Wednesday 7th December 2016

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Posts tagged ‘aluminum’

Battery infographic series Part 4: The critical ingredients needed to fuel the battery boom

October 27th, 2016

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | October 27, 2016

The Battery Series will present five infographics exploring what investors need to know about modern battery technology, including raw material supply, demand and future applications.

 

The critical ingredients needed to fuel the battery boom

 

We’ve already looked at the evolution of battery technology and how lithium-ion technology will dominate battery market share over the coming years. Part 4 of the Battery Series breaks down the raw materials that will be needed for this battery boom.

Batteries are more powerful and reliable than ever and costs have come down dramatically over the years. As a result, the market for electric vehicles is expected to explode to 20 million plug-in EV sales per year by 2030.

To power these vehicles, millions of new battery packs will need to be built. The lithium-ion battery market is expected to grow at a 21.7% rate annually in terms of the actual energy capacity required. It was 15.9 GWh in 2015, but will be a whopping 93.1 GWh by 2024.

Dissecting the lithium-ion

While there are many exciting battery technologies out there, we will focus on the innards of lithium-ion batteries as they are expected to make up the vast majority of the total rechargeable battery market for the near future.

Each lithium-ion cell contains three major parts:

1. Anode (natural or synthetic graphite)

2. Electrolyte (lithium salts)

3. Cathode (differing formulations)

While the anode and electrolytes are pretty straightforward as far as lithium-ion technology goes, it is the cathode where most developments are being made.

Lithium isn’t the only metal that goes into the cathode—other metals like cobalt, manganese, aluminum and nickel are also used in different formulations. Here’s four cathode chemistries, the metal proportions (excluding lithium) and an example of what they are used for:

 

Cathode Type Chemistry Metals needed Example Use
NCA LiNiCoAlO2 80% Nickel, 15% Cobalt, 5% Aluminum Tesla Model S
LCO LiCoO2 100% Cobalt Apple iPhone
LMO LiMn2O4 100% Manganese Nissan Leaf
NMC LiNiMnCoO2 Nickel 33.3%, Manganese 33.3%, Cobalt 33.3% Tesla Powerwall

 

While manganese and aluminum are important for lithium-ion cathodes, they are also cheaper metals with giant markets. This makes them fairly easy to procure for battery manufacturers. Lithium, graphite and cobalt are all much smaller and less-established markets—and each has supply concerns that remain unanswered:

    South America: The countries in the Lithium Triangle host a whopping 75% of the world’s lithium resources—Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.

    China: 65% of flake graphite is mined in China. With poor environmental and labour practices, China’s graphite industry has been under particular scrutiny and some mines have even been shut down.

    Indonesia: Price swings of nickel can impact battery makers. In 2014, Indonesia banned exports of nickel, which caused the price to soar nearly 50%.

    Democratic Republic of Congo: 65% of all cobalt production comes from the DRC, a country that is extremely politically unstable with deeply rooted corruption.

    North America: Companies such as Tesla have stated that they want to source 100% of raw materials sustainably and ethically from North America. The problem? Only nickel sees significant supply come from the continent.

Cobalt hasn’t been mined in the United States for 40 years and the country produced zero tonnes of graphite in 2015. There is one lithium operation near the Tesla Gigafactory 1 but it only produces 1,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide per year. That’s not nearly enough to fuel a battery boom of this size.

To meet its goal of a 100% North American raw materials supply chain, Tesla needs new resources to be discovered and extracted from the U.S., Canada or Mexico.

Raw material demand

While all sorts of supply questions exist for these energy metals, the demand situation is much more straightforward. Consumers are demanding more batteries and each battery is made up of raw materials like cobalt, graphite and lithium.

Cobalt:

Today about 40% of cobalt is used to make rechargeable batteries. By 2019, it’s expected that 55% of total cobalt demand will go to the cause. In fact, many analysts see an upcoming bull market in cobalt.

In many ways, the cobalt industry has the most fragile supply structure of all battery raw materials.—Andrew Miller,
Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

    Battery demand is rising fast

    Production is being cut from the Congo

    A supply deficit is starting to emerge

Graphite:

There are 54 kilograms of graphite in every battery anode of a Tesla Model S (85 kWh). Benchmark Mineral Intelligence forecasts that the battery anode market for graphite (natural and synthetic) will at least triple in size from 80,000 tonnes in 2015 to at least 250,000 tonnes by the end of 2020.

Lithium:

Goldman Sachs estimates that a Tesla Model S with a 70-kWh battery uses 63 kilograms of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE)—more than the amount of lithium in 10,000 cell phones. Further, for every 1% increase in battery electric vehicle market penetration, there is an increase in lithium demand by around 70,000 tonnes LCE per year.

Lithium prices have recently spiked but they may begin sliding in 2019 if more supply comes online.

The future of battery tech

Sourcing the raw materials for lithium-ion batteries will be critical for our energy mix. But the future is also bright for many other battery technologies that could help in solving our most pressing energy issues.

Part 5 of the Battery Series will look at the newest technologies in the battery sector.

See Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the battery infographic series.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Battery infographic series Part 1: The evolution of battery technology

June 22nd, 2016

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | June 22, 2016

The battery series will present five infographics to inform investors how batteries work, the players in the market, the materials needed to build batteries and how future battery developments may affect the world. This is Part 1, which looks at the basics of batteries and the history of battery technology.

 

Battery infographic series part 1 The evolution of battery technology

 

Today, how we store energy is just as important as how we create it.

Battery technology already makes electric cars possible, as well as helping us store emergency power, fly satellites and use portable electronic devices. But tomorrow, could you be boarding a battery-powered airplane, or be living in a city powered at night by solar energy?

Battery basics

Batteries convert stored chemical energy directly into electrical energy. Batteries have three main components:

(-) Anode: The negative electrode that gets oxidized, releasing electrons.

(+) Cathode: The positive electrode that is reduced, by acquiring electrons.

Electrolyte: The medium that provides the ion transport mechanism between the cathode and anode of a cell. It can be liquid or solid.

At the most basic level, batteries are very simple. In fact, a primitive battery can even be made with a copper penny, galvanized nail (zinc) and a lemon or potato.

The evolution of battery technology

While creating a simple battery is quite easy, making a good battery is very difficult. Balancing power, weight, cost and other factors involves managing many trade-offs, and scientists have worked for hundreds of years to get to today’s level of efficiency.

Here’s a brief history of how batteries have changed over the years:

Voltaic pile (1799)

Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, in 1799, created the first electrical battery that could provide continuous electrical current to a circuit. The voltaic pile used zinc and copper for electrodes with brine-soaked paper for an electrolyte.

His invention disproved the common theory that electricity could only be created by living beings.

Daniell cell (1836)

About 40 years later, a British chemist named John Frederic Daniell would create a new cell that would solve the “hydrogen bubble” problem of the voltaic pile. This previous problem, in which bubbles collected on the bottom of the zinc electrodes, limited the pile’s lifespan and uses.

The Daniell cell, invented in 1836, used a copper pot filled with copper sulphate solution, which was further immersed in an earthenware container filled with sulphuric acid and a zinc electrode. The Daniell cell’s electrical potential became the basis unit for voltage, equal to one volt.

Lead-acid (1859)

The lead-acid battery was the first rechargeable battery, invented in 1859 by French physicist Gaston Planté.

Lead-acid batteries excel in two areas: they are very low-cost and they can also supply high surge currents. This makes them suitable for automobile starter motors even with today’s technology and it’s part of the reason $44.7 billion of lead-acid batteries were sold globally in 2014.

Nickel cadmium (1899)

Nickel cadmium batteries were invented in 1899 by Waldemar Jungner in Sweden. The first ones were “wet cells” similar to lead-acid batteries, using a liquid electrolyte.

Nickel cadmium batteries helped pave the way for modern technology but they are being used less and less because of cadmium’s toxicity. The batteries lost 80% of their market share in the 1990s to batteries that are more familiar to us today.

Alkaline batteries (1950s)

Popularized by brands like Duracell and Energizer, alkaline batteries are used in regular household devices from remote controls to flashlights. They are inexpensive and typically non-rechargeable, though they can be made rechargeable by using a specially designed cell.

The modern alkaline battery was invented by Canadian engineer Lewis Urry in the 1950s. Using zinc and manganese oxide in the electrodes, the battery type gets its name from the alkaline electrolyte used—potassium hydroxide.

Over 10 billion alkaline batteries have been made in the world.

Nickel-metal hydride (1989)

Similar to the rechargeable nickel cadmium battery, the nickel-metal hydride formulation uses a hydrogen-absorbing alloy instead of toxic cadmium. This makes it more environmentally safe—and it also helps increase the energy density.

Nickel-metal hydride batteries are used in power tools, digital cameras and some other electronic devices. They also were used in early hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius.

The development of nickel-metal hydride spanned two decades and was sponsored by Daimler-Benz and Volkswagen AG. The first commercially available cells were in 1989.

Lithium-ion (1991)

Sony released the first commercial lithium-ion battery in 1991.

Lithium-ion batteries have high energy density and a number of specific cathode formulations for different applications. For example, lithium cobalt dioxide (LiCoO2) cathodes are used in laptops and smartphones, while lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (LiNiCoAlO2) cathodes, also known as NCAs, are used in the batteries of vehicles such as the Tesla Model S.

Graphite is a common material for use in the anode and the electrolyte is most often a type of lithium salt suspended in an organic solvent.

The rechargeable battery spectrum

There are several factors that could affect battery choice, including cost. However, here are two of the most important factors that determine the fit and use of rechargeable batteries specifically:

Think of specific energy as the amount of water in a tank. It’s the amount of energy a battery holds in total. Meanwhile, specific power is the speed at which that water can pour out of the tank. It’s the amount of current a battery can supply for a given use.

And while today the lithium-ion battery is the workhorse for gadgets and electric vehicles, what batteries will be vital to our future? How big is that market? Find out in the rest of the battery series. Parts 2 through 5 will be released throughout the summer.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

See Part 2 of the battery infographic series.

December 2nd, 2015

Tax loss selling 101: Start thinking about cutting your losers Stockhouse
Why Argentina’s new leader is good for Latin America and global investors GoldSeek
The upside of a down mining market Streetwise Reports
They still can’t put a price on this diamond Equities Canada
Chinese aluminum, nickel producers ask state to buy up surplus metal NAI 500
UK housebuilding to boost clay demand Industrial Minerals
Dr. Clay: That mud bath might actually be good for you Geology for Investors

December 1st, 2015

Why Argentina’s new leader is good for Latin America and global investors GoldSeek
The upside of a down mining market Streetwise Reports
They still can’t put a price on this diamond Equities Canada
Chinese stocks fall after two major brokerages announce they are under investigation Stockhouse
Chinese aluminum, nickel producers ask state to buy up surplus metal NAI 500
UK housebuilding to boost clay demand Industrial Minerals
Dr. Clay: That mud bath might actually be good for you Geology for Investors

November 30th, 2015

They still can’t put a price on this diamond Equities Canada
Chinese stocks fall after two major brokerages announce they are under investigation Stockhouse
Chinese aluminum, nickel producers ask state to buy up surplus metal NAI 500
The scandal isn’t what’s illegal, it’s what’s perfectly legal: GATA GoldSeek
UK housebuilding to boost clay demand Industrial Minerals
Michael Curran goes down-market shopping for winners Streetwise Reports
Dr. Clay: That mud bath might actually be good for you Geology for Investors

November 27th, 2015

They still can’t put a price on this diamond Equities Canada
Chinese stocks fall after two major brokerages announce they are under investigation Stockhouse
Chinese aluminum, nickel producers ask state to buy up surplus metal NAI 500
The scandal isn’t what’s illegal, it’s what’s perfectly legal: GATA GoldSeek
UK housebuilding to boost clay demand Industrial Minerals
Michael Curran goes down-market shopping for winners Streetwise Reports
Dr. Clay: That mud bath might actually be good for you Geology for Investors

November 27th, 2015

Chinese stocks fall after two major brokerages announce they are under investigation Stockhouse
Chinese aluminum, nickel producers ask state to buy up surplus metal NAI 500
What to ask when doing due diligence Equities Canada
The scandal isn’t what’s illegal, it’s what’s perfectly legal: GATA GoldSeek
UK housebuilding to boost clay demand Industrial Minerals
Michael Curran goes down-market shopping for winners Streetwise Reports
Dr. Clay: That mud bath might actually be good for you Geology for Investors

November 26th, 2015

Chinese aluminum, nickel producers ask state to buy up surplus metal NAI 500
Advances in battery technology awakening the tech space as Tesla gigafactory nears Stockhouse
What to ask when doing due diligence Equities Canada
The scandal isn’t what’s illegal, it’s what’s perfectly legal: GATA GoldSeek
UK housebuilding to boost clay demand Industrial Minerals
Michael Curran goes down-market shopping for winners Streetwise Reports
Dr. Clay: That mud bath might actually be good for you Geology for Investors

Canada and the mining world

February 5th, 2015

Resources and expertise keep this country at the forefront. But challenges remain

by Greg Klein

Resources and expertise keep this country at the forefront. But challenges remain

Clusters of Canadian mining activity. (Map: Mining Association of Canada)

 

Peak gold has already been called by a number of prominent observers. But without sufficient investment to spur exploration, the world faces declining resources of many other minerals too. At the centre of the conundrum sits Canada, home to one of the world’s most bountiful mining jurisdictions and many of its most important miners and explorers. Even so, the country faces five key challenges according to a Mining Association of Canada report released February 4.

Called Facts and Figures of the Canadian Mining Industry, the research relies largely on 2014 and 2013 data but emphasizes Canada’s stature in the world of mining. Over 800 Canadian companies currently explore more than 100 countries. Firms with Canadian headquarters accounted for nearly a third of global exploration spending in 2013.

Canada leads the world in mining finance, with the TSX listing 57% of the world’s publicly traded mining companies. The 331 miners raised $5.6 billion in 2013. Another 1,287 Venture-listed miners and explorers pulled in $1.3 billion the same year. “Together, the two exchanges handled 48% of global mining equity transactions in 2013 and accounted for 46% of global mining equity capital that year.” Impressive as that sounds, however, the dollar figures are declining. By May 2014 almost 60% of Canadian-listed juniors were down to less than $200,000 in working capital.

As a result, MAC points out, exploration’s share of spending has been shrinking, “indicating a shift toward defining known deposits and away from the riskier discovery of new ones.” Estimates for 2014 suggest that only 36% of exploration budgets went to actual exploration while the rest went to appraising more advanced projects.

In the current economic environment, the industry is focused on reducing costs, improving productivity and preparing for the next upswing.—Pierre Gratton, president/CEO of the Mining Association of Canada

Apart from resources unearthed by Canadians abroad, this country’s own share ranks Canada among the world’s top five countries for production of 11 major metals and minerals, MAC states. Canada comes in first for potash, second for uranium and cobalt, third for aluminum and tungsten, fourth for platinum group metals, sulphur and titanium, and fifth for nickel. With diamonds, Canada ranks fifth by volume and third by value.

As for gold, silver, zinc, copper, molybdenum and cadmium, Canada remains in the top 10 but once held top five positions. In part that slip reflects a 30-year decline in the country’s proven and probable reserves, especially in base metals. “Since 1980, the most dramatic decline has been in lead (97%), zinc (83%) and silver (79%) reserves, while copper (37%) and nickel (65%) reserves have fallen significantly as well,” MAC reports.

The news isn’t all negative. “Since 2009 gold, silver, zinc and copper reserves have increased, with copper levels not seen since the early 1990s and gold at record levels.” But that doesn’t appear to reflect a long-term trend. “Recent commodity price fluctuations and the corresponding difficulties junior miners are facing in raising capital indicate continued concern over the depletion of proven and probable reserves for the majority of Canada’s deposits.”

The group foresees “only a handful” of major Canadian projects coming into production over the next five years, a result of exploration cutbacks during the 1990s and early 2000s. Global exploration has also declined in recent years. Looking a little farther ahead, though, “this gap is slowly closing.” MAC counts over 100 advanced Canadian exploration projects identified from 2011 to 2014 among those that could “contribute to the $160 billion in potential mining investment Canada could see over the next five to 10 years.”

But standing in the way of that potential are five key challenges, the report cautions. Global economic trends have hit many commodity prices hard. Yet MAC takes an optimistic view of medium- to longer-term prospects from China, India and other emerging countries.

Among the hurdles of Canadian investment are the increasing difficulty of finding new discoveries, operating deeper mines, paying higher energy costs and meeting new regulatory requirements. To help overcome lagging productivity, MAC wants more government funding for mining R&D.

Canada’s regulatory burden comes across as an increasingly complex maze. MAC warns that new legislation will likely increase the number of necessary federal approvals. The group calls for greater co-ordination between federal agencies and their provincial and territorial counterparts, as well as between government agencies and aboriginal and public consultation.

Developing undeveloped regions of course calls for infrastructure. A separate MAC study found that building and operating a remote, northern mine costs from two to 2.5 times the cost of a similar mine down south. To lessen the burden, the group calls for tax incentives, infrastructure investments and public-private partnerships.

Finally, there’s the need for new faces. The Mining Industry Human Resources Council says the industry will need 121,000 new workers over the next decade. That number doesn’t even take into account an estimated 53,000 retirements over the same period, according to MAC. Where to look for replacements?

Not far, apparently. “Approximately 1,200 aboriginal communities are located within 200 kilometres of some 180 producing mines and more than 2,500 active exploration properties,” the report notes. While mining’s already proportionately Canada’s largest private sector employer of natives, “addressing the human resources challenge will take a large and co-ordinated effort by the industry, educational institutions and all levels of government in the coming years.”

MAC president/CEO Pierre Gratton said, “In the current economic environment, the industry is focused on reducing costs, improving productivity and preparing for the next upswing.” In his statement accompanying the report he added, “We are confident about the future demand for our products and the Canadian mining industry is focusing on getting in shape now to seize the growth opportunities ahead of it.”

Download Facts and Figures of the Canadian Mining Industry.

 

Resources and expertise keep this country at the forefront. But challenges remain

Geographical distribution of Canada’s mining assets in 2012. (Map: Mining Association of Canada)

January 20th, 2015

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