Meanwhile, Tehran reportedly reiterated that a new deal to halt Iran from having a nuclear bomb is dependent on the lifting of US sanctions placed on the Islamic country. The US is also present in Vienna but Iran, which is expected to hold Presidential elections on June 18, has refused to hold direct meetings with Washington on how to resume compliance with the deal, which former President Donald J. EPA-EFE/ATOMIC ENERGY ORGANIZATION

Tehran’s stand: Lift sanctions or we’ll build nuke bomb

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The US Administration of President Joe Biden says that restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal, must be followed immediately by an agreement on limiting Iran’s missile program and backing of terrorist groups. Borrell reminded that the purpose of these negotiations is to go back on track and have Iran and the US back to full implementation. Borrell said he was optimistic about the ongoing Iran nuclear talks in Vienna but warned that there remained a lot still to do within a short time frame if efforts to revive the 2015 accord were to succeed. I dare to say that I am optimistic, there is a window of opportunity that will stay open for a couple of weeks until the end of the month but a lot of work is needed, time is limited and I hope that the negotiations will enter in a phase of non-stop negotiation in Vienna,” Borrell said. “What can I say is that these talks have been constructive and there have been some moderate advances. This is a very sensitive process. At a press conference after the latest Foreign Affairs Council on May 10, EU High Representative and Vice-President of the Commission Josep Borrell said the EU and the Biden Administration have already made progress together on some important issues, such as reengaging the US on the Iran nuclear deal. We have to work quickly, we only have a couple of weeks. I am optimistic about what is going on in Vienna.   There will be a lot of other different issues that will be put on the table later on,” Borrell said, adding, “But by the time being, let’s try to go back on track of the previous agreement”. “The efforts of my team, the European Union Team is working very hard and they are in Vienna and they will continue being there,” he added. As you know, at these kind of conversations, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” he said. What is going on in Vienna is an effort to make the US to go back to the agreement, in order to have a full compliance for Iran. “But do not ask me for the following steps, what is going on after. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>US wants Iran nuke deal reinstated, tied to safeguards

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

A handout photo made available by the Iran Atomic Energy Organization reportedly shows the inside of the Iran's Fordow nuclear facility, in Fordow, Qom province, November 6, 2019 (reissued January 5, 2020). Not everything will be solved in these couple of weeks. Talks resumed in Vienna on May 7 with the remaining parties to the deal – Iran, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. “I have been briefing my colleagues about the (ongoing) negotiations – you know that the High Representative is also the Coordinator of the JCPOA – this remains an extremely delicate and intense diplomatic process. Let’s go step by step. Trump scrapped three years ago. Which is the best way to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iran Nuclear Programme,” he said. “I dare to say that I am optimistic, but not about the whole universe.

As consumers increasingly rely on batteries, it is only a matter of time that similar pressure is brought on the battery industry also. Finally, in my opinion, the electric car revolution will require more and more powerful batteries, and with plentiful reserves, the cobalt market will always adapt to meet the demand. In 2016, Amnesty International highlighted the evidence of child labour, poor working conditions and inadequate machinery at small artisanal mines in DRC. While investors and consumers demand greater assurance and transparency, the market will rely on the expertise and experience of trusted natural resources partners. The Nkane open pit and headgear in Kitwe, Zambia

WIKIPEDIA

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The recent ease in global demand for blue metal – cobalt – has dampened concerns about a pending supply crunch. More supply from across the copper belt has been brought into the market to meet the demand, and, crucially, manufacturers in China are beginning to invest in alternative cathode technologies. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The cobalt corrective: Are we facing a supply crunch? Combined with a fluctuating price, this led to cobalt production struggling to keep up with demand. By Zuneid Yousuf
Chairman of African Green Resources, a world-class agriculture company, which focuses on agribusiness, and providing inputs and a market for produce from small, medium and commercial farmers. As the world transiting from fossil fuels and moving towards much more greener power sources, energy storage through batteries will be more and more crucial. This in turn led to worries that the global shift to electric vehicles would be undermined by a scarcity of this crucial mineral. Concerns were originally raised by NGOs, who put pressure on politicians, who in turn created regulations affecting industry dynamics. Pressure from NGOs like Amnesty has led battery producers and their customers to examine their supply chains in search for ethically produced cobalt. Ten years on, now we have a highly developed traceability regime for 3TG metals, allowing consumers to transparently track the source from where their smartphone components were produced, whether that be in closely monitored mines in the DRC or in politically stable countries such as my native Zambia. This situation appears calm, however, masks a deeper problem. As prices have started stabilising in April, it offers us an opportunity to analyse the current market drivers, and to decide what strategy the extractive industry should adapt to sustainably fuel the energy transition. WIKIPEDIA
It is estimated that 60% of the world’s Cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, or the DRC, where it is mined alongside another important metal copper. In 2021, however, a shift occurred, particularly as specific supply bottlenecks related to the pandemic got resolved with time, and prices have eased since the middle of March. Like the predictions of peak oil, warnings of a cobalt supply crunch have been chiefly determined by market mechanisms. Cobalt, a mineral with an electric blue color known to human civilisation since ancient time, is used today to store electricity in the most efficient manner. This has led to a steadily increasing demand for cobalt that is projected to continue for decades to come. It may be through legislation or simply through pressure from a better-informed society. One such level of scrutiny begins to restrict supply, it will have a knock-on impact on costs and may lead to a new cobalt crunch in decades to come, just as our reliance on fossil-fuel-based vehicles is now broken. Cobalt reserves, however, are estimated at 7.1 million metric tonnes, enough to meet the demand for many decades. Moreover, our experience in producing 3TG metals to the highest standards of traceability puts us ahead of the pack in producing Cobalt through an ethical and sustainable supply chain. In this context, my own company, Zumran Resources, a leading producer in Zambia’s copper belt, faces none of the ethical challenges like those in the DRC. Other jurisdictions, including the EU, have followed the US’ lead in introducing legislation, and many electronics companies have exceeded their legal obligations on traceability. Supply from the DRC comes with a whole lot of concerns. In the current scenario of Cobalt market, we have a steady price signal, with additional supply coming online steadily over time to overcome short term fluctuations. Lithium-ion-phosphate (LFP) cathodes allows batteries to be produced without cobalt, and have already been adopted by two of the largest battery makers. The experience of the 3TGs minerals – tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold, the well-known ‘conflict minerals’, suggests that concerns about supplies of cobalt from the DRC have not yet been fully priced in. Battery manufacturers can take heart, however, from the progress made over the past ten years by the 3TG extractive industries, providing a model to follow. In recent decades, concerns about conditions in the DRC and the potential for mineral production to finance violence and terrorism has led to major regulatory reforms and controls on the supply chain of the affected minerals. Banks, investors and business partners are already challenging suppliers on their traceability and supply chain compliance. Earlier reports predicted that the world’s appetite for batteries would lead to a situation of demand outstripping supply for cobalt by the end of the 2020s. However, LFP batteries are unlikely to meet the power demands of long-range electric vehicles any time soon, but definitely, this shift helped to ease recent pressure on cobalt supplies. Cobalt samples. The United States passed legislation in 2010 requiring smartphone makers and other electronics manufacturers to provide an independent third-party audit report of their supply chains for the 3TGs minerals. A reliable cathode material, it is a crucial component of lithium-ion batteries, used to power almost everything from mobile phones to laptops and electric cars. What led the consultancies and commentators like Wood Mackenzie to warn about a pending crunch and fears of ‘peak cobalt’ was the combination of steadily increasing demand from batteries and electric vehicles on one side, and concerns about how most cobalt is produced on the other.

“Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period. Colonial Pipeline had to shut it down on May 8 following a cyberattack which later the FBI confirmed that the Darkside ransomware was responsible for the compromise of the Colonial Pipeline networks. “We continue to work with the company and our government partners on the investigation,” the FBI said in a statement. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Colonial Pipeline restarts operations after ransomware cyber attack

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

THE COLONIAL PIPELINE CO.  
 
  The Colonial Pipeline – an important source of refined oil products in the US – said it has initiated the restart of pipeline operations as of 5 p.m. “Following this restart it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal,” the Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co said in a statement. Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting Colonial will be able rebuilt and restore its systems without having to resort to paying the ransomware through the crypto currency that Darkside is demanding. The restart follows earlier comments by US President Joe Biden that his Administration was in “very very close” contact with Colonial and that he expected some “good news”. ET. The Colonial Pipeline said it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal and pledged to move as much gasoline, diesel and jet fuel as is safely possible. Facebook

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The largest pipeline system for refined oil products in the US, the Colonial Pipeline, reportedly said on May 12 it initiated the restart of operations after having to shut down following a cyberattack last week which caused gas price hikes as motorists feared fuel shortages. The pipeline is 5,500 miles long and can carry 3 million barrels of fuel per day between Texas and New York. Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal,” the company added.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Amazon wins EU court appeal in Luxembourg tax case

By Zoe Didili
Journalist, New Europe

epa06997680 A shopper holds a shopping receipt from the Amazon mobile app in Taipei, Taiwan, 05 September 2018. Amazon.com Inc. has become the second publicly traded US company to reach one trillion US dollars in market value. The decision by the General Court of the European Union marked another major blow the bloc’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, as in July it had ruled that the EU antitrust authority had failed to prove that the Irish government had given a tax advantage to Apple. TONGO

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An EU Court said on Wednesday that the Commission failed to prove that Amazon was granted an illegal tax advantage, annulling the EU Executive’s decision that accused Luxembourg of handing the US retail giant about €250 million in tax benefits that amounted to illegal state aid. Reacting to the EU court’s ruling, Vestager said in a Twitter post that “Ensuring all companies pay a fair share of tax is a marathon not a sprint,” adding that the EU Executive will analyse Wednesday’s judgements. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. Welcoming the ruling, Amazon said it is “pleased that the Court has made this clear,” and that it can “continue to focus on delivering for our customers across Europe.”
“We welcome the Court’s decision, which is in line with our long-standing position that we followed all applicable laws and that Amazon received no special treatment,” Amazon said in a statement, Reuters reported. TONGO

A shopper holds a shopping receipt from the Amazon mobile app in Taipei, Taiwan, 05 September 2018. Last month Apple Inc. In 2017, the Commission concluded that Luxembourg granted illegal state aid to Amazon, declaring the aid incompatible with the internal market. An official statement issued by the Commission also noted that the body is “close to achieving a historic global agreement” on the reform of the international corporate tax framework. was the first company to be valued at 1 trillion US dollars. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. “Both confirm State aid rules apply & selective tax benefits harm fair competition,” her post further reads, whilst stressing that the EC will “keep working, also to seize momentum to update” the bloc’s tax laws. However, the EU court supported that the Commission’s findings were based on an analysis “which is incorrect in several aspects.”

“The General Court concludes that none of the findings set out by the Commission in the contested decision are sufficient to demonstrate the existence of an advantage for the purposes of Article 107(1) TFEU, with the result that the contested decision must be annulled in its entirety,” reads the court’s ruling.