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 February 25, 2016
Obama bans US imports of slave/children-produced goods
    Publisher: Associated Press
    Author: Martha Mendoza


Associated Press - February 25, 2016

Obama bans US imports of slave/children produced goods

[Formation Metals comments on the article: Could this apply to minerals such as cobalt mined by children in the DRC?]

Federal officials are preparing to enforce an 86-year-old ban on importing goods made by children or slaves under new provisions of a law signed by President Barack Obama.

"This law slams shut an unconscionable and archaic loophole that forced America to accept products made by children or slave labour," said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who worked on the legislation.

The Tariff Act of 1930, which gave Customs and Border Protection the authority to seize shipments where forced labour was suspected and block further imports, was last used in 2000, and has been used only 39 times all together largely because of two words: "consumptive demand" --- if there was not sufficient supply to meet domestic demand, imports were allowed regardless of how they were produced.

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act signed by Obama on Wednesday eliminated that language, allowing stiffer enforcement. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske and agency leaders are planning a briefing Friday to explain how they'll be implementing the new law.

To read the full article, Click here or follow on Twitter @YahooFinanceCA

 February 03, 2016
Sony says no 'obvious' DRC link to cobalt in its products
    Publisher: Metal Bulletin
    Author: Location: London

Excerpts from the MetalBulletin Article

Sony says no 'obvious' DRC link to cobalt in its products

As Metal Bulletin continues its series of articles on the report published by Amnesty International, outlining allegations of human rights abuses in the artisanal cobalt mining industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we look at some of the responses from the major consumer brands named in the report.

Multinational technology conglomerate Sony was named in the report as being a customer of battery component manufacturer Ningbo Shanshan, which Amnesty claims can trace its cobalt supply back to Huayou Cobalt and subsidiary China Dongfang Mining International (CDM), and in turn, back to the DRC. In the report, Amnesty claims that Sony did not specify whether it had traced cobalt supplies back to the smelter and that it did not provide evidence that it had asked its smelters whether they had sourced the cobalt responsibly - "ie, identified and addressed human rights risks, such as child labour". "On its website, Sony details its due diligence policy...

Metal Bulletin is a paid subscription service. To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Metal Bulletin Membership or follow on Twitter @metalbulletin

 February 02, 2016
Cobalt in batteries mined by children, says report
    Author: Andrew Allen, in Ethics, Risk, Supply Chain


CIPS - - February 2, 2016

Cobalt mined by child labourers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is getting into the supply chains of major electronics brands like Apple, Samsung and Sony, according to a report by Amnesty International and Afrewatch.

The report This is what we die for: Human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo power the global trade in cobalt found children as young as seven had mined the mineral, which plays an important role in lithium-ion batteries.

The report said while many leading brands claimed to have a zero tolerance policy towards child labour in their supply chains they were unable to provide evidence of checks undertaken to prevent such abuses when it came to cobalt.

The DRC's cobalt miners face perilous conditions and often permanent lung damage, said the report.

More than half of the world's supply of cobalt comes from the DRC and around 20% of this amount comes from artisanal miners in the southern part of the country -- who often work in the poor conditions outlined in the report.

Most of the artesan-produced cobalt is sold to Chinese traders and purchased by Congo Dongfang Mining International (CDM), a subsidiary of China-based Huayou Cobalt, the report claimed.

CDM smelts the ore at its DRC plant before exporting it to China where it is further processed and sold to battery component manufacturers. These firms in turn sell to battery manufacturers, whose products are bought by well-known consumer brands.

"Artisanal miners include children as young as seven who scavenge for rocks containing cobalt in the discarded by-products of industrial mines, and who wash and sort the ore before it is sold," said the report.

The report calls for companies to carry out greater due diligence through their supply chains to ensure they are not using cobalt mined by child labourers.

It said any company that sources processed ore, and its customers along the supply chain, should be able to trace its suppliers up to the smelters, which may include companies such as CDM and Huayou Cobalt.

However, when contacted by Amnesty International, most of these brands could not provide evidence that they had undertaken research to identify smelters or tried to contact them to find out where their cobalt was sourced from.

For the link to the original article, please click here.

 January 28, 2016
Cobalt: Mined By Children For Use In Your Favorite Gadgets' Rechargeable Batteries
    Publisher: MintPress News
    Author: Kit O'Connell


Cobalt: Mined By Children For Use In Your Favorite Gadgets' Rechargeable Batteries

The painstaking "artisanal" mining work is performed by hand using mallets and chisels in high temperatures or even pouring rain.

As quoted in Mint Press News:

KINSHASA, Congo --- In recent years, activists and independent media have brought attention to "conflict minerals," key components in technology that are often sourced from war-torn countries. And a recent report from a major human rights group sounds the alarm on a largely overlooked metal that's being mined by thousands of children and underpaid adults in Africa.

Amnesty International issued the results of its detailed investigation into the sourcing of cobalt, a rare metal that forms a crucial ingredient of lithium-based rechargeable batteries, in a Jan. 19 report. According to the authors, more than half the world's cobalt comes from Congo, including at least 20 percent which comes from so-called "artisanal miners" in the southern part of the country.

"These artisanal miners, referred to as 'creuseurs' in the DRC, mine by hand using the most basic tools to dig out rocks from tunnels deep underground," according to the report, "This Is What We Die For." "Artisanal miners include children as young as seven who scavenge for rocks containing cobalt in the discarded by-products of industrial mines, and who wash and sort the ore before it is sold."

Click here to read the full MintPressNews which includes a link to Amnesty International's full report This Is What We Die For:

 January 21, 2016
Votorantim Metais Plans Production Stoppage at Nickel, Cobalt Plant
    Publisher: Cobalt Investing News
    Author: Charlotte McLeod


Votorantim Metais Plans Production Stoppage at Nickel, Cobalt Plant

Metal Bulletin reported that Votorantim Metais has moved forward a production stoppage at it Brazil-based nickel and cobalt plant which will take 1,400 tonnes of yearly cobalt production offline.

As quoted in the market news:

'Votorantim Metais [...] is conducting a stoppage for preventive and corrective maintenance of equipment at its units in Niquelandia (the Brazilian state of Goiás) and São Miguel Paulista (in the state of São Paulo),' a company spokesman said.

Click here to read the full Metal Bulletin report.

 January 18, 2016
Tech Giants Accused by Amnesty of Using Cobalt Dug by Children
    Publisher: BloombergBusiness
    Author: Thomas Wilson


Bloomberg Business - January 18, 2016
Excerpts from the Bloomberg Article

Tech Giants Accused by Amnesty of Using Cobalt Dug by Children

Chinese companies that buy cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo and supply mobile-phone and laptop makers such as Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. aren't fully checking their suppliers and may be acquiring the mineral from mines that rely on child labor, Amnesty International said.

Congo, the world's biggest cobalt producer, mined an estimated 67,735 metric tons of the material last year. While the majority was from industrial operations, as much as 20 percent may come from artisanal mines in the southeastern Katanga region, where adults and children work in dangerous conditions, Amnesty and African Resources Watch, a Congolese non-governmental organization, said Tuesday in a report.

Click here to read the full Bloomberg article

 December 16, 2015
Cobalt Outlook 2016: Near-term Deficit Still Expected
    Publisher: Cobalt Investing News
    Author: Charlotte McLeod


Cobalt Outlook 2016: Near-term Deficit Still Expected

2014 was undoubtedly the year of Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) for the lithium and graphite sectors, and cobalt was no exception. However, in 2015 market participants were forced to look beyond the hype.

That's largely because despite excitement about lithium-ion battery megafactories from Tesla and other major companies, 2015 didn't bring as much cobalt market tightness as was expected. Indeed, this time last year, some market participants were calling for a cobalt deficit in 2015 --- as yet, that deficit has not emerged.

To learn more about how cobalt fared in 2015, as well as what the cobalt outlook for 2016 is like, the Investing News Network (INN) got in touch with experts, including Andrew Miller of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, and Chris Berry of House Mountain Partners and the Disruptive Discoveries Journal. Here's what they had to say.

2015 cobalt themes: Market tightness overestimated

Speaking about cobalt in 2015, Miller began by stating that heading into the year, Benchmark expected to see the cobalt space gain attention from the battery sector. That's because "in many ways the cobalt industry has the most fragile supply structure of all battery raw materials."

However, while market participants have certainly begun to recognize cobalt's importance to the battery supply chain, "deals to supply the upcoming battery capacity expansions have been slower than initially thought." The underperformance mentioned above was the result --- "supply wasn't as tight as expected, and this saw prices continue to fall," said Miller.

In a late November article, Metal Bulletin gives a good idea of exactly how much the cobalt price has fallen this year. In it, the news outlet states that while the cobalt price was "holding up quite well" until October --- particularly compared to copper and nickel, its compatriots --- it then "fell off a cliff." At the time the article was written, low-grade cobalt was at a 35-month low of $10.35 to $11.40 per pound, down 25 percent since the summer.

In conversation with INN, Robin Goad, president and CEO of Fortune Minerals (TSX:FT), said that the dramatic price drop was caused by "Chinese liquidity pressures and new artisanal cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

That said, while cobalt demand wasn't stoked as much as some had hoped, 2015 did bring supply-side issues that could help to restore market balance and stoke prices moving forward.

On that note, Berry highlighted Glencore's (LSE:GLEN) plan to cut 400,000 tonnes of copper production from its African operations. That "will also take roughly 15 percent of global cobalt production offline," he said. Similarly, Miller highlighted that announcement from Glencore as something that the cobalt industry "has been following closely."

That said, Miller said his firm sees Eurasian Natural Resources' plans to supply the battery sector as "the most interesting piece of news" in the cobalt space in 2015. "This is the first of the existing majors seeking to address what could be a major bottleneck in the coming years," he said.

2016 cobalt outlook: Deficit in store?

While 2015 was a little underwhelming for cobalt market participants, it appears that 2016 may bring the market tightness expected last year, and along with it, a higher cobalt price.

Case in point: Berry said that demand for cobalt should "continue to grow well above global GDP" in 2016, while supply should continue to shrink. Catalysts for that will be "more copper and nickel production coming offline where cobalt is a by-product." All in all, these factors "should support higher cobalt prices."

Berry also pointed out that "cobalt doesn't have a very deep 'bench,'" meaning that companies are not waiting in the wings to meet the "looming supply requirements" expected to emerge in the next few years. He also encouraged investors to remember that a lot of cobalt is mined in Africa, where geopolitical issues --- another threat to supply --- are common.

Laying it out even more directly, Miller said that Benchmark "expect[s] supply to move into deficit in 2016, particularly as demand from the battery sector increases." He added, "we think this will see a rebound in prices throughout the year."

Execs at cobalt-focused companies appear to agree. Commenting to INN, Goad and Global Cobalt's (TSXV:GCO) Mitchell Smith both said that they see cobalt demand growing next year as supply becomes more precarious.

For his part, Goad commented that while the cobalt market "has been in surplus over the past few years ... the market is transitioning to balance." Echoing Miller, he said that the space is "forecast to be in a production deficit by 2016 or 2017," also stating that this deficit "will extend into the foreseeable future."

Meanwhile, Smith noted that "according to various market experts, the depressed cobalt prices at present are unlikely to persist into next year as the market expects to recover." In particular, he pointed to the "overall positive outlook for increased demand from the battery sector" as a likely driver of that recovery.

Investor takeaway

The cobalt outlook for 2016 is certainly positive, but investors who remember the optimism of 2015 may be wary. After all, the excitement seen this year has not brought higher cobalt prices, and --- as Goad and Smith highlighted --- has not made it easier for cobalt-focused companies to raise money to move their projects forward.

So what will make 2016 a different story? Based on the comments from the market watchers above, it seems that it will be key to watch whether the predicted deficit actually emerges next year. Whatever the case, it definitely looks set to be an interesting year for cobalt.

To read the full article please click here to visit

 November 24, 2015
Glencore's Cobalt Production Cuts Have Not Yet Affected Market Surplus
    Publisher: Argus Media


Excerpts from the Argus Media Article

The loss of 3,000t of production from Glencore's Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) subsidiary Katanga Mining, which shut in October for 18 months, has meant that its long-term customer will have to look to other sources for chemical grade cobalt units once deliveries under the current contract end.

With no shortage of available supply, Glencore's cut has to be followed by reduced production to balance the market, industry sources said.

Glencore's copper and cobalt production cuts have not been followed by other producers. If anything the cuts appear to have reduced the urgency for other mining firms to take similar actions. Katanga deliveries to customers under contract will continue until the end of 2016, and there looks to be no shortage of available supply to replace the lost production.


Despite a positive outlook of increased demand from the battery sector, cobalt prices have been trading much lower than previously anticipated. According to market participants, the depressed cobalt prices seen at present are unlikely to persist into next year as the market expects to recover. The major driving force next year and in the years to come is expected to be lithium-ion batteries, with car maker Tesla's new Gigafactory forecast to push cobalt demand beyond 100,000t/yr by 2020. Tesla's Powerwall concept seeks to move the market beyond automotive into home energy storage. Battery chemicals alone are expected to add between 5,000t/yr and 10,000t/yr of cobalt demand in the medium term.

Lithium-ion is not always the material of choice in the car making industry, but cobalt has the advantage of being used both in lithium-ion and the alternative lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide (NMC) batteries.

In Europe the government-driven switch to electric and hybrid buses and increased consumer adoption of electric and hybrid passenger cars are benefiting these markets. NMC batteries are favoured for electric buses and demand for these, together with lithium-ion, comes from electric vehicles, while in hybric cars lithium-iron-phosphate batteries are a competitor.

In China production of electric vehicles has risen 300% in the year to date, helped by the government's new policy to reduce urban emissions. South Korea's Samsung last month opened a new battery plant in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, to manufacture lithium ion-batteries for approximately 40,000 electric vehicles a year. To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Argus Media Membership

 September 23, 2015
Tesla Battery Push Spurs ENRC Owner to Target Cobalt Mining
    Publisher: Bloomberg
    Author: Yuliya Fedorinova


Bloomberg News - September 23, 2015
Excerpts from the Bloomberg Article

Tesla Battery Push Spurs ENRC Owner to Target Cobalt Mining

Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) plans to use a $2.2 billion project in the Democratic Republic of Congo to become the world's top cobalt producer and tap growing demand for batteries from companies including Tesla Motors Inc.

ERG CEO, Benedikt Sobatka sees the company becoming the largest cobalt producer in the world once full capacity is reached.

Mr. Sobatka said that cobalt prices should advance "significantly" in the next two years as demand for the metal used in rechargeable batteries increases.

The battery market is expanding as more consumers turn to electric and hybrid cars and look to store renewable energy to power appliances when there's little wind or sunshine. Daimler AG and Tesla said they plan to sell batteries storing energy to homeowners and businesses.

Click here to read the full Bloomberg article

 September 08, 2015
Potential Impact of Glencore's Decision to Review its Katanga Mining Operation
    Publisher: Roskill Information Services
    Author: Jack Bedder


Katanga Mining has suspended production of both copper and cobalt for up to 18 months as part of a business review of its operations and expenses amid a challenging environment for commodities

Jack Bedder Senior Analyst for Cobalt at Roskill provides comment...

"On Sunday, it was announced that Glencore's Katanga Mining (KML) had started a review of its business, including operations and expenses, in light of the challenging environment for commodities. The review could result in up to 18 months of suspended production. Considerable media attention has been paid to the potential impact on global copper production but what will be the effect on the cobalt market?"

KML operates a major mine complex in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), producing refined copper and cobalt. Its two key mine sites are the KTO underground mine (60Mt grading 4.65% Cu and 0.58% Co) and the KOV open-pit/underground mine (111Mt grading 5.37% Cu and 0.41% Co).

KML's Kamoto concentrator consists of four milling and flotation sections with a design capacity of 7.5Mtpy. The concentrator processes ore from the KTO mine. KML's Luilu solvent extraction/electro-winning plant processes sulphide and oxide concentrate from the Kamoto concentrator. Constructed in 1960 and expanded in 1972, this facility is capable of producing 175ktpy of copper and 8ktpy of cobalt metal. Cobalt metal production totalled 2.8kt in 2014, a 21% increase on 2013 levels, and 1.8kt in H1 2015, a 79% increase on H1 2014 levels, owing to increased grades and volume, together with improved recovery rates. Material is shipped to Europe, Asia and the USA.

The temporary closure of KML could have a considerable impact on the market as the operation is an important source of cobalt hydroxide and metal to the international market. With reduced output also expected from ENRC's Chambishi smelter in Zambia in the future, suspension of KML's operations could compound fears over African cobalt supply.

This development comes at a time of falling cobalt prices and may serve as the catalyst that many are waiting for to reverse this trend. Cobalt prices have fallen over the past year. Prices as reported by Metal Bulletin averaged US$15.08/lb in Q3 2014, US$14.21/lb in Q4 2014 and US$13.93/lb in Q1 2015. Prices in Q2 averaged US$13.86/lb, just below Q1 levels, and will average around US$13.00/lb in Q3."

Roskill will be factoring the likely impact of this news on the cobalt market outlook in its forthcoming Q3 cobalt briefing. This quarterly service, launched in 2015, provides insiders, observers and investors with the latest news, data, analysis and short-term supply/demand/price forecasts, enabling faster decision making.

To receive a sample copy please contact Roskill directly or, Sign up for a full subscription on the Roskill website.

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