Archive | Metals and Manufacturing

Electric Car Demand Boosts Companies Engaged With Lithium – by Jonathan Tirone (Bloomberg News – June 22, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Lithium demand is surging, boosting shares of the companies linked to mining and manufacturing the light metal used in electric-car batteries.

Global X Lithium & Battery Tech, an exchange-traded fund of the 27 biggest companies linked to the light metal, has increased 65 percent in the past 18 months, outperforming stock indexes of all the world’s most-developed economies, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The acceleration in technology, including electric vehicles, could push new metals a lot higher,” said Eily Ong, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence who published a model on Wednesday probing the risk-weighted demand for metals including lithium. Continue Reading →

Race Is on to Mine Metal Powering Electric Vehicles – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – June 8, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The race is on to supply more of the cobalt needed for batteries in the fast-growing market for electric vehicles — and that means fresh competition for the big players Glencore Plc and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A pipeline of projects is looming in places including Australia, the U.S. and Canada after cobalt prices more than doubled in the past year. Glencore produces almost a third of the world’s supply, mainly from the Congo, which is by far the biggest source, accounting for as much as 65 percent.

Among those backing new global developments are billionaire Anil Agarwal and mining tycoon Robert Friedland. They’re aiming to capitalize as a battery boom sends demand for cobalt soaring more than 30-fold by 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Continue Reading →

Electric car demand sparks lithium supply fears – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – June 8, 2017)

https://www.ft.com/

The cost of extracting vital battery material is likely to create a ‘supercycle’ and drive up prices

A year ago, Tesla Motors founder and chief executive Elon Musk quipped that lithium was only the “salt on the salad” for the batteries that are vital to the US company’s electric cars.

Fast forward 12 months and concern is growing among analysts, and some other carmakers, that the supply of what Mr Musk dismissed as mere “salt” will not be able to keep pace with demand as the expansion of electric vehicles begins to erode the world’s century-long reliance on oil.

“There’s a pivot,” says John Kanellitsas, vice-chairman of Lithium Americas, a miner that is developing a lithium project in Argentina. “There’s much more consensus on demand; we’re no longer even debating demand. We’re shifting to supply and whether, as an industry, we can deliver.” Continue Reading →

Chevy’s Anti-Aluminum Ads with the Ford F150 haven’t Helped Sell the Silverado – by Patrick Rall (Torque News – June 7, 2017)

 

https://www.torquenews.com/

It has been just over a year since Chevrolet rolled out their Silverado ads featuring a new Ford F150 bed being damaged by dropping various objects onto the aluminum surface and in that year, Ford sales have risen while Silverado sales have dropped – showing that the automotive consumer may not favor negative advertising.

Back in June 2016, Chevrolet rolled out a series of commercial for the Silverado which featured their truck parked next to a new Ford F150. In these commercials, “real people” looked on as a load of paver stones was dropped from a frontloader into the bed of each truck.

The Silverado’s steel bed held up to the bricks without only scuffs and dents, while the bed of the F150 saw more severe damage. Of course, the “real people” reacted with great surprise at this and when a large, steel toolbox pushed over the edge of the bedside did significantly more damage to the F150’s aluminum bed, the onlookers were equally stunned. Continue Reading →

Cost of Elon Musk’s Dream Much Higher Than He and Others Imagine – by Brian Rogers (Real Clear Energy – June 08, 2017)

http://www.realclearenergy.org/

Brian Rogers is the Executive Director of America Rising Squared (AR2) a conservative-based policy organization.

With Elon Musk protesting President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord by quitting a White House advisory council, and the new Model 3 rolling off the assembly line this summer, Tesla fans must be tempted to feel pretty good about themselves these days.

After all, the company’s stock price is hitting all-time highs as thousands join a two-year wait-list not only to drive Tesla’s latest vehicle, but to do something good for the planet!

But Tesla has a dirty little secret with big implications for its future. It’s what Greenpeace International co-founder Rex Weyler calls “The Tesla dream,” the false idea that Mr. Musk’s electric vehicles (EVs) are a true game-changing “clean energy” solution to global climate change. Continue Reading →

UK takes step closer to national electric battery hub – by Costas Pitas (Reuters U.S. – May 31, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

COVENTRY, ENGLAND – Britain is moving towards creating a new national development hub for electric car batteries with officials setting out plans for companies to work together to improve the technology, possibly paving the way for large-scale local production.

Representatives from politics, academia and business in the central English city of Coventry, the historic heart of the British car industry, have pitched plans for a “National Battery Prototyping Centre” which would focus on research and development and testing.

Local government officials set out their plans to create the center, with state help, at an event on Tuesday attended by the business minister and by Ralf Speth, the chief executive of Britain’s biggest carmaker, Jaguar Land Rover, who has said he wants to build electric models in the country. Continue Reading →

The Race to Build a Better Battery for Storing Power – by Ken Wells (Wall Street Journal – May 21, 2017)

https://www.wsj.com/

Long-term, utility-scale storage would turn solar and wind energy into on-demand sources of electricity

There’s the battery in your watch. There’s the battery in your mobile phone. And then there’s the battery at Green Mountain Power’s Stafford Hills solar farm in Rutland, Vt.

The lithium-ion gargantuan is housed in two trailer-truck-size green metal containers. It sits atop a 10-acre former landfill and captures electricity from 7,722 nearby solar panels—enough to power 2,000 homes on a sunny day. What’s revolutionary about this system isn’t the solar farm; it’s the size and purpose of the battery, which offers 3.4 megawatt-hours of storage, enough to supply backup power to about 170 homes for a day, if needed.

The rap on solar and wind is intermittence—they don’t produce power when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, making them unreliable as the primary source for power grids. But if vast amounts of renewable energy—say, enough to power entire cities—could be captured and stored in giant batteries and deployed when needed, that downside would fade away. Continue Reading →

Glencore Says Electric Car Boom Is Coming Faster Than Expected – by Jesse Riseborough  (Bloomberg News – May 16, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Glencore Plc Chief Executive Officer Ivan Glasenberg said the rise of electric cars will significantly boost demand for minerals including copper and lithium in the coming decades.

“The electric vehicle revolution is happening and its impact is likely to be felt faster than expected,” Glasenberg told investors at an industry conference in Barcelona on Tuesday. Almost all carmakers are increasing investment in electric vehicles as governments adopt tighter emissions targets, he added.

Electric vehicles require more copper wiring than standard internal combustion engines. For example, the battery in an electric car contains about 38 kilograms of copper, 11 kilograms of cobalt and 11 kilograms of nickel, according to Glencore. Continue Reading →

The midcentury aluminum homes that would have changed U.S. suburbs – by Anthony Paletta (Curbed.com – May 10, 2017)

https://www.curbed.com/

A look back at the Alcoa Care-free homes, on their 60th anniversary

“Here is your Dream House Made Real” began the promotional brochure for the Alcoa Care-free Home, an aluminum prototype home designed by Charles Goodman and launched 60 years ago, in 1957.

Ductile metals are not usually the stuff of dreams—unless you’re an aerospace engineer—but Alcoa, a Pittsburgh-based aluminum company, hoped that homes made of their flagship product might find a place in your local cul-de-sac.

They largely did not. That largely seems due to their price tag of $60,000 (just shy of of $438,000 in today’s dollars, and more than twice what was advertised), rather than due to any defects in the design. But the program—and the two dozen homes actually built—are a powerful argument for Charles Goodman’s clever midcentury design. Continue Reading →

The critical national security battle the media isn’t telling you about – by John Moody (Fox News – May 9, 2017)

http://www.foxnews.com/

A fascinating battle is shaping up between two American entrepreneurs for control of a desert mine in California that could be the key to reviving domestic production of rare earths, the metals and materials that are critical to our national security. But there’s a catch: one entrepreneur is linked to a Russian billionaire. The other is relying on a technology company – from China.

Mountain Pass is an unsightly hole in the earth once owned by a company called Molycorp that produced more critical metals than any facility in the world. Molycorp went bankrupt in 2015 because it could not compete with Chinese rare earth producers, who don’t have the same environmental regulations that govern U.S. mining.

China now produces 95 percent of the world’s rare earths – metals that are needed for U.S. fighter jet engines, satellite guided rockets, missiles like the Tomahawk Cruise that was used to attack Syria last month, and consumer products ranging from computers to iPhones to GPS systems and microwave ovens. Continue Reading →

Cobalt deal gives investors another way to bet on Tesla – by Mark Burton (Globe and Mail/Bloomberg – May 8, 2017)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

LONDON — Investors looking for a way to profit from surging demand for cobalt used in batteries for Tesla Inc. electric cars have had a hard time until now.

While futures prices for the metal are up about 130 per cent since the end of 2015, a lack of buyers and sellers on the market, the high cost of more than $50,000 (U.S.) a contract, and a dearth of listed miners specializing in cobalt has kept many investors away. Pala Investments Ltd. plans to change all that.

The Swiss mining fund, which began buying cobalt about a year ago in a bet on demand, plans to sell the metal to Toronto-listed Cobalt 27 Capital Corp. The Canadian firm, headed by Pala investment team managing director Anthony Milewski, plans to raise $200-million (Canadian) on the TSX Venture exchange (ticker KBLT) to purchase cobalt, including from the Zug-based fund. Continue Reading →

The Human Thread Of Suffering Behind The Production Of Our Cell Phones And Laptops – by Alexandra Willis (Huffington Post South Africa – May 5, 2017)

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/

Reports around the disregard for human and labour rights in the production of smartphones and other digital technology have been rife for years. Many of the components used in our devices are reportedly sourced through child labour and inhumane working conditions. The high value of these minerals has also fuelled competition, resulting in conflict involving mass killings and rape as a weapon of war.

All of us who own a PC, phone or other electronic gadget enjoy the benefits of new technologies, but rarely do we spare a thought as to how they are made. Inside many of these electronic devices are components that began life as minerals dug underground, sometimes at a great cost of human dignity.

Miners in countries such as Myanmar, Bolivia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) use children as young as seven who work in perilous conditions, scavenging for minerals in industrial mines and washing and sorting them before they are sold. The minerals travel through a chain of suppliers through Asia and elsewhere to be smelted into metals, and then onto the world at large where they end up in electronics, as well in vehicles and jewelry. Continue Reading →

U.S. launches national security probe into aluminum imports – by David Lawder (Reuters U.S. – April 27, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Commerce Department launched an investigation on Wednesday to determine whether a flood of aluminum imports from China and elsewhere was compromising U.S. national security, a step that could lead to broad import restrictions on the metal.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the investigation was similar to one announced last week for steel imports into the United States, invoking Section 232 of a national security law passed in 1962 at the height of the Cold War.

Ross told reporters the probe was prompted by the extreme competitive pressures that unfairly traded imports were putting on the U.S. aluminum industry, causing several domestic smelters to close or halt production in recent years. Continue Reading →

Why Apple Won’t Be Able to Stop Mining Yet – by Adam Minter (Bloomberg News – April 26, 2017)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg View) — Just before Earth Day, Apple Inc. announced a new goal: to make its computers and phones and watches without mining any new raw materials. Instead, Apple would one day build its products “using only renewable resources or recycled material.” This is what’s known as a “closed loop,” in which new products are made exclusively from older versions of the same product.

If successful, Apple would no longer have to worry about digging holes in the ground, avoiding conflict minerals and the other messy details of high-tech manufacturing in the 21st century. It’s a bold idea, even for Apple, which can boast several past successes in promoting sustainable manufacturing and operations. Given both technological and commercial obstacles, however, it’s almost certain to fail.

Closed-loop recycling isn’t a new idea. In the 1930s, Ford Motor Co. spent several years operating a money-losing factory devoted to recycling old Fords into raw materials for new ones. More recently, Dell Inc. developed a breakthrough computer made using materials from old devices. Continue Reading →

Apple wants to try to “stop mining the Earth altogether” to make your iPhone – by  Zoë Schlanger (Quartz Media – April 20, 2017)

 

https://qz.com/

Apple just announced that it plans to stop relying on mined rare earth minerals and metals to make their products, and instead use only recycled sources.

Mines where rare earth mineral are extracted are often sites of exploitation, where workers, some children, are exposed to extremely toxic substances and dangerous working conditions for scant pay. The effluent from the mines poisons soil and groundwater supplies and wreaks environmental devastation, too. Continue Reading →