Category Archives: Energy

Agreement with #German automakers ‘unprecedented’ for #Canada, says auto industry insider

Memorandums of understanding the federal government signed with two of Europe’s largest automakers are unprecedented, according to the president of Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.

On Tuesday the federal government announced it reached agreements with Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz that would help the German automakers secure access to the critical minerals needed for electric vehicle batteries.

Those critical minerals – such as lithium, nickel, cobalt and graphite – are primarily found in parts of northern Ontario and northern Quebec. 

“It is absolutely unprecedented,” said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association. 

He said the agreements with both companies sends a signal to other car manufacturers that northern Ontario and northern Quebec are the places to access critical minerals if they want to qualify for new electric vehicle tax credits in the U.S.

To qualify for the new tax credits in the U.S. – which are worth up to $7,500 for electrical vehicle buyers – automakers must manufacture their vehicles in North America, and source most of their critical minerals and battery materials from countries that have a free-trade agreement with the U.S.

Read more at: Agreement with German automakers ‘unprecedented’ for Canada, says auto industry insider | CBC News

Shiny EVs in Sight, #Indonesia Mulls #Nickel Export Tax

Indonesia could impose a tax on nickel exports this year as Southeast Asia’s largest economy looks to be a bigger player in the electric vehicle industry.

The biggest producer of the EV battery metal, which is also used to make stainless steel, Indonesia is looking to add more value locally in a bid to boost revenues and jobs, President Joko Widodo told Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait in a wide-ranging interview in Jakarta.

The potential move, which was flagged earlier this year by another official, is one step on a path that could ultimately mean a ban on exports of all raw materials. The more certain levy in the near future is a carbon tax before the end of the year, the plans for which the president confirmed as the country shoots for carbon neutrality by 2060.

Read more at: What’s Happening in the World Economy: Indonesia’s Export Tax Plan – Bloomberg

Inflation Reduction Act: Sourcing materials and making batteries are challenging

With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — the most significant climate change policy passed in our country to date — engineers, like myself, are at the center of developing and deploying the clean energy technology in record time. Importantly, these technologies include the batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), a centerpiece of the legislation and long-time foundation of strategies to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The IRA lays out some tough — and dramatic — engineering challenges for EV batteries.

It is far easier to buy a battery made abroad. We can’t change this reality without engineers as the heroes in what will be a dramatic build out of battery manufacturing in the United States.  

Potentially even more challenging than building the facilities that assemble battery parts is acquiring all the materials they contain. Metals — including lithium, copper, manganese, nickel and cobalt — are a key part of what makes a battery work.

However, the U.S. is not a dominant producer of any of these metals. And, typically, countries that produce metals don’t manufacture battery components or batteries at all. A common example is Chile, which produces 25 percent of the world’s lithium, but no appreciable number of batteries. About 70 percent of our cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and 15 to 20 percent of that is mined by hand. This cobalt is generally exported to China, where it is used in battery production.

Recognizing the supply chain risks that such an international supply chain entails, the IRA sets targets for the percentage of the value of critical materials in a battery that come in total from domestic mines recycling, or from countries with which the U.S. has a free-trade agreement. This target hits 80 percent in four years. Given that most batteries are assembled outside the U.S., the amount of U.S.-mined metals incorporated in batteries today is incredibly small. To increase this percentage so dramatically in the next four years, advances in recycling existing lithium-ion batteries is key.

Subject to intense research and development, this technology is very young and not operated yet on a large scale in the U.S. Previous research has estimated that accomplishing a target of about 8 percent lithium and 12 percent each of nickel and cobalt by 2030 would be possible. By mass, this is only about one-third of the critical materials in a battery that would be achieved in eight (not four) years. Again, engineers must come to the rescue to design and scale these processes.

Read more at: Inflation Reduction Act: Sourcing materials and making batteries are challenging (msn.com)

Who Says #China Has Locked in the EV Supply Chain?

This latest chemistry, LMFP, and promise to commercialize it, could be yet another game changer.In its latest formulation, manganese will boost the energy density of LFPs, allowing them to take vehicles further along (while remaining the safer and cheaper option.)  In CATL’s case, the voltage will increase from 3.2 volts to 4.1 volts. Such chemistry could provide up to 25% more energy density, according to a subsidiary of Lithium Australia that has also been working to adjust its own manufacturing processes to boost battery performance. CATL’s cells will be mass produced by the end of this year with a potential energy density of 230 Wh/kg, compared to 150Wh/kg to 180Wh/kg. That’s substantial given range anxiety and charging infrastructure remain the biggest barriers to widespread consumer adoption.

Manganese — and its effectiveness in electrochemistry — is often forgotten because of its low cost as a portion of the whole battery compared to that of other metals like nickel and cobalt. It’s used in higher energy density batteries, or the nickel cobalt formulation but in smaller amounts than the other elements. Those powerpacks, while also popular and a favorite of South Korean manufacturers, have been involved in fires and aren’t considered as stable despite being able to take vehicles further. Other combinations exist too, like the increasingly promising lithium nickel manganese oxide, or LNMO. In the past, one persistent issue with using manganese was that the battery would have a limited life cycle and high resistance, meaning it gets too hot and voltage drops. CATL’s version (and others) seem to have overcome this. 

 India, for instance, could become a key supply chain risk mitigator. It has vast untapped reserves. Of the more than 140 or so mines, several are currently inactive and almost half the production comes from two dozen public sector mines. Most of the ore is suitable for steel and other more basic uses. Only a tiny portion is battery-grade, however it can be processed and purified in to a battery-friendly form. An Indian government committee last month recommended exploring manganese reserves and boosting R&D efforts to explore the use of the metal for powerpacks, hopefully leading to increased policy support. Putting all this to work effectively could give India a spot in the global supply chain.

Read more at: Who Says China Has Locked in the EV Supply Chain? – The Washington Post

NGOs ask Musk to not invest in Indonesia’s nickel industry over environmental worries

July 25 (Reuters) – Dozens of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have sent an open letter to Elon Musk, urging the Tesla Inc’s chief to not invest in Indonesia’s nickel industry on environmental concerns.

The letter by the NGOs, including Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI) and Friends of the Earth United States, follows Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s meeting with Musk in Texas in May to discuss potential investments.

Indonesia has the world’s biggest nickel reserves and Widodo is keen to develop a nickel-based EV industry at home. The government banned export of unprocessed nickel ore from 2020 to ensure supply for investors.

However, environmentalists are concerned that the process would involve disposing off mining waste into the ocean.

The NGOs said in the letter that environmental damage results from the total area of the forest converted to nickel mining, causing increased deforestation and the threats of polluted water in the river, lake, and the beach.

Read more at: NGOs ask Musk to not invest in Indonesia’s nickel industry over environmental worries | Reuters

South China Mining Post: #US-led rare earths pact satisfies #SouthKorea’s ‘definite need’ to cut #China dependency.

South Korea has its own rare earth reserves, but does not possess the relevant production capabilities – although in recent years it has moved to produce rare earth magnets.

South Korea’s decision to join a US-led pact on mineral supply helps satisfy a “definite need” to cut dependency on China for key resources, including rare earths, analysts said.

Securing key resources has become a core task for major economies around the world, as minerals are a crucial element incorporated into cutting-edge technologies, green energy and national defence industries.

Countries have traditionally relied on China as it not only holds the largest amount of rare earth reserves, but it also is the world’s biggest producer.

But China’s recent moves to regulate the mining and exports of rare earths has had economies scrambling to secure alternative supplies, with the US-led Minerals Security Partnership launched earlier this month.

Read more at: US-led rare earths pact satisfies South Korea’s ‘definite need’ to cut China dependency | South China Morning Post (scmp.com)

One of World’s Biggest #Cobalt Mines Is at Stake in #Congo Fight

A dispute over one of the biggest copper and cobalt mines is escalating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, threatening to disrupt exports of essential battery materials and raising questions about the project’s future.

A top executive from state mining company Gecamines said that partner CMOC Group Ltd. owes $7.6 billion in overdue payments, and even accused the Chinese metals producer and trader of posing a threat to national security. CMOC said it denies the allegations, “strongly” opposes what it views as unjustified attacks and will defend its rights and interests.

Read more at: One of World’s Biggest Cobalt Mines Is at Stake in Congo Fight – Bloomberg

#Yellen urges less dependence on other nations for key supplies during #Canada trip

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. should work on shifting its dependence away from some rival nations for supplies of critical inputs as global supply-chain logjams have hurt the domestic economy.

Canada is a potential source of some products that countries have for many years obtained from China and Russia, Freeland said.

“What we can really contribute in a world of friend-shoring is critical metals and minerals and energy,” she said.

The U.S. already imports many minerals from Canada, including cobalt, nickel, aluminum and graphite. Freeland pointed out her government has earmarked $3.8 billion in its federal budget to implement a new critical minerals strategy over eight years.

Read more at: https://financialpost.com/news/economy/yellen-urges-less-dependence-on-other-nations-for-key-supplies

#TheWashingtonPost: How a Battery Metals Squeeze Puts EV Future at Risk

The world’s epic shift into electric vehicles needs to overcome a major obstacle: how to meet rocketing demand for batteries, the vital component, while cutting the cost to help the cars go mainstream. Factory lines churning out power packs to fuel a clean energy future are being built faster than strained supply chains can keep up. A global rush to lock in stocks of lithium, nickel, cobalt and other key ingredients from a handful of nations has sent prices hurtling higher.

There are major concerns over China’s industry-wide dominance and moves in some other countries to restrict mineral exports in hopes of building their own manufacturing base. It’s a scenario that risks slowing the pace of EV adoption.

1. Why the shortages? 

2. What’s the fallout? 

3. Which minerals are in focus?

4. How will this affect the EV transition?

How a Battery Metals Squeeze Puts EV Future at Risk – The Washington Post

#Bloomberg: #Nickel Royalty Helps #Burundi Boost Its Spending Plan by 40%

https://burundi-agnews.org/economie/burundi-le-canadien-cvmr-investit-40-millions-usd-pour-le-nickel/

Burundi plans to increase its national budget by almost 40% for the fiscal year starting July as it eyes revenue from a nickel concession it awarded to a new partner.

Burundi, which has an estimated 6% of the world’s known nickel deposits, awarded a mining concession to East African Regional Projects. The deal involves remitting $1.5 billion to the government annually, with the first $500 million expected soon. 

The government plans to increase investment in farming and infrastructure, including starting to build a railroad to neighboring Tanzania, according to the statement.

The nation’s economy may grow by 3.6% this year and 4.6% in 2023, according International Monetary Fund estimates. 

Read more at: Nickel Royalty Helps Burundi Boost Its Spending Plan by 40% – Bloomberg

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