#Bloomberg: Proposal to Help US Coal Country With Rare Earth Mining

GOP Representative Andy Barr is proposing legislation to expedite approval for coal companies to mine rare earths and other minerals critical for the electrification revolution the Biden administration covets.

The bill being introduced by the Kentucky Republican also would offer a lifeline to the struggling U.S. coal industry, which faces waning demand as power plants shift away from the dirtiest fossil fuel.

The measure would amend the so-called FAST act, a program that funds surface transportation infrastructure planning and investment. It would expand permitting to streamline and expedite the approval process for existing coal mines to extract and process the minerals the U.S. says are crucial for batteries and other green-energy infrastructure.

Read more at: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-12/gop-s-barr-proposes-helping-coal-country-with-rare-earth-mining

Seafloor mining fever drives $2.9 billion merger

The World Bank estimates a 1,000% increase in battery metals will be needed by 2050, and cites research in Nature warning that “the world cannot tackle climate change without adequate supply of raw materials to manufacture clean technologies.”

Given that it can take 10 to 20 years to get a new mine permitted and in production, the world appears headed for a “peak metals” crunch, which may explain the sudden minerals rush in the Pacific Ocean.

A new international deep ocean mining code, delayed by the pandemic, is now expected to be in place by 2023, and several companies that have been in the exploration stage, including heavyweights like Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), are now hoping to start commercial harvesting as early as 2024.

One of these companies is Vancouver’s DeepGreen Metals, which is merging with Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corp. (NYSE:SOAC), a special-purpose acquisitions company, in a deal valued at $2.9 billion. The new company will be called The Metals Co.

Read more at: https://www.mining.com/seafloor-mining-fever-drives-2-9-billion-merger/

#Reuters: Low carbon world needs $1.7 trillion in mining investment

Mining companies need to invest nearly $1.7 trillion in the next 15 years to help supply enough copper, cobalt, nickel and other metals needed for the shift to a low carbon world, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

The United States, Britain, Japan, Canada and others raised their targets on cutting carbon emissions to halt global warming at a summit in April hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Meeting those targets will need large-scale deployment of electric vehicles, storage for power generated from renewables and electricity transmission, all of which require industrial materials.

Wood Mackenzie analyst Julian Kettle calculated miners needed to invest about $1.7 trillion during the next 15 years to “deliver a two-degree pathway — where the rise in global temperatures since pre-industrial times is limited to 2°C”.

Australia, Canada and Western Europe carry a low ESG risk but some of the best resources are in high-risk areas, such as Democratic Republic of Congo, which sits on about half the world’s cobalt reserves according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Given the need to meet tough decarbonisation and ESG targets, Western governments, lenders, investors and consumers will need to get comfortable operating in jurisdictions where ESG issues are more complex,” Kettle said.

Read more at: https://www.reuters.com/article/mining-carbon-capex/graphic-low-carbon-world-needs-17-trillion-in-mining-investment-idUSL8N2MU39J

#Ford is betting that solid-state batteries will cut EV costs

DETROIT — Ford has raised its stake in a manufacturer of solid-state batteries — a move that its chief product and operations officer, Hau Thai-Tang, says will strengthen the company’s effort to increase the range and reduce the costs of its next generation of electric vehicles.

Ford, along with BMW, this week announced their investment in a $130 million funding round for Solid Power, a Denver-area company that is developing sulfide solid-state battery technology.

Read more at: https://www.startribune.com/ford-is-betting-that-solid-state-batteries-will-cut-ev-costs/600053821/?refresh=true

#TheHindu: #Ford announces new lab to develop lithium-ion, solid-state vehicle batteries

Ford has announced its plan to open a new battery lab called ‘Ford Ion Park’ to develop and manufacture electric vehicle (EV) batteries, and test manufacturing approaches, taking a step toward producing battery cells for EVs internally.

Opening next year, the $185 million lab in Michigan, U.S., will develop, test and build lithium-ion and solid-state vehicle battery cells and arrays with a cross-functional team of 150 experts, the automobile giant said in a statement.

“Investing in more battery R&D ultimately will help us speed the process to deliver more, even better, lower cost EVs for customers over time,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer said.

The Ford Ion Park team will be led by Anand Sankaran, currently the company’s director of Electrified Systems Engineering. According to the carmaker, the team will ensure batteries are optimised for its diverse customers – from daily commuters to performance enthusiasts to commercial vehicle fleet operators.

Read more at: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/ford-announces-new-lab-to-develop-lithium-ion-solid-state-vehicle-batteries/article34436875.ece

#Bloomberg: The Hidden Science Making Batteries Better, Cheaper and Everywhere

All batteries have four components: two electrodes (anode and cathode), a liquid electrolyte that helps ions move between the electrodes, and a separator to keep the electrodes from coming in direct contact with each other and preventing fires. When a battery is charged, ions flow from the cathode to the anode. When it’s discharged, the ions reverse course.

A battery is judged by how much energy it packs. That key factor is intimately linked to the battery’s charging speed, the number of charge-discharge cycles it can sustain, and safety. Increased energy density can also make it more fire prone. Faster recharge speed can result in fewer life cycles.

Ultimately, price reigns supreme. That’s determined by how much energy the battery can store, the materials used to make it and the thickness of electrode coatings that can be deployed without harming performance. The lower the cost, the cheaper the electric car.

British scientist John Goodenough found that cathodes made entirely of cobalt were safer and stored more energy. The discovery won him the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2019. Then Moroccan scientist Rachid Yazami found that using graphite, a form of carbon, as the anode made a lithium-ion battery much more stable and thus helped it last longer. Finally, Keizaburo Tozawa, head of Sony’s battery division in the 1990s, put all these inventions together to create the first commercial lithium-ion battery.

Even though cobalt is an expensive metal, it remained affordable for small batteries inside early laptops and mobile phones. But once lithium-ion batteries started moving into electric vehicles, chemists looked to introduce cheaper metals, such as nickel, manganese and even iron.

Alternative metals have to be carefully evaluated. If a cheap metal means disproportionately worse battery performance, it won’t do. Through millions of experiments, three cathode chemistries have come to dominate the market: nickel manganese cobalt oxides (NMC), nickel cobalt aluminum oxides (NCA) and lithium iron phosphate (LFP).

Into the Solid-State Future

If solid-state batteries come to market in the latter half of this decade, as expected, they are likely to represent a big leap in battery performance, extending EV range by as much as 50% and cutting down charging times to as little as 15 minutes.

Read more at: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2021-inside-lithium-ion-batteries/

#WSJ: Battery Metals Are Hot, but These Miners Can’t Get Investors

Small mining companies in North America are struggling to attract funding, despite growing demand for lithium and cobalt for electric vehicles and batteries.

TORONTO—Investors are pouring money into car companies, battery makers and clean-tech startups that are poised to benefit from the global economy’s shift to electric power. But many small mining companies that supply the raw materials haven’t been invited to the party.

Uncertainty over the metals’ quality, the short- and long-term outlook for prices and the ability of North American miners to compete with their Chinese counterparts is making investors wary.

Bryce Crocker, the chief executive officer of Jervois Mining Ltd., is touting a cobalt project in Idaho. The Australian executive needs $100 million to open a mine on central Idaho’s Gant Mountain that the company says could eventually produce more than 15% of the cobalt consumed annually in the U.S. The blue-gray mineral is critical to making the batteries that power electric vehicles, laptops and smartphones as well as the alloys used to make jet-fighter engines.

After more than a year of fundraising, he is still seeking contributions from commercial banks, private-equity firms and hedge funds.

“We need the support of the capital markets,” he said. “But this is not a commodity that lenders have traditionally loaned against.”

Read more at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/battery-metals-are-hot-but-these-miners-cant-get-investors-11619175601

#CNNNews: Why #copper and #lithium could be ‘the new oil’

London (CNN Business)For decades, crude oil has been at the center of global commodities markets. Demand has served as a crucial metric of economic health, and price spikes have had major ramifications for gas-guzzling consumers.

But as countries around the world try to combat the climate crisis, oil could take a backseat, while metals like copper and lithium gain prominence.

“The critical role copper will play in achieving the Paris climate goals cannot be overstated,” Goldman Sachs analysts said in a recent research note titled “Copper is the new oil.”

Read more at: https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/20/investing/premarket-stocks-trading/index.html

Roadmap for #US’ clean transportation future unveiled – #UCBerkeley

The Drive Rapid Innovation in Vehicle Electrification (DRIVE Clean) scenario, represents a future in which EVs constitute 100% of new U.S. lightduty vehicle (LDV) sales by 2030 as well as 100% of medium-duty vehicle (MDV) and heavy-duty truck (HDT) sales by 2035. The grid reaches 90% clean electricity by 2035, and substantial EV charging infrastructure is deployed.

Battery recycling will be especially important for the United States as it achieves high-volume EV manufacturing in the 2020s and 2030s. The United States could meet about 30%–40% of anticipated demand for lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt, and graphite in passenger EVs with recycled battery materials by 2035 (Reichmuth 2019).

Read more at: http://www.2035report.com/transportation/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/2035Report2.0.pdf?hsCtaTracking=544e8e73-752a-40ee-b3a5-90e28d5f2e18%7C81c0077a-d01d-45b9-a338-fcaef78a20e7

Car companies face a chip problem. Soon China will hand them a #cobalt problem that might trigger radical ownership moves

U.S. President #JoeBiden found out the hard way that supply chain obstacles are bad news for Corporate #America. He moved fast to hand US$50-billion to the U.S. semiconductor industry after chip shortages began to shut down auto production.

The chip glitch was a wake-up call for car companies, which had been spoiled by the endless supply of everything they needed to keep their assembly lines rolling – steel, aluminum, copper, rubber, glass, plastic, electronics. Even when their purchasing managers squeezed prices, the supplies kept coming. America the bountiful!

What Mr. Biden and automakers may not fully realize is that the chip shortage may just be the start of their supply problems. That’s because all the auto biggies are converting their fleets to electric power, which essentially means they are becoming battery companies. The economic and strategic risks of this move are enormous.

Since cobalt is an essential component of lithium-ion batteries, automakers will become beholden to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where 75 per cent of the world’s cobalt is mined, and to the Chinese mining companies that dominate the metal’s production in that country. Switzerland’s Glencore may be the single biggest cobalt miner in the DRC, but it is the Chinese companies that are coming on strong and seem intent on taking over the global cobalt industry.

Chinese companies already account for 55 per cent of the DRC’s cobalt production; the figure would be 90 per cent if Glencore were to sell its cobalt mines to them (there is no indication Glencore is looking for a buyer, since cobalt is at the very heart of its “clean” metals mining empire, but everything has its price). China also controls most of the world’s cobalt refining.

Read more at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/international-business/article-car-companies-face-a-chip-problem-soon-china-will-hand-them-a-cobalt/

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