Archive | Metals and Manufacturing

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 →

[Aluminum Related Manufacturing] Boeing and Washington’s Aerospace Industry, 1934-2015 – by Jim Kershner (September 8, 2015)

http://www.historylink.org/

For instance, aluminum, produced with cheap hydroelectric power in Spokane,
Longview, and other cities, almost immediately became the state’s second-
biggest wartime industry. Much of that aluminum was bound for Boeing, where
it was fashioned into wings and fuselages.

The Boeing Company, founded in 1916, hit a low point in 1934 when it was forced out of the airline business and was forced to concentrate on its original airplane-manufacturing business. The company’s fortunes revived in the buildup to World War II. Thousands of workers swarmed over Boeing’s plant on Seattle’s Duwamish River, making the bombers and fighters that helped win the war. Employment topped 50,000 by 1944.

After the war Boeing entered the newly lucrative commercial-airliner market, and the Cold War revived its military contracts. In the 1950s and 1960s it diversified into an aerospace company and built missiles and rockets. The demise of the SuperSonic Transport (SST) program in 1971 resulted in the infamous Boeing Bust, a statewide economic downturn caused by the loss of 86,000 jobs. Boeing recovered over the ensuing decades, despite increasing competition from Europe’s Airbus. Meanwhile, hundreds of other aerospace companies sprang up in Washington to supply parts. Continue Reading →

Here’s How Apple Is Doing On Conflict Minerals – by Caroline O’Donovan (BuzzFeed News – March 27, 2017)

https://www.buzzfeed.com/

Apple continues to pursue transparency around its supply chain as the Trump administration considers suspending requirements for businesses that buy conflict minerals.

Apple released its 2017 Supplier Responsibility Report today, as concern mounts over the potential impact of a draft directive from the Trump administration that would suspend legislation requiring companies to disclose whether their products contain conflict minerals.

Conflict minerals — substances like tantalum, tungsten, tin, and gold — are used in a variety of popular electronics, including smartphones. They are typically sourced from war-torn countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, where their mining and sale has historically funded armed groups associated with murder, rape, and other human rights violations. Continue Reading →

[Defense-critical rare-earth elements] Bad Trade Policies Are Hurting U.S. National Security – by Mike Fredenburg (National Review – March 23, 2017)

http://www.nationalreview.com/

American negligence has allowed China to seize control of the rare-earth elements critical to our national defense. President Trump should reverse this sorry state of affairs.

That our government sat idly by as we became completely dependent on other countries to supply us with defense-critical rare-earth elements (REEs) is scandalous. That the country we are now dependent on for REEs is China, a hostile power, is unforgivable. China is not our friend; any objective analysis of its actions and comments over the last 30 years would conclude that Beijing views the U.S. as its primary enemy.

That is why Republican congressman (and former Marine) Duncan Hunter of California has proposed a bill to redress this dangerous situation by allocating 1 percent of the Department of Defense’s administrative-overhead budget — about $50 million per year — to incentivize the resumption of domestic production of defense-critical REEs.

The summary of Hunter’s METALS (Materials Essential to American Leadership and Security) Act warns that the rights to the largest REE mine in the United States, Mountain Pass in California, are in danger of being purchased by a company with strong ties to Russia. Continue Reading →

U.S.A. CONGRESSMAN NEWS RELEASE: Hunter Introduces METALS Act to Curtail U.S. Dependence on Foreign-Sourced Strategic and Critical Materials Supporting National Defense

March 7, 2017 – Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced the Materials Essential to American Leadership and Security (METALS) Act. The legislation rectifies a dangerous lapse in the supply chain for strategic and critical materials essential for numerous defense and national security applications.

“The U.S. must no longer be wholly dependent on foreign sources of strategic and critical materials,” said Rep. Hunter. “The risk of this dependence on national security is too great and it urgently demands that we re-establish our depleted domestic industrial base.”

Presently, the People’s Republic of China dominates the production of rare earth elements, controlling more than 90 percent of global production. These critical materials are key components of everything from high technology consumer electronics to advanced weapons systems, including the Joint Strike Fighter. Continue Reading →

The richest seam: Mining companies have dug themselves out of a hole (The Economist – March 11, 2017)

http://www.economist.com/

Electric vehicles and batteries are expected to create huge demand for copper and cobalt

FOR mining investors there is something sinfully alluring about Glencore, an Anglo-Swiss metals conglomerate. It is the world’s biggest exporter of coal, a singularly unfashionable commodity. It goes where others fear to tread, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has an unsavoury reputation for violence and corruption. It recently navigated sanctions against Russia to strike a deal with Rosneft, the country’s oil champion.

Yet Glencore could still acquire a halo for itself. It is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of copper and the biggest of cobalt, much of which comes from its investment in the DRC. These are vital ingredients for clean-tech products and industries, notably electric vehicles (EVs) and batteries.

The potential of “green” metals and minerals, which along with copper and cobalt include nickel, lithium and graphite, is adding to renewed excitement about investing in mining firms as they emerge from the wreckage of a $1trn splurge of over-investment during the China-led commodities supercycle, which began in the early 2000s. Continue Reading →

Toyota’s new technology a blow for platinum, palladium price – by Frik Els (Mining.com – February 22, 2017)

http://www.mining.com/

Toyota sold more than 10 million vehicles last year placing it in a virtual tie with Volkswagen as the world’s number one automaker. Stricter pollution regulations around the world and intense competition mean that top priority for traditional car companies is to cut costs and reduce emissions.

A new technology unveiled by Toyota on Wednesday is win for the Japanese company on both counts. Toyota announced the availability of a new, smaller catalyst that uses 20% less precious metal in approximately 20% less volume, while maintaining the same exhaust gas purification performance.

Toyota’s “world’s first integrally-molded Flow Adjustable Design Cell (FLAD)” is not the first time researchers have found innovative ways to reduce pricey platinum group metals in exhaust systems. But those technologies seldom make it all the way to the assembly line. Continue Reading →

Electric car boom spurs investor scramble for cobalt – by (Reuters U.S. – February 14, 2017)

http://www.reuters.com/

LONDON – Investors are buying up physical cobalt anticipating that shortages of the metal, a key component of lithium-ion batteries used in electrical cars, will spur prices to their highest levels since the 2008 financial crisis.

Prices for cobalt metal have climbed nearly 50 percent since September to five-year peaks around $19 a lb as stricter emissions controls boost demand for electric vehicles, especially in China, struggling with ruinous pollution levels in some cities. (For a graphic on how Lithium-ion battery works click tmsnrt.rs/2kOUBNQ)

Consultants CRU Group say electric car and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales could hit 4.4 million in 2021 and more than six million by 2025, from 1.1 million last year. By 2020, 75 percent of lithium-ion batteries will contain cobalt, whose properties allow electric cars to extend their range between charges, according to eCobalt Solutions, which produces battery grade cobalt salts. Continue Reading →

Electric Cars Could Cause Big Oil This Much Damage – by Jess Shankleman (Bloomberg News – February 1, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The growth of battery-powered cars could be as disruptive to the oil market as the OPEC market-share war that triggered the price crash of 2014, potentially wiping hundreds of billions of dollars off the value from fossil fuel producers in the next decade.

About 2 million barrels a day of oil demand could be displaced by electric vehicles by 2025, equivalent in size to the oversupply that triggered the biggest oil industry downturn in a generation over the past three years, according to research from Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a think tank, published Thursday.

A similar 10 percent loss of market share caused the collapse of the U.S. coal mining industry and wiped more than a 100 billion euros ($108 billion) off the value of European utilities from 2008 to 2013, the report said. Continue Reading →

Davos boosts platinum fuel cell outlook with hydrogen council launch – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – January 18, 2017)

http://www.miningweekly.com/

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (EVs) offer the most natural solution for emission-free vehicles, discharging only water and requiring negligible change to current driving and refuelling habits, which is why 13 leading energy, transport and industry companies this week chose Davos to launch a global hydrogen initiative aimed at beating climate change.

Collectively representing revenues of €1.07-trillion and 1.72-million global employees, the new Hydrogen Council is going all out to position hydrogen as the answer to the world’s search for a carbon dioxide-free environment – which is a major boost for platinum-catalysed fuel cells.

At Davos, hydrogen was declared the clean fuel that can take the world into a no-carbon future, on the back of technology breakthroughs that include liquefied hydrogen now being safely transportable in much the same way as oil. Continue Reading →

[Lithium Mining] Harsh desert climate in Chile is one place that literally helps to power the world – by Neil Vorano (Driving.ca – January 11, 2017)

http://driving.ca/

You can see the road we’re going down with electric cars; though they still only make up a very small percentage of all the vehicles in North America, their sales are growing. And you only need to look at the hype surrounding the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt and, a little later, the Tesla Model 3, to see how people are getting behind this technology. Continue Reading →

Tesla starts Gigafactory battery cell production – by Tom Randall (Australian Financial Review – January 5, 2017)

http://www.afr.com/

The Gigafactory has been activated. Hidden in the scrubland east of Reno, Nevada, where cowboys gamble and wild horses still roam, a diamond-shaped factory of outlandish proportions is emerging from the sweat and promises of Tesla chief executive Elon Musk.

It’s known as the Gigafactory, and today its first battery cells are rolling off production lines to power the company’s energy storage products and, before long, the Model 3 electric car.

The start of mass production is a huge milestone in Tesla’s quest to electrify transportation, and it brings to America a manufacturing industry – battery cells – that’s long been dominated by China, Japan, and South Korea. Continue Reading →

Electric cars spark lithium, nickel and cobalt mining boom – by Marcus Leroux (The Australian – December 28, 2016)

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/

The China boom has come and gone but miners say a new scramble for resources looms, triggered by the dawn of the electric car age.

The motor industry is placing huge bets on electric cars becoming mainstream over the next decade. Miners have been busily looking under the bonnets and inside batteries and decided that they will have to dig up a lot more lithium, copper, nickel and cobalt.

Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer controlled by Elon Musk, has said that it would require today’s entire worldwide production of lithium ion batteries to meet demand for its target of half a million cars in the second half of the decade. Continue Reading →