US bank to provide £19.3m in funding for UK’s TechMet
The US Government Development Bank says it will invest £19.3 million in the London-based mining investment company, TechMet, as part of a push by US President Donald Trump to reduce the reliance on supply chains dominated by China.
According to a report by the Financial Times, the money from the £46.4 billion US International Development Finance Corporate will help TechMet invest in a Brazilian nickel and cobalt project that aims to supply the electric car industry.
The investment is part of a wider strategy to break China’s hold over raw material supply chains, the report says, highlighting comments made by Trump recently, calling the US’ reliance on foreign supplies of critical minerals a "national emergency" and security threat.
The DFC was formed in 2019 to provide an alternative to Chinese overseas finance in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It’s the first time the US government has invested directly in a metals and mining company, it adds. “This important financing will support economic growth in one of Brazil’s most underdeveloped areas,” Adam Boehler, chief executive of the US International Development Finance Corporation, says. “Investments in critical materials for advanced technology support development and advance US foreign policy,” he said.
Founded in 2017 by Brian Menell, a South African national with a background in African mining, TechMet invests in metals needed for clean energy technologies and battery recycling.
Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of America’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, sits on its advisory board. The company has investments in battery recycling company Li-Cycle, US Vanadium, Rainbow Rare Earths, Brazilian Nickel, and Tinco, a tin and tungsten company in Africa.
The funds will be used to bring Brazilian Nickel into commercial production, Mr Menell states. The company is developing a cobalt and nickel mine in Piaui in north-eastern Brazil.
“A country’s national and industrial competitiveness will be dependent on preferential access to these raw materials,” Mr Menell says. “It’s lovely having Tesla and Panasonic but China can close them down in five and a half weeks as they have to go to China for raw materials.”
Around 65 percent of the world’s nickel and 82 percent of global cobalt for batteries come from China, consultancy Benchmark Minera Intelligence says.
Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, has recently called for global mining companies to increase production of nickel to meet the company’s plans to scale up battery production. Tesla and other car manufacturers are increasing the amount of nickel used in their batteries, due to the metal helping to boost the range of electric vehicles.
DRC selects Fortescue to develop giant hydro project
Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC's) government said on Tuesday Fortescue Metals Group would develop the Grand Inga hydroelectric power project, including a 4,800-megawatt dam that has already been committed to Chinese and Spanish developers.
Fortescue to develop dams for world's largest hydroelectric project
Australia's Fortescue confirmed it was in talks with Congo to develop a series of dams that could become the world's largest hydroelectric project, but it said no formal binding agreement had been concluded.
Fortescue's involvement is the latest twist in Congo's decades-long quest to expand Inga, whose two existing dams - completed in 1972 and 1982 - have a combined installed capacity of nearly 1,800 MW.
The proposed expansion of six more dams would bring capacity to over 40,000 MW, roughly double the size of China's Three Gorges dam, currently the world's largest. Total development costs have been estimated at up to $80bn.
In 2018, a Chinese consortium that includes China Three Gorges Corporation and a Spanish consortium that includes AEE Power signed a deal with Congo's government to develop the third dam, known as Inga 3.
Ground has yet to be broken on Inga 3 because of questions over its financial viability. Alexy Kayembe De Bampende, President Felix Tshisekedi's top infrastructure advisor, said the project would now be led by Fortescue.
"Fortescue will be the sole operator for the entire Grand Inga (3 to 8). Chinese & co are welcome to join Fortescue," he told Reuters."There has been discussion between Chinese (Three Gorges) & AEE and (Fortescue) since last year to work together."
Three Gorges and AEE Power did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
DRC's Grand Inga green energy project will create hundreds of thousands of jobs
In a memorandum of understanding signed between Fortescue and Congo in September 2020, Fortescue "acknowledges the existing potential rights held on Inga 3 by third parties".
"In the event that, for any reason, such rights to develop Inga 3 become available, the government of the DRC undertakes to secure for Fortescue Future Industries an exclusive first option to develop Inga 3," it said.
A senior official at the government's Agency for the Development and Promotion of Grand Inga (ADPI), speaking on condition of anonymity, said the ADPI had not been involved in the talks with Fortescue.
Fortescue chairman Andrew Forrest met Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Sunday to discuss the project. Forrest said Fortescue would use the energy from Inga to produce hydrogen to export around the world.
"The capital cost of this will be many many tens of billions of dollars and direct and indirect employment will be in the hundreds of thousands," he told reporters.
Fortescue has said it plans to fund the majority of its green energy projects off its balance sheet, investing about $1bn a year of its own money.
Fortescue's statement was made in response to an article in the Australian Financial Review.
Meanwhile, Fortescue has teamed up with Hatch, Anglo American and BHP, to form a Green Hydrogen Consortium focused on ways of using green hydrogen to accelerate decarbonisation within their operations globally.