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AssessmentsApr 9, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
The walls surrounding the Kremlin are reflected on a plaque at the entrance of the oil company Rosneft's headquarters in Moscow. 
Russia Loosens the Reins on Rosneft
The Russian government no longer has a majority stake in Rosneft for the first time in the energy giant’s 27-year history. On March 28, Rosneft announced that it had sold all of its assets in Venezuela as part of a deal with the wholly government-owned company, Rosneftegaz. The sale is designed to shield the company’s Venezuelan operations from further U.S. sanctions, while still allowing Moscow to continue its support of the disputed rule of President Nicolas Maduro. But by continuing Rosneft's slow and steady shift toward privatization, the passing of this threshold could also open the company up to a more market-driven and prosperous future. 
AssessmentsAug 8, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
This Landsat photograph from 1972 shows the Pakistani-Iranian border.
Pakistan Struggles to Make Good on a Golden Opportunity in Balochistan
In a remote and arid corner of southwestern Pakistan, Islamabad has found itself embroiled in a difficult battle: a multibillion-dollar dispute with a global mining company over one of the world's richest untapped deposits of copper and gold. In July, the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ordered Pakistan to pay $5.9 billion in damages to the Tethyan Copper Co., a joint venture between Canada's Barrick Gold Corp. and Chile's Antofagasta PLC. The ruling stems from a 2012 case that Tethyan lodged at the ICSID against Islamabad for failing to issue a license to mine gold and copper at the Reko Diq site. The case draws attention to the rich resources of Balochistan, Pakistan's rugged southwestern frontier in which Reko Diq is located, as well as the tug of war between domestic Pakistani law and international arbitration in resolving investor disputes. But above all, the Reko Diq
SnapshotsAug 7, 2019 | 22:08 GMT
Congo: Why the Shutdown of One Cobalt Mine Matters
British-Swiss mining powerhouse Glencore has announced that it will shut down cobalt and copper production from its Mutanda mining operation in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by the end of the year. The company expects the shutdown to last at least two years, although, after that amount of time, the benefits of restarting operations could be insufficient to justify a restart. In 2018, besides about 200,000 metric tons of copper, the mine produced just over 27,000 metric tons of cobalt -- around 20 percent of total global production of the strategic metal.
SnapshotsJun 15, 2018 | 19:13 GMT
Congo: Kabila's Government Flexes Its Power Over the Cobalt Market
After implementing the Democratic Republic of the Congo's demanding new mining regulations on June 9, President Joseph Kabila's government has shown little interest in bending to mining companies' requests or suggestions. After all, Kabila's country has the upper hand, buoyed by continued Chinese investments, a lack of real competitors in the cobalt markets and a substantial share of other strategic metals like copper. The Congolese government will likely be able to force mining companies and manufacturers operating in the country to comply with its increasingly onerous demands -- at least until alternative markets and technologies come online, which will take at least three years to emerge and more to fully diversify.
SnapshotsMay 2, 2018 | 22:07 GMT
A map shows sub-Saharan Africa
Congo: Problems for Miner of Copper and Cobalt Only Multiply
With the rapid rise in the prices of certain minerals and metals, commodity-rich nations in Africa are looking to capture a greater share of this bonanza. To take advantage of the growing demand for key metals such as cobalt and vanadium, developing countries can either open up mining operations to foreign direct investment or try to collect more revenue from their raw materials. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is taking the second approach, which is adding to the problems facing Glencore PLC, one of the country's larger mining operators.
AssessmentsApr 19, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) shakes hands with Vladimir Bogdanov, CEO of Surgutneftegas oil and gas company, in Moscow on April 30, 2016.
New U.S. Sanctions on Russia Make It Personal
Moscow has had time to adjust to and anticipate economic restrictions in the four years since the European Union and United States first imposed sanctions. Though the latest sanctions' announcement drove the ruble down to its lowest point since December 2016 and brought the Russia Trading System index down 13 percent, both recovered within a few days. The Russian economy is stabilizing after years of recession, and the country's National Wealth Fund stood at $65.9 billion as of April 1. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, in fact, has said that the Kremlin may actually wind up with a budget surplus this year, depending on energy revenues. The targets of the sanctions will be the ones bearing the brunt of the new restrictions, but that detail doesn't mean the Kremlin won't respond.
AssessmentsMar 4, 2018 | 14:23 GMT
A worker at a copper and cobalt mine near Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, May 23, 2016.
The Congo Is Set to Butt Heads With Mining Firms Over Cobalt
For parents in much of the world, the beginning of December is a harbinger for the scramble to secure the year's hottest game or electronic gadget ahead of the holidays. And as battery technology continues to improve and costs decline, it has touched off another scramble of its own, as the manufacturers of batteries for everything from smartphones to electric vehicles chase after raw materials like cobalt, an invaluable component in such objects. Right at the center of this frenzy is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which holds roughly 50 percent of the world's cobalt reserves. But with President Joseph Kabila and his government looking to grab a greater share of mineral revenue while avoiding any additional international pressure that could threaten Kabila's hold on power, Kinshasa and international mining companies might soon find themselves on a collision course.
AssessmentsJan 8, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
As a key component in lithium-ion batteries, cobalt has become an important commodity in the growing electronics and electric vehicle markets.
Cobalt: A Metal Poised to Peak
As the demand for electric vehicles increases over the coming decades, so, too, will the demand -- and the price -- for the raw materials required to produce them. Increased demand for elements such as lithium and cobalt will lead to potential supply bottlenecks over the course of the next several years. And while the media has touted the potential of lithium -- as the eponymous component of lithium-ion batteries -- to be the raw material that powers the gradual transition away from fossil fuel-reliant transportation, it has understated the significance of one element in the equation: cobalt. Lithium-ion batteries require lithium, yes, but they also require something else. Under the constraints of present technology, that something is more often than not cobalt.
AssessmentsSep 7, 2017 | 12:26 GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Igor Sechin, the CEO of oil giant Rosneft, on May 17, 2017.
Russian Rivalries: A Tale of Two Energy Firms
Gazprom has long been the Kremlin's favored energy partner, holding a monopoly over Russia's piped natural gas exports. Gazprom's stranglehold on natural gas exports meant the Kremlin could use it as a tool in its relationships with former Soviet states, Europe and Turkey. But lower global natural gas prices, as well as a string of diversification projects in Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East, have curbed Gazprom's ability to influence affairs in those regions, which in turn has weakened its position with the Kremlin. In Gazprom's struggles, Rosneft has spied an opportunity. Now that its rival is weaker, the firm has started to aggressively grab new assets: In October 2016, Rosneft closed a deal to take over the country's sixth largest oil firm, Bashneft, even after Putin explicitly warned against the takeover with a rare public threat. Rosneft won out in the end, agreeing to let the Kremlin privatize a large
Quarterly ForecastsJun 26, 2017 | 13:54 GMT
The United States will maintain its security alliances abroad, but it will also generate enough uncertainty to drive its partners toward unilateral action in managing their own neighborhoods.
2017 Third-Quarter Forecast
Federal investigations and budget battles with Congress will make for another distracting quarter for U.S. President Donald Trump. But these disruptions won't mitigate the White House's rhetoric, or broader speculation that the United States is retreating from the global stage. And though mixed messages from the U.S. administration won’t result in Washington abandoning its traditional allies, they will spur more unilateral action by U.S. partners in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
AssessmentsJun 1, 2017 | 09:30 GMT
Beyond the Recession, More Problems Await Russia
Russia's economy is recovering, slowly but surely. But that doesn't mean its troubles are behind it. Relative to its last convalescence after the 2009 recession, which was deeper, the Russian economy's current recovery is far less robust, in large part because of lackluster oil prices. (The country loses $2 billion in revenue for every dollar oil prices drop.) The government's official numbers, moreover, must be taken with a grain of salt since the Kremlin has been tinkering with its statistics. The state statistical unit, Rosstat, changed its methodology recently to amplify the effect of the military-industrial complex as the Kremlin embarked on an arms purchasing spree. Then in March, President Vladimir Putin moved Rosstat, once largely shielded from politics, under the economy minister's authority. The head of the statistics agency claims that a government official asked him to tweak the data on the economy to give the appearance that inflation
AssessmentsApr 28, 2017 | 09:37 GMT
Untangling the Web of Russia's Cyber Operations
Russia's interest in foreign elections didn't end with the U.S. presidential vote. Two days after the first round in the French presidential election April 23, a cybersecurity firm based in Japan reported that Russian hackers had targeted Emmanuel Macron's campaign in the runup to the vote. Macron, one of two candidates who advanced to the runoff, slated for May 7, had accused the Kremlin of discrediting his campaign, and his staff complained of constant, sophisticated phishing attempts throughout the race. Phishing, though not the most advanced technique, has proved highly effective for conducting criminal activity and espionage; the Kremlin allegedly used the same tactic to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. Recent developments have shed light on the apparent ties between Russia's state security apparatus and the world's most sophisticated cybercriminals.
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