Archive | Metals and Manufacturing

[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 →

Excerpt: How Aluminum Revolutionized The Canoe – by Mark Neuzil and Norman Sims(Gear Junkie – December 26, 2016)

https://gearjunkie.com/

After World War II, the manufacture and performance of American-made canoes experienced a surge thanks to a new material: Aluminum.

Before man first wrought tools of bronze, before ancient Egyptians built the pyramids or even before written language, there were canoes. Despite newer, stronger, lighter materials, the canoe remained largely unchanged for the last 5,000 years. Canoes: A Natural History in North America reveals the evolution and design of this ancient watercraft.

This excerpt explores the then-revolutionary advancement into the first aluminum canoes—made right here in the U.S.A.

THE FIRST OF THE POST-WORLD WAR II CANOES to hit the market successfully in a material other than wood were built of aluminum—not a synthetic material, but not an element with a huge market share in mass-produced boats. Aluminum had a brief history with watercraft, full of stops and starts and mostly dead ends. Continue Reading →

The new OPEC: Who will supply the lithium needed to run the future’s electric cars? – by Justina Crabtree (CNBC.com – December 30, 2016)

http://www.cnbc.com/

The automotive industry’s focus on electrification has accelerated in 2016. Volkswagen Chairman Herbert Deiss told CNBC at the Paris Motor Show in November that “electric mobility will take off by 2020,” while Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in May his aim for annual production to be at 1 million vehicles by this same year.

The onus is now on rechargeable batteries – rather than petrol – to propel the automotive industry into its proposed greener future, with lithium ion cells being the prevailing form of this technology.

“Lithium is a pretty abundant element naturally,” Jamie Speirs, a fellow in energy analysis and policy at Imperial College London, told CNBC via telephone. But, though worldwide production of the metal is increasing year on year, he detailed that “the current supply chain will not match up with lithium demand by, say, 2040.” Continue Reading →

No cobalt, no Tesla? – by Sebastien Gandon (Tech Crunch.com – January 1, 2016)

https://techcrunch.com/

The battery industry currently uses 42 percent of global cobalt production, a critical metal for Lithium-ion cells. The remaining 58 percent is used in diverse industrial and military applications (super alloys, catalysts, magnets, pigments…) that rely exclusively on the material.

Approximately 97 percent of the world’s supply of cobalt comes as a by-product of nickel or copper (mostly out of Africa). Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and Lundin agreed to sell to Chinese players their respective stakes in the Tenke Fungurume mine, one of the largest known cobalt sources, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Tesla has stated that the cobalt it needs will be sourced exclusively in North America, but the math doesn’t seem to add up. Is Tesla doomed? Not necessarily… Continue Reading →

Tech companies pledge to keep kids out of the cobalt mines that power your smartphone – by Peter Whoriskey and Todd C. FRankel (Toronto Star – December 22, 2016)

https://www.thestar.com/

WASHINGTON POST – Separate groups of the world’s leading technology companies are launching two initiatives to curb “the worst forms of child labour” and other abusive practices in the supply chain for cobalt, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and electric cars.

About 60 per cent of the world’s cobalt originates in the Congo, where hand-dug mines rife with dangers attract legions of poorly-equipped, “artisanal” miners who work for as little as $2 a day

Apple, HP, Samsung SDI, and Sony have joined an effort, known as the Responsible Cobalt Initiative. It is being led by a Chinese business group, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Metals, Minerals & Chemicals, and supported by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to the group. Continue Reading →

Stampede to invest in lithium mines threatens price gains – by Eric Onstad (Reuters U.S. – December 15, 2016)

http://www.reuters.com/

LONDON – A rush to invest in new and expanded mines for lithium, a key ingredient in batteries used in electric cars, means material will flood the market just as fresh demand kicks in, potentially curbing price gains.

While demand for lithium batteries is due to soar, the market is on course for a global surplus next year or 2018 as miners gear up to expand output – overwhelming demand for the commodity by electric automakers such as Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA.O).

It’s not a new phenomenon. Other commodities have seen similar excitement about the future, such as uranium and rare earths. Investors chased bullish scenarios only to be disappointed when prices crashed due to excess supply or less than expected demand. Continue Reading →