Archive | Metals and Manufacturing

Nevada’s “Lithium Valley” – by Charles Morris (Clean Technica – May 13, 2020)

https://cleantechnica.com/

No, lithium isn’t going to become “the new oil,” regardless of what the pandering pundits of the popular press say (it’s a raw material, not a fuel, and it’s one of the most abundant elements on Earth). However, there’s no question that demand for the light white stuff is growing quickly, and that much of the current supply comes from outside the US.

Tesla is believed to import much of the lithium it uses from Australia and South America. There are strong economic and environmental reasons to develop more domestic sources.

Fortunately, just a couple hundred miles north of Gigafactory 1, near the Oregon/Nevada border, there’s an area that some are calling Lithium Valley, which could contain a huge and easily exploitable trove of lithium. (This isn’t mere serendipity — one of the reasons Tesla chose Nevada as the site of the Gigafactory was the proximity to potential sources of lithium and other minerals.) Continue Reading →

Demand for battery metals to jump 500% by 2050 – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – May 11, 2020)

https://www.mining.com/

Production of battery metals such as graphite, lithium and cobalt will have to increase by nearly 500% by 2050 to meet the growing demand for clean energy technologies, the World Bank reported Monday.

According to the global lender, over 3 billion tonnes of minerals and metals will be needed to deploy wind, solar and geothermal power, as well as the energy storage required to transition to a low-carbon economy.

Many of the critical minerals used to make batteries for electric vehicles are found in developing nations. The World Bank’s goal is to help those nations to mine those commodities in a sustainable manner to avert major ecological damage. Continue Reading →

Column: Collapsing auto sector a body blow for industrial metals – by Andy Home – Reuters U.K. – March 27, 2020)

https://uk.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – France’s Recylex has just announced the temporary closure of both its German lead smelter and two battery-recycling plants, one in Germany and one in France.

The decision is due to a “strong drop in demand, especially in the automotive sector, in a context of sharply lower metal prices,” the company said. It will surely not be the last lead producer to mothball its production facilities.

Lead is umbilically tied to the automotive sector. Lead-acid batteries account for around 80% of global usage of the metal. And carmakers just about everywhere have halted their own production lines due to the spread of the coronavirus and the lockdowns on activity that have followed in its wake. Continue Reading →

Drivers Leading New Push to Cheap EV Batteries (Bloomberg News – March 1, 2020)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — Electric-vehicle manufacturers in China are seen turning to cheaper batteries to slash costs and meet the needs of drivers in its megacities who don’t need to travel huge distances.

There’s been resurgent interest in lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries since the middle of 2019 when China started to rein in subsidies that had spurred adoption of more expensive, longer-range units using materials such as nickel and cobalt. The cost-competitiveness, safety and low sensitivity to commodity price dynamics of LFP batteries are boosting their popularity in the country, according to a report by BloombergNEF.

China’s biggest maker of new energy vehicles, BYD Co., said its latest cobalt-free battery will be in a new sports-utility model from the middle of this year. Continue Reading →

Lithium price: EVs will be $350bn market in just 15 years – by Frik Els (Mining.com – February 25, 2020)

https://www.mining.com/

The global energy storage market is expected to balloon over the next 15 years, according to a report released by Lux Research.

“The energy storage industry is poised for a massive increase in annual revenue and deployment capacity as key innovative technologies, such as solid-state batteries and flow batteries, reach commercialization,” said analyst Chloe Holzinger, one of the report’s lead authors.

The Boston-based company forecasts a global market of $546 billion in annual revenue by 2035. That’s up from $59 billion last year. Capacity will grow even faster, with annual combined deployment level 3,046 GWh over the next 15 years, up from the current 164 GWh and compound growth of 20% per year. Continue Reading →

Tesla’s China surprise big blow for cobalt, nickel price bulls – by Frik Els (Mining.com – February 19, 2020)

https://www.mining.com/

Long-suffering cobalt bulls were dealt another blow on Wednesday after reports that the world’s largest electric carmaker is shifting some production of its most popular model away from batteries that contain nickel and cobalt.

In a surprise move, China’s top battery manufacturer CATL will supply Tesla with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries for its Model 3 production at its newly built $2 billion factory outside Shanghai.

The Model 3 is Tesla’s most popular, and the US-made version uses the company’s nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) cathode chemistry. Most other automakers favour nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) cathode chemistries. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Tesla in talks to use CATL’s cobalt-free batteries in China-made cars – sources – by Zhang Yan, Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh (Reuters U.S. – February 18, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

Beijing (Reuters) – Tesla (TSLA.O) is in advanced stages of talks to use batteries from CATL (300750.SZ) that contain no cobalt – one of the most expensive metals in electric vehicle (EV) batteries – in cars made at its China plant, people familiar with the matter said.

Adoption would mark the first time for the U.S. automaker to include so-called lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries in its lineup, as it seeks to lower production costs amid faltering overall EV sales in China.

Tesla has been talking to the Chinese manufacturer for more than a year to supply LFP batteries that will be cheaper than its existing batteries by a “double-digit percent,” said a person directly involved in the matter, who was not authorized to speak with media and so declined to be identified. Continue Reading →

World’s Most Expensive Precious Metal Surges Amid Emissions Clampdown – by Joe Wallace (Wall Street Journal – January 23, 2020)

https://www.wsj.com/

The price of rhodium, a precious metal that strips pollutants out of exhaust fumes, is surging as car manufacturers in Asia and Europe scramble to abide by stricter emission regimes.

Supplies of rhodium are limited because the metal is mined as a byproduct of platinum, palladium and gold, while demand is rising as regulators restrict emissions and subject autos to more rigorous tests.

Rhodium prices—which are vulnerable to wild swings because the metal has no futures market—have surged 65% to $9,985 a troy ounce in 2020, according to British chemicals company Johnson Matthey PLC. This builds on last year’s rally, extending rhodium’s advance over the past 12 months to more than 300%. Continue Reading →

Why are rhodium prices on a roll? (The Economist – January 25, 2020)

https://www.economist.com/

When anna scott left her Honda Jazz in a commuters’ car park outside Oxford on January 10th, she had little reason to think that criminals would take an interest in the 12-year-old car.

Yet the next afternoon a group of shifty characters were spotted sawing off its catalytic converter. Such incidents have become more frequent across Britain as prices for palladium and rhodium, metals contained in the devices, have rocketed.

The price of rhodium has risen by 63% in the first three weeks of January alone, to $9,850 per ounce, around six times that of gold. There is no telling when it will fall back to earth. Continue Reading →

For Clues About Palladium, Look to… North Macedonia? – by David Fickling (Bloomberg/Yahoo Finance – January 20, 2020)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg Opinion) — “The Balkans” — according to remark often attributed to Winston Churchill — “produce more history than they can consume.” Precious-metal traders betting on the record surge in palladium prices might want to draw a similar lesson.

That’s because production and consumption of palladium and its sister-metal platinum in one tiny Balkan state are giving crucial clues to the way producers of automobile catalytic converters use the two elements. This in turn is likely to affect the path of prices for both metals.

As we’ve written, there are strong fundamental underpinnings to the extraordinary rally that’s seen palladium prices increase nearly fivefold in the past four years, at a time when platinum is up a mere 25%. Both metals have extensive industrial uses in the converters that strip carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides from car exhausts. Continue Reading →

Attack on aluminum is unmerited – by Lauren Wilk (Automotive News – January 20, 2020)

https://www.autonews.com/

Lauren Wilk is the Vice president, policy and international trade for the Aluminum Association.

If the facts are not on your side, pound the table and yell like hell — an old saying that evokes the steel industry’s latest environmental attack against the aluminum industry (“Manufacturing materials count in vehicles’ impact on planet,” Dec. 9).

When the largest material by volume regularly focuses attention on the second most used material, it suggests grave concern. Perhaps it is because, as DuckerFrontier recently confirmed again, aluminum is the fastest-growing automotive material, gaining market share from steel, year over year.

When steel industry studies boast that steel is the greatest, perhaps skepticism is merited. Here’s what independent experts confirm: Continue Reading →

OEMs ‘fail to understand need to source EV battery raw materials’ – by Steve Garnsey (Automotive Logistics – December 23, 2019)

https://www.automotivelogistics.media/

OEMs and companies in the automotive supply chain show a lack of comprehension of how serious the situation is in accessing key metals required for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, according to Scott Williamson, managing director of Australian mineral explorer and mine developer Blackstone Minerals.

“I don’t think they [the automotive industry] understand how critical and difficult it is to get hold of these metals,” he told Automotive Logistics.

“There’s a disconnect between the amounts of money at the automotive level and what comes down to us,” he added. “If the money doesn’t come down to the mining level, there will be no EV revolution.” Continue Reading →

The unclear path forward for Canada’s auto sector as the electric age approaches – by Ian Bickis (Canadian Press/CTV News – December 22, 2019)

https://www.ctvnews.ca/

TORONTO — The last vehicles of an era rolled out of GM Canada’s Oshawa assembly plant last week, but workers and the union behind them hope it’s not the end of the line.

“We shouldn’t let go of the manufacturing capacity we have there,” said Tony Leah, who worked at the plant for 39 years before having to retire in early December. He’s part of a campaign advocating for government to take over the plant and produce electric vehicles.

The end of production at the plant, which assembled vehicles such as the GMC Silverado and Chevy Impala in the final years of its 66-year run, comes at a time of change and uncertainty in the auto industry as it grapples with slowing sales, trade disputes and the steep costs of transitioning production to electric and autonomous vehicles. Continue Reading →

Final vehicles roll off the line in Oshawa as GM plant winds down production – by Ian Bickis (Globe and Mail – December 19, 2019)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

The last vehicles rolled down the line Wednesday at General Motor’s Oshawa Assembly Plant as an era of production comes to a close for the Ontario motor city. “This has been coming in slow motion, and suddenly it’s here,” said Joel Smith, a union organizer with Unifor Local 222.

Outside the plant, workers hugged in the bitter cold as some walked in for the final shift while others walked out into an unknown future.

GM announced in November last year that it would wind down production at the plant, which has been in operation since 1953, while GM first started producing vehicles in the city east of Toronto in 1918. Continue Reading →

END OF THE LINE: Despite GM closure, Oshawa has plenty of gas in its tank – by Liz Braun (Toronto Sun – December 15, 2019)

https://torontosun.com/

Oshawa today is a tale of two cities. When General Motors shuts down in a few days, it’ll be the end of an era for the town. On Dec. 20, the last vehicle will roll off the assembly line as the industry that defined Oshawa for 100 years closes its doors.

But for all that the history of Oshawa is entwined with the history of GM, the city is no longer dependent upon cars and trucks for either its jobs or its identity. Oshawa has evolved into an education, health sciences and IT hub and is currently experiencing a real estate boom.

In its heyday, GM Canada employed more than 20,000 people in Oshawa, indirectly creating other jobs in all the attendant services required to house and feed that workforce. Continue Reading →