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 August 12, 2014
Tesla Motors Updates Supercharger Network Progress
    Publisher: Seeking Alpha - Breaking News

 
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* Tesla Motors has updated its global Supercharger coverage map.

* The automaker says it has 54 stations in Europe, 105 in North America and 9 in Asia

* Coast to coast travel via Tesla's charging network will be available to 98% of the U.S. population by 2015.

View the Supercharger coverage interactive map on Tesla Motors, Inc. website

 
 August 11, 2014
Congolese devastate own homes in cobalt mining rush
    Publisher: FRANCE 24 Observers
    Author: Alexandre Capron

 
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The Observers - August 11, 2014

Congolese devastate own homes in cobalt mining rush

Hundreds of artisanal miners have flooded a neighbourhood of Kolwezi in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo, after the discovery of a giant cobalt deposit. Our Observer explains how too much mining has effectively turned the ground into Swiss cheese -- putting the whole neighborhood at risk. Kolwezi is a town renowned for its rich soil, home to vast quantities of mineral deposits containing aluminium, copper and especially cobalt. These minerals -- keenly sought after and exploited by artisanal miners [miners who work independently] -- are dug up and then sold on to mining companies in the region, many of which are Chinese.

In June, a resident of Kasulo -- which is located around four kilometres from the town centre of Kolwezi -- was building a septic tank in his home when he realised that his basement was overflowing with mineral deposits. Other local residents then began searching and discovered that the surrounding area was loaded with copper and cobalt. Despite a mining prohibition put in place by the municipality on July 18th, giant holes suddenly began appearing across the neighborhood. Left without some kind of supporting structure, these excavations are prone to collapse. Five diggers died at the end of July in landslides caused by haphazard excavation sites.

"No one has the intention of leaving the area as long as there's still an ounce of cobalt or copper"

Almost all the residents of Kasulo [a neighborhood of around 10,000 people] dug on their land to try and find minerals. It's a poor area, where the unemployment rate is extremely high, so this discovery was almost like a gift from the heavens for lots of them. The price of minerals varies according to the cobalt trader, but one ton can bring between 1,000 and 5,000 dollars [between 750 and 3,700 euros]. Some haven't hesitated to break down their homes with axes to dig massive holes. Others dig in their rooms away from prying eyes. Most of them have hired artisanal diggers with whom they share up to 50% of the bounty that they find daily. In general, they're recruited in teams of five, and they take it in turns to work different shifts. One team will work from 6am until 6pm, then another takes over. As a result, in the best of cases they can extract between one and two tons daily!

"A pastor and his followers even dug around an inside a church!"

One must dig at least six metres under the ground to find traces of the minerals. The particularity of these minerals is that the deeper you dig, the denser the cobalt and copper. The consequence is that we see huge holes, some that go some 15 metres deep. In a neighborhood church, the pastor and his followers agreed to dig holes around, and even inside, the church to find cobalt. On Sunday, they celebrate mass as if nothing had happened.

Erosion risks triggering landslides and destroying the homes that are still standing.

Residents haven't hesitated to bring down parts of their homes to excavate the ground. The town council at first tolerated the excavations, then decided to intervene because some people began digging on roads. The problem is that these strips of land were legally bought by residents on the local land register. They therefore have the right to do what they want, because they're at home! The government of Katanga has given the diggers one month to leave the area and promised to find them a new place to continue their activities. But on the ground, very few people are aware of the measure, and no one has the intention of leaving the area as long as there's still one ounce of cobalt or copper. Even if they're in the minority, some residents -- often those who haven't found cobalt on their strip of land -- complain about the probable consequences of these anarchic excavations. The rainy season will soon arrive [from October until December], and with soil erosion, we don't have any idea how the soil -- which is very sandy -- will react. There's a strong likelihood of landslides which could destroy the last houses still standing. Let's not even speak about the radioactivity of the minerals, which could pose public health problems in the years to come.

According to the Chamber of Mines of the DR Congo, between 2.5 and 3.5 million tons of cobalt are buried in mineral deposits across the country. That represents between 60 to 75 per cent of world reserves. The resources attract miners who operate illegally: last June, police had to resort to drawing weapons to settle a dispute between miners in Kawama, south of Kolwezi.

This article was written with Alexandre Capron, (@alexcapron), journalist for the FRANCE 24 Observers.

(To Read the full article and watch video, please click here).
 
 July 31, 2014
Reno Is Tesla's First Choice As A Gigafactory Site
    Publisher: Forbes
    Author: Micheline Maynard

 
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Forbes - July 31, 2014

Reno Is Tesla's First Choice As A Gigafactory Site

Tesla Motors Tesla Motors made it official on Thursday: it has broken ground outside Reno, Nevada, for the first potential site of its $5 billion gigafactory plant.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk disclosed the location in a letter to shareholders that accompanied Tesla's second-quarter results. It has long been rumored that Reno stood the best chance of becoming a gigafactory semi-finalist. And in fact, Musk said that Tesla actually broke ground at the Reno location last month.

(To Read the full article please click here).
 
 July 29, 2014
Cobalt Prices Hit 29 Month Highs
    Publisher: MetalBulletin
    Author: Fleur Ritzema

 
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MetalBulletin.com - July 28, 2014 - London

Cobalt Prices Hit 29 Month Highs

Cobalt sellers have been celebrating signing numerous spot deals above $15 per lb for the first time in years.

Low-grade prices reached their highest level in 29 months on Friday July 25, and holders of stock in Asia and Europe have been encouraged to sell by the recent rally. Low-grade cobalt reached $14.45-15.25 per lb on Friday, up from $14.25-15.05 on Wednesday July 23.

High-grade cobalt stabilized at Wednesday's 29-month high of $15-15.50 per lb. London Metal Exchange cash cobalt settled at $32,250-33,250 per tonne ($14.63-15.08 per lb) during official trading on Friday, its highest ask price since January 2012.

Several producers are well sold, having either offloaded ahead of the traditionally slower summer months of July and August, or due to production issues. "We're sold out, but we'd be $15 or above if we had anything," one producer said.

Traders, however, many of whom had picked up material in May and June, were happy sellers last week, with several large volume sales transacted. "I've sold over $15 for the first time in two years, and it was 99.3% product. I was really delighted," a trader said....

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

 
 July 28, 2014
3 Reasons Why Tesla Can Scale Where Others Have Failed
    Publisher: VBNews.com

 
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Venture Beat News - July 28, 2014

3 Reasons Why Tesla Can Scale Where Others Have Failed

Tesla rocked the automotive world last month with news that it plans to build a 5 GW lithium ion battery plant in the United States. That's huge: 5 GW is equivalent to all of the world's current battery production, so, Tesla will basically double global battery manufacturing

This alone is not staggering; companies and industries scale rapidly all the time. What makes Tesla's announcement so important is that it comes just a few years after battery companies such as A123 and Valence Technology filed for bankruptcy; big corporates such as Bosch and Dow Chemical left the industry, and electric car manufacturers Fisker and Bright Automotive closed their doors.

The battery business is a tough place to make money: capital is expensive, engineering costs are high, supplier qualification periods are long, supply chain economics are tight, and there never seems to be enough electric vehicle demand to get to production capacity. There are plenty of reasons why so many battery companies have struggled. And, since batteries are a sizable chunk of the cost of an electric vehicle (EV), EV manufacturers tend to flounder alongside their battery suppliers.

So, why can Tesla scale in an industry that was considered all but dead in the United States just a few years ago?

(To Read the full article please click here).
 
 July 27, 2014
Good News for Electric Cars: New Battery Tech uses Peroxide to Boost Energy Density by 7X.
    Publisher: Venture Beat News

 
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Venture Beat News - July 27, 2014

Good News for Electric Cars: New Battery Tech Uses Peroxide to Boost Energy Density by 7X.

All electric vehicles currently in production use some form of lithium-ion chemistry in their battery packs.

Finding ways of improving that chemistry is therefore very important --- the aim being to make future electric car batteries cheaper, more stable and more energy-dense for longer range.

Researchers from the School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo have found a way to develop a lithium-based battery with seven times the energy density of current lithium-ion batteries, according to Nikkei Technology.

This has, at least theoretically, each of the major benefits you'd expect should it be introduced in production form --- lower cost, greater capacity and increased safety.

(To Read the full article please click here).

 
 July 24, 2014
China stockpiling strategic industrial metals - sources
    Publisher: Reuters
    Author: Polly Yam and Harpreet Bhal

 




Related Topics:
*Cobalt market tight as supplies fall short of demand
*Traders see more Chinese buying before year-end
*SRB moly tender is first in about two decades

China stockpiling strategic industrial metals - sources

By Polly Yam and Harpreet Bhal

HONG KONG/LONDON, July 24 (Reuters) - China has bought almost 3,000 tonnes of molybdenum oxide, used to strengthen steel, for the first time in 20 years, helping to support struggling domestic producers squeezed by tight credit conditions, industry sources in Europe and Asia said. It has also bought some 100-200 tonnes of cobalt, used in electronics and batteries for electric vehicles, in a separate closed-door tender, four sources said, although less than the 1,000 tonnes it had tendered for.

China's State Reserves Bureau (SRB) bought the 2,700 tonnes of the minor metal used to make ferro-molybdenum, an ingredient in special steel for the petrochemicals and oil sectors, two sources who had direct knowledge of the closed-door tender said. The SRB is expected to buy another 2,300 tonnes of molybdenum before the end of 2014, and is also likely to still be looking to buy the 1,000 tonnes of cobalt initially sought, a move traders said could squeeze cobalt prices higher.

High grade cobalt prices COB-CATH-LON are at $14.95-$16/lb, their highest since May 2012 as the market had tightened in recent weeks due to high demand and low producer supplies. "They were unable to find the quantity they needed. They will have to come back into the market another time to buy up to 1,000 tonnes," a cobalt trader said.

Traders said the molybdenum oxide purchase was unlikely to significantly lift international prices, with plentiful supplies and low demand. Molybdenum oxide prices are trading steady at $13.30-13.50/lb MLY-OXIDE-LON. One of the sources said the molybdenum oxide purchases will help domestic producers who have been hurt by low demand and tight credit conditions in the last two years.

"China is still a self-contained market. In light of the production in China and the stocks over there, 5,000 tonnes being bought within the domestic Chinese market is not a lot. It will quite easily be absorbed," a molybdenum trader said. Global molybdenum mine production totalled 270,000 tonnes last year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), with top producer China accounting for 110,000 tonnes of output.

The SRB has in the past bought other metals such as aluminium and zinc domestically as a means of supporting local producers. The buying came after the state body in 2012 added more metals, including some minor metals and rare earths, in its programme of stockpiling strategic materials. In December, China bought nearly a quarter of the global production of germanium, a material used in fibre optics and semiconductors, according to traders. China does not publish details of its metals stockpiles. Officials at the purchasing department of State Reserves Bureau in Beijing were not available to comment.

BRISK BATTERY DEMAND

The stockpiler paid around 1,400-1,450 yuan per one percent of metal contained in the 2,700 tonnes of molybdenum oxide, and around $15.70/lb for cobalt. Traders said cobalt market was seeing brisk demand from the battery industry and low producer supplies, resulting in prices moving-up following the SRB's purchase.

"Cobalt demand is pretty healthy. The producers have nothing to sell at the moment and this is causing tightness in the market," another trader said. Cobalt is an ingredient in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, used widely in the electronics sector and in electric vehicles. Mine production for cobalt was 120,000 tonnes last year, USGS said.

Traders said the SRB was unable to secure the 1,000 tonnes tendered for as sellers had only wanted to sell up to 200 tonnes due to a low bid price by the stockpiler. (Editing by Susan Thomas and David Evans)

Read the full article here: Reuters - China stockpiling strategic industrial metals - sources

 
 July 18, 2014
Cobalt trades up to $15 per lb on producer tightness, SRB news
    Publisher: Metal Bulletin
    Author: Alex Harrison

 
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MetalBulletin.com - July 18, 2014

Cobalt trades up to $15 per lb on producer tightness, SRB news

Buyers of cobalt metal in Europe are being approached by their customers for product, in anticipation that prices will continue to move up on news that China's State Reserve Bureau (SRB) plans to build stocks, combined with producer tightness.

Low-grade cobalt prices moved up to the $15-per-lb level for the first time since April as a result, trading up $14.25-15 per lb on July 18, compared with $14-14.90 per lb on July 16.

On July 11 Metal Bulletin reported that China's SRB would start making metal purchases, with some suggesting that the state-owned stockpile might buy as much as 1,000 tonnes.

"People think that SRB buying will take the market higher, and there are spot enquiries for product as a result, because customers want to buy before prices move up," one buyer source said.....

To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Metal Bulletin Membership

 
 July 16, 2014
China's SRB could buy about 1,000 tonnes of cobalt, sources say
    Publisher: Metal Bulletin

 
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MetalBulletin.com - July 16, 2014 - Shanghai

China's SRB could buy about 1,000 tonnes of cobalt, sources say

After Metal Bulletin reported last week that China's State Reserve Bureau (SRB) has invited 10 companies to start cobalt purchases, market participants have said that the SRB could stockpile about 1,000 tonnes of the minor metal.

"Given the number of invitations the SRB has sent out, it would be meaningless to purchase fewer than 1,000 tonnes," a source said. The SRB has invited over 10 companies, mostly major cobalt producers and traders, for the purchase, market sources told Metal Bulletin last week. "We expect the purchase volume to be between 1,000 and 2,000 tonnes," another source said. The bureau would give three months for delivery of the material...

To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Metal Bulletin Membership

 
 July 11, 2014
Cobalt market anticipates further price hike after news of SRB purchase
    Publisher: Metal Bulletin

 
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MetalBulletin.com - July 11, 2014 - London

Cobalt market anticipates further price hike after news of SRB purchase

News that China's State Reserve Bureau (SRB) plans to purchase cobalt metal is likely to drive international cobalt prices even higher over coming days, sources told Metal Bulletin.

Market participants expect several hundred tonnes of cobalt metal to be purchased by the SRB over the next few weeks. This will reduce supplies and drive cobalt prices, which have been rallying for the past few weeks, even higher, sources said. "It's going to soak up a lot of units that traders have been sitting on, so it's a game changer," a trader said. "It'll be interesting to see if there's LME activity on the back of it," he added. The official London Metal Exchange cash cobalt price on Friday July 11 was $31,000/32,000 per tonne ($14.06/14.52 per lb), up from 30,500/31,500 ($13.84/14.29 per lb) a day earlier, suggesting an immediate market reaction. No trades were shown on LME Select, however. "It will take time for the waves of knowledge to...

To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Metal Bulletin Membership

 
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