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 Rare-Earth Projects Index

by Gareth Hatch April 6, 2014

There were no additions or project updates to the TMR Advanced Rare-Earth Projects Index since the last edition. I did update the pricing used in the Index data, to reflect the average monthly prices for March 2014, as reported by Metal Pages. The effective date of the latest edition is April 5, 2014. I have […]

Read the full article →

The WTO Panel Report On Chinese Rare Earth Exports

by Gareth Hatch April 3, 2014

Introduction

On March 26, 2014, the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its long-awaited findings in response to formal complaints made by the United States (USA), the European Union (EU) and Japan (collectively the Complainants), concerning China’s approach to the exports of rare-earth elements (REEs), tungsten (W) and molybdenum (Mo).

The 257-page document, combining the individual sets of findings for each Complainant (the Report), was completed by a three-person Panel of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB). It is an exhaustive evaluation of the measures that China has put in place to regulate the export of these materials, and follows a two-year investigation by the WTO into the complaints made.

My March 2012 article on the initiation of the WTO actions, reviewed the details of the initial complaints, and the mechanism behind the WTO dispute process, including the DSB. In it I suggested the potential arguments that China might make to defend its export measures, using certain exceptions to the WTO rules, and the potential consequences of various outcomes.

In the following article, I will review the main findings of the DSB Panel, the basis for their determinations, and the key takeaway points from the Report. We’ll also look at what China’s next moves might be, and the potential consequences for REE supply and pricing. I’ll also highlight the ongoing key advantage that the Chinese downstream REE supply chain has over other countries, even in light of the recent WTO findings.

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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.

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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.

Read the full article →

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, […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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, […]

Read the full article →