TMR produces independent market intelligence and analysis on the rare earths, graphite and other critical and strategic materials. We provide research management, due-diligence and advisory services to public and private companies, institutional investors, government agencies and other market-intelligence firms. We focus on the challenges and opportunities associated with these materials.

March 2014 Updates To The TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch April 1, 2014

I recently updated the TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index, to reflect three new and two updated mineral-resource estimates, announced since the last update. The effective date of the updates is April 1, 2014. The specifics: A September 2012 report prepared for a subsidiary of StratMin Global Resources plc (AIM:STGR), details a JORC-compliant resource estimate for [...]

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Going Natural: The Solution To Tesla's Graphite Problem

by Gareth Hatch March 25, 2014

On February 26, 2014, Tesla Motors Inc. (NDQ:TSLA) announced details of its long-awaited "gigafactory", an ambitious plan to build a facility to manufacture lithium-ion batteries in large-enough quantities to meet the needs of the 500,000 electric vehicles (EVs) that the company plans to produce in 2020. Tesla proposes to build this facility somewhere in the southwest United States, in reasonable proximity to its California-based vehicle assembly plant.

Tesla's plans call for the creation of 35 GWh/year of production capacity for its third-generation Model E vehicle, implying an average 70 kWh of storage capacity per vehicle. The plan calls for an additional 15 GWh/year of production capacity, presumably to meet the needs of additional ventures with which Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk is involved.

In addition to the significant quantities of lithium, cobalt and other metals that the batteries from this proposed facility will require, even greater quantities of graphite will be needed to produce the anodes that are used in these batteries.

It is obviously early days for the gigafactory initiative, and a number of important details have yet to emerge. There is certainly no guarantee that Tesla will actually move forward with the project, or that it might not morph into some other form. Nonetheless, it is important that the supply chain gets itself ready to participate.

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February 2014 Updates To The TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch March 14, 2014

I recently updated the TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index, to reflect a project update since the last edition. The effective date of the latest edition is March 7, 2014. The specifics: On February 26, 2014, Northern Minerals Limited (ASX:NTU) announced an updated JORC-compliant mineral-resource estimate for the Browns Range project in Australia. According to the [...]

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Fuel Cell Vehicles And Critical Metals: Supply And Demand

by Jack Lifton March 5, 2014

It is fuel-cell-vehicle (FCV) season again as many of the world's premier car makers make their annual ritual announcement that they are 'studying' or putting into 'limited production' passenger-carrying vehicles for personal use (i.e. cars), propelled by electricity generated by 'fuel cells.'

Once again, the perception of greeniosity is meant to trick us into thinking that the fundamental laws of economics have been suspended.

As far as I can determine, the electricity for FCVs will be generated when diatomic hydrogen molecules are split into hydrogen ions and free electrons, by the action of passing the hydrogen over a catalyst. This previous sentence is totally intelligible to a chemical engineer with the only undefined word in it being 'catalyst.'

As far as I know the only such 'practical' catalysts known for such a reaction are the platinum-group metals (PGMs), primarily the metal palladium (Pd). There has been a lot of research over the last 20 years on trying to produce a fuel-cell chemistry based on a more readily available catalyst than a PGM but the results have not been economical. One such program backed by no less than Kleiner Perkins is for a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC), which uses the extremely scarce rare-earth-element (REE) related metal scandium (Sc) in its catalyst.

The thing that all current fuel-cell technologies have in common, is that they rely for their operation on large amounts of very scarce materials such as PGMs or Sc, as in the discussion above.

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January 2014 Updates To The TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch February 14, 2014

I recently updated the TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index, to reflect a project-related announcement since the last edition. The effective date of the latest edition is February 7, 2014. The specifics: On January 24, 2014, Star Minerals Group Ltd. (CNSX:SUV) announced the finalizing of a Joint Venture Agreement with Great Western Minerals Group Ltd. (TSX.V:GWG, [...]

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January 2014 Updates To The TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch February 5, 2014

I recently updated the TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index, to reflect one new and four updated mineral-resource estimates, announced since the last update. The effective date of the updates is February 4, 2014. The specifics: On May 22, 2013, Kibaran Resources Limited (ASX:KNL) announced a maiden JORC-compliant resource estimate for its Epanko graphite project in [...]

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December 2013 Updates To The TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch January 18, 2014

I recently updated the TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index, to reflect one update. There was also one other project-related announcement since the last edition. The effective date of the latest edition is January 16 2014. The specifics: On October 21, 2013, Matamec Explorations Inc. (TSX.V:MAT, OTCQX:MHREF) announced the filing on SEDAR of the Feasibility Study [...]

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November 2013 Updates To The TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch December 14, 2013

I recently updated the TMR Advanced Graphite Projects Index, to reflect one updated and one new mineral-resource estimate, one company name change and one acquisition, all of which were announced since the last update. The effective date of the updates is December 10, 2013. The specifics: On October 24, 2013, Energizer Resources Inc. (TSX:EGZ, OTCQX:ENZR, [...]

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November 2013 Updates To The TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch December 14, 2013

I recently updated the TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index, to reflect two updates. The effective date of the latest edition is December 9, 2013. The specifics: On August 6, 2013, Montero Mining and Exploration Ltd. (TSX.V:MON) announced an updated NI 43-101-compliant mineral-resource estimate for the Twiga Zone of the Wigu Hill project in Tanzania. According [...]

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The First Round of Chinese Rare-Earth Export-Quota Allocations for 2014

by Gareth Hatch December 13, 2013

Earlier today the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) announced the first round of allocations of rare-earth export quotas for 2014, to companies operating in China.

A total of 15,110 t of export quotas was allocated in this first round, comprising 13,314 t of light rare-earth (LRE) products and 1,796 t of medium / heavy rare-earth (M / HRE) products. Initial mainstream media reports appear to have missed MOFCOM's indication that the first-round allocation represents 70% of the annual quota for 2014. If this is the case, then the estimated quota for 2014 will be 21,586 t, approximately 70% of the 2013 quota allocation of 30,999 t.

Update (12/14/13): Further clarification of the MOFCOM announcement indicates that the first-round quota allocations for antimony, indium, molybdenum, silver, tin and tungsten will be 70% of their respective annual quotas for 2014, but that this will NOT be the case for rare earths.

One company that usually receives export-quota allocations, Inner Mongolia Baotou Hefa Rare Earth Co., will not be given a specific allocation, according to MOFCOM, until it has rectified environmental issues at its facilities.

Let's now take a look at the allocation numbers associated with today's announcement, before reviewing them in the context of the recent allocations. The companies below, highlighted in green are Chinese / non-Chinese joint-venture (JV) companies - the rest are Chinese-owned. The list is sorted from highest-to-lowest total allocation:

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