Category Archives: Metals

#Forbes: #China’s Rare Earths ‘Slump’ A Sign Of Domestic ‘Hoarding’ For EV Batteries

China loves to be in everybody’s strategic supply chains. Rare earths is one of them. These are the minerals, often dug out of mines in Africa, that China controls.

China’s rare earth exports fell to 35,448 tons last year from 46,330 tonnes in 2019, customs data showed on Thursday. The 2020 exports were the lowest since 2015,  according to Reuters.

Last month, China’s export control law (ECL) went live. It’s their latest effort to control the export of strategic commodities — including minerals used for EV batteries — and to increase dependency on China by ‘hoarding’ supply.

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Around 73% of rare earth elements are used in mature industries, including glass, ceramics and metallurgy. The remaining 27% are used in the production of neomagnets, which are essential components in electric vehicles (EVs).

Using the force produced when two magnets with opposing poles repel each other, electric motors use permanent magnets and coils that have been magnetised by electricity to propel an axle. The force (torque) of the spinning axle is used to power the wheels of an electric car.

Induction-based electrical motors, which do not use permanent magnets, can also power EVs. However, they are an unpopular solution compared to their magnetic cousins. Tesla, one of the only holdouts in induction motors, has used a magnetic engine in its new Model 3.

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#Bloomberg: Getting Closer to Producing ‘Green’ Lithium for EV Batteries

Europe is trying to build up a local battery-manufacturing industry to reduce dependency on Asian suppliers. Electric vehicles have become a focal point in the region, with governments bolstering subsidies to help carmakers recover from the pandemic and comply with stricter emissions standards.

While fully-electric cars drive emissions-free, the production of batteries has been criticized for its carbon footprint. Mining lithium from rocks is energy-intensive and extracting it from dried lake beds, as is often done in South America, drains local water reserves.

A process developed by an Australian firm is more environmentally friendly because its feedstock — hot salar brine — provides not only lithium but also heat to generate renewable energy, reducing the method’s overall carbon footprint.

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#Tesla comes to #India, sets up office in #Bengaluru

BENGALURU: Ending speculations of whether or not it would come to India and where in the country, Elon Musk’s Tesla has set up its office in Bengaluru, even as details of what the company plans to do in India remains elusive.

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#Norway eyes sea change in deep dive for metals instead of oil

This time, Oslo is looking for a leading role in mining copper, zinc and other metals found on the seabed and in hot demand in green technologies.

Norway could license companies for deep-sea mining as early as 2023, its oil and energy ministry told Reuters, potentially placing it among the first countries to harvest seabed metals for electric vehicle batteries, wind turbines and solar farms.

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What if our smartphone screens could produce solar energy?

The scientists developed a solar cell from a glass substrate and a metal oxide electrode, on which they deposited thin layers of TiO2, then NiO, before adding a coating of silver nanowires.

The cell was highly reactive and operated in low-light conditions. In addition, more than 57% of the visible light was transmitted through the layers of the cell, giving it a transparent appearance, say the research authors.

“While this innovative solar cell is still in its infancy, our results suggest that it is possible to further improve transparent photovoltaics by optimizing the cell’s optical and electrical properties,” said professor Joondong Kim of the department of electrical engineering at Incheon National University, who led the research.

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Eye on #China, #India looks at #lithium reserves in #Argentina, #Chile and #Bolivia

The new company, Khanij Bidesh India Ltd — incorporated in August, 2019 by three state-owned companies, NALCO, Hindustan Copper and Mineral Exploration Ltd, with a specific mandate to acquire strategic mineral assets such as lithium and cobalt abroad — is also learnt to be exploring options in Chile and Bolivia, two other top lithium-producing countries.

Currently, India is heavily dependent on import of these cells and the move to ink sourcing pacts for lithium is seen as another salvo in the front against China, a key source of both the raw material and cells. India is seen as a late mover as it attempts to enter the lithium value chain, coming at a time when EVs are predicted to be a sector ripe for disruption. And 2021 is likely to be an inflection point for battery technology, with several potential improvements to the Li-ion technology, and alternatives to this tried-and-tested formulation, under advanced stages of commercialization.

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#Reuters: Miners praise #US spending bill that funds rare earths programs

(Reuters) – The pandemic aid and spending package signed by US President Donald Trump last Sunday includes more than $800 million to fund rare earths and strategic minerals research, spending that mining companies say will help counteract China’s dominance over the sector.

The bill requires better geological studies of federal lands, funds studies into the processing and recycling of rare earths, and supports improvements to mining education programs.

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#BBCNews: #Japan developing wooden satellites to cut space junk

A Japanese company and Kyoto University have joined forces to develop what they hope will be the world’s first satellites made out of wood by 2023.

Sumitomo Forestry said it has started research on tree growth and the use of wood materials in space.

The partnership will begin experimenting with different types of wood in extreme environments on Earth.

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#Apple targets car production by 2024 and eyes ‘next level’ battery technology – sources

Apple Inc is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

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