Robin Bromby

About Robin Bromby

Robin Bromby is a journalist, author and sometime publisher who has had titles issued by mainstream publishers, including Doubleday, Simon & Schuster and Lothian Books. Robin began as a cadet journalist in 1962 with The Dominion, the morning paper in Wellington, New Zealand. He also worked for the NZ Broadcasting Corporation, TV1, the South China Morning Post, The Herald (Melbourne), the Sunday Times (Wellington), The National Times (Sydney) and, since 1988, he has been first a staff reporter and now columnist for The Australian and has been a Senior Editor for InvestorIntel since the onset.

Peak Resources: low development cost, long life mine and high (for Tanzania) hopes of mineral diversity

Peak-Resources-Tanzania-2 In 2012 gold made up 94% of Tanzania's mineral exports. The country is the third largest gold producer in Africa, but now it wants to do more. A report out of Britain this week shows that the country is, by 2018, looking to diversify into other metals. The Business Monitor International report cites coal, nickel and uranium as new areas, but the quarterly report out this week from Peak Resources (ASX:PEK) reminds us that Tanzania is likely soon to be a player in the rare earth sector, with that company aiming to produce 10,000 tonnes a year. Apart from the…

Hybrid and electric cars to help Japan fight way back into Chinese market

Japan is fighting to regain market share in China’s automobile sector with hybrid and electric cars being in the forefront of the effort. Nissan Motor has launched a demonstration test of its 300 electric vehicles in three Chinese cities ahead of the release of the EVs in China this autumn. And, in a research development, 3-D printing is coming to the electric car business. According to a report in China Daily, Japanese carmakers jointly held a market share of 19.4% in 2011. At their peak in 2008, they had more than 30%. For the past two years market share was…

Suddenly, it’s blue skies for nuclear — but the price-setters haven’t noticed

monopoly Three pieces of good news in a week for nuclear power. When was the last time that happened? Yet those who influence the uranium price do not seem to have factored this in to their calculations, with the spot price remaining this week at $28.35/lb, down in the basement at the same level as it has been since May. On several occasions I have made the point (not an original one — a few of the more perspicacious analysts put the thought into my head) that we are heading for a supply crunch real soon, and certainly by 2020, and…

Graphite: it’s no one-year wonder, as history shows

hague_graphite A scan back over the past 100 years might be in order for some of today's mainstream media commentators and reporters on the subject of graphite. Graphene is the new black to them — until the next thing comes along. Fifty or so years ago, it was graphite as the answer to aircraft weight problems, 40 years ago it was the graphite fishing rod. And we mustn't forget the dream of the "all-British pencil". But, as we will see, graphite has been on the technology breakthrough trail for many decades, graphene just being the latest wrinkle. What with graphene and…

As information continues to bombard us every day, there’s a need to keep some perspective

prediction In the mining business there’s always the risk of over-reach. Back in mid-2011, Citigroup Global Markets added up the 400 largest greenfield mining projects around the world and the capital commitment through to 2020 for those totalled close to $500 billion — or half a trillion, to put that figure in more dramatic terms. But the analysts also calculated that some twenty-four per cent of those projects were unlikely to be delivered. We await Citigroup someday going back to do an update. I bet the situation compared to their forecasts could be unrecognisable. Should all those projects have gone ahead,…

A few questions about Glencore’s (supposed) plans for Syrah and graphite (and a certain technology metal, vanadium)

The graphite world has gone dizzy at the news of unsourced reports out of Australia that Glencore is about to make a bid for Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR), owner of the (claimed) largest graphite resource in the world. Syrah's shares have rocketed, as have those of its neighbour in Mozambique, Triton Minerals (ASX:TON), whose stock rose Friday by more than 20% by early afternoon trade in Sydney. But, at least here in Australia, no one seems to have stopped and asked the question: is Glencore really that interested in graphite? If it is, then it will no doubt want to become…

Lithium just one of several markets that could do with some transparency

Reed-Resources It requires a considerable amount of detective work to keep tabs on rare earth prices, and what is going on in the tungsten, antimony, graphite and several other metals. It is not just a matter of clicking on the webpage of the London Metal Exchange, as one can do with the base metals, or checking Comex prices for the precious ones. Ditto with lithium, not surprising considering that 80% of world output is produced by just four companies. In fact, lithium (to extrapolate from a point made this week by Christopher Ecclestone, of which more below) has something in common…

The graphite race goes to a new level with Chinese-Australian merger

Lamboo-Infographic In what might be a roadmap for other graphite hopefuls, we are seeing the (probable*) birth of what is being claimed to the first vertically-integrated, stock exchange-listed, upstream flake graphite resource company (and coming complete with a production plant that makes spherical anodes and graphene). The deal involves the merging of companies that between them own three operating graphite mines in China and advanced flake graphite projects in Australia and South Korea. Chinese graphite miner and manufacturer China Sciences Hengda Graphite Co will merge with Australian explorer Lamboo Resources (ASX: LMB). Incidentally, Lamboo's biggest shareholder (with 18%) is the New York-based…

The death of rare earths, like Mark Twain’s demise, has been greatly exaggerated

Mark-Twain-death Is the rare earths sector teetering, as Reuters says? Their Asian mining correspondent, Sonali Paul, clearly thinks so, pointing out the problems at Lynas and Molycorp. And the headline on the report claims that "Rare earths industry teeters as Australia's Lynas heads to full ramp-up". She throws in the claim that "around 200 rival mine projects in Alaska, Canada, Sweden, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa and Western Australia have been left on the drawing board as investors, lenders and manufacturers watch and wait". Really? On April 8 Tasman Metals announced it was beginning its pre-feasibility study on the Norra Karr heavy rare earths…

Australian island world leader in poppy growing, now wants to lead on medical cannabis

In 1965 Glaxo (now GlaxoSmithKline) established crops of opium poppies in Tasmania, the island state of Australia. Now the island produces 50% of the opium alkaloids needed for the world's pharmaceutical industry. Now, also, pressure is growing in Tasmania to take the lead in growing cannabis for medical use — and political pressure throughout Australia is beginning to swing behind the cause. The news media are increasingly featuring stories about people who have obtained marijuana through their own efforts, such as a young man with bowel cancer and a woman who uses the drug to suppress seizures (she was once…