Archive | Metals and Manufacturing

Motor Mouth: Why I’m not drinking the Tesla Kool-Aid – by David Booth (National Post – April 9, 2016)

If anything is to be learned from the Model 3 hysteria, it’s that Tesla is now a religion, and Elon Musk is its unquestioned messiah

Like seemingly everyone else on the planet, I tuned in to Tesla’s online launch of the Model 3. I watched with appreciation as Elon Musk worked his showmanship and was nothing short of gobsmacked with the stories of loyalists lining up just for the right to buy a car. It was unprecedented. It was incredible. It might have even been uplifting.

It was also, for those of us who trumpet reason over emotion, a little disturbing. Lining up for three days to buy a car? Seriously? For a car you might not take delivery of for four years? Continue Reading →

Tesla driving frenzy in lithium resource sector – by Nelson Bennett (Business Vancouver – April 5, 2016)

Electric car maker’s 500,000-vehicle ambition sparks spike in lithium demand.

If you owned shares in Lithium X Energy Corp. (TSX-V:LIX) on February 17, you were probably pretty happy on February 18 – and doubly happy now, as long as you didn’t sell.

Lithium X shares spiked more than 1,200%, from $0.07 to $0.95 per share on February 18, following the news that it had acquired a lithium property in the Clayton Valley in Nevada – one of the world’s lithium hot spots.

Shares continued to move up when the company announced March 3 that it had entered an agreement to acquire 50% of a lithium property in Argentina and were trending in the $1.20 per share range last week. They closed at $1.61 per share on April 5. Continue Reading →

Tesla secures 180 000 orders for new EV in 24 hrs, drives auto sector demand for lithium – by Henry Lazenby ( – April 1, 2016)

TORONTO ( – Twenty-four hours after launching, US electric vehicle (EV) maker Tesla Motors has secured more than 180 000 orders for its new Model 3 vehicle, making it the biggest driver of potential lithium demand from the auto sector to date.

By Friday afternoon, that figure had risen to above 198 000 orders, according to South Africa-born entrepreneur Elon Musk.

“Thought it would slow way down today, but Model 3 order count is now at 198k. Recommend ordering soon, as the wait time is growing rapidly,” he posted to Twitter. “The numbers are really incredible. That’s over $7-billion of potential revenue in one day,” UK-based Benchmark Mineral Intelligence market analyst Simon Moores told Mining Weekly Online. Continue Reading →

Apple Says Supply Chain Now 100% Audited for Conflict Minerals – by Emily Chasan (Bloomberg News – March 30, 2016)

Apple Inc. has reached what it’s calling a milestone in supply-chain transparency, saying it’s now auditing 100 percent of its suppliers for the use of conflict minerals linked to violent militia groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The iPhone maker has been working since 2010 to remove minerals connected to these groups from its supply chain, and while it isn’t yet declaring its products totally conflict-free, the company said all of its 242 smelters and refiners of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are now subject to third-party audits. That figure is up from about 88 percent at the end of 2014 and 44 percent in 2013, according to an annual filing the company will release Wednesday.

“We could have very easily chosen a path of re-routing our supply and declared ourselves conflict-free long ago, but that would have done nothing to help the people on the ground,” Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said. “We chose to engage with as many smelters as possible because the only way to have an impact here is to reach critical mass.” Continue Reading →

STEELIER THAN STEEL: A new kind of metal could make nuclear reactors stronger and last longer – by Akshat Rathi ( – March 21 2016)

Despite opposition and safety concerns, nuclear power remains a big part of the world’s energy mix—providing about 10% of world’s electricity. And since nuclear reactors typically last 40 years, there are still hundreds of decades-old reactors around the world that must be maintained.

Most of those reactors are made up primarily of some form of stainless steel. But steel is showing its limitations—primarily that it can weaken or become defective over time, and in extreme cases break apart. This is an even bigger concern in newer reactors that run at higher temperatures and have more fast-moving neutrons.

So scientists have been on the hunt for metal alloys that are stronger and can last longer, and researchers in Finland and the US may have found a new category of such alloys. Continue Reading →

Tesla in stand-off over lithium supply – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – December 15, 2015)

On the edge of the Nevada desert, Tesla, the electric carmaker, is building the world’s largest battery plant.

The mile-long, so-called Gigafactory is expected to boost demand for lithium, the raw material used in the batteries that power most electric cars.

But the company has yet to announce any lithium supply deals with big producers, leaving it unclear where it will source the lightweight natural material it will need to start producing batteries by 2017 with Panasonic, its partner.

The Gigafactory is set to supply batteries for the 500,000 cars Tesla hopes to produce by the end of the decade, as well as to power homes. Continue Reading →

End of Russian palladium exports may result in world market shortage – by Eugene Gerden ( – November 18, 2015)

Russia may significantly reduce exports of strategic rare earth elements to foreign markets during the next several years, despite the recently announced state plans for a significant expansion of their domestic production.

It is planned that at the initial stage such restrictions will apply to palladium, huge reserves of which were accumulated by the country during the Soviet era, which allowed Russia to become one of its world’s largest exporters of the metal in recent years.

In recent years exports of palladium from the reserves of Russian State Precious Metals and Gems Repository (Gokhran) has been varied in the range of 14-15 tonnes, however there is possibility that they might be completely stopped already starting from 2016. Continue Reading →

Bacanora raises US$13.4 million for Mexican lithium project (Northern Miner – November 16, 2015)


The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.

Just a few months after Bacanora Minerals (TSXV: BCN) and Rare Earth Minerals (LSE: REM) signed a deal with Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) to supply the car maker with lithium hydroxide from their Sonora lithium project in Mexico, the companies have raised US$13.4 million in a private placement.

The proceeds will be used for a bankable feasibility study of the project, 180 km northeast of Hermosillo, and towards the upgrading and continuous running of a pilot plant in Hermosillo to produce bulk quantities of lithium products to long-term off-take parties. Continue Reading →

Adoption of aluminum in auto industry slower than expected – by Jeff Sanford (Collision Repair Magazine – November 16, 2015)

Toronto, Ontario — November 16, 2015 — Once a quarter the world’s major publicly-traded corporations announce their earnings. Corporate executives appear before the press to offer explanations for exactly why their companies are making or losing money. One story that emerged this past earnings season involves the aluminum sector.

This past earnings season, the CEO of the world’s largest producer of rolled aluminum, Novelis, explained to investors that sluggish business at the company was a result of a slower-than-expected adoption of aluminum by the automotive industry. The big story in the metal sector over the last year has been the shift to wider use of aluminum in the automotive industry.

For decades, high-end vehicles have been made with aluminum. But over the last year the adoption of an aluminum body in the Ford F-150, the best selling car in America, was supposed to mark the beginning of a once-in-history shift from steel to aluminum for more mainstream vehicles. Continue Reading →

Liberal stimulus plan a chance to reinvigorate Canadian steel industry – by Bill Missen (Globe and Mail – November 3, 2015)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

Bill Missen is former senior vice-president at Stelco Canada.

Even before it is formally installed, the newly elected Liberal government faces the pressure of high expectations – especially when it comes to infrastructure spending. It’s a platform promise with the potential to provide much-needed economic stimulus by doubling the public works budget to $125-billion over the next decade.

By implementing this spending plan, the new government has an exceptional opportunity to extend a lifeline to Canada’s struggling steel industry. But it is an opportunity that could easily be squandered.

Before the first dime of public money is spent, a strong made-in-Canada supply policy needs to be firmly in place. Without that, new jobs will not be created and existing ones will not be preserved. Continue Reading →

Lithium – Lifting the Spirits – by Christopher Ecclestone ( – October 28, 2015)

You don’t get to hear a specialty metal mentioned often in a Woody Allen movie, but Lithium has managed to score a mention more than a few times. Of course it’s not that the gnomic director has suddenly been converted to a new variety of battery but rather that so many of his characters (and maybe his audience) need a pick-me up of some Lithium to cure (or ameliorate) what ails them.

Then again until 20 years ago the only mention the public ever heard of Lithium was in reference to its medical properties, even though its ceramic applications were massively more important volume-wise. Indeed Lithium was the word on everyone’s lips pre-1950 when it was a standard ingredient in 7-Up (the “up” being literal) and farther back it went into Lithia Coke (give me that over Cherry Coke any day!).

Indeed, it has been speculated (and even tried in some places) that putting Lithium into water supplies might lift people’s mood and reduce suicides. In 1990, a study in 27 counties in Texas found lower rates of not only suicide but also homicide and rape in those where the drinking water contained lithium. In 2009, research in Japan found lower suicide rates in areas with lithium in the water. Continue Reading →

Lithium prices tipped to rise 20 per cent by 2017 on demand for electric cars – by Peter Ker (Sydney Morning Herald – October 27, 2015)

Prices for lithium are forecast to rise strongly in the next two years, with widespread adoption of electric cars tipped to be a game changer for the third element on the periodic table.

While most demand for lithium carbonate comes from industrial companies producing ceramics and glass, Citi analyst Matthew Schembri believes demand will rise significantly when electric vehicles become mainstream and need the commodity for lithium-ion batteries.

Citi is very bullish about electric cars, and forecasts production of pure electric models (not hybrids) like the Nissan Leaf or the Tesla Model S to rise from about 150,000 in 2015 to about 290,000 in 2016. By 2020, Citi expects 1.04 million electric cars to be in production, implying sevenfold growth over five years.

In an extensive study of what the boom in electric cars will mean for lithium carbonate markets, Mr Schembri said demand for the commodity would rise almost 65 per cent over the next five years. Continue Reading →

PGMs are the unchallenged metals of future – by Roger Baxter ( – October 26, 2015)

Roger Baxter is CEO of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa.

[] – WHILE platinum and its other group metals grapple with current price weaknesses and market difficulties, it can be all-too easy to overlook the metals’ longer-term prospects in this world of rapid technological advance. In my view, platinum group metals (PGMs) are the unchallenged metals of the future.

Let’s start with their contribution to ‘greening’ the environment.

I am not going to comment on the fracas surrounding the Volkswagen’s issue. What I would like to remind everyone of is that – on average and because of PGM catalytic converters – emissions from 100 cars sold in 2015 are the equivalent of one car sold in the 1960s.

PGM vehicle emission catalysts are so successful that they convert 99% of combustion engine pollutants such as HC, CO, NOx and particulates to harmless outputs. Continue Reading →

Ford’s F-150: Lots of Aluminum, Plenty of Awesome – by Kyle Stock (Bloomberg News – October 19, 2015)

The gutsiest decision in the auto industry is beginning to pay off.

Three people, two dogs, a pile of gear, and a 3,000-pound boat. That’s how we tested the all-new aluminum Ford F-150. The result? Mileage ticked down from 21 miles per gallon to 13, as you’d expect, and the floor mats collected a layer of Labrador fur.

Ford’s famous pickup, the best-selling vehicle in America since the Reagan administration, has still got it. Even after Ford swapped out almost every steel body panel for a lightweight aluminum alloy. Even after it added a cute, sedan-size 2.7-liter engine.

Even after Chevrolet and a legion of gravel-throated truck fans deemed it wimpy and precious and expensive to fix. “It seems like a big change initially, but when people see the difference, they’ll ask ‘Why didn’t they do this sooner?’” said Michael Levine, the company’s truck talker. Continue Reading →

Megafactory trend sparks ‘arms race’ in battery sector – by Simon Rees ( – September 29, 2015)

TORONTO ( – Tesla Motors’ so-called ‘gigafactory’ has sparked an “arms race” in the battery sector, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence MD Simon Moores told an audience attending the Toronto leg of the company’s World Tour 2015, in which Mining Weekly Online participated.

The gigafactory, now being built in Nevada, was designed to meet Tesla’s future battery requirements, either for electric vehicles (EV) or its Powerwall and Powerpack technologies.

“Battery majors, such as LG Chem or Samsung, have all responded with expansion plans for their new plants. Companies like BYD are also building their own battery plants. Boston Power is looking to expand, while Foxconn said they were going to enter battery manufacturing,” Moores stated.

“The megafactory trend is one the battery industry has not seen before. This is not an industry saying it expects to expand by 10% or 20% over the next three years – it’s at an order of magnitude that’s much bigger,” he added. Continue Reading →