40th Anniversary of the IPMI Conference coming up!

Just a reminder that this year’s conference of the International Precious Metals Institute (IPMI) is less than a month out. It’s a special one, too, the 40th conference of its kind with an excellent program covering all aspects of the industry.

IPMI Conference Poster

I love this event because it is such a unique opportunity to catch up on current topics and trends combined with the opportunity to (re)connect and network with industry executives from around the world. If you need further convincing, the Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix, Arizona, is a truly spectacular venue.

I will be speaking as the first presenter in Session C at 10:00 am on Sunday morning, June 12, 2016. Session location are the Grand Canyon Ballrooms 9 & 10.

Head over to http://www.ipmi.org for reservations – looking forward to seeing you there!

BYD -disrupting the markets for lithium and cobalt

A few weeks ago, during the hype of hundreds of thousands of Tesla Model 3 pre-orders, I saw a report on BYD (“Build Your Dream”), a Chinese car and battery manufacturer. While Tesla are scrambling to determine how they will meet the large demand they just created, BYD is already producing very large amounts of battery-electric vehicles today. I was drawn to their YouTube video (link below, the Spanish title seems to be an error on their part) in which BYD are demonstrating the safety of their lithium iron phosphate batteries.

These batteries are interesting because they are likely to do two things to metal markets:

  1. They will remove the issue of a cobalt shortage which is imminent – standard Li-ion batteries contain about 10% of cobalt, that’s 50kg per Tesla. Arithmetically, there just isn’t enough cobalt available in the world to prevent a market crash. See my earlier report on the topic here, and an excellent analysis by John Petersen titled “EV batteries and the cobalt cliff” here.
  2. The effect on lithium will be inverse: the metal, unchained from cobalt, can now be used more widespread than previously possible.

BYD-E6_3Intrigued by this scenario, I requested an interview with BYD which was promptly granted. I wish other companies were this forthcoming when it comes to asking about their technology. The resulting article was just published on Kitco News today, and it can be viewed here. Hope you will find it interesting.

Tesla Model 3: the car that is

You may feel about Tesla in whichever way you like, but there is no denying that today is the day people will remember as the day when the paradigms of selling cars changed forever. Thousands of people are waiting in line to pay down $1,000 on a car they have never seen, a car that may or may not be shipped in 2017, a car that – according to its creator – doesn’t even exist in its final design yet.

IMG_20160331_095433The picture shows people waiting at a factory owned store in a shopping mall (Short Hills Mall in New Jersey, USA). The line, which security estimated to be at least 200 people, winds throughout the mall and out the door. The line in the other picture shows people waiting for the new iPhone, also released today in what can only be called a marketing blunder. IMG_20160331_095110It is not the Tesla Model 3 other EV manufacturers have to worry about, it’s the way in which Elon Musk and the Tesla brand excite the masses. The Model 3 presale takes thousands of committed EV buyers off the market for at least 4-5 years (1.5 years of waiting time plus a 3 year lease). Whichever product or marketing strategy other brands may come up with, from hereon the market has been captured by Tesla for a very long time. A VERY smart move.

Unlikely Apple or Google will enter the Auto Market – Carlos Ghosn

IMG_5356Carlos Ghosn, CEO of both Renault and Nissan, shared some very relevant insights on why electric vehicles are unstoppable, and why he does not see any of the tech companies enter the automotive market as a producer. Ghosn gave a speech at the opening ceremony and press breakfast of this year’s New York International Auto Show (NYIAS).  My Kitco report (click here to read) focuses on the key aspects, but there was a lot more:

  • Autonomous drive, in his view, is only a milestone since it still requires a driver to hold the wheel, and watch the road. Driver-less cars are the goal the industry is aiming at. The Renault Nissan Alliance will have at least 10 models on the road with “significant” autonomous drive capabilities by 2020.
  • Battery-electric and hydrogen electric are just two sides of the same coin to him. In both cases, infrastructure is lacking, and creating the required infrastructure is the most important role governments and industry will have to play in years to come.
  • The industry is in a complex period of transformation where electronics force car makers into much faster innovation cycles while maintaining safety and quality standards. The focus of the new generation of drivers obtaining their licenses just now will shift from performance to features and convenience.

It was interesting to see how the various manufacturers interpreted the theme at NYIAS, each in their own way. I will put some facts and images together over the weekend to illustrate the scene.

Silver is on its way to shine again

Solar Impulse 2 eighteenth flight

From the early phases of writing my series for Kitco News, silver kept appearing in new and large applications suggesting it might one day reclaim its important industrial role within the precious metals family; a role it had lost after the collapse of silver based photography.

This week’s report for Kitco News picks up on several of the stories I have featured during this time and confirms that silver is indeed back, with more growth yet to come. I hope you will enjoy the story. Please check out the links in the article, too – they may not be easy to spot, depending on the screen you use.

(Image courtesy of Solar Impulse)

Beijing JiYa: Optimistic for Gallium

DSC_0666While prices for several technology metals keep edging down, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for some of them. This week’s “Tech Metals Insider” report sheds light on the Gallium market and its perspectives. Click here to read the full report.

2016: Turnaround for Tech Metal Prices? Part 2 / Rare Earth Elements

Dysprosiumoxid
Dysprosium Oxide

Part 2 of the series deals with Rare Earth Elements. Without them, our modern life styles would not be possible. But their production carries a high environmental price, and vulnerabilities. How will REE markets develop in 2016? Read the full story here.

New historic charts for strategic metals on Kitco News

Happy to report that the enhanced page on strategic metals is now active on the Kitco website. Increasing the focus on the private investment sector, standard packaging sizes made room for historic price charts for each of the metals prices are reported on. The charts can be downloaded or printed easily directly from the page. This is what the new windows look like:

Kitco Update 2016-01-18

Pricing information and charts are now accessible directly from the Kitco home page, too. If you look at the “Favorites” bar you will see the new menu item:

 

Kitco Update 2016-01-18 2

If you have any feedback on how the information is presented, or questions regarding any of the metals, metals you would like to see listed etc please let me know.

2016: Turnaround for Tech Metal Prices? Part 1

IMG_42502015 was not a good year for technology metals (precious metals, rare earth elements and strategic metals). From a perspective of industrial use, what is the likely development in demand and price in 2016? Part one of my condensed analysis was just published exclusively on Kitco News. Click here to read. Parts 2 and 3 will deal with the other groups of metals.

New: Strategic Metals Price Tool on Kitco

Exciting news: pricing information for a number of strategic metals including some rare earth elements is now available on the Kitco Website at http://www.kitco.com/strategic-metals/ .

Obtaining good information on these metals has been difficult in the past because – other than gold or silver – they are traded only between market participants and not at official exchanges. Prices quoted therefore often rely on the last transactions known as a benchmark. What is more, these metals found predominantly technical application the past. My “Tech Metals Insider” column on Kitco News has been featuring the many facets and uses of them for the past two years. Today, due to low prices and the high growth potential of many of the metals, more and more investors are taking an interest in them. The new pricing chart will help them in learning about the markets for each of them.

That said, the feature just launched today and while it is great, it is probably not perfect. Which is why I invite your comments and ideas to make it better over time. Do you like the information provided? What else should we be showing (charts showing pricing history are already in the making)? Are there other metals that should be on there? Please e-mail me your feedback, we will improve the page over time.

Last not least, here is how to get to the page:

Screenshot