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Old January 29th, 2018, 08:38 AM   #1
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Hype Meets Reality as Electric Car Dreams Run Into Metal Crunch

Here's an update on an issue I've been following for the past couple of years: the promise of a future filled with billions of 'clean' electric powered cars. I placed this story about the problems of accessing enough rare and essential cobalt(needed for making high storage capacity batteries) here rather than environment, because a shortage of essential resources shows us where reality crashes and dissolves economic theory and wishful thinking about "green technologies!"

The US may have turned back into the deadend of gas-guzzling automobiles, but France and other EU countries are proclaiming that ONLY electric cars and larger vehicles will be on their roads after 2030...lless than 12 years away:

Hype Meets Reality as Electric Car
Dreams Run Into Metal Crunch

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2...alt-batteries/

Quote:
When BMW AG revealed it was designing electric versions of its X3 SUV and Mini, the going rate for 21 kilograms of cobalt—the amount of the metal needed to power typical car batteries—was under $600.

Only 16 months later, the price tag is approaching $1,700 and climbing by the day.

For carmakers vying to fill their fleets with electric vehicles, the spike has been a rude awakening as to how much their success is riding on the scarce silvery-blue mineral found predominantly in one of the world’s most corrupt and underdeveloped countries.

Rapid Rise

Cobalt prices stage one of the biggest jumps among commodities $80K per metric ton.

“It’s gotten more hectic over the past year,” said Markus Duesmann, BMW’s head of procurement, who’s responsible for securing raw materials used in lithium-ion batteries, such as cobalt, manganese and nickel. “We need to keep a close eye, especially on lithium and cobalt, because of the danger of supply scarcity.”

Like its competitors, BMW is angling for the lead in the biggest revolution in automobile transport since the invention of the internal combustion engine, with plans for 12 battery-powered models by 2025. What executives such as Duesmann hadn’t envisioned even two years ago, though, was that they’d suddenly need to become experts in metals prospecting.

Automakers are finding themselves in unfamiliar—and uncomfortable—terrain, where miners such as Glencore Plc and China Molybdenum Co. for the first time have all the bargaining power to dictate supplies.

“They’re a lot bigger—but the reality is guys like us are holding all the cards,” said Trent Mell, chief executive officer of First Cobalt Corp., which is mining the mineral in northern Ontario and setting up talks with automakers seeking long-term supplies.

Complicating the process is the fact that the cobalt trail inevitably leads to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where corruption is entrenched in everyday business practices. The U.S. last month slapped sanctions on Glencore’s long-time partner in Congo, Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, saying he used his close ties to Congolese President Joseph Kabila to secure mining deals.

There’s also another ethical obstacle to negotiate. The African nation produces more than 60 percent of the world’s cobalt, a fifth of which is drawn out by artisanal miners who work with their hands — some of whom are children. The country is also planning to double its tax on the metal.

Automakers may not have the luxury of choice as countries across the world ban gas and diesel engines to slash carbon emissions.

If each of the billion cars on the road were replaced today with a Tesla Model X, 14 million tonnes of cobalt would be needed—twice global reserves. Even a more realistic scenario for people to drive 30 million electric cars by 2030 requires output to be more than trebled, according to a study commissioned by Glencore from commodity analysts CRU Group.

The projections have made the lustrous metal, a byproduct of copper and nickel mining, into one of the most coveted commodities. Its price surged 128 percent in the past 12 months, in part because hedge funds including Swiss-based Pala Investments stockpiled thousands of tonnes of the stuff, which is used to power everything from mobile phones to home electronics.

“There just isn’t enough cobalt to go around,”
said George Heppel, a consultant at CRU. “The auto companies that’ll be the most successful in maintaining long-term stability in terms of raw materials will be the ones that purchase the cobalt and then supply that to their battery manufacturer.”

To adjust to the new reality, some carmakers are recruiting geologists to learn more about the minerals that may someday be as important to transport as oil is now. Tesla Inc. just hired an engineer who supervised a nickel-cobalt refinery in New Caledonia for Vale SA to help with procurement.

But after decades of dictating terms with suppliers of traditional engine parts, the industry is proving ill-prepared to confront what billionaire mining investor Robert Friedland dubbed “the revenge of the miner.”

Car-battery chemistries may follow a similar trajectory. Currently, most contain roughly equal amounts of nickel, manganese and cobalt, called NMC 111. By 2025 the dominant composition will be 80 percent nickel and 10 percent cobalt, according to UBS AG forecasts.

Recycling technologies to extract minerals from dead batteries, meanwhile, could add 25,000 tons of supply by 2025, CRU projections show.


With so much on the line, BMW’s Duesmann, a mechanical engineer who helped develop the electric i3 city car, isn’t putting too much weight on these innovations just yet. Last month, BMW revealed its dedication to an electric future by briefly lighting up its Munich headquarters, modelled in the 1970s after the four cylinders of an engine, to look like batteries instead.

“There’s going to be a supply shortage, so right now the suppliers have the upper hand,” he said.
So, along with the typical resource needs of making cars, electric vehicles require high quantities...too high to allow everyone to access needed supplies of cobalt to meet future demand. Reductions in the quantities of cobalt used will help to moderate price increases, but if we imagine turning every I/C engine into batteries and electric motors, it's impossible.

If anyone's curious about why the war in eastern Congo is neverending, the primary reason is trillions of dollars of rare and exotic metals underground. Cobalt, col-tan and rare metals have fueled fake insurgent and rebel groups that are somehow able to get resources to market in the west. Sure, they have to pass through the hands of hedge fund owners looking at the huge profits available by controlling the resources needed to produce millions of batteries, while the US, western powers and even NGO's turn their backs and pretend they don't know how the conflict started or how makeshift mines are able to operate using slave labor. This is where most of your new "innovative" technologies come from and where it all starts before you buy it on Amazon or in the near future-your local car dealer.
https://geopolitics.co/2017/12/07/th...emen-and-iraq/
earlier:
The Business of War in the Democratic Republic of Congo
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Old January 29th, 2018, 09:20 AM   #2
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Technology isn't going to pull our asses out of the fire for one simple and unavoidable reason.

The earth's resources are finite, there are too many of us, and we continue adding more people.

Our technological society has arrived at a point similar to one that shocked our ancestors, when they realized forests were a finite resource.
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Old January 29th, 2018, 10:17 AM   #3
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Like coal & oil before now

On rare earth minerals - the big player is China. They've been going around the World for the last 20 or so years, buying up all the rare earth ores & supplies they can manage to tie down - even buying (openly or covertly) into existing rare earth mining/refining outfits in the US. We (& the West) need to get serious about protecting our interests in these minerals - & look around to see what other markets China is trying to corner.
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Old January 29th, 2018, 10:26 AM   #4
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Yes, some folks dreams of getting sloshed in their car without any consequences is still not a reality.
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Old January 29th, 2018, 11:03 AM   #5
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Through a mirror, darkly

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Originally Posted by imaginethat View Post
Technology isn't going to pull our asses out of the fire for one simple and unavoidable reason.

The earth's resources are finite, there are too many of us, and we continue adding more people.

Our technological society has arrived at a point similar to one that shocked our ancestors, when they realized forests were a finite resource.
Tech might save us - if we can figure out how to generate cheap, abundant energy. Fusion is the likely candidate. Or maybe we can build lots of solar panels in space, & beam the power down.

Yah, resources are finite on Earth, but we're hitting stops on potable water, topsoil, pastureland. If climate keeps shifting - drier, less snowpack, less rain (in forests, where it can trickle down - more heavy flooding in lowlands with poor drainage), continued ravaging of forests & prairie - those & the resulting global upheavals as people flee dying habitat - may unravel governments everywhere.

For a time, we (the World) could feed everyone - if we quit eating as much red meat & dairy as we liked in the West, & shifted rice & cereals to hungry nations, & somehow got around the economics of that. I'm not sure that solution would work now - we've added people, crops are becoming marginal. We may have to accelerate alternatives - textured soya, or something similar - maybe test-tube quasi-chicken or something - textured flavored yeast - something.

If we get into food & water fights/wars globally, that will certainly put a damper on World population growth - but it's a horrible way to fix resource allocation problems - & it's not a real fix, plus it merely delays resolution of the underlying crisis - plus destroys a lot of sunk costs & intellectual capital - which we'll need for a sustainable solution.
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Old January 29th, 2018, 03:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by hoosier88 View Post
Tech might save us - if we can figure out how to generate cheap, abundant energy. Fusion is the likely candidate. Or maybe we can build lots of solar panels in space, & beam the power down.

Yah, resources are finite on Earth, but we're hitting stops on potable water, topsoil, pastureland. If climate keeps shifting - drier, less snowpack, less rain (in forests, where it can trickle down - more heavy flooding in lowlands with poor drainage), continued ravaging of forests & prairie - those & the resulting global upheavals as people flee dying habitat - may unravel governments everywhere.

For a time, we (the World) could feed everyone - if we quit eating as much red meat & dairy as we liked in the West, & shifted rice & cereals to hungry nations, & somehow got around the economics of that. I'm not sure that solution would work now - we've added people, crops are becoming marginal. We may have to accelerate alternatives - textured soya, or something similar - maybe test-tube quasi-chicken or something - textured flavored yeast - something.

If we get into food & water fights/wars globally, that will certainly put a damper on World population growth - but it's a horrible way to fix resource allocation problems - & it's not a real fix, plus it merely delays resolution of the underlying crisis - plus destroys a lot of sunk costs & intellectual capital - which we'll need for a sustainable solution.
I agree. Tech could pull our asses out of the fire ... on a planet inhabited with people who could think globally. However, a good portion of our electorate believes that doing anything "globally" is wrong, wrong, wrong.

But, the nation that should be the leader in applying science to remedy the serious crises looming currently is being "led" by a person touting selfishness: putting America first.

I think of where we could be had we built upon the wake-up call made by the OPEC oil embargoes. Carter sounded the alarm. Reagan got in bed with the Saudis. The rest is the history leading to right now.
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Old January 29th, 2018, 04:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by roastpork View Post
Yes, some folks dreams of getting sloshed in their car without any consequences is still not a reality.
Actually the self driving car is a separate issue from the electrification of the nation's fleet. We already have cars that can drive themselves using conventional ICE power plants. You might be surprised who has put one of the first truly hands free semi autonomous cars on the road. At the moment it's only for the highway, but still. I'd LOVE this during my annual 40,000 miles of driving. We already have cars the no not need human intervention on the gas or brakes when driving in stop and go traffic. All you have to do is keep the car in your lane.

Super Cruise - Hands Free Driving | Cadillac Ownership
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Old January 29th, 2018, 04:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by right to left View Post
Here's an update on an issue I've been following for the past couple of years: the promise of a future filled with billions of 'clean' electric powered cars. I placed this story about the problems of accessing enough rare and essential cobalt(needed for making high storage capacity batteries) here rather than environment, because a shortage of essential resources shows us where reality crashes and dissolves economic theory and wishful thinking about "green technologies!"

The US may have turned back into the deadend of gas-guzzling automobiles, but France and other EU countries are proclaiming that ONLY electric cars and larger vehicles will be on their roads after 2030...lless than 12 years away:
Which is why every car maker and battery supplier is working on NEW battery tech. They're working very hard to find solutions that either do not require precious metals or require significantly less of them.

In still think hydrogen fuel cells are a big part of the answer. Don't need a ton of special metals to make hydrogen or the fuel stacks.
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Old January 29th, 2018, 04:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by roastpork View Post
Yes, some folks dreams of getting sloshed in their car without any consequences is still not a reality.
But soon enough, there will be self driving cars.
And you won't buy one, it will be a service.

No more oil changes, no more rotating tires, no more monthly payments, no more car insurance, just pay as you go for a service.
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Old January 29th, 2018, 04:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbaJones View Post
Which is why every car maker and battery supplier is working on NEW battery tech. They're working very hard to find solutions that either do not require precious metals or require significantly less of them.

In still think hydrogen fuel cells are a big part of the answer. Don't need a ton of special metals to make hydrogen or the fuel stacks.
Where will you get the hydrogen? That is still not ever explained as far as I can see.
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