Archive | Metals and Manufacturing

In EV era, Brookfield and Caisse place $13-billion bet on conventional car battery maker – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – November 14, 2018)

https://business.financialpost.com/

Electric vehicles will make up 15 per cent of all auto sales in a decade — that still leaves 85 per cent of the market to traditional cars

The rapid growth of the electric vehicle industry may be drawing headlines, but when it comes to drawing major investments, the internal combustion engine remains on solid footing.

In a deal that highlights the breadth of the traditional automotive industry, two Canadian investment funds on Tuesday announced a US$13.2-billion deal to purchase the leading global manufacturer of lead-acid batteries.

Toronto-based asset manager Brookfield Business Partners and pension manager Caisse de dêpôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) along with other investors will jointly acquire 100 per cent of Ireland-based Johnson Controls’ automotive business — which shipped 154 million automotive lead-acid batteries in 2017. Continue Reading →

Electric car demand fueling rise in child labor in DR Congo: campaigners – by Nellie Peyton (Reuters U.S. – November 2, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Demand for electric vehicles is fueling a rise in child labor in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, experts said this week, urging companies to take action as the industry expands.

Cobalt is a key component in batteries for electric cars, phones and laptops, and Congo provides more than half of global supply. Tens of thousands of children as young as six dig for the toxic substance in artisanal mines in the country’s southeast, without protective clothing, rights groups say.

As companies move to secure their supply of cobalt, they should also make a push to improve transparency and labor rights, said U.S.-based advocacy group Enough Project. Continue Reading →

Metal More Common in Moon Rocks Could Transform Planes and Cars – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – October 25, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

There’s an unexpected benefit from the boom in battery metals mining — it’s going to boost production of scandium, an obscure element whose long-held promise to transform manufacturing of planes and cars has been stalled by a lack of supply.

The silver-white metal, found in higher concentrations in moon rocks than on Earth, can be added to aluminum to make alloys that are lighter, stronger and more malleable. These can dramatically reduce the weight of parts for aircraft, cars or ships and help deliver savings on fuel costs.

“It’s the single most potent strengthening element you can add to aluminum,” said John Carr, vice president for business development and scandium marketing at Clean TeQ Holdings Ltd., an Australian developer of a mine that’ll produce the metal alongside cobalt and nickel for the battery sector. “Why scandium is so interesting is that if you add very, very small amounts of it — it has amazing impacts.” Continue Reading →

Tariffs eroding profits and driving up costs, metal manufacturers tell lawmakers – by Eric Atkins (Globe and Mail – October 23, 2018)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Metal manufacturers and fabricators aired their complaints about trade barriers in Ottawa on Tuesday, telling members of Parliament that U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum coupled with Canada’s countermeasures are eroding profits and driving up costs. This is giving foreign rivals an edge, the business people said, appearing before the standing committee on international trade.

Chris Wharin of Bohne Spring Industries Ltd., a Toronto-based maker of springs, wire and metal work for automotive and other uses, said that to keep its customers, the company cannot pass on some of the higher import and manufacturing costs incurred since Canada placed retaliatory tariffs of 10 per cent and 25 per cent on metal products from the United States.

“This is having a crippling effect on our cash flow and profits,” he said, adding the company relies on U.S. suppliers for much its steel and is unable to find domestic replacements. Continue Reading →

The dirt on clean electric cars – by Niclas Rolander, Jesper Starn and Elisabeth Behrmann (Toronto Star/Bloomberg – October 21, 2018)

https://www.thestar.com/

Beneath the hoods of millions of the clean electric cars rolling onto the world’s roads in the next few years will be a dirty battery.

Every major carmaker has plans for electric vehicles to cut greenhouse gas emissions, yet their manufacturers are, by and large, making lithium-ion batteries in places with some of the most polluting grids in the world.

By 2021, capacity will exist to build batteries for more than 10 million cars running on 60 kilowatt-hour packs, according to data of Bloomberg NEF. Most supply will come from places like China, Thailand, Germany and Poland that rely on non-renewable sources like coal for electricity. Continue Reading →

Chinese electric car makers, nurtured by state, now look for way out of glut – by David Stanway (Reuters U.S. – October 16, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – Humming away in an industrial estate in the eastern Chinese resort city of Hangzhou, electric vehicle designer Automagic is one of hundreds of companies looking to ride the country’s wave of investment in clean transportation.

The company wants to find a niche in a crowded sector that already includes renewable equipment manufacturers, battery makers and property developers like the Evergrande Group, as well as established auto giants. But not all of these electric vehicle hopefuls will make it to the finish line.

“This (large number of firms) is inevitable, because whenever there is an emerging technology or emerging industry, there must be a hundred schools of thought and a hundred flowers blooming,” said Zhou Xuan, Automagic’s general manager, referring to Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s ill-fated 1956 “Hundred Flowers” campaign aimed at encouraging new ideas. Continue Reading →

Even if carbon taxes are implemented, are electric cars really the best way to go? – by Eric Reguly (Globe and Mail – October 15, 2018)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

A transportation revolution is in the making and bets worth hundreds of billions of dollars are being placed. Who might the winner be? Will it be the Tesla-style electric car, the Toyota-style hybrid or the hydrogen car?

Will personal transportation of the Uber ilk, possibly in self-driving form, replace public transportation as we know it? Might the gasoline engine surprise us all and endure for another 20 years, or even a century?

It’s impossible to know, but we do know the game changed more than a little this week when the United Nations published a frightening report that said the planet is warming at a far faster rate than the climate-change scientists had suspected. Continue Reading →

From the deforestation of the Peruvian Amazon to a ‘lake of toxic sludge’ in China: How building a smartphone devastates planet Earth – by Patrick Byrne and Karen Hudson-Edwards) Daily Mail/The Conversation – August 29, 2018)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Dr Patrick Byrne is a researcher at Liverpool John Moores University, and Karen Hudson-Edwards is a scientist at the University of Exeter.

Nearly five billion people worldwide will use a smartphone by 2020. Each device is made up of numerous precious metals and many of the key technological features wouldn’t be possible without them.

Some, like gold, will be familiar. Others, such as terbium, are less well-known. Mining these metals is a vital activity that underpins the modern global economy.

But the environmental cost can be enormous and is probably far greater than you realise. Let’s walk through some of the key metals in smartphones, what they do, and the environmental cost of getting them out of the ground. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Electric car bets boosting nickel demand, Nornickel says – by Polina Ivanova (Reuters – August 13, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

MOSCOW, Aug 13 (Reuters) – Expectations of a boom in demand for electric vehicles are leading investors and battery makers to stockpile nickel and helping to fuel a spike in global prices of the metal, Russian mining company Norilsk Nickel said on Monday.

Nornickel, the world’s second-largest nickel producer, said demand for the metal from the battery sector leapt 38 percent in the first half of this year versus the same period last year.

Along with demand from the stainless steel sector, this helped boost prices to $15,750 per tonne in June, their highest in over four years, the company said, with the battery sector accounting for 5 percent of total global nickel demand. Continue Reading →

Auto industry’s use of lithium-ion batteries to grow seven-fold by 2025 – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – August 13, 2018)

http://www.mining.com/

The use of lithium-ion batteries by automakers is expected grow seven-fold by 2025, helped mainly by their dropping costs as well as by subsidies and incentives in many countries, particularly in China, to encourage sales of electric vehicles (EVs)

According to Will Adams, Metal Bulletin’s Head of Research for the battery materials, base metals and precious metals markets, demand for lithium-ion batteries will soar to 650 GWh by 2025, from only 70 GWh last year.

The need to store electricity, generated by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, will also help demand to grow, he said on a report published Monday. Continue Reading →

Ford Calls Rising Steel, Aluminum Prices ‘Significant Headwind’ – by Keith Naughton (Bloomberg News – August 8, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Rising steel and aluminum prices, driven up by President Donald Trump’s tariffs on those commodities, are a substantial drag on Ford Motor Co.’s business, though a top executive said the company doesn’t plan to pass higher costs on to consumers.

“The escalation of steel and aluminum prices is really significant,” Jim Farley, Ford’s president of global markets, said after a factory ceremony near Detroit to commemorate building the 10 millionth Mustang muscle car. “It’s a significant headwind for us. It’s something that puts pressure on our own costs.”

Ford began the year by warning that rising costs for raw materials like steel and aluminum, coupled with unfavorable exchange rates, would add $1.6 billion to its costs this year. Continue Reading →

Soup, pop and beer companies to increase prices to combat aluminum tariffs – by Tara Deschamps (Canadian Press/Toronto Star – August 7, 2018)

https://www.thestar.com/

Soup, pop and beer makers can’t seem to put a lid on the effects of the recent aluminum tariffs. The 10 per cent fees that were slapped on imports of the metal by U.S. President Donald Trump in early July are making cans more expensive and forcing food and beverage companies that rely on them for packaging to consider price increases and other ways to offset the costs.

The Campbell Company of Canada, which produces canned soup at its soon-to-close Etobicoke plant, is set to jack up prices in late August on a “broad range of products.”

The exact amount by which prices will be increased is still under consideration, but the tariffs combined with raising freight, packaging and ingredient costs are to blame, company spokesperson Alexandra Sockett told The Canadian Press in an email. Continue Reading →

Canadian craft brewers scramble for aluminum cans – by Marcy Nicholson (Reuters U.S. – July 31, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

CALGARY (Reuters) – Canadian microbreweries are facing a shortage of cans and higher costs, forcing some to cut beer production after the country imposed retaliatory import duties on U.S. aluminum imports in the busy summer season.

Though Canada is the world’s third biggest aluminum producer and cans are made in the country, beer makers also rely on the import of more than 2 billion cans annually, largely from the United States, Statistics Canada data shows.

So when Canada struck back at the United States’ tariffs on aluminum imports on July 1, and included cans, some craft brewers received notices of higher prices due to the duties while others have been unable to secure their usual supply of aluminum cans. Continue Reading →

Nickel price increases likely to put pressure on plastic automotive components says UK manufacturer – by Leanne Taylor (British Plastics and Rubber – July 31, 2018)

https://www.britishplastics.co.uk/

A UK manufacturer of a metal-plated plastic automotive components says the increasing price of nickel is likely to put pressure on the price of parts.

David Brereton, Sales Director for Essex-based Borough Ltd, says the steady upward price increase of nickel could create “a knock-on effect” when it comes to the manufacturing process. “We have worked hard over decades to perfect our ability to chrome plate plastic components and nickel plays a critical role,” explained Brereton.

“To make the plastic components electronically conductive, we deposit a layer of nickel over a catalytic palladium layer during a chemical dipping process, before we can add the copper, more nickel layers and chrome that ensure the quality finish top marques demand. Continue Reading →

Japan takes steps to ensure stable cobalt supply for automakers – by Yuka Obayashi (Reuters U.K. – July 24, 2018)

https://uk.reuters.com/

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s automakers aim to set up a joint procurement body by end-March to secure stable supplies of cobalt, a key component of lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars, the country’s industry ministry said on Tuesday.

The move comes as global carmakers race to lock in battery supplies and move away from traditional combustion engines, and as China locks down supply chains to secure its own fast-growing battery sector.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry unveiled the plan at a committee set up by the ministry to map out the country’s plans for the auto industry, which includes Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) and Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T). The ministry and automakers will discuss details of the new organisation which is designed to help battery users secure long-term supplies of cobalt and buy clean materials with no issue of conflict minerals or child labour, it said. Continue Reading →