Pentagon to transfer $1.5 billion to border wall from Afghan forces, other areas

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved the transfer of $1.5 billion to build more than 80 miles (130 km)of barriers on the border with Mexico, U.S. officials said on Friday, including taking about $600 million from an account meant for Afghan security forces. The latest move was opposed by congressional Democrats, who also criticized a March transfer of $1 billion in military money to fund Republican President Donald Trump’s wall. “The funds were drawn from a variety of sources, including cost savings, programmatic changes and revised requirements, and therefore will have minimal impact on force readiness,” Shanahan said in a statement. Shanahan said that the U.S. military had more than 4,000 service members on the border, along with 19 aircraft.

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Emerging Technology

Mkango Subsidiary Maginito and CoTec Form HyProMag USA Joint Venture and Commence Process to Appoint EPCM Provider for the Feasibility Study

GlobeNewswire | January 04, 2024

CoTec Holdings Corp. and Mkango Resources Ltd. are pleased to announce that CoTec and Maginito Limited ("Maginito") have formed a 50/50 joint venture entity which will roll out HyProMag Limited’s (“HyProMag”) Hydrogen Processing of Magnet Scrap (“HPMS”) recycling technology into the United States. The newly formed joint venture company, HyProMag USA, LLC (“HyProMag USA” or the “Joint Venture”), plans to develop a low cost, low carbon, sustainable rare earth magnet recycling and production business underpinned by HPMS. HyProMag has sublicenced the HPMS technology to HyProMag USA. HyProMag is 100 per cent owned by Maginito, which is owned on a 79.4/20.6 per cent basis by Mkango and CoTec, and is commercialising rare earth magnet recycling in the UK, Germany and United States. Revenue from the Joint Venture is targeted for 2025/2026. HyProMag USA will initially focus on completing a bankable feasibility study (“Feasibility Study”) through a hub and spoke model using three HPMS vessels and one magnet manufacturing hub (together the “US Project”). The Joint Venture has recently initiated a “Request for Proposal” process from leading Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (“EPCM”) providers and has ordered three HPMS reactors to expedite the development of the US Project. Following completion of the Feasibility Study, CoTec and Mkango will make a joint decision as to whether the Joint Venture will proceed with the construction of the US Project. Julian Treger, CoTec CEO commented: “HyProMag is supported by the Minerals Security Partnership1 and we are looking forward to working with leading EPCM providers to design and build these facilities using HyProMag’s considerable experience from the plants being developed in the UK and in Germany. CoTec and Mkango are focused on delivery and will be exploring US Government funding and strategic partnerships for feed supply and rare earth element (“REE”) magnet offtake in the first half of 2024. “We look forward to working and collaborating with local, state and federal stakeholders targeting the completion of the feasibility study”. Will Dawes, Mkango CEO commented: “We see the United States as a core component of our growth strategy and look forward to progressing the US feasibility study over the course of the year, in parallel with further development of operations in the UK, Germany and other jurisdictions. HyProMag’s recycling technology has major competitive advantages versus other recycling technologies and is a key enabler for cost effective and energy efficient separation, recycling and production of rare earth magnets with a significantly reduced carbon footprint. We are receiving strong interest for recycled magnets from potential customers and for recycling solutions from original equipment manufacturers (“OEMs”), and automotive and recycling companies.” HPMS technology was developed at the University of Birmingham, underpinned by approximately US$100 million of research and development funding, and has major competitive advantages versus other rare earth magnet recycling technologies, which are largely focused on chemical processes but do not solve the challenges of liberating magnets from end-of-life scrap streams –HPMS provides the solution. Maginito Maginito is owned 79.4 per cent by Mkango and 20.6 per cent by CoTec. It is focused on developing green technology opportunities in the rare earths supply chain, encompassing neodymium (NdFeB) magnet recycling as well as innovative rare earth alloy, magnet, and separation technologies. Maginito holds a 100 per cent interest in HyProMag and a 90 per cent direct and indirect interest (assuming conversion of Maginito’s convertible loan) in HyProMag GmbH, focused on short loop rare earth magnet recycling in the UK and Germany, and a 100 per cent interest in Mkango Rare Earths UK Ltd (“Mkango UK”), a company focused on long loop rare earth magnet recycling in the UK via a chemical route. About Mkango Resources Ltd. Mkango's corporate strategy is to develop new sustainable sources of neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium to supply accelerating demand from electric vehicles, wind turbines and other clean technologies. In parallel with development of its mining assets, Mkango plans to become a market leader in the production of recycled rare earth magnets and alloys via its interest in Maginito. This integrated Mine, Refine, Recycle strategy differentiates Mkango from its peers, uniquely positioning the Company in the rare earths sector. Mkango is listed on the AIM and the TSX-V. Mkango is developing its flagship Songwe Hill rare earths project (“Songwe”) in Malawi with a Definitive Feasibility Study completed in July 2022 and an Environmental, Social and Health Impact Assessment approved by the Government of Malawi in January 2023. Discussions regarding the Mine Development Agreement (“MDA”) for Songwe Hill are ongoing with the Government of Malawi. In parallel, Mkango and Grupa Azoty PULAWY, Poland's leading chemical manufacturer have agreed to work together towards development of a rare earth separation plant at Pulawy in Poland (the Pulawy Separation Plant) to process the purified mixed rare earth carbonate produced at Songwe Hill. Mkango also has an extensive exploration portfolio in Malawi, including the Mchinji rutile exploration project, the Thambani uranium-tantalum-niobium-zircon project and Chimimbe nickel-cobalt project. About CoTec Holdings Corp. CoTec is a publicly traded investment issuer listed on the Toronto Venture Stock Exchange (“TSX- V”) and the OTCQB and trades under the symbol CTH and CTHCF respectively. CoTec is an environment, social, and governance (“ESG”)-focused company investing in innovative technologies that have the potential to fundamentally change the way metals and minerals can be extracted and processed for the purpose of applying those technologies to undervalued operating assets and recycling opportunities, as it transitions into a mid-tier mineral resource producer. CoTec is committed to supporting the transition to a lower carbon future for the extraction industry, a sector on the cusp of a green revolution as it embraces technology and innovation. It has made four investments to date and is actively pursuing operating opportunities where current technology investments could be deployed.

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Government Business

Kratos & Rancher Gov Solutions Partner for Easy Deployment of Virtual Ground Systems with OpenSpace

GlobeNewswire | January 05, 2024

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., a technology company in Defense, National Security and Global Markets and Rancher Government Solutions (RGS), the leading provider of enterprise Kubernetes management solutions to the U.S. Government, announced today a strategic partnership to enable customers to seamlessly deploy and scale virtual ground systems using Kratos’ software-based OpenSpace® Platform. With increasingly complex and dynamic satcom and Earth Observation missions, satellite operators and government agencies are transitioning from fixed and proprietary hardware to flexible and scalable generic compute-based cloud environments. This enables a virtualized and software-defined ground system like Kratos OpenSpace Platform to more cost effectively and securely support multiple missions simultaneously, deliver services faster and streamline operations. Today, customers leverage a range of computing environments from bare metal, virtual machines to the cloud, making the deployment of software-based ground systems more complex and time consuming. Working together, Kratos and Rancher Government Solutions have enhanced the ability of the OpenSpace Platform, the first commercially available, fully virtualized and software-defined satellite ground system to be deployed more easily across customer environments. “With Rancher, the OpenSpace Platform deploys its virtual functions including modems, channelizers, combiners, and more, as Kubernetes-based containerized software applications that act as independent and portable computing environments that can run and scale on any infrastructure,” said Brandon Gulla, Chief Technology Officer at RGS. “We are proud to be working with Kratos to support this truly transformational platform that will free satellite operators from proprietary hardware architectures and move to software-defined, flexible and extensible virtual platforms.” By the nature of it being software-defined and containerized, the OpenSpace Platform is already much faster, and more flexible to deploy than traditional hardware-based satellite ground systems. As customer demands grow, the software-based OpenSpace Platform can reconfigure on the fly and deploy new services automatically and cost effectively in minutes. Software containers can be spun up and down and scaled on demand elastically using a single management interface from the Rancher Platform. “Rancher serves as the Kubernetes management technology that supports the OpenSpace Platform’s ability to automate the deployment, scaling, and management of our containerized workloads,” said Anthony Semiao, Chief Solutions Architect of the OpenSpace Platform. “The combined technologies support hybrid and multi-cloud environments enabling OpenSpace customers to run in the data center and cloud environment of their choice such as Google, Amazon or Microsoft and to easily switch from one cloud provider to another.” About Kratos OpenSpace Kratos’ OpenSpace family of solutions enables the digital transformation of satellite ground systems to become a more dynamic and powerful part of the space network. OpenSpace® is the industry’s only commercially available digital transformation solution that enables operators of satellites, Ground Systems-as-a-Service (GSaaS) providers, teleports and others in the satellite services supply chain to capitalize on dynamic ground capabilities. The OpenSpace family consists of three product lines: OpenSpace SpectralNet for converting satellite RF signals to be used in digital environments; OpenSpace quantum products, which are virtual versions of traditional hardware components; and the OpenSpace Platform, the first commercially available, fully orchestrated, software-defined ground system. These three OpenSpace lines enable satellite operators and other service providers to implement digital operations at their own pace and in ways that meet their unique mission goals and business models. About Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. is a technology, products, system and software company addressing the defense, national security, and commercial markets. Kratos makes true internally funded research, development, capital and other investments, to rapidly develop, produce and field solutions that address our customers’ mission critical needs and requirements. At Kratos, affordability is a technology, and we utilize proven, leading edge approaches and technology, not unproven bleeding edge approaches or technology, with Kratos’ approach reducing cost, schedule and risk, and enabling us to be first to market with cost effective solutions. Kratos is known as the innovative disruptive change agent in the industry, a company that is an expert in designing products and systems up front for successful rapid, large quantity, low cost future manufacturing and as a competitive differentiator to our large traditional prime system integrator partners and also to our government and commercial customers. Kratos’ primary business areas include, virtualized ground systems for satellites and space vehicles including software for command & control (C2) and telemetry, tracking and control (TT&C), jet powered unmanned aerial drone systems, hypersonic vehicles and rocket systems, propulsion systems for drones, missiles, loitering munitions, supersonic systems, space craft and launch systems, C5ISR and microwave electronic products for missile, radar, missile defense, space, satellite, counter UAS, directed energy, communication and other systems, and virtual & augmented reality training systems for the warfighter. About Ranger Rancher Government Solutions (RGS) is specifically designed to address the unique security and operational needs of the U.S. Government and military as it relates to application modernization, containers, and Kubernetes. Rancher is a complete open source software stack for teams adopting containers. It addresses the operational and security challenges of managing multiple Kubernetes clusters at scale, while providing DevOps teams with integrated tools for running containerized workloads. RGS supports all Rancher products with U.S. based American citizens who are currently supporting programs across the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and civilian agencies.

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Government Finance

Springbrook Software Announces Record Number of Customers Moving to New Cirrus SaaS Based Government Financial ERP Platform in 2023

PR Newswire | January 09, 2024

Springbrook, the country's leading developer of cloud-based government software, closed 2023 with a record number of 68 municipalities selecting Cirrus, the company's flagship financial ERP. Cirrus is a fully integrated, Multi-Tenant, SaasS based platform designed from the ground up specifically for local government agencies. "Cirrus reflects what our customers need and have asked for. We address growing concerns with ransomware attacks by offering the highest level of cybersecurity available. We provide citizens and the next generation of personnel with a seamless, modern, interactive experience. And we know from the pandemic that a changing workforce needs anytime, anywhere browser-based access. Our growth reflects the trend of moving away from home brewed or dated technologies to solutions that are designed for today's challenges," says Robert Bonavito, CEO of Springbrook Software. Springbrook's Cirrus provides a full suite of integrated solutions including finance, payroll, utility billing, advanced budgeting, and human resources. Springbrook also offers the most advanced payment solution available, through Xpress Bill Pay, as well as Tableau, the number one visual analytics tool in use by government agencies. 2023 also marked the roll out of several new technologies including an AI driven ChatBot, Allocation Billing for water utilities with tiered billing structures, and efficient online and mobile Payroll Time Clocks and Time Sheets. About Springbrook Software: Springbrook Software is the country's leading cloud-based finance and administration software provider designing solutions specifically for small to medium sized local government agencies. Nearly 2800 cities, towns and districts from coast to coast use our suite of modern, high-performance solutions to manage their finances, payroll, utility billing and collect citizen payments. Springbrook is headquartered in Portland, Oregon with regional presence in over 40 states, and seven countries internationally.

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