Trump win brings confidence in Alaskan pebble project
A small Canadian miner is confident Donald Trump's U.S. presidential win will let it proceed with an application for a copper and gold mine in Alaska that has been stalled almost three years by environmental regulators aiming to protect the world's biggest sockeye salmon fishery.
Ronald Thiessen, chief executive officer and president of Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd, told Reuters that he expected the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to announce in the first quarter of 2017 that it will let the application process proceed for the controversial project.
He said the company has held discussions with Trump's transition team, including Myron Ebell, who heads the EPA transition.
The president elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20.
What is the Pebble project?
Dubbed “one of the greatest stores of mineral wealth ever discovered”, the current resource estimate at the Pebble deposit includes around 6.44 billion tonnes, divided up into 57 billion Ib copper, 70 million oz gold, 3.4 billion lb of molybdenum and 344 million oz silver.
The Pebble Project looks to develop a globally significant deposit of copper, gold, molybdenum and silver into a modern mining location.
Located on the land that the State of Alaska secured during the Cook Inlet Land Exchange of 1974 -- a three-way land swap involving the federal government, the state and the Cook Inlet Region Inc. (CIRI), an Alaska native regional corporation. The State of Alaska secured land including what is now Pebble, explicitly for its mineral potential.
Northern Dynasty Minerals identifies four key project strengths:
- a mineral resource with the tonnes, grade, metallurgy and geometry to potentially support a modern, long-life mine;
- one of the most extensive environmental databases ever assembled for a resource development project in America;
- a stable and predictable regulatory environment in Alaska and the US; and
- broad public support for responsible resource development in Alaska.
Get in touch with our editor Dale Benton at [email protected]
British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars
The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change.
It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.
British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad.
Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe
After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company.
“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”
Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector.
Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial.
Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production
“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”
The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction.
Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably.
“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.
“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”
Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK.
“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”
Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.