Archive | Metals and Manufacturing

Apple’s potential mining play is about more than money, industry experts say – Natasha Turak (CNBC News – February 22, 2018)

https://www.cnbc.com/

Recent reports that Apple is looking to procure cobalt, an essential component in smartphone batteries, directly from mining companies have highlighted a growing concern about the valuable metal’s impending supply shortage.

But just as important as securing a supply of the limited resource may be what one expert calls a “21st century factor” — ethics and human rights.

“Apple is a buyer of batteries, not a buyer of battery components, and it’s a number of steps away from the raw materials side. So this is significant — the reason they’re doing it is supply chain visibility,” Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Minerals, told CNBC. “They need to know that children have not been illegally mining where their cobalt is coming from.” Continue Reading →

Apple in Talks to Buy Cobalt Directly From Miners – by Jack Farchy and Mark Gurman (Bloomberg News – February 21, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Apple Inc. is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter, seeking to ensure it will have enough of the key battery ingredient amid industry fears of a shortage driven by the electric vehicle boom.

The iPhone maker is one of the world’s largest end users of cobalt for the batteries in its gadgets, but until now it has left the business of buying the metal to the companies that make its batteries.

The talks show that the tech giant is keen to ensure that cobalt supplies for its iPhone and iPad batteries are sufficient, with the rapid growth in battery demand for electric vehicles threatening to create a shortage of the raw material. About a quarter of global cobalt production is used in smartphones. Continue Reading →

America’s Troubling and Growing Reliance on Foreign Minerals – by Mark J. Perry (Inside Sources – January 24, 2018)

http://www.insidesources.com/

To grasp the seriousness of America’s heavy reliance on imports of strategically important minerals, consider that many of the metals needed for weapons systems and a wide array of consumer products come from countries that don’t always have our nation’s best interests in mind.

Once the undisputed global leader in minerals production, the U.S. mining industry is now well on its way to second-tier status. Domestic mines have been closing, leading to a 13 percent drop in our nation’s share of global investments in metals mining over the past decade and an increased reliance on minerals imports. Last year, American companies spent more than $7 billion on imported minerals.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. dependence on minerals from abroad has doubled in the last 20 years, and we are now import-dependent on more than half of 50 key mineral commodities and 100 percent import-dependent for 20 of those, including manganese, tantalum and rare earth minerals such as neodymium, samarium and dysprosium, which are crucial in the manufacture of jet fighter engines, antimissile defense systems, night vision goggles and smart bombs, among other advanced weapons systems. Continue Reading →

BASF Aims to Muscle Itself Onto Battery Materials’ Top Table – by Andrew Noël (Bloomberg News – January 19, 2018)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg) — BASF SE is prepared to dig deep, pouring money and expertise into developing materials for electric-vehicle batteries to catch up with rivals like Tesla Inc. supplier Sumitomo Metals & Mining Co.

The world’s No. 1 chemical maker is adding to its expansion plans in Europe, which is emerging as the next high-growth region for batteries, said Ken Lane, BASF’s global head of catalysts. Battery makers in the market currently rely on Asian suppliers like Sumitomo that provide nickel and lithium.

“We are the largest chemical supplier to the automotive industry, and this is the biggest opportunity that we see in that space today,” Lane said in a phone interview. “Asia has been the growth story till now and will continue to grow, but Europe is also going to be growing very fast over the next decade.” Continue Reading →

WoodMac urges automakers to ‘get out their chequebooks’, secure energy metal supplies – by Henry Lazenby (MiningWeekly.com – January 17, 2018)

http://www.miningweekly.com/

VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Auto manufacturers are ramping up strategies to cash in on the accelerating worldwide acceptance and demand for electric vehicles (EVs), prompting advice from research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie for automakers to ‘get out their chequebooks’ and take stakes in mines or new mine projects to lock-in future supply.

WoodMac issued a statement on Tuesday, following news that Ford will boost its investment in EVs to $11-billion between 2015 and 2022 – a sharply higher figure than a previously announced target of $4.5-billion by 2020.

Ford also revealed plans to expand its electrified portfolio to include 40 electrified vehicles globally, including 16 full-battery EVs by 2022. It outlined plans to accelerate investment in EVs and sportd utility vehicles (SUVs). Continue Reading →

Palladium risks tripping up as prices stampede higher – by Jan Harvey(Reuters U.S. – January 16, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Palladium, the hottest property in the precious metals deck last year, is tipped for a record performance in 2018 even among bearish forecasters, but the metal could become a victim of its own success.

The prospect of sharply higher prices could well prompt substitution of the metal for cheaper platinum in autocatalysts and higher recycling volume.

The metal has posted a string of deficits in recent years, fuelled by strong gains in autocatalyst demand. That helped send prices above $1,000 an ounce last year for the first time since 2001, and to a record $1,138 this week. Continue Reading →

Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow – by Neil Strauss (Rolling Stone – November 15, 2017)

https://www.rollingstone.com/

Inside the inventor’s world-changing plans to inhabit outer space, revolutionize high-speed transportation, reinvent cars – and hopefully find love along the way

It’s mid-afternoon on a Friday at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and three of Elon Musk’s children are gathered around him – one of his triplets, both of his twins.

Musk is wearing a gray T-shirt and sitting in a swivel chair at his desk, which is not in a private office behind a closed door, but in an accessible corner cubicle festooned with outer-space novelty items, photos of his rockets, and mementos from Tesla and his other companies.

Most tellingly, there’s a framed poster of a shooting star with a caption underneath it that reads, “When you wish upon a falling star, your dreams can come true. Unless it’s really a meteor hurtling to the Earth which will destroy all life. Then you’re pretty much hosed, no matter what you wish for. Unless it’s death by meteorite.” Continue Reading →

Electric vehicles: Toyota could become Tesla’s next big headache – by Jon LeSage (Oilprice.com/U.S.A. Today – December 23, 2018)

https://www.usatoday.com/

Toyota Motor Corp. is making a serious commitment to bringing electrified vehicles into its fleet. The move goes against the widely held perception that the Japanese automaker was taking a very different path than other global automakers striving to become “Tesla-competitive.”

Toyota announced on December 18 that it will be offering electric versions of every model of its vehicles by 2025, and hitting a target of selling 5.5 million electrified vehicles by 2030. That will include 1 million zero-emission vehicles — battery electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles similar to the Toyota Mirai.

By 2025, the automaker will have every Toyota and Lexus model available as a dedicated electrified vehicle, or it will have an electrified option available. Electrified options include all-electric, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell, or hybrid. Continue Reading →

Marilyn Monroe’s Wedding Ring Loses Its Shine – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – January 3, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Just as electric cars seem to be taking over, an element inextricably tied to the fortunes of the internal combustion engine is surging.

Palladium hit a 16-year high of $1,094.51 an ounce Tuesday and is 1.5 percent away from breaching its 2001 record of $1,110.50 an ounce, after doubling in price over the past two years. Having traded for a fifth of the cost of platinum as recently as 2009, palladium is now worth more than its sister metal’s $943.65 an ounce.

To understand what’s going on, it’s worth looking to the long shadow cast by Volkswagen AG’s diesel-testing scandal, and the growing toll of diesel emissions on European cities. Continue Reading →

BMW Sees 10-Fold Jump in Its Need for Battery Materials by 2025 – by Elisabeth Behrmann (Bloomberg News – December 15, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

BMW AG’s needs for car-battery raw materials such as cobalt and lithium will surge 10-fold by the middle of the next decade, pushing the German carmaker increasingly to forge long-term deals as shortages loom.

Purchase contracts with five- to 10-year time frames are close to being completed, the manufacturer’s head of procurement told reporters in Munich Friday. Concerns about supply bottlenecks, especially for cobalt, have prompted auto producers including Volkswagen AG to step up efforts to ensure they have enough. BMW plans to offer 25 electrified vehicles by 2025, while VW is targeting a 300-model battery-powered lineup by 2030.

“We’ve been intensively focusing on how to manage future cobalt supply for about a year now,” said Markus Duesmann, the BMW purchasing executive. “Before, it wasn’t clear just how quickly demand will accelerate.” Continue Reading →

This Electric Truck Will Probably Beat Tesla’s to Market (Bloomberg News – December 13, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

On the evening of Nov. 16, Elon Musk unveiled the latest prop in his Tony Stark cosplay. Tesla Inc.’s all-electric semi rig met all the classic Musk product launch criteria: It looked stunning, had unprecedented performance numbers, included features straight out of science fiction, and would arrive at some unknown date at a too-good-to-be-true price from a still-to-be-built assembly line.

Ten miles from the cramped Los Angeles airport hangar where thousands of Muskovites were swooning, a 25-year-old named Dakota Semler watched the performance on his phone, tossed a piece of sushi into his mouth, and shrugged. Semler, you see, has an all-electric semi of his own, a matte-black curvaceous truck known for now as the ET1.

It’s the first vehicle from his startup, Thor Trucks, which hopes to grab a tiny slice of the 940,000-unit-a-year market for semis and go after short-haul trucks, delivery vans, and work vehicles. Continue Reading →

How to Mine Cobalt Without Going to Congo – by Anna Hirtenstein (Bloomberg News – December 1, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Almost 9,000 miles from the dusty Congo savanna, miners have hit on an entirely new source of cobalt — the rare mineral at the heart of the electric-car boom. And not only can they take coffee breaks, when they take a break, they can grab a donut at Tim Hortons.

Scientists working for American Manganese Inc., located in the suburbs of Vancouver, have developed a way to produce enough of the bluish-gray metal to power all the electric cars on the road today without drilling into the ground: by recycling faulty batteries.

It’s one of many technologies that entrepreneurs are patenting to prepare for a time when electric cars outnumber polluting petrol engines, turning the entire automotive supply chain upside down in the process. Instead of radiators, spark plugs and fuel injectors, the industry will need cheap sources of cobalt, copper and lithium. Continue Reading →

VW Hunts for Critical Element Needed in Electric Cars – by Thomas Wilson and Christoph Rauwald (Bloomberg News – November 23, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Volkswagen AG is stepping up its hunt for long-term supplies of battery metals it will need to help power electric cars across its entire range.

The top automaker invited producers and traders of cobalt, one of this year’s best-performing metals, for talks at its German headquarters this week, people familiar with the matter said.

Buying the critical battery component might not be as simple as first thought — after issuing a tender in September, the firm has since relaxed demands for offers at a discounted fixed price, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Continue Reading →

[Norilsk] Metals Billionaire to Win Whether Electric Cars Boom or Bust – by Yuliya Fedorinova (Bloomberg News – November 21, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

There are two major reasons mining billionaire Vladimir Potanin is within a hair’s breadth of regaining his ranking as Russia’s richest tycoon this year.

One is higher prices for nickel used in batteries as metals traders bet electric vehicles are the future of transportation. The other is a jump in palladium on wagers that gasoline cars will be here for a long time yet.

They’ve boosted the value of Potanin’s 30 percent in MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC, the top miner of both metals, lifting his net worth 12 percent this year to $19 billion. They also show how Nornickel, as it’s known, will gain from auto-industry changes even if optimism on electric cars is overdone. Continue Reading →

Darker side of electric cars in spotlight – by Angela Jameson (The National – November 19, 2017)

https://www.thenational.ae/

While EV emissions are good news for the planet the materials used to produce them are rasing concerns

Momentum is fast building behind electric vehicles as countries round the world move to reduce use of petrol and diesel for transport. This summer France and the UK said they would ban combustion engines by 2040 and China has said it is studying such a move.

Volvo, now a Swedish-Chinese company, says every car it launches from 2019 will be either fully or partly electric. Volvo’s announcement this year was greeted as the first serious challenge to Tesla, the Californian electric car maker, from mainstream marques.

Analysts at UBS expect global sales of electric vehicles in 2025 to reach 14.2 million units, or 13.7 per cent of the total, compared with under 1 million units, or less than 1 per cent, in 2017. Continue Reading →