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 October 20, 2014
Giant Battery Unit Aims at Wind Storage Holy Grail
    Publisher: Bloomberg
    Author: Whitney McFerron

 
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Bloomberg - London - October 14, 2014
Photographer: Ken James/Bloomberg

A worker prepares to do voltage output tests on a section of solar modules at the Southern California Edison (SCE) solar array in Porterville, California, U.S.

At a windy mountain pass on the edge of the Mojave Desert, North America's most potent collection of batteries used for storing unused power is humming its way toward an electricity revolution.

Southern California Edison, a utility that serves about 14 million people, has amassed more than 600,000 lithium-ion battery cells -- enough to power 2,000 Chevrolet Volts -- at a substation in Tehachapi, California. The $54 million, two-year test project aims to collect power generated from the area's 5,000 wind turbines and store it for future use.

Cost-effective storage for wind and solar energy is the industry's "Holy Grail," Morgan Stanley says. That's because times of high output during sunny days or windy nights don't always match up with peak demand. While batteries are currently too expensive for large-scale use, improving technology is cutting costs, which means storage systems could replace some plants and avoid the need for new ones, as well as cut demand for oil, according to UBS AG and Citigroup Inc.

"We're at the infancy of this," Ron Nichols, the senior vice president of regulatory affairs for Rosemead, California-based SCE, said in a telephone interview Oct. 1. "The technology is important. I don't know if it's a game-changer yet, but it has the potential to be, particularly if it gets implemented more deeply and the costs come down."

In the next seven or eight years, the price of batteries used for storage may fall by about half, to $230 a kilowatt hour of generating capacity, said Sofia Savvantidou, an analyst at Citigroup in London. Policy makers are setting more targets for renewable energy and demand is increasing from companies including electric-car maker Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), she said.

Prices Falling

Electric-car battery prices already have fallen by 50 percent since 2010 to about $500 per kilowatt hour, and "by drawing on auto-battery technology, battery makers may also be able to supply storage batteries at a lower price," Citigroup said in a Sept. 25 report. Tesla Chairman Elon Musk said in July that battery packs for electric cars will drop to $100 in the next 10 years. The Tehachapi batteries are supplied by LG Chem Ltd. and are the same type used in General Motors' Volt.

The Southern California Edison project is part of a push for more wind and solar power in the state, among the sunniest in the U.S. A third of California's electricity must come from renewable sources by 2020, and mandates also require that the three biggest investor-owned utilities store 1,325 megawatts by 2024. California already has more than 12,000 wind turbines, the most of any state, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Excess Energy

Most electricity in the U.S. is produced at the same time it is consumed, and suppliers bring plants on and offline depending on demand. Coal and nuclear plants provide much of the base load, accounting for a combined 58 percent of domestic output last year, government data show. Peak-load plants, usually fueled by natural gas, which accounted for 27 percent of U.S. output, are more flexible. They run when demand surges, often on hot days when consumers run air conditioners.

Only about 4.1 percent of U.S. power came from wind turbines last year, and less than 1 percent was generated by solar panels, both of which are more erratic than fossil fuels. Most of the rest was supplied by hydro-electric dams, geothermal steam and petroleum.

California already produces more solar energy than it can consume during certain hours in the spring, when it's sunny but still too cool for air conditioners, SCE's Nichols said. Excess generation may reach 10,000 to 15,000 megawatts by 2020, when the state meets its renewable targets, so batteries will be needed to avoid wasting energy, he said. The Tehachapi facility can store 32 megawatt-hours of energy, making it North America's largest lithium-ion battery project by output, the company says.

Tesla's Gigafactory

Other countries are pursuing similar projects. Wemag AG, a northern German utility, opened Europe's first commercial battery-storage facility last month, a 5-megawatt unit built by Younicos AG that stores power on lithium-manganoxid cells made by Gyeonggi, South Korea-based Samsung SDI Co. (006400) In Japan, Toshiba Corp. is supplying lithium ion batteries for a Tohoku Electric Power Co. pilot project that will create a 40-megawatt energy storage system in Sendai, the largest of its kind when completed in 2015.

Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, is planning a $5 billion "gigafactory" in Nevada with help from Japan's Panasonic Corp. that will be the world's largest battery factory, Musk said last month. Samsung is partnering with Chinese investors to build a car-battery plant in Xian, China. Electric vehicles may make up 10 percent of new car registries in Europe in the next decade, according to UBS, which estimates battery costs will drop by more than 50 percent by 2020.

'Smart Grid'

Besides helping bring battery costs down, electric cars themselves may become a source of energy storage for the power grid, said Patrick Hummel, a utilities analyst for UBS in Zurich. In a "smart-grid world," consumers would recharge cars while at work during the day, when solar output is the highest, and then feed some of that energy back to the grid during the high demand periods in the evening, he said. This could eliminate the need for some peak-load plants, he said.

"Demand peaks typically only last for a few hours, and having electric vehicles during those hours that can also supply to the grid would be a huge, huge benefit," Hummel said by telephone Oct. 6. "It avoids billions in expensive backup or peak power stations or other expensive demand-side responses." Some utilities including SCE's owner, Edison International (EIX), may benefit if their spending on grid upgrades and new technologies includes a focus on electric vehicles, UBS said. Renewable generators and battery manufacturers including Saft Groupe SA and Blue Solutions SA probably will also see benefits, while conventional power generators stand to lose, HSBC said in a Sept. 29 report.

Less Oil

Consumption of oil, natural gas and coal also may drop as battery storage reduces demand for traditional fossil fuels, Citigroup said. Global oil consumption may fall by as much as 4 million barrels a day over the next 15 years as the technology becomes further integrated, Savvantidou said. The world used 91.33 million barrels a day in 2013, BP Plc data show.

In Europe, Germany is leading the transition toward renewable energy. The German government has set a goal that 80 percent of the country's electricity be supplied by renewable sources, including solar and wind, by 2050. The country also provides subsidies to consumers in the form of loans to buy and install batteries alongside solar panels. There are more than 4,000 residential energy-storage systems in the country because of the subsidy program, HSBC said.

Power Plants

The U.S. is still a long way from having enough battery capacity to replace power plants, SCE's Nichols said. The Tehachapi site, half funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, is capable of storing enough energy to power about 1,600 to 2,400 homes.

"If battery storage ever gets to the point where we have a breakthrough technology, where they can run for eight or 10 hours at their full capacity, that would be a real game changer," Nichols said. "We don't see that right now, but one never knows what technology could bring us in the future."

To contact the reporter on this story: Whitney McFerron in London at wmcferron1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net John Deane

(To Read the full article please click here).

 
 October 16, 2014
Formation Metals' Idaho Cobalt Project - a Model for Good CSR
    Publisher: Industrial Minerals - Critical Materials for Green Energy
    Author: Emma Hughes

 
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The recent Industrial Minerals publication "Critical Materials for Green Energy" focuses on the importance of the relationship between global mining and "green" applications. The articles in the publication are centered around Tesla Motors Inc. and its construction of the largest battery manufacturing plant in the world, the Gigafactory. The 40 page publication contains several articles discussing how Tesla's Gigafactory will affect the supply and demand for lithium, graphite, cobalt and other critical battery materials up to and beyond 2020

Formation Metals was featured in this edition of the publication (page 30, 31 & 40) and an excerpt from the editorial is below:

Vancouver-based Formation Metals believes that its US-based ICP is well positioned, both geographically and ethically, to capitalise on growing demand for battery grade cobalt chemicals and high purity cobalt metal from the rapidly expanding rechargeable battery and aerospace sectors.

Canadian exploration and mine development company Formation Metals Inc. is a polymetallic developer with a unique primary cobalt mine that is poised to supply the US cobalt market -- and its timing could scarcely be better.

Cobalt is a silver grey transition metal used in a diverse array of industrial and military applications to make everything from corrosion-resistant steel to lithiumion (Li-ion) batteries. The metal has been on the European Union's list of "critical" raw materials since 2010 and has been considered a "strategic" mineral by the US government since the 1980s, based on concerns over access and potential future supply shortages in view of projected demand growth. While consumption of cobalt is rising in a number of industries, a significant amount of media and investor attention has recently been given over to its use in Li-ion batteries.

Estimates by Roskill Information Service delivered at the Cobalt Development Institute's 2014 conference in Brussels, Belgium, in May, indicate that demand for cobalt in batteries has grown at a rate of 7.6% per year over the last five years to 2013, with batteries accounting for 35% of total cobalt consumption. "Consumption in the rechargeable battery sector will see growth from approximately 33,000 tonnes of cobalt in 2013 to a projected figure of close to 60,000 tonnes in 2020," a 2013 Cobalt Market Review report from Darton Commodities Ltd stated.

"This demand scenario should be taken in the context of no new meaningful cobalt production projects on the horizon and could herald the beginning of the next bull run in cobalt metal prices," it added - a projection that Formation believes favours the timing of its plans for the development of its cobalt mine.

Formation's primary asset, located in the mining-friendly state of Idaho, is the 100%-owned, fully environmentally permitted, Idaho Cobalt Project (ICP). The company describes the ICP as "an ethical source of critical raw materials benefiting from strong domestic demand and low carbon footprint," or, to put it another way, the "greenest mine in America"...

Although Formation expects to be in a position to supply cobalt to customers in a number of markets, including solar energy, the company believes that it will have a particular allure for Tesla as a potential supply partner. "We believe there is an opportunity to develop a very unique synergy, beneficial to both Tesla and Formation, in the procurement of cobalt from our ICP," Honsinger told IM. "Our cobalt will be ethically sourced from an environmentally sound and safe workplace and will contribute to the local economy. It represents near term, secure supply from a politically stable country and complies with Tesla's stated intention to source as many of its raw materials as possible from domestic or nearby sources," he added.

To Read the 4 page full article on Formation Metals Inc., Please click on the link below.

Critical Materials for Green Energy

Formation Metals Editorial - Industrial Minerals Publication Oct 2014

To read the full 40 page publication, Register to download full publication
and follow on Twitter @IndMin.

FULL DISCLOSURE: A fee has been paid for the advertisement and production of this publication.

 
 October 13, 2014
US Defense Logistics Agency Published Raw Materials Sales Plan for 2015 - Including Lithium-Cobalt Oxide & Lithium-Nickel-Cobalt
    Publisher: Industrial Minerals
    Author: Laura Syrett

 
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Indmin.com - October 13, 2014

Excerpt from the Industrial Minerals Article

US Defense Logistics Agency Outlines Potential Lithium and Rare Earth Acquisitions - Including Lithium-Cobalt Oxide & Lithium-Nickel-Cobalt

The US Department of Defense has identified and tracks a number of minerals it considers to be critical to US national security and its purchasing intentions are an indicator of demand and availability of certain materials.

The US Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) has published its raw materials sales plan for the financial year (FY) 2015, indicating that it is considering purchasing half 150kg each of lithium-cobalt oxide and lithium-nickel-cobalt. The DLA's Annual Materials Plan, which was published on 2 October and is effective from 1 October through to September next year...

...With responsibility for analysis, procurement and management of materials considered critical to the US national security, the DLA tracks the supply chains of a broad range of minerals, including rare earths, used in fighter jets and missile defence systems, and lithium, used in batteries and fuel cells for remote energy storage....

To read more, Sign up for a Free Trial Industrial Minerals Subscription or follow on Twitter @IndMin

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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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