copper-cobalt operation following a period of care and maintenance. The Benchmark webinar was part of the Cobalt Institute Conference on 19 May 2021. Glencore, one of... Read more →


The Cobalt Institute has released its State of the Cobalt Market Report 2020. The Cobalt Institute commissioned Roskill to look at the global trends in cobalt consumption, supply and production in 2020. The report is the most comprehensive publicly available market overview to date. According to the report, the cobalt... Read more →


EV supply chain majors pilot Re|Source blockchain solution for end-to-end cobalt traceability

Major metals and mining companies CMOC, Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) and Glencore, in collaboration with battery material supplier Umicore, are piloting Re|Source, a solution to trace responsibly produced cobalt from the mine to the electric car. A global EV pioneer and one of the world’s leading battery makers are also... Read more →


SQM, a Chilean company that is one of the world’s biggest producers of lithium, and Argonne National Laboratory are collaborating to study SQM’s process for producing lithium with an eye toward better understanding sustainability challenges associated with lithium products. Chile has long been a leading producer of lithium, which has... Read more →


MP Materials has received a $3-million award from the Department of Energy (DOE) to complete a feasibility study, working with the University of Kentucky (UK), on a system to produce rare earth oxides, metals, and other critical materials recovered from coal by-products. This project is enabled by a DOE-exercised option... Read more →


Norsepower Oy Ltd., the leading global provider of auxiliary wind propulsion systems, announced the installation of five tilting Rotor Sails (earlier post) on board a new-build Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC) chartered by Vale, the Brazilian mining company. The Norsepower Rotor Sail Solution is a modernized version of the Flettner... Read more →


by Mike Millikin The DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and its licensee Moselle Technologies, have won two Cooperative Research and Development Awards (CRADA) and a 2021 DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office award to advance the process of using magnetic nanoparticles for capturing strategically important elements from water sources. The patent-pending... Read more →


TMRC consortium awarded second phase of DOE contract targeting production of mixed rare earth oxides from PA coal waste

Texas Mineral Resources Corp. (TMRC), an exploration company targeting the heavy rare earths and a variety of other high-value critical elements and industrial minerals, announced that the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technical Laboratory (NETL) has selected a TMRC-led consortium to continue a contract targeting the production of rare... Read more →


Deep-seabed mining robot Patania II successfully reconnected

A prototype deep-seabed mining robot that had become uncoupled from a cable connecting it to a surface vessel (earlier post) has been successfully recovered from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Patania II—Global Sea Mineral Resources’ (GSR’s) purpose-built prototype nodule collector—is currently being trialed in 4500 m water depth in... Read more →


Supplies of critical minerals essential for key clean energy technologies such as electric vehicles and wind turbines need to pick up sharply over the coming decades to meet the world’s climate goals, creating potential energy security hazards that governments must act now to address, according to a new report by... Read more →


DOE awards $19M to 13 initiatives in fossil-fuel areas to produce rare earth elements and critical minerals

The US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $19 million for 13 projects in traditionally fossil-fuel-producing communities across the country to support production of rare earth elements and critical minerals essential to the manufacturing of batteries, magnets, and other components important to the clean energy economy. Facing persistent shortages in domestic... Read more →


Roskill: Indonesia to overtake China as top refined nickel producer this year

Materials supply chain intelligence company Roskill expects Indonesia to become the world’s largest producer of refined nickel this year, pushing China to second place. As recently as 2014, Indonesia produced only 24kt of refined nickel. In 2020, Indonesia produced 636kt of refined nickel, most of which was nickel pig iron... Read more →


Pensana plans $125M rare earth separation facility in England

UK-based Pensana plans to build, subject to funding, a US$125-million sustainable rare earth separation facility at the Saltend Chemicals Park (“SCP”) in Humber, UK. Targeted production is around 12,500 annualized tonnes of rare earth oxides, including 4,500 tonnes of magnet metal rare earth oxides (NdPr), which would represent approximately 5%... Read more →


The price of copper on the London Metal Exchange (LME) rose to $9,990/t on 29 April, marking a ten-year high and closing in on the record high LME price of $10,147.50/t on 14 February 2011. In its new Copper Monthly Insights, Roskill said that the ongoing surge in copper pricing... Read more →


Lomiko Metals and Critical Elements Lithium Corporation have entered into an option agreement that gives Lomiko the right to acquire up to a 70% interest in the Bourier project. The Bourier project consists of 203 claims for a total ground position of 10,252.20 hectares (102.52 km2) in a region of... Read more →


A pre-prototype seabed polymetallic nodule (earlier post) collector being tested on the Pacific Ocean floor by Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR) has become detached from its lifting cable on its final dive and is sitting on the ocean bed 4.5 kilometers beneath the surface. GSR, the in-house deep-sea exploration and... Read more →


Tirupati Graphite plc, a fully integrated specialist graphite producer and graphene developer with operations in Madagascar and India, has opened its second mine in Madagascar at the Vatomina Project, where it remains on track to start commissioning the first 9,000 tpa processing plant in Q2 2021. Madagascar offers weathered, low-cost... Read more →


Researchers from the University of Houston, with colleagues at the University of São Paolo in Brazil, have demonstrated how copper-resistant bacterium from a copper mine in Brazil convert CuSO4 (copper sulfate) ions into zero-valent Cu (metallic copper). An open-access paper on their research is published in Science Advances. Gracioso et... Read more →


Orocobre Limited and Galaxy Resources have entered into a binding Merger Implementation Deed (MID) under which Orocobre will acquire 100% of the shares in Galaxy. The resulting company will have a A$4-billion (US$3.1-billion) market capitalization, making it the fifth-largest by capitalization. The merged entity will also be the fifth-largest lithium... Read more →


Iron ore leader Fortescue pushing green hydrogen, ammonia and electricity projects

Australia-based Fortescue Metals Group, one of the world’s largest producers of iron ore, recently revised its emissions reduction goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030—10 years earlier than its previous target. Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fortescue, will be a key enabler of this target through the... Read more →


Piedmont Lithium Limited released an updated Global Mineral Resource estimate (MRE) for its flagship Piedmont Lithium Project in North Carolina. The total MRE for the project is 39.2 Mt at 1.09% Li2O (Figure 1), with 55% of the MRE currently classified in the Indicated category. The Mineral Resource estimate is... Read more →


Clean Energy Ventures, a $110-million venture capital firm investing in early-stage climate tech startups, is leading the investments in two battery startups: one in the upstream (Nth Cycle) and one in the downstream (Volexion). Nth Cycle extracts cobalt, nickel and other critical battery metals from discarded batteries, e-waste and mining... Read more →


Rio Tinto has commenced production of battery-grade lithium from waste rock at a lithium demonstration plant at the Boron mine site in California. The demonstration plant is the next step in scaling up a breakthrough lithium production process developed at Boron to recover the critical mineral and extract additional value... Read more →


Researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia have developed a continuous electrically-driven membrane process which successfully enriches lithium from seawater samples of the Red Sea by 43,000 times (i.e., from 0.21 to 9013.43 ppm) with a nominal Li/Mg selectivity >45 million. They precipitated lithium... Read more →


Australia-based AVZ Minerals Limited has secured a strategic, long-term offtake partner agreement with Yibin Tianyi Lithium Industry Co., Ltd. for the supply of spodumene concentrate (SC6) from the Manono Lithium and Tin Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Spodumene—a lithium mineral derived from pegmatite rock—is known for its... Read more →