Video of Council meeting [23mins] “Both parties seem to have realized the potential for change inherent in the present situation,” Under-Secretary-General Kieran Prendergast said, citing the smooth Palestinian transition after the death of President Yasser Arafat, the scaling back of Israeli military activity and the “critically important” dramatic drop in the Palestinian public’s support for terrorism.”There exists at present a real opportunity to implement the Road Map’s provisions and to make a huge leap forward towards a settlement of the conflict,” he added in reference to plan calling for parallel and reciprocal steps by both sides leading to two States living in peace by the end of 2005.”But,” he cautioned, “much work remains to be done if potential is to become achievement. We should make clear that we expect both Israel and the Palestinians to seize the moment to act constructively, and to work within the framework of the Road Map.”In a statement to the press after the briefing, Council President Abdallah Baali of Algeria welcomed Mr. Prendergast’s assessment. “Members of the Security Council agree that the moment is propitious for movement to implement the Road Map and look forward to free, fair and open Palestinian elections,” he said.The Algerian Ambassador also encouraged the UN to continue providing full support to upcoming Palestinian presidential elections and to encourage parties “to do their utmost to ensure success of those elections.”Also on the election front, the UN Liaison and Support Unit will open its office in Ramallah on Saturday, a spokesman for the world body said today.A satellite office will open in Gaza soon after, Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York. The UN officers will act as an interface between the international observers and the Palestinian Central Electoral Commission.Mr. Prendergast had hailed the smooth preparations to elect a new Palestinian president as well as Israel’s role in contributing “meaningfully to enabling a positive transition period” by resuming security cooperation and taking other constructive measures.”With the emergence of a more positive atmosphere, support among the Palestinian public for violent acts and terror against Israelis has declined dramatically,” he said. “This is a critically important development.” While noting “with satisfaction and hope for the future” that the violence had dropped overall in the past month, he warned that “a disturbing level” still persists.Palestinian militants continued to fire mortars and rockets against Israeli settlements and targets inside Israel, while Israel continued to carry out illegal extrajudicial killings, demolish houses and construct the “barrier” in the West Bank with “worrisome consequences” for the population there.As well as the smooth Palestinian transition Mr. Prendergast cited as the other “catalyst” Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, noting that this “can represent a step forward – with highly symbolic, precedent-setting significance – on the road towards ending the occupation that began in 1967 and towards achieving lasting peace in the Middle East.”He said the UN, together with its diplomatic Quartet partners in the Road Map peace plan – the European Union (EU), Russia and the United States – stood ready to maintain the momentum.”We believe now is the time to engage actively, help the process along and determine how best the international community can contribute to the revival of a sustainable peace process between Israelis and Palestinians,” he added.On the Syrian front, Mr. Prendergast noted that President Bashar al-Assad had reiterated a willingness to resume negotiations with Israel without conditions. “We believe that the outstretched Syrian hand should be grasped,” he said welcoming a statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom today that Israel should not deny a hand reaching out for peace.
Schlumberger has entered into an earn-in agreement with Pure Energy Minerals Ltd that could see it become the 100% owner of a lithium brine project in Nevada, US.Pure Energy has granted subsidiaries of Schlumberger an option to acquire all of its interests in the Clayton Valley project in return for constructing, at its own cost and expense, a pilot plant for the processing of lithium brine.Schlumberger, which is more used to providing services to those in the oil & gas field, has a three-year period in which to exercise the option and may only exercise it if it has completed construction of the pilot plant and test work, which achieves certain parameters, Pure Energy said.Upon exercise of the option, Pure Energy will be entitled to a 3% net smelter returns royalty on minerals produced at the Clayton Valley and an advance minimum royalty payment of $400,000 per year starting January 1, 2021, for a period of five years or until the project achieves commercial production.Pure Energy and its technical consultants have completed the basic design for the proposed pilot plant which could cost an estimated $15-$25 million. The company has received a water right from the Nevada Division of Water Resources to extract the lithium-bearing brine needed for operation of the planned pilot plant.The pilot plant design is being led by Tenova Advanced Technologies with significant contributions from SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions, a business unit of SUEZ Group, and NORAM Engineering & Constructors. The facility at the project will be the first pilot-scale implementation of the Tenova Process in the world. This process is specifically designed to exclude solar pond evaporation, increase and accelerate lithium recovery, and reduce the associated environmental footprint of lithium production.