Author Archives: Nanthakumar Victor Emmanuel

There is no time to waste in the race for #RareEarth metals

China Silk Road

Over the past three years, it has become much more obvious that the US and China are in a long-term battle for dominance, particularly in southeast Asia but also globally. More recently, this has manifested itself in a battle for dominance over technological innovation and therefore resource security, particularly rare earth metals such as antimony, magnesium, tantalum and tungsten, to name a few.

The importance of rare earths and other minerals vital for technology cannot be understated. They are a fundamental component for the manufacturing of wind turbines, capacitors, computers, batteries, healthcare equipment – almost anything hi-tech that we rely upon in today’s society. Commodities such as copper, nickel, lithium and cobalt are particularly important for the development of domestic battery manufacturing capability and thus for national car industries.

For the past decade at least, China has been razor-focused on creating a strategic supply chain of raw materials from Australia, South America and particularly Africa to supply its economy. China is particularly focused upon developing a global position in rare earths (where it is also blessed with significant domestic deposits) and one of their major products, magnets, which are used in batteries but also in many military applications ranging from night goggles to guidance systems for missiles.

The One Belt, One Road initiative, which extends Chinese influence around the globe by offering loans for infrastructure projects, is the international reflection of this push. In some areas such as electric vehicles and batteries, China is ahead of the US and one should also expect its military prowess to grow in the coming years.

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#MELBOURNE (#Reuters): #PapuaNewGuinea may shut #Chinese-owned #Nickel plant after spill


MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A nickel processing plant owned by Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC) that spilled mine waste into Papua New Guinea’s Basamuk Bay faces compensation claims and possibly closure, the head of the country’s minerals authority said on Thursday.

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#Forbes: America’s Future Depends On Rare Elements – Senator #MarcoRubio’s S-2093 bill


Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently introduced S-2093, a bill called the Rare Earth Coop 21st Century Manufacturing Act. Rubio’s bill would allow investors to form a cooperative that is exempt from antitrust laws, in an attempt to shield it from government-backed competition from China and volatile markets that destroyed this industry in America. The Commerce Secretary would grant a charter for the privately-funded coop that would be operated as dictated in the legislation.

This bill is critical since the uses, applications, and demand for rare-earth elements has expanded over the years and underpin our entire electronics-driven society. Globally, most REEs are used for catalysts and magnets. In America, the majority of REEs are used for catalysts, ceramics, glass and polishing, petroleum refining, diesel additives, and magnet production for electric motors in hybrid and electric vehicles, generators in wind turbines, hard disc drives, portable electronics, microphones, and speakers.

Thorium is used in alloys, although a major use in the future will be to make energy in thorium nuclear reactors.

The rare metals Ce, La, Ga and Nd are important in alloy making, in the production of fuel cells, Nickel-metal hydride batteries, and in the production of LCD and plasma screens, smartphone cameras, fiber optics and lasers as well as in medical imaging. Additional uses for earth elements are as tracers in medical applications, fertilizers, agriculture and water treatment. It’s difficult to find a part of our society that is not dependent on rare metals.

Neodymium is now almost $54,000/ton and praseodymium is $59,000/ton.

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Why #Samsung Could Be Ditching #Smartphone #Lithium-Ion Batteries For #Graphene


Samsung is rumored to be working on a smartphone that has a graphene battery. What’s with this kind of battery that the Korean giant wants it?

Graphene, touted as a “wonder material” is stronger than steel but lighter than paper. First created by scientists in 2004, it is a thin layer of pure carbon extracted from graphite and packed tightly into a honeycomb structure.

The material can be built into batteries to greatly enhance their performance. It can improve energy storage, helping to prolong battery life and enhance performance.

Graphene can also speed up energy transfer between batteries and chargers. Scientists believe that the material can act as a “superhighway” for charging because it allows energy to pass through very quickly — enough to charge a phone from zero to 100% in a mere 7 seconds.

#Pentagon races to track #US #RareEarths output amid #China trade dispute

REUTERS: The Pentagon is rapidly assessing the United States’ rare earths capability in a race to secure stable supply of the specialized material amid the country’s trade conflict with China, which controls the rare earths industry, according to a government document seen by Reuters.

Innovation is needed in processing of battery raw materials


With the increasing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and energy storage technologies, there is little doubt demand will grow for battery raw materials that must be sourced from the mining industry.

We expect automotive companies and battery manufacturers to invest US$300 billion in the sector in the next 10 years, and they will require new battery mineral deposits to be developed.

Over the next 10 years, we expect demand related to battery raw materials to increase four times for lithium, five times for cobalt, and up to seven times for graphite.

Beyond that, vanadium will be required in increasing volumes for use in stationary batteries for energy storage in renewable energy installations, while rare earths already have a place in high-performance magnets widely used in electric motors and wind turbines.

Processing innovation

There will be pressure on the supply of specialty raw materials, and new deposit types are already being assessed for economic viability.

Innovation in mineral extraction and process development is needed to meet the challenges posed by end-use markets — especially in green technology, renewable energy and battery applications.

Already, physical and chemical specifications on mineral products and processed materials are only getting more stringent. Many products must reach 99.99% purity (“four nines”), but even more pronounced are the impurities themselves, at the parts per million level, as they risk affecting the performance of the final product.

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