Archive | Metals and Manufacturing

Pimco Favors ‘Unloved’ Platinum That’s Looking Cheap Versus Gold – by Ranjeetha Pakiam (Bloomberg News – January 16, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Platinum could be the dark horse among precious metals, according to a money manager at Pacific Investment Management Co.

Nic Johnson, Pimco’s managing director and portfolio manager for commodities, says he prefers the metal over gold. Used in autocatalysts of diesel engines and jewelry, it’s near the cheapest ever relative to both bullion and palladium, after tumbling 14 percent last year.

While investors have poured into gold funds, they’ve deserted platinum, which has fallen out of favor amid shrinking demand and excess supply. The possibility the trend reverses even slightly represents a buying opportunity, Johnson said in an interview from Newport Beach, California. With $1.72 trillion under management as of September, Pimco is one of the world’s largest bond managers. Continue Reading →

Congo poll leaves uncertainty for miners at heart of EV revolution – by Joe Bavier (Reuters U.S. – January 13, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The surprise outcome of Congo’s election – a vote meant to bring closure to years of turmoil under President Joseph Kabila – has done little to ease uncertainty for miners and investors in a country crucial to the electric vehicle revolution.

Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s leading miner of cobalt, a mineral used in electric car batteries which has seen a surge in demand in recent years, with mines run by firms including Glencore (GLEN.L) and China Molybdenum (603993.SS).

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi, an unknown quantity for mining executives, was declared the winner of last month’s chaotic vote on Thursday, defeating Kabila’s chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. Continue Reading →

Palladium Still Isn’t Pricey Enough – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – January 10, 2019)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg Opinion) — Platinum’s lesser-known cousin keeps going from strength to strength. Palladium, once considered an unattractive by-product of platinum mining until the rise of catalytic converters in the 1970s, is hitting new records.

Spot metal peaked at an all-time high $1,344.41 a troy ounce Wednesday. Over the past month, it’s been more costly than gold, which hasn’t happened since 2002. From a point a decade ago when an ounce of platinum bought you more than 5 ounces of palladium, it now buys you about 0.6 ounces.

You might think this spike will spark an immediate reversal and slump, as is often the case with commodity prices. That may not happen, though, because prices still aren’t high enough to prompt a supply surge. Continue Reading →

Palladium Just Smashed Another Record – by Elena Mazneva and Yuliya Fedorinova (Bloomberg News – January 8, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Palladium’s premium to platinum jumped to a record, building on its ranking as the best-performing metal of 2018.

Shortages of the metal used in autocatalysts for gasoline-fueled vehicles sent its price to yet another all-time high, widening the price difference with rival platinum to more than $500 an ounce on Tuesday. Most analysts don’t see supply relief for palladium anytime soon.

Both metals are used in catalytic converters to reduce vehicle emissions. Platinum, the more expensive of the two for most of this century, has seen usage decline from its key consumers, diesel carmakers. Demand slid as consumers turned away from diesel vehicles in the wake of Volkswagen AG’s emissions-cheating scandal. Continue Reading →

Electric vehicle manufacturing in China drives metal demand – by Henry Carmichael (Freightwaves.com – December 30, 2018)

https://www.freightwaves.com/

As the world’s largest country by population and second-largest economy, China is embarking on a dedicated effort to become a leader in the emerging electric vehicle market. Hundreds of manufacturing firms in China seek to take advantage of the vast national investment directed at renewable energy and battery storage technology. This also motivates China to capitalize on metal resources necessary for launching the electric vehicle industry.

In 2015 Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the “Made in China 2025” initiative, a ten year state-led policy to prepare China’s manufacturing base to be strongly competitive in the future global economy. Sponsoring companies that are making electric vehicles is a component of this plan. The Wall Street Journal recorded that there were 487 electric car manufacturers in China in 2018.

“This (large number of firms) is inevitable, because whenever there is an emerging technology or emerging industry, there must be a hundred schools of thought and a hundred flowers blooming,” explained Zhou Xuan, general manager of Automagic; a Hangzhou based electric vehicle designer. Continue Reading →

China’s Dominance in Rare Earths Threatens European Electric-Car Industry – by Frank Fang (Epoch Times – December 16, 2018)

https://www.theepochtimes.com/

Rare-earth metals are critical to the modern economy as they are a key material for making batteries that power electric vehicles; are added to touchscreens and circuit boards in smartphones; and are used in laser systems that guide missiles and bombs.

While European Union countries are among the world’s biggest electric-vehicle markets, the bloc as a whole has only a few rare-earth metal deposits. Other than deposits in several countries such as Greenland, Norway, and Finland, the EU relies on imports to support industrial demand. Cobalt, one of the key minerals in manufacturing lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars and smartphones, is currently only mined in Finland, among all EU countries.

The Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU), a Swedish government agency, issued an updated report on the Scandinavian country’s rare-earth deposits Dec. 7, detailing the country’s geological potential for mining the metals. But the potential mining boom in Sweden could be dashed because of China’s dominance in the market, said a Swedish analyst. Continue Reading →

Germany secures access to world’s second-largest lithium deposit – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – December 12, 2018)

http://www.mining.com/

Germany and Bolivia today sealed a partnership for the industrial use of lithium, a key component in the batteries that power electric cars and cell phones. ACI Systems will work with state-owned Bolivian Lithium Deposits (YLB) on installing four lithium plants in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats, which hold the world’s second-largest lithium deposit.

The joint venture also plans to build a factory for electric vehicle batteries in the country. While more than 80% of the lithium extracted will be exported to Germany, the company is said to be in talks with other European companies.

The partners expect to produce up to 40,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year, beginning in 2022, over a period of 70 years. President Evo Morales sees a prosperous future for the impoverished nation, pinning his hopes on the rapid rise in the global price of the so-called white petroleum. Continue Reading →

EU’s Sefcovic: Real risk that ‘raw materials become the new oil’ – by Frédéric Simon (EURACTIV.com – November 20, 2018)

https://www.euractiv.com/

Europeans have to be “very vigilant” that today’s dependency on imported oil and gas is not replaced by dependency on lithium, cobalt, copper and other raw materials that industries need for the green transition, Maroš Šefčovič told EURACTIV.

“I really think that, when it comes to the issue of dependency, we could end up in a situation where raw materials become the new oil,” the European Commission vice-president warned in an exclusive interview.

Maroš Šefčovič is vice-president of the European Commission in charge of the energy union. He spoke to EURACTIV’s energy and environment editor, Frédéric Simon, at the end of EU Raw Materials Week 2018. Continue Reading →

Raw materials ‘megatrends’ point to looming supply risks in Europe – by Frédéric Simon (EURACTIV.com – November 19, 2018)

https://www.euractiv.com/

Markets for raw materials have recovered from the 2008 financial crash, fuelled by the continued digital transformation of the economy and the rapid deployment of green technologies. Is the world on track for a repeat of the resource boom seen in the early 21st century?

The global fight for natural resources was nearing an all-time high when the European Commission first laid out an EU strategy for raw materials, back in 2008. “A strong and unforeseen surge in demand” driven essentially by double-digit growth in China, had led to a tripling of metal prices between 2002 and 2008, the Commission said at the time.

China, the world’s de facto sole supplier of rare earth metals, took advantage of its monopolistic position to impose restrictions on exports, prompting Japan to start stockpiling in fear of a supply crunch. Continue Reading →

In EV era, Brookfield and Caisse place $13-billion bet on conventional car battery maker – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – November 14, 2018)

https://business.financialpost.com/

Electric vehicles will make up 15 per cent of all auto sales in a decade — that still leaves 85 per cent of the market to traditional cars

The rapid growth of the electric vehicle industry may be drawing headlines, but when it comes to drawing major investments, the internal combustion engine remains on solid footing.

In a deal that highlights the breadth of the traditional automotive industry, two Canadian investment funds on Tuesday announced a US$13.2-billion deal to purchase the leading global manufacturer of lead-acid batteries.

Toronto-based asset manager Brookfield Business Partners and pension manager Caisse de dêpôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) along with other investors will jointly acquire 100 per cent of Ireland-based Johnson Controls’ automotive business — which shipped 154 million automotive lead-acid batteries in 2017. Continue Reading →

Electric car demand fueling rise in child labor in DR Congo: campaigners – by Nellie Peyton (Reuters U.S. – November 2, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Demand for electric vehicles is fueling a rise in child labor in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, experts said this week, urging companies to take action as the industry expands.

Cobalt is a key component in batteries for electric cars, phones and laptops, and Congo provides more than half of global supply. Tens of thousands of children as young as six dig for the toxic substance in artisanal mines in the country’s southeast, without protective clothing, rights groups say.

As companies move to secure their supply of cobalt, they should also make a push to improve transparency and labor rights, said U.S.-based advocacy group Enough Project. Continue Reading →

Metal More Common in Moon Rocks Could Transform Planes and Cars – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – October 25, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

There’s an unexpected benefit from the boom in battery metals mining — it’s going to boost production of scandium, an obscure element whose long-held promise to transform manufacturing of planes and cars has been stalled by a lack of supply.

The silver-white metal, found in higher concentrations in moon rocks than on Earth, can be added to aluminum to make alloys that are lighter, stronger and more malleable. These can dramatically reduce the weight of parts for aircraft, cars or ships and help deliver savings on fuel costs.

“It’s the single most potent strengthening element you can add to aluminum,” said John Carr, vice president for business development and scandium marketing at Clean TeQ Holdings Ltd., an Australian developer of a mine that’ll produce the metal alongside cobalt and nickel for the battery sector. “Why scandium is so interesting is that if you add very, very small amounts of it — it has amazing impacts.” Continue Reading →

Tariffs eroding profits and driving up costs, metal manufacturers tell lawmakers – by Eric Atkins (Globe and Mail – October 23, 2018)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Metal manufacturers and fabricators aired their complaints about trade barriers in Ottawa on Tuesday, telling members of Parliament that U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum coupled with Canada’s countermeasures are eroding profits and driving up costs. This is giving foreign rivals an edge, the business people said, appearing before the standing committee on international trade.

Chris Wharin of Bohne Spring Industries Ltd., a Toronto-based maker of springs, wire and metal work for automotive and other uses, said that to keep its customers, the company cannot pass on some of the higher import and manufacturing costs incurred since Canada placed retaliatory tariffs of 10 per cent and 25 per cent on metal products from the United States.

“This is having a crippling effect on our cash flow and profits,” he said, adding the company relies on U.S. suppliers for much its steel and is unable to find domestic replacements. Continue Reading →

The dirt on clean electric cars – by Niclas Rolander, Jesper Starn and Elisabeth Behrmann (Toronto Star/Bloomberg – October 21, 2018)

https://www.thestar.com/

Beneath the hoods of millions of the clean electric cars rolling onto the world’s roads in the next few years will be a dirty battery.

Every major carmaker has plans for electric vehicles to cut greenhouse gas emissions, yet their manufacturers are, by and large, making lithium-ion batteries in places with some of the most polluting grids in the world.

By 2021, capacity will exist to build batteries for more than 10 million cars running on 60 kilowatt-hour packs, according to data of Bloomberg NEF. Most supply will come from places like China, Thailand, Germany and Poland that rely on non-renewable sources like coal for electricity. Continue Reading →

Chinese electric car makers, nurtured by state, now look for way out of glut – by David Stanway (Reuters U.S. – October 16, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – Humming away in an industrial estate in the eastern Chinese resort city of Hangzhou, electric vehicle designer Automagic is one of hundreds of companies looking to ride the country’s wave of investment in clean transportation.

The company wants to find a niche in a crowded sector that already includes renewable equipment manufacturers, battery makers and property developers like the Evergrande Group, as well as established auto giants. But not all of these electric vehicle hopefuls will make it to the finish line.

“This (large number of firms) is inevitable, because whenever there is an emerging technology or emerging industry, there must be a hundred schools of thought and a hundred flowers blooming,” said Zhou Xuan, Automagic’s general manager, referring to Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s ill-fated 1956 “Hundred Flowers” campaign aimed at encouraging new ideas. Continue Reading →