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 October 09, 2014
Cobalt at Centre of Breathtaking Scientific Discovery
    Publisher: Metalbulletin.com
    Author: Fleur Ritzema

 
THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL COMPANY NEWS RELEASE
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MetalBulletin.com - October 9, 2014 - London

Excerpt from the MetalBulletin Article

Cobalt at Centre of Breathtaking Scientific Discovery

The cobalt world is always looking for innovative new applications for the blue metal, and this one is truly breathtaking.

A new-fangled crystal, which comes from cobalt, appears to be capable of holding and storing oxygen at high concentrations.

A paper by researchers from the University of Southern Denmark notes that the material acts as both a sensor, and a container for oxygen, which can be used to bind, store and transport oxygen. "In the lab, we saw how this material took up oxygen from the air around us," the study's author, Christine McKenzie, said.

It can absorb and release oxygen many times without losing the ability. Why does this matter, I hear you ask. Well, the crystal, which is actually a salt which comes from cobalt, could have a lot of useful and potentially life-changing applications. It could feed high concentrations of oxygen into hydrogen fuel cells, lightening the load for lung patients who have to carry around heavy oxygen tanks. And scuba divers could potentially leave their tanks at home.

Divers could get oxygen from this material as it filters and concentrates oxygen from surrounding air or water. "A few grains contain enough oxygen for one breath, and as the material can absorb oxygen from the water around the diver and supply the diver with it, the diver will not need to bring more than these few grains," Mackenzie said. And it's all thanks to cobalt, which is bound in a specially-designed organic molecule. "Cobalt gives the new material precisely the molecular and electronic structure that enables it to absorb oxygen from its surroundings," explains McKenzie...

To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Metal Bulletin Membership or follow on Twitter @metalbulletin

 
 October 03, 2014
Battery Sector Fuels Higher Japanese Cobalt Imports
    Publisher: MetalBulletin
    Author: Fleur Ritzema

 
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MetalBulletin.com - October 3, 2014 - London

Excerpt from the MetalBulletin Article

Battery Sector Fuels Higher Japanese Cobalt Imports

The cobalt industry is benefiting from strengthening demand in the battery sector in Japan, a country which has seen imports surge 10% so far in 2014.

Japanese imports of unwrought cobalt reached 6,626 tonnes in the January-August period of 2014, official customs data shows. The increased imports, sources said, are the result of higher demand, particularly from the battery sector. "Japan is really on fire. It's partly related to the yen, and partly technological advances and the battery sector," one source told Metal Bulletin.

Battery demand for use in smart phones, most recently from the iPhone 6, is strong, while demand for tablets is also growing, sources explained. And better demand from the electric vehicle sector has increased the need for lithium-ion batteries, which are cobalt-based. This is boosting consumption of cobalt metal, powders and chemicals, and benefiting battery makers such as Panasonic and suppliers of battery materials such as Nichia....

"It appears to be that there is a strong growth in automobile battery demand, where the quality is critical," explained a second cobalt market source. Japanese battery materials are known for their high quality and are typically made using more refined types of cobalt, which are more plentiful compared with intermediates...

To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Metal Bulletin Membership or follow on Twitter @metalbulletin

 
 September 17, 2014
Cobalt prices drift as anticipated post-summer pick-up disappoints
    Publisher: MetalBulletin
    Author: Fleur Ritzema

 
THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL COMPANY NEWS RELEASE
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MetalBulletin.com - September 17, 2014 - London

Excerpt from the MetalBulletin Article

Cobalt prices drift as anticipated post-summer pick-up disappoints

Cobalt prices drifted lower mid-week, after post-summer spot demand disappointed waiting producers, sources said.

Producer supplies had been limited for several months, despite it being the traditionally quiet summer period, which can lead to slack demand and lower prices.

Bucking the traditional trend, cobalt prices had held firm at more than two-year highs throughout the summer due to this tightness in producer availability.

Traders, consumers and some producers noted that spot metal demand has been slow this week, given the time of year....

To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Metal Bulletin Membership or follow on Twitter @metalbulletin

 
 September 11, 2014
Why Musk is Building Batteries in the Desert When No One is Buying
    Publisher: Bloomberg
    Author: Tom Randall

 
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Bloomberg BusinessWeek - Sept 11, 2014

Tesla's planned 5-million-square-foot 'gigafactory' wouldn't just be the biggest battery factory in the world. It would be one of the biggest factories in the world, period. But hours before CEO Elon Musk took the podium last week to tout the $5 billion facility came August sales numbers for electric vehicles and a spate of news stories about how U.S. interest for electric cars has stalled.

So what gives? Why would Tesla build capacity for half a million car batteries a year if no one is buying? Four charts below tell the story.

First the bad news...

August brought another month of electric-car sales that came up short of previous highs. Interest isn't falling, but at four percent market share for combined sales of hybrids and plug-ins, people aren't exactly clamoring for them. The dark blue shows hybrids, the light blue shows anything with a plug; stack them together and you've got what's known as the electrified-vehicles market.

But here's the thing: the "stall" is happening entirely in the category of plugless hybrid vehicles (shown above in darker blue). These are gasoline engines backed by fuel-saving battery drive systems. The batteries are primarily nickel-metal hydride like those found in the standard Toyota Prius -- not the high-efficiency lithium ion batteries that Elon Musk wants to crush the market with.

Here's what's happening in the smaller subset of cars that don't require liquid fuel to roll:

Time to plug in...

The chart above shows the exponential rise of U.S. plug-ins. The light purple signifies rising monthly sales, while the dark purple shows cumulative sales since December 2010.

The rise of the plug-in has been fast, but the category is still diminutive. Most car trackers put plug-in sales at a fraction of a percent of U.S. vehicles sales. But just as it's misleading to lump in growth with hybrid gas cars, comparing plug-ins to all vehicles on the road isn't apples to apples. Plug-in SUVs are only just starting to hit the market.

The chart below shows plug-ins as a share of U.S. car sales, excluding those larger vehicles.

Quiet, but with great acceleration...

For 2014, plug-ins average 1.5 percent of cars sold in the U.S. That's still not a lot, and the trendline for market share appears more incremental than exponential. At this rate, plug power wouldn't be the dominant form of fuel until the end of the century.

And that excludes the ever-popular SUV category. The BMW i3 and the Mercedes-Benz B Class are still rolling out. Tesla and Toyota recently ended their collaboration on a $50,000 plug-in version of a RAV4 after just 2,000 units sold in two years. Like the Nissan Leaf, the RAV4 was hampered by a limited battery range: 100 miles. Musk told reporters in Tokyo last week that he envisioned a larger project with Toyota than the RAV4 "maybe two or three years from now."

Tesla's first SUV, the Model X, is set to go on sale in the first half of next year, complete with a third row, space-age falcon doors (pictured above), all-wheel drive and little compromise on the Model S's 265-mile range. Here's a sneak peak of pre-orders for the Model X, based on self-reported waitlist numbers tracked on a Tesla Motors Club forum (Tesla doesn't release pre-order tallies). A reservation for the luxury Model X requires a $5,000 deposit.

Americans "heart" SUVs...

These reservation numbers are significantly higher, and picking up faster, than reservations of the Model S prior to its June 2012 ship date.

Still, to justify the gigafactory, it would take additional market forces to bend the curve skyward on plug-in market share. That's exactly what Tesla is working on. The biggest obstacles to plug-in adoption are availability of charging stations, range, charge time and cost. Here's where those things stand:

Charging stations: By the end of the year, there will be more than 5,000 electric charging stations operating in the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Department. In the first half of 2014, more stations were opened than from 1970 to 2011 combined.

Range: Drivers want to know they can make their daily commute, get stuck in unexpected traffic and stop by the store for some emergency pickles without having to worry about being stranded. The best-selling Nissan Leaf, at $30,000, leaves room for worry with its 84-mile average range. The high-end Tesla Model S, at more than twice the price, has an EPA-rated range of 265 miles. That's a lot of pickle stops.

Charge time: Home charging of a Tesla is still a commitment at 58 miles per hour of charge. The Tesla Supercharger stations, on the other hand, get 170 miles in 30 minutes. Musk has opened up the system's design for other carmakers to adopt.

Cost: Tesla hasn't released the official price tag for the Model X, but it's expected to be in the same luxury range as the Model S, which starts at $60,000 for a version with smaller battery. Bringing down the cost of batteries will be key to plans for a more-affordable Model 3, still years away from market. Musk estimates the gigafactory will reduce the cost of lithium-ion battery capacity by 30 percent.

Musk's Diamond Factory...

Last week, Tesla released sketches of the future plant. It's powered by renewable energy and shaped like a diamond. So why has Musk designed a gigafactory to produce batteries for half a million cars a year (twice the number that's been put on the road by all companies combined)? Because it's increasingly looking necessary.

Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache last month increased his estimate for sales of the Model S and Model X to 129,000 units in 2017, from a previously estimated 83,000. Tesla can reach its 500,000 annual run rate before the end of the decade, Lache said, in time to put the gigafactory to full use.

Tesla's growth will be "much steeper, their mix will be much richer, and their costs will ultimately be much lower than we previously assumed," Lache wrote in a report on Aug. 11.

This doesn't mean you should rush out and buy Tesla stock. Just 11 out of 20 analysts tracked by Bloomberg give the company a "buy" rating, and the stock price is 261 times estimated earnings, compared with a 12.5 estimated P/E for Ford Motor Co. Even Musk admitted last week that the stock price is "kind of high" right now.

Still, it's easy to get caught up in Musk's vision for the future of cars. Defying skeptics, Musk has established the biggest U.S. solar company by market value, built a private space company that's making deliveries to the International Space Station, and has conjured a $35 billion car company out of thin air.

Now the dude's got diamonds in his eyes.


Follow @tsrandall on Twitter

(To Read the full article please click here).

 
 September 04, 2014
Tesla's gigafactory Decision a "Nevada Victory"
    Publisher: Cobalt Investing News
    Author: Charlotte McLeod

 
THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL COMPANY NEWS RELEASE
- FOR THE INFORMATION OF SHAREHOLDERS AND INTERESTED PARTIES ONLY -

Tesla's gigafactory Decision a "Nevada Victory"

Yesterday's rumor that Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) will be building its $5-billion lithium-ion battery gigafactory in Nevada was confirmed late this afternoon at a press conference held in Carson City.

Speaking to attendees, Governor Brian Sandoval said that the "monumental" agreement "will change Nevada forever."

The figures he cited in his speech make it hard to argue with that statement. An enthused Sandoval said that the gigafactory will immediately create 3,000 construction jobs, and when complete will employ 6,500 people on site. A further 16,000 indirect jobs will be created for a grand total of 22,500 jobs when the facility is up and running.

Altogether, the gigafactory's economic impact will come to $100 billion over the next 20 years; it will increase the state's GDP by 4 percent and the region's by an impressive 20 percent. On a different note, it will also positively impact schools in Nevada --- universities will receive research money, while schools operating at the K-to-12 level will receive $35 million.

"This is a Nevada victory," Sandoval concluded.

Of course, the agreement will also be beneficial for Tesla --- perhaps too beneficial, some believe.

Breaking down the tax incentive package that Sandoval used to lure the company, the Reno Gazette-Journal states that its overall value "is estimated to be $1.25 billion over 20 years." That's not only "one of the largest [packages] in the country," but also "more than double the $500 million package" Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company would require.

Ultimately, it will allow Tesla to operate in Nevada "essentially tax free for 10 years."

The package is divvied up as follows:
$725 million in sales tax abatements for more than 20 years.
$332 million worth of real and personal property tax abatements over 10 years.
$195 million in transferable tax credits "which other Nevada companies will be able to buy from Tesla in order to reduce their own tax liabilities to the state."
$27 million in payroll tax abatements over 10 years.
$8 million in electricity rate discounts over eight years.

That said, Musk asserted today that Nevada's incentive package wasn't the biggest offered to Tesla and thus wasn't the reason the company decided to build the gigafactory in the state. Instead, he said, the decision was based on the fact that Nevada is a "get things done state" --- he's confident that the facility will be ready by 2017 and believes that it will operate in a cost-efficient manner once it's up and running.

With the gigafactory's location now finalized, attention is likely to shift from Tesla itself to companies in the graphite, lithium and cobalt sectors. While there's been no official announcement about which such companies will be supplying Tesla, the share prices of a number of Nevada lithium juniors spiked yesterday, while this past week there's been much speculation about whether Mason Graphite (TSXV:LLG) could be a potential supplier.

Investors in all three spaces will have to keep an eye out for further --- hopefully more concrete --- developments.

To read the full article please click here to visit CobaltInvestingNews.com

 
 September 03, 2014
Jinchuan Will Cut Cobalt Metal Supply to Half in September
    Publisher: MetalBulletin

 
THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL COMPANY NEWS RELEASE
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MetalBulletin.com - September 2, 2014 - London

Excerpt from the MetalBulletin Article

Jinchuan Will Cut Cobalt Metal Supply to Half in September

China's Jinchuan Group will cut its cobalt metal supply to the market by half in September to conduct maintenance works, with the move expected to boost the minor metal's prices.

"We can only supply 200 tonnes of cobalt metal in total this month, excluding exports, and only about 120-140 tonnes can be supplied to the domestic market," a company official said..."We won't be able to satisfy all the buyers," he said, adding, "It is even likely for us to lift prices for the month."

To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Metal Bulletin Membership or follow on Twitter @metalbulletin

 
 September 02, 2014
SPOTLIGHT ON EBOLA: African Border Controls on Copper and Cobalt
    Publisher: MetalBulletin
    Author: Fleur Ritzema

 
THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL COMPANY NEWS RELEASE
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MetalBulletin.com - September 2, 2014 - London

Excerpt from the MetalBulletin Article

SPOTLIGHT ON EBOLA: African Border Controls on Copper and Cobalt

Border controls, the result of Ebola in the DRC, are beginning to affect the metals markets.

Botswana's government has banned anybody from the DRC entering its country. Other countries' authorities have introduced driver health checks at border crossings, and imposed restrictions on their future movements.

Why does it matter?

The DRC is the world's biggest cobalt producer and the sixth biggest copper producer. The country is expected to produce more than 900,000 tonnes of mined copper in 2014, according to Metal Bulletin Research analysts.

Total mined cobalt production in the DRC grew to an estimated 51,500 tonnes in 2013, up 9% from 2012 and this raw material contributes to 61% of global refined cobalt supply, according to UK-based cobalt trading house Darton Commodities.

The restrictions on driver movements could slow the arrival of copper and cobalt to the market...The scale of any longer-term impact will depend on whether Ebola spreads further. Further cases of the virus within the DRC could prompt further border restrictions. Any potential restriction on the DRC/Zambia border would be particularly worrying, as practically all of the DRC's copper and cobalt crosses this border...

To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Metal Bulletin Membership or follow on Twitter @metalbulletin

 
 August 28, 2014
Cobalt Market on Alert After Reports of Blocked Border Due to Ebola
    Publisher: MetalBulletin
    Author: Fleur Ritzema

 
THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL COMPANY NEWS RELEASE
- FOR THE INFORMATION OF SHAREHOLDERS AND INTERESTED PARTIES ONLY -




MetalBulletin.com - August 28, 2014 - London

Cobalt Market on Alert After Reports of Blocked Border Due to Ebola

Concern is growing in the cobalt market that African border controls, as a result of the spread of Ebola, may restrict movement of some cobalt and copper coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Excerpt from the August 28, 2014 MetalBulletin Article

Border issues have been reported on at least one route that is used by copper and cobalt transporters from the DRC. "This is definitely happening on the Botswana/Zambia border," a source active in the region said. "I hear trucks have been backed up since Monday," a second cobalt source said. A memorandum, seen by Metal Bulletin, sent out by the Botswanan government to immigration officials on August 25 stated that in order to safeguard its citizens, all borders and airports are instructed not to allow anybody from the DRC to enter the country. More than 80 trucks heading to South Africa from the DRC, the world's largest cobalt producer, are reportedly stranded on the Zambian side of the Kazungula border crossing to Botswana. This, according to local media, is because the Botswanan authorities are not allowing them to enter due to fears about the Ebola virus...

To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Metal Bulletin Membership or follow on Twitter @metalbulletin











http://bit.ly/1zMZBjA

 
 August 27, 2014
Umicore Livens Up Cobalt Space with Acquisition and Partnership
    Publisher: Cobalt Investing News
    Author: Charlotte Mcleod

 
THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL COMPANY NEWS RELEASE
- FOR THE INFORMATION OF SHAREHOLDERS AND INTERESTED PARTIES ONLY -

Umicore Livens Up Cobalt Space with Acquisition and Partnership

The cobalt space has been fairly quiet this past month, with few companies releasing news. But breaking up the monotony earlier this week was Belgian materials technology and recycling firm Umicore, which announced two interesting transactions on Monday.

First, the company said it has acquired Ohio's CP Chemicals and will be integrating the business into its Cobalt & Specialty Materials business unit. CP refines secondary materials containing cobalt and nickel, transforming them into "chemicals for the catalyst and petrochemical refining industries." It also recycles rhenium from superalloy turbine blades.

Umicore believes the deal will allow it "to establish new cobalt and nickel recycling capabilities in North America," a move that fits with its "strategy to strengthen its position along the cobalt and nickel value chain, from recycling and to transformation and distribution."

Second, Umicore announced a long-term agreement under which it will recycle cobalt-containing hard metals scrap from Global Tungsten and Powders, then supply the company with cobalt fine powders. According to Jan Vliegen, senior vice president of Umicore's Cobalt & Specialty Materials business unit, that transaction is also part of the company's plan to grow its position in North America.

Vliegen said, "together with the recent acquisition of Palm Commodities this confirms our ambition to further strengthen our North American presence. It also underlines Umicore's commitment to contribute to the recycling of scrap in the hard metals industry." Global Tungsten & Powders states in a press release that it anticipates "finalizing this transition" in mid-2015.

Price Update

Though cobalt companies put out little news in August, the metal's price activity has been comparatively exciting, with both low- and high-grade cobalt prices reaching their highest level in 29 months at the end of July. As Metal Bulletin reported, low-grade material was trading between $14.45 and $15.50 per pound, while high-grade material was moving between $15 and $15.50.

That's pretty impressive, but what's perhaps even more significant is the fact that prices have managed to stay at roughly those levels since then. Most recently, Metal Bulletin pegged high-grade cobalt prices as sitting at $14.90 to $15.90, noting that low-grade prices are stable.

The news fits in with comments made last month by Erin Chutter, president and CEO of Global Cobalt (TSXV:GCO,OTCBB:GLBCF). She emphasized during a company conference call that cobalt prices have been seeing a "sure, steady increase" over the last 18 to 24 months and noted that "we're getting very, very close to market equilibrium." The next step, of course, will be "market deficit."

It's also in line with CRU's recent Cobalt Market Outlook, published last month. In it, senior consultant Panos Kotseras states, like Chutter, that while the cobalt market has been plagued by oversupply for the past three years or so, "the market may now be turning a corner."

Though he notes that demand is "subject to significant risks" and points out that China's role in the market can be tough to determine, Kotseras also notes that a variety of factors --- including the uptrend in cobalt prices, the nickel price rally and "the prospect of a booming Electric Vehicle market" --- support the idea that the tide is indeed about to turn.

Cobalt market watchers would thus do well to keep a close eye on prices and not be discouraged by this month's slow news flow. It appears the best is yet to come.

To read the full article please click here to visit CobaltInvestingNews.com

 
 August 20, 2014
High-grade cobalt prices dip; low-grade cobalt prices stable
    Publisher: MetalBulletin
    Author: Fleur Ritzema

 
THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL COMPANY NEWS RELEASE
- FOR THE INFORMATION OF SHAREHOLDERS AND INTERESTED PARTIES ONLY -




MetalBulletin.com - August 20, 2014 - London

High-grade cobalt prices dip; low-grade cobalt prices stable

High-grade cobalt prices fell this week, after a drop in consumer enquiries led to some sellers reducing offer prices in August.


Excerpt from the August 20, 2014 MetalBulletin Article

High-grade cobalt prices fell to $14.90-15.90 per lb, while low-grade cobalt prices remained at $14.45-15.45...It's a real summer lull - but it's what you'd expect. Nickel is shocking too. There are hardly any consumers around," a trader said. Others argued that the lack of significant price falls over the summer was a bullish signal for cobalt as it could lead to price rises in September. "The market was well supported over the summer. It came off a bit, but it didn't collapse, and there is interest now," a second trader said....

To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Metal Bulletin Membership or follow on Twitter @metalbulletin

 
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