Archive | Metals and Manufacturing

Biggest shakeup in auto industry’s history chance for Canada to climb on top – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – June 19, 2021)

‘I believe the automotive industry is thrown open to disruption like it’s never been thrown open before’

When U.S. President Joe Biden hopped behind the wheel of a new Ford Electric F-150 last month, he called it the future of the U.S. economy: “A union-made product, right here in America.”

For some Canadians, his words rang out like a wake-up call because in recent years, engines for the F-150, and other Ford vehicles, have been assembled in Windsor, Ontario.

Of course, electric vehicles like the new F-150 don’t have engines — they have batteries and motors. That’s why Stephen MacKenzie, president of Invest Windsor Essex, the local economic development corporation, is scrambling to attract battery manufacturers to the region. “We have automotives in our DNA,” said MacKenzie, “but things are changing.” Continue Reading →

BASF, Canada in early talks on EV battery production – source – by Steve Scherer and Christoph Steitz (Financial Post/Reuters – May 20, 2021)

OTTAWA — Several companies, including Germany’s BASF SE, are in preliminary talks about tapping a federal clean tech fund to set up production for electric vehicle batteries in Canada, a government official with knowledge of the discussions said.

The talks are centered on understanding whether the goals of BASF and others fit with the aim of the C$8 billion ($6.6 billion) “Net Zero Accelerator” (NZA) fund, the source said. Canada has set a goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

BASF is a key supplier of cathode active materials (CAM) needed for the production of lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles (EV), and is the world’s largest chemicals and plastics producer by sales. Continue Reading →

Copper Is The New Gold For U.S. Ammo Makers And The Chinese Companies They’re Competing With For Scarce Supplies – by Aaron Smith (Forbes Magazine – June 10, 2021)

U.S. ammunition makers are competing with Chinese companies for copper, a metal that is essential for building construction and the manufacture of electronics.

Gun sales are continuing to accelerate to record heights during the coronavirus pandemic, as Americans arm themselves for self-protection against an increasingly scary world with civil unrest and rising crime. Guns need ammunition, and making it requires raw materials like gunpowder, brass for the shells and copper for the bullets.

“Copper is very big for us,” said Vista Outdoor Chief Executive Officer Chris Metz in a recent interview. Copper is part of a soft zinc alloy that jackets the lead bullet to protect the inside of the gun barrel when firing. But copper is also an important ingredient in keeping the lights on around the world, and in running our computers and phones. Continue Reading →

Only through a Secure Supply of EV Metals (Rare Earths) can a Hegemony Be. – by Jack Lifton (Investor Intel – May 26, 2021)

It has been reported today that the Biden administration is looking to allied nations as primary sources of critical mined raw materials, and that it, the administration, will focus on supporting the domestic American processing of such imported ores into useful products focused on domestic production of EVs, their batteries, and components.

This is an example of a complete disregard by the Biden administration for America’s competitive advantage, safety, and, ironically, its economy to placate a loud anti-mining luddism that pervades the American left.

It is in two words, hypocritical and stupid. It’s hypocritical because it assumes that out-of-sight, out-of-mind, will placate the left’s “greens” into thinking that pollution in Australia, Canada, or Brazil and its attendant costs doesn’t exist. It’s stupid, because it makes no economic sense. Continue Reading →

Turn off the gas: is America ready to embrace electric vehicles? – by Tom Perkins (The Guardian – May 23, 2021)

In Detroit, auto plants have for decades churned out trucks built with Motor City steel and fueled by gasoline. But this week’s rollout of the Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck offered a vision of the future in America’s automotive heartland: aluminum-clad pickups running off of electric powertrains with lithium batteries.

An electric model of the nation’s best-selling vehicle at an accessible $40,000 has the potential to shift the auto industry’s course, and do more to advance the transportation sector’s electrification than any recent development, analysts say.

“Offering a well-known vehicle at a competitive price could really help push the EV agenda in the US,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Continue Reading →

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)

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)

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 ( – February 16, 2021)

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)


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)

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 ( – February 8, 2021)

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)

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)

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)

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 ( – January 27, 2021)

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 →