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


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

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


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

 August 13, 2014
The Cobalt Market is at a Turning Point
    Publisher: CRU
    Author: Panos Kotseras


As per the Company's July 9, 2014 News Release with respect to the recent developments in the Electric Vehicle Battery Sector, the CRU has released a 4 page Insight piece on the cobalt market. The CRU believes the cobalt market has turned a corner and will cycle on a positive trend in the coming years.The synopsis is from their new Cobalt Market Outlook, which provides a comprehensive examination of the global cobalt industry through the next 10 years. The report states that after 4 years of weakening fundamentals and falling prices, the market is turning a corner. CRU Senior Consultant Panos Kotseras writes "production is being affected by integration, changes of ownership, and changes in the type and volume of units available to 3rd-party processors. Demand prospects look strong provided that high-tech applications will continue to use cobalt."

An excerpt from the report:

The Cobalt market is at a turning point

Oversupply of by-product cobalt units has been putting negative pressure on prices for more than three years but the market may now be turning a corner. There is an improvement in market sentiment across the board: cobalt prices have been trending up since the beginning of the year; the nickel price rally has favoured nickel-cobalt producers; demand from rechargeable batteries used in consumer electronics continues to be robust; the prospect of a booming Electric Vehicle market generates further upside demand potential...

To read the full 4 page synopsis click on image below...

About CRU

CRU was founded in 1969 and was originally named Commodities Research Unit. The name was changed to CRU as the company expanded to offering more than just research. the CRU is an independent authority on the global mining, metals and fertilizer industries.

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


* 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


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


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


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


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


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.


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

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