Archive | Metals and Manufacturing

The backing of German governments means Volkswagen’s all-out electric push is less risky than it appears – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – March 27, 2021)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Every traditional car company is rolling out electric vehicles – lots of them. But only one, Volkswagen, is betting the farm on EVs. The wholesale embrace of one technology seems like an astonishingly risky move. Even rival BMW thinks so.

Last week, VW, the world’s biggest automaker, unveiled its Tesla-killer strategy, though in reality the German company is already eating Tesla’s lunch in Europe. Last year, VW became the leading maker of EVs in Europe and sold more of them in that market than Tesla.

The next stage of its strategy is aimed at displacing Tesla as the global leader in battery-powered cars. VW boss Herbert Diess plans to surpass the California company in total EV sales by 2025, even as Elon Musk’s electric baby ramps up production in Europe and Asia. Continue Reading →

Tesla partners with nickel mine amid shortage fears (BBC News – March 5, 2021)

https://www.bbc.com/

Tesla has decided to become a technical partner in a nickel mine – which is needed for lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars.

Elon Musk’s car firm will also buy nickel from the Goro mine on the small Pacific island of New Caledonia to secure its long-term supply. The move comes amid growing concerns about future supplies of nickel.

New Caledonia is the world’s fourth largest nickel producer, which has seen a 26% rally in prices in the past year. Continue Reading →

China eyes rare earth export curbs for US defense – FT – by Staff (Mining.com – February 16, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

China is looking into curbing the exports of rare earth minerals that are crucial to US defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin for the manufacture of sophisticated weaponry and F-35 fighter jets, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Industry executives said government officials had asked them how badly companies in the US and Europe would be affected if China restricted rare-earth exports during a bilateral dispute, FT reported.

China currently accounts for 70% of global production of rare earths, controlling 90% of the $4 billion global market. Continue Reading →

Electric vehicles can drive more responsible mining – by Pius Ginting and Payal Sampat (China Dialogue Ocean – February 12, 2021)

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Pius Ginting is the coordinator of Aksi Ekologi dan Emansipasi Rakyat in Indonesia. Payal Sampat is the mining program director at Earthworks in the United States.

The ocean waters surrounding eastern Indonesia and Papua New Guinea lie within the biodiverse Coral Triangle, home to some of the world’s most highly concentrated – and endangered – coral reefs.

In addition to being globally significant ecological sites, the reefs supply habitat for several important commercial and subsistence fisheries central to local communities’ lives.

Meanwhile, the area’s nickel deposits are attracting the attention of electric vehicle manufacturers, which rely on batteries containing nickel and other minerals like lithium and cobalt. Nickel demand is expected to increase six-fold by 2030 and Indonesia, which is already the world’s largest nickel producer, is dramatically scaling up production to meet it. Continue Reading →

Why GM’s switch to electric vehicles may be more important for the oilpatch than Keystone XL’s cancellation – by Tony Seskus (CBC News Business – February 10, 2021)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/

Comedian Will Ferrell smashed a globe with his fist, caught an arrow in his mouth and travelled to Sweden aboard a storage tanker on Sunday. And it had nothing to do with promoting another goofball buddy flick.

It was a Super Bowl commercial launched by General Motors as the largest U.S. automaker marked its newfound ambitions as an electric-carmaker. Less than two weeks ago, GM caught some people by surprise with its pledge to make the vast majority of the vehicles it produces electric by 2035.

Amid growing calls for action on climate change, some argue it has the potential to be transformative. And for the North American energy sector, particularly oil and gasoline producers, understanding the implications of the electric vehicle (EV) push just became that much more urgent. Continue Reading →

Tesla investment to position Indonesia as EV battery production hub – report – by Editor (Mining.com – February 8, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

In December 2020, reports emerged that Tesla would send delegations to Indonesia in January to discuss potential investment in a supply chain for its electric vehicles.

On February 4, the Jakarta Globe reported that Tesla would submit a proposal to the Indonesian government for the establishment of a battery production facility in the country.

This is on the back of the automaker strive to secure nickel supplies for its larger 4680 cells that is planned to be used in future Tesla vehicles such as the Cybertruck and the Semi models. Continue Reading →

Thieves Nationwide Are Slithering Under Cars, Swiping Catalytic Converters – by Hiroko Tabuchi (New York Times – February 9, 2021)

https://www.nytimes.com/

The pollution-control gadgets are full of precious metals like palladium, and prices are soaring as regulators try to tame emissions. Crooks with hacksaws have noticed.

Michael Kevane, an economics professor in San Jose, Calif., didn’t give a second thought to parking his 2005 Prius in his driveway one rainy evening last month. But the next morning, when his son Elliot went to start up the car, “it sounded like a jackhammer,” Mr. Kevane said. “The whole block could hear the noise.”

The reason for the ruckus: A thief in the night had made off with the car’s catalytic converter, a critical emissions-control device that contains precious metals more valuable than gold. Continue Reading →

OPINION: GM’s switch to electric vehicles is part hype, part hope – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – February 3, 2021)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

It has been a long time since anyone took it on faith that what is good for General Motors is good for America. The question raised by GM’s plans to stop making gasoline-powered cars and light trucks by 2035 is whether the automaker has instead tied its fortunes to China.

The Detroit-based automaker’s announcement last week that it aims to sell only zero-emissions vehicles by the middle of the next decade seemed to signal that its legacy car business is headed for the scrap heap much sooner than most industry watchers had imagined.

Such a development would have vast – and mostly negative – implications for North American supply chains, which remain overwhelmingly tied to the manufacturing of gasoline-powered vehicles. Continue Reading →

General Motors sets goal to be carbon neutral in products and operations – by Jeffrey Jones and Eric Atkins (Globe and Mail – January 29, 2021)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

General Motors Co. plans to build only zero-emission cars and trucks by 2035 as the centrepiece of an ambitious corporate target of being carbon-neutral five years after that.

In the latest push by a major company to move away from fossil fuels in the fight against climate change, the auto giant said on Thursday it will offer emission-free light-duty vehicles across its price ranges.

It will spend US$27-billion to accelerate the transition over the next five years – an increase of US$7-billion from its prepandemic budget. Continue Reading →

All the mines Tesla needs to build 20 million cars a year – by Frik Els (Mining.com – January 27, 2021)

https://www.mining.com/

Elon Musk and his merry band of executive vice presidents had plenty of advice for the mining and metals industry at the company’s Battery Day event in September, where the road map to a $25,000 Tesla was laid out.

How easy it is to mine lithium (just add salt), just how much of it there is in Nevada (enough for 300 million EVs), how to be environmentally friendly (“put the chunk of dirt back where it was”) and, given these facts, why miners haven’t been trying harder.

Since lithium is “just like widely available” and Tesla’s scientists have eliminated other hard to come by metals like graphite (replace it with sand, obvs) and cobalt from batteries (at least in theory), Musk’s prime raw material worry is nickel. Continue Reading →

Developing a market for scandium oxide – by Trish Saywell (Northern Miner – January 21, 2021)

Global mining news

If you blinked you might have missed the news last week but it was extraordinary: Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO; LSE: RIO) and the Quebec government announced they are building a commercial-scale demonstration plant to produce scandium oxide in Canada – the first scandium oxide plant in North America.

As Alisha Hiyate, the editor-in-chief of the Canadian Mining Journal and Diamonds in Canada magazine pointed out in her article about the new plant on Jan. 14, scandium oxide is used to make high-performance aluminium alloys for the aerospace, defence and 3-D printing industries, and in the production of solid oxide fuel cells. Scandium-enriched alloys are stronger, lighter, corrosion-resistant and weldable.

Rio Tinto will be extracting the critical material from tailings it has generated from processing titanium dioxide. The mining company discovered the scandium oxide in mineralized material from its Lac Tio ilmenite mine in the French-speaking Canadian province five years ago, figured out a way of producing scandium oxide at a purity level of over 99.99%, and last year produced its first aluminum-scandium master alloy. Continue Reading →

GM Canada announces tentative deal for $1 billion electric vehicle plant in Ontario – by Canadian Press (CTV News – January 15, 2021)

https://www.ctvnews.ca/

INGERSOLL, ONT. — GM Canada says it has reached a tentative deal with Unifor that if ratified will see it invest $1 billion to transform its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., to make commercial electric vehicles.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias says along with the significant investment the agreement will mean new products, new jobs and job security for workers.

Dias says in a statement that more details of the tentative deal will be presented to Unifor Local 88 members at an online ratification meeting scheduled for Sunday. Continue Reading →

Mining gives Canada a competitive advantage in electric vehicle market – by Navdeep Bains (Policy Options – September 17, 2020)

Policy Options – Institute for Research on Public Policy

Navdeep Bains is the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

For decades, Canada’s auto industry has relied on what I would call a “people advantage.” Canadian workers made better quality, innovative vehicles and, as a result, automakers recognized the value in making cars in Canada.

The transition towards autonomous vehicles has put our people advantage to the test, challenging the ingenuity and durability of our domestic industry to remain competitive in a transforming global market.

Once again, however, Canada has risen to the challenge, proving to be a force in the kind of connected technologies and artificial intelligence upon which self-driving cars and trucks are based. Continue Reading →

Do You Know Where Your Watch’s Gold Came From? – by Victoria Gomelsky (New York Times – November 19, 2020)

https://www.nytimes.com/

A mechanical timepiece is powered by clean kinetic energy and can run, at least theoretically, forever and a day. To support that image of inherent sustainability, many Swiss watchmakers over the past decade have partnered with conservation groups, implemented energy-saving measures at their at their factories and, more recently, experimented with recycled materials for things like packaging and straps.

When it comes to the gold and gemstones used to make watches, however, the industry lags behind other sectors such as electronics in understanding and communicating how its materials are obtained and ensuring their extraction has not harmed people and the environment.

“We always compare the watch industry here in Switzerland to the textile industry 20 years ago,” said Dario Grünenfelder, a consultant to WWF Switzerland and lead author of the WWF Watch and Jewellery Report 2018. “They’re not really tackling the big issues: the raw materials that go into their products.” Continue Reading →

EV makers’ battery choices raise questions about future cobalt demand – by Henrique Ribeiro (S&P Global – November 11, 2020)

https://www.spglobal.com/

The recent resurgence in the use of cobalt-free battery formulation, especially in the Chinese battery market, has raised questions about the future of cobalt demand in the electric vehicles (EV) sector.

The use of cobalt in lithium-ion batteries has always generated concerns due to its high cost, as well as the use of child labor in “artisanal mining” at the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where 60% of the world’s cobalt is produced.

However, market participants believe cobalt will remain key in the coming EV boom – even though Tesla has announced plans to completely get rid of cobalt in the near future. Continue Reading →