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Vital Switching Focus to Rare Earths Project Development

Australia-listed diversified explorer Vital Metals is switching gears to focus on rare earths exploration in Canada and Tanzania.

Capitalizing on the growing global appetite for rare earths, diversified explorer Vital Metals (ASX:VML) is switching gears to focus on rare earths exploration in Canada and Tanzania.

In order to facilitate this shift, Vital will acquire private Luxembourg-based Cheetah Resources, a rare earths company founded by ex-Lynas (ASX:LYC,OTC Pink:LYSCF) management.

Rare earths have been dominating the news cycle lately on the back of fears that China may limit exports of the technologically critical metals in response to tariff threats out of the US.

These ongoing tensions are alluded to in Vital’s reasoning for pursuing rare earths opportunities.

“Global rare earth demand has become inextricably linked to global and regional agreements, policies, regulations and initiatives,” reads the company’s announcement. “Rare earths are a cornerstone of global government macro-initiatives including electric mobility, clean power generation and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”

To date, Cheetah’s business plan has been to supply a high-purity mixed rare earths feedstock to third-party rare earth oxide (REO) separation facilities and refiners, which in turn supply end users.

The model was designed to result in lower capital expenditure and reduce lead times to production, positioning the company to be ready as demand increases globally for REO, used to make high-strength permanent magnets.

“Our development strategy is not to compete with existing rare earth refiners but rather keep capital and operating costs as low as possible by feeding their facilities, thereby helping them expand with the growing market for rare earths,” Vital CEO Zane Lewis said. “This is an exciting opportunity for Vital to be exposed to rare earths at a time when demand is outstripping supply on the back of the electric vehicle market and the need for clean power generation.”

In order to meet its own business plans, Cheetah has entered into an agreement with Avalon Advanced Materials (TSX:AVL,OTCQB:AVLNF), a Canadian critical metals development company, to acquire rights to the Nechalacho rare earths project located at Thor Lake in the Northwest Territories.

The unique deal will see Cheetah pay C$5 million to take ownership of the near-surface mineral resources on the property above a depth of 150 meters. Avalon will retain the rights and ownership for the deeper resources in the Basal zone.

Avalon’s president and CEO, Don Bubar, noted that the deal is innovative and collaborative, allowing for rapid initial development at a small-scale plant with low capital requirements.

“Once established as a reliable long-term source of the magnet rare earths, the business can grow to establish a new North American supply chain of these critical materials,” said Bubar.

“With China now controlling at least 80 percent of global rare earth supply, and threatening to restrict exports, new domestic supply chains to serve the North American market must be created to reduce reliance on supplies of rare earths from China.”

In addition to the deal with Avalon, Vital will also obtain Cheetah’s project development and option agreement with Montero Mining (TSXV:MON) for the Wigu Hill project in Tanzania. The deal will see Cheetah acquire all the intellectual property rights for Wigu Hill for an estimated C$100,000 and a C$500,000 work program to commence within six months of receiving the mining license.

Shares of Vital were down 18.72 percent on Tuesday (June 25), trading at AU$0.014.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Georgia Williams, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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The mining and resources sector now sets its sights on Australia’s largest mining investment forum, Mines and Money @ IMARC, co-located with IMARC from January 31, 2022, to February 2, 2022, at the Melbourne Showgrounds.

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Mines and Money Online Connect saw 90 mining companies, 600+ investors and more than 2,000 participants log-on to hear mining executives and analysts discuss the next big thing for savvy investors in 2022.

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Sydney Opera House at night

Robotics is an area of investing that is growing in Australia ― but is it a sector worth investing in?

The global robotics industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent through 2028 according to the Global Industrial Robotics Market Analysis 2020. Robotics is an area of investing that is growing in Australia ― but is it a sector worth investing in?

Broadly speaking, robotics is the design and construction of robots. This can include core automation and production, industrial software, robot technology and integration of robotics. From drones to self-driving cars to toys ― robotics is a growing industry that is beginning to permeate our daily lives.


The distinction between robotics and AI can be a little confusing, but essentially think of robotics like the body and AI like the brain. Both can exist separately, and they are powerful when combined. The goal of a robot is to complete a task faster and more efficiently than a human.

What does the market look like?

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen technology sectors such as robotics accelerate as businesses have faced global challenges. Robotics has been able to help keep spaces safer by replacing humans with robots on factory lines, in eCommerce warehouses or on healthcare frontlines taking temperatures or disinfecting spaces.

What is Australia doing to support the robotics sector?

In early 2020, the Robotics Australia Network was formed to accelerate growth of the domestic robotics industry. The network aims to strengthen global competitiveness and cement Australia as a global leader in robotics.

How does the Australian robotics sector stack up?

According to the International Federation of Robotics, in a ranking of the world's most automated countries it's not even in the top 10. Number one is Singapore, followed by South Korea then Japan.

The investment space for pure robotics companies is relatively small, with greater opportunities to invest in more broader technology, AI and automation stocks.

Who are the big players in robotics stocks?

Robotics stocks in Australia are companies with a strong crossover to other technology sectors like artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Vection Technologies (ASX:VR1)
Market Cap AU$77.56 million

Vection is a multinational software company with offices in Western Australia as well as Subiaco and Casalecchio di Reno in Italy. The company uses robotics technology as well as 3D, virtual reality, augmented reality, industrial IoT and CAD solutions. The business is split into two sections: IT development and outsourced services. The company also collaborates with Autodesk Technology Centers, the Microsoft Mixed Reality Team and Cisco Systems Italy.

Bill Identity (ASX:BID)

Market Cap AU$52.97 million

Previously known as BidEnergy, Bill Identity is a series of bill management solutions leveraged using robotic process automation, which helps clients increase efficiency. The company serves customers across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Europe. Bill Identity had a strong year, with total operating revenue growth of 55 percent year-on-year to US$14.6M in FY21.

What are the other ways to invest in robotics?

Another way to get into the robotics sector is investing in robotics exchange traded funds (ETFs), a popular choice that offers exposure to the industry of robotics and artificial intelligence rather than a single company. Two major ETFs in the robotics sector are:

  • BetaShares Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF (ASX:RBTZ)
  • The ROBO Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ARCA:ROBO)

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

carbon emissions

Following international pressure, the Australian government has promised to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

In a last-minute commitment after months of debate, the Australian government has promised to reach net zero emissions by 2050, expecting to meet the goal largely through technology development.

The move comes following international pressure as Australia had previously refused to join countries in pledging to meet the target ahead of the United Nations' COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

However, the plan unveiled on Tuesday (October 26), which includes a government investment of AU$20 billion, does not strengthen the target set for 2030, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying Australia is on track to beat its Paris Agreement goal, cutting emissions by 30 to 35 percent by that decade.


"We will do this the Australian way," Morrison said ahead of a press conference, announcing investments in new energy technologies like hydrogen and low-cost solar.

An Australian hydrogen industry could be worth more than AU$50 billion in 2050, according to the government. Meanwhile, expanding production and processing of metals like lithium, nickel, copper and uranium could together be worth around AU$85 billion in exports in 2050.

That said, Australia will continue to be heavily dependent on fossil fuels as the plan will not shut down coal or gas production. The country is a major coal player, with the third largest reserves in the world, but its reliance on coal-fired power makes it one of the world's largest carbon emitters per capita.

"We want our heavy industries, like mining, to stay open, remain competitive and adapt, so they remain viable for as long as global demand allows," Morrison said. "We will not support any mandate — domestic or international — to force closure of our resources or agricultural industries."

Australia's desire to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 is a step in the right direction, Prakash Sharma, Wood Mackenzie's Asia Pacific head of markets and transitions, said.

"Our analysis shows that Australia can reach net zero emissions by 2050," he said. The country's major trading partners — China, Japan and South Korea — are already in transition towards that goal.

According to Wood Mackenzie, nearly 83 percent of Australia's power generation will come from solar and wind by 2050, as compared to about 20 percent last year. Natural gas, bio energy, geothermal and small modular reactors will supply the remaining 17 percent in power output. Coal into power is expected to be phased out by 2035.

"Although the pathway requires complete transformation of its traditional energy and export sectors, there are significant opportunities to capitalise on and protect future revenues," Sharma said.

"This will require Australia to become a significant player in low-carbon hydrogen trade as well as being able to offer carbon storage and offset services."

Meanwhile, the Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed the prime minister's commitment to reach net zero by 2050, but said the mid-century goal is only meaningful with deep cuts to climate pollution this decade.

"Unless the government sets the wheels in motion to cut our emissions in half by 2030, it is making climate change worse and turning its back on the opportunities," said Chief Executive Kelly O'Shanassy.

"Australia can become a global clean energy superpower in the next decade by replacing coal and gas with renewable energy," she added. "We have abundant clean energy, tools and talent, but we cannot delay any longer."

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.