Argonaut mining and energy research director Matthew Keane got out his crystal ball this week and shared his predictions for the coming year.

Keane gave a keynote address at the New World Metals Conference in Perth, saying he believed the metals and energy industries would still be talking about trade wars in 12 months time.

Government priorities for critical minerals and the importance of battery minerals and rare earths for future economic success were both themes of the two-day Vertical Events conference.

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Keane believes the nation’s interest rate would “remain low for the foreseeable future.”

The analyst, former senior geologist and production & planning engineer covers a variety of mining industry sectors, including base metals, gold, bulk commodities, and oil & gas.

Also a former geologist with future Kalgoorlie area rare earths processor Lynas Corporation (ASX:LYC), Keane assesses boutique commodities.

He elaborated yesterday on his macroeconomic perspective, predicting heightened national interest in securing strategic minerals over the next 12 months and an environment, social and governance (ESG) focus.

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He forecast an ESG focus for the nation would drive the direction of mining strategy and technology.

Speaking on his predictions for specific commodities, Keane led with his expectations for copper and nickel.

He believes copper will “stage a recovery” but that a nickel price recovery is a little further away.

“I think copper will be strong. I think nickel recovery will be a bit more prolonged. I think cobalt will have a strong year,” he said.

“Uranium, I think this might be the first half of next year, you might see some movement, and rare earths, I think that might be up to China to determine what they’re doing.”

Keane felt the closure of Glencore’s Mutanda mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo would support continued recovery in cobalt.

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However, he does think it is “unlikely” there will be a sharp rebound in lithium prices in 2020.