Archive | Metals and Manufacturing

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 →

NEWS RELEASE: Early-Stage Research Hints at Big Advancements Ahead in Lead Battery Energy Storage Innovation (Essential Energy Everyday.com – December 11, 2019)

https://essentialenergyeveryday.com/

CEOs Visit DOE National Laboratory to Review Collaborative Research Project

WASHINGTON, December 11, 2019 – A three-year scientific research project currently underway at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is showing promising results to unlock the untapped potential of lead batteries. Lead batteries currently supply over 70% of the world’s rechargeable battery energy needs. Yet, possibilities exist to expand their performance to meet growing energy storage and transportation demands.

The project is funded by a joint industry CRADA (Cooperative Research and Development Agreement) comprised of more than 90% of the U.S. lead battery industry. They are working with Argonne scientists to study lead and its unrealized potential for batteries, which can be employed for both transportation and the nation’s energy infrastructure.

The CRADA is part of the ongoing research and development by the lead battery and recycling industry, which spent more than $100 million in battery R&D in 2018, supports nearly 25,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs, and generates $26.3 billion in economic output. Continue Reading →

Europe-led global certification scheme for raw materials expected in 2020 – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – October 30, 2019)

https://www.mining.com/

A group of European bodies and companies have joined efforts to create the first global certification scheme ensuring consistent standards of environmental, social and economic impact throughout the entire raw materials value chain, to be launched next year.

CERA (Certification of Raw Materials), conceived in 2015 by German engineering and consulting firm DMT Group, counts with the support of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), EIT RawMaterials, Volkswagen, Fairphone and research institutions from across Europe.

Companies are under pressure from consumers and investors to prove that minerals are sourced without human rights abuses but tracking raw materials throughout their journey is challenging. Continue Reading →

Trump’s quest to quit China’s rare earths hits outback Australia – by David Stringer (Bloomberg/Minneapolis Star Tribune – August 7, 2019)

http://www.startribune.com/

The remote Outback region of northern Australia would seem an unlikely outpost in the simmering global trade war, but the mining hot spot may help solve a critical issue for the U.S. — the supply of rare earths.

Last October, two U.S. Geological Survey scientists visited a newly recognized type of rare earths deposit about 100 miles southeast of Halls Creek in Western Australia. Rare earths, a group of 17 vital elements needed in components for missile systems, consumer electronics and electric vehicles, have become a more important battleground after China signaled it may restrict shipments to the U.S.

“All of a sudden, you’ve got the U.S. government realizing they have a problem,” said George Bauk, chief executive officer of Northern Minerals Ltd., who has held talks in Washington and hosted the U.S. scientists at the company’s remote Browns Range project. Continue Reading →

China Raises Threat of Rare-Earths Cutoff to U.S. – by Keith Johnson and Elias Groll (Foreign Policy – May 21, 2019)

https://foreignpolicy.com/

Beijing could slam every corner of the American economy, from oil refineries to wind turbines to jet engines, by banning exports of crucial minerals.

With a simple visit to an obscure factory on Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping has raised the specter that China could potentially cut off supplies of critical materials needed by huge swaths of the U.S. economy, underscoring growing concerns that large-scale economic integration is boomeranging and becoming a geopolitical weapon.

With the U.S.-China trade war intensifying, Chinese state media last week began floating the idea of banning exports of rare-earth elements to the United States, one of several possible Chinese responses to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to jack up tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods and blacklist telecoms maker Huawei.

U.S. oil refiners rely on rare-earth imports as catalysts to turn crude oil into gasoline and jet fuel. Permanent magnets, which use four different rare-earth elements to differing degrees, pop up in everything including ear buds, wind turbines, and electric cars. And China dominates their production. Continue Reading →

Tesla is turning rivals into roadkill – even in China – by Frik Els (Mining.com – May 15, 2019)

http://www.mining.com/

Elon Musk has no shortage of detractors – and judging by the tone struck by some of them, that’s not nearly a strong enough word. Neither does the Tesla CEO have a shortage of short sellers and every so often long sellers get in on the action too. Bears turn bulls with gusto and bulls turn bears with alacrity.

Musk frequently muddies the waters himself, making outlandish – and sometimes ludicrous claims for his current and future vehicles. And the tweets. The tweets. The reckless tweets.

The result is that those those who want to make a sober assessment of the company have few places to go. So how does the rubber really hit the road for Tesla? Continue Reading →

Tesla Manager Sees Risk of Battery-Minerals Shortage in Future – by Laura Millan Lombrana and Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – May 2, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Booming demand for electric vehicles and insufficient investment in mines could result in a global shortage of minerals needed to manufacture rechargeable batteries in a few years’ time, a Tesla Inc. representative told U.S. officials and mining executives in a meeting in Washington.

Prices for some of the minerals, which include graphite, cobalt, lithium and nickel, could increase as a result of the high demand and the limited supply, Tesla global supply manager of battery metals Sarah Maryssael said in a closed-door presentation Thursday confirmed by the company.

Investment is important to ensure there is sufficient supply for the industry to grow, she said. Funding for projects to mine these minerals in certain countries has been challenging in the past, Maryssael said at the presentation. Continue Reading →

The U.S. Has a Battery Problem in the Race for Electric Car Supremacy – by Laura Millan Lombrana and Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – April 30, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The U.S. push to challenge China’s dominance in the production and sale of electric vehicles has at least one weak link: Most of the raw materials needed to make the batteries are dug elsewhere.

Both Chinese and U.S.-based companies have invested heavily in lithium mining projects in Chile, Australia and Argentina, some of the world’s top producing nations. But unlike the U.S., Chinese companies have also invested at home, with the Asian nation producing almost eight times more lithium domestically than the U.S.

The raw materials gap will be discussed at a May 2 meeting in Washington expected to draw government officials, carmakers, mining companies and consultants on the need for streamlining the U.S. permit process for new lithium projects and stockpiling purchases. Continue Reading →

From turbines to thermostats: Copper miners eyes high-tech demand – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – April 10, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Growing demand for smart thermostats, wind turbines and other high-tech devices is expected to keep copper the dominant material used in electrical components, industry players said, offsetting rising use of aluminum, a cheaper alternative to conduct electricity.

That bodes well for the likes of Chilean producer Codelco, Rio Tinto Plc and other major copper miners, who are investing billions of dollars to bring new supplies of the metal online during the next 20 years.

Copper is used to make motors, batteries, wiring and other goods as it is the best electrical-conducting metal, after silver. Aluminum, which is lighter and cheaper than copper, shares some of these traits, but is more corrosive and brittle than its red rival and only about 60 percent as conductive. Continue Reading →

China, cobalt and the Congo: Why Xi Jinping is winning the ‘batteries arms race’ – by Felix Todd (Compelo.com – April 4, 2019)

https://www.compelo.com/

Over the past decade, China has established a monopoly over cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the vast majority of the metal resides. In an argent rendition of 1848’s Gold Rush, a single silver-tinged metal has caught the world’s attention: Cobalt.

Critical to the construction of batteries, it has emerged as central to some of the industries set to determine the future. Roughly 10kg of the precious resource is needed to make an electric car, for example, and, without it, the feasibility of grid-scale battery storage is severely compromised.

The vast majority of the planet’s cobalt is located within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where a plethora of interested parties are engaged in a frantic contest for control over mining operations. Continue Reading →

China Is Building the Batteries of the Future – by Damien Ma and Neil Thomas (Foreign Policy – April 2, 2019)

https://foreignpolicy.com/

Tesla is the United States’ only shot at critical new technology.

Tesla is a company that its critics love to hate. A swarm of short sellers have bet $10 billion that the electric carmaker will fail. They tweet incessantly about Tesla’s loss-making operations and even fly drones over its facilities to verify production figures. Elon Musk, Tesla’s erratic CEO, has berated these short-sellers as “haters.”

Betting against Tesla’s prospects may profit short-sellers, but it could end up dashing America’s only hope to build supply chains for a technology that will reshape the future economy: the lithium-ion (li-ion) battery.
Originally commercialized by Sony in the 1990s, these batteries’ high-energy density, long recharging cycles, lightweight structure, and relative safety make them ideal for powering everything including laptops, smartphones, and electric vehicles. Continue Reading →

Huge demand for copper, cobalt, lithium and nickel in the offing as EV uptake increases – by Tracy Hancock (MiningWeekly.com – March 15, 2019)

http://m.miningweekly.com/

Metals of the Future

Investors focused on the mining sector may not fully appreciate how quickly the electric vehicle (EV) is being adopted globally, in light of the world pursuing a low-carbon emissions future, says battery metals investment vehicle Cobalt 27 Capital chairperson and CEO Anthony Milewski, who warns of a potential deficit in the supply of the metals critical to achieving this future.

Global management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company says 2017 marked the first time EV sales passed the one- million mark, noting in May 2018 that, by 2020, EV producers could be moving 4.5- million units, about 5% of the overall global light-vehicle market.

Even with South Africa’s electricity supply woes, automotive company Jaguar Land Rover South Africa forecast in January that South Africa could have 145 000 EVs on its roads, expecting yearly sales of new EVs to reach 43 000 units in the next six years. Continue Reading →