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7 November, 2022

Newsletter October 2022

Dear friends,

while a CEO of a large electric car manufacturer buys and restructures micro-blogging networks, we are working diligently on our projects to start the production of minerals as soon as possible. A look at the other side of the globe leaves us feeling more and more concerned: China is increasingly getting involved in European business. Most recently, the Chinese state-owned company Cosco took a stake in the largest German port in Hamburg. We watch this development more than critically and plead for a reflection of the European economic and location strategy.

Wake-up call from Sweden
The Swedish start-up Northvolt is pushing the construction of its battery factory in northern Germany into an uncertain future. Company boss Peter Carlsson hinted at a possible delay in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. This apparently has no logistical but financial - and political - reasons. The euphoria of electric car battery manufacturers has given way to a new disillusionment that could slow down not only Germany's but Europe’s battery competence.

Europe is running out of investors for battery factories. Tesla has been doubtful for a long time and now Northvolt is, too. “With the current electricity prices, we see the economic viability of energy-intensive projects in Germany at risk”, Carlsson said. What is missing is a reliable perspective for the future, especially for Germany. Others are doing better: the USA is successfully attracting investors with subsidies and helping with the gigantic energy costs of such factories. It would certainly be appreciated if Europeans positioned themselves better in the race for the future. Incentives and a certain planning security would be key elements for that – also in the energy sector. Providing clear rules, secure and affordable energy could help in the effort to become less dependent on China.

From Stockholm via Seville to Berlin
Raw material procurement and security are currently the hottest topics in the mining industry. Those resources are one of the crucial factors in battery production, but the global shortage of raw materials has led to bottlenecks across all sectors. In Stockholm, Seville and Berlin, I had some fruitful discussions with leading experts from politics and business about the challenges of our time. The main subject of these conversations was the European dependency.

As miners, we are fighting on several fronts, metaphorically speaking: On the one hand, we need to reduce our dependence on China, and on the other hand, approval processes for the construction of European mines need to be made leaner and more efficient. The magic keyword is speed: Speed in the bureaucracy when it comes to permissions and funding for European mining projects. Speed to expand electric drives and put more of them on our roads to combat climate change. The negative economic effects of excessive dependence on a few states for raw materials are currently demonstrated in the case of natural gas, where the necessary detachment from Russia is resulting in high costs and supply insecurity for the economy and consumers. The European production of important battery minerals and an attitude of technology openness in this field strengthens resilience in raw material and energy issues.

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