Why Are Minerals Companies Trying to Make Batteries?


Lithium Australia is the latest in a series of firms looking downstream.

An Australian lithium mine.

An Australian lithium mine.

Lithium Australia last month became the latest in a growing list of mineral extraction firms to branch out into battery manufacturing.

The Perth, Western Australia-based lithium company announced acceptance of an offer for 99.7 percent of the Very Small Particle Company (VSPC), an Australian firm that develops and produces nanoscale metal oxides for lithium-iron-phosphate electric vehicle batteries.

Lithium Australia said VSPC, of Queensland, had spent 14 years and AUD $30 million (USD $23 million) developing “the world’s most advanced cathode production technology for lithium-ion batteries.” Tiếp tục đọc “Why Are Minerals Companies Trying to Make Batteries?”

Clean energy and rare earths: Why not to worry

Amory Lovins

“Rare earths” are 17 chemical elements with awkward names and unusual properties. Their atomic numbers are 57–71, 21, and 39. Their two subfamilies, one scarcer and hence more valuable than the other, have similar chemistries, so they’re generally found and mined together.

Despite their name, rare earths are not geologically rare but are widely dispersed throughout the Earth’s crust. They are mined in few places and by few firms, though, because they tend not to occur in highly concentrated form. Further raising miners’ costs and risks, the world market for rare earths is modest (several billion dollars a year), volatile, complex, and dominated by China, where not all mines and exports are legal and transparent. One expert concluded that about half of 2015 global production was off the books. Tiếp tục đọc “Clean energy and rare earths: Why not to worry”

What Happened to the Rare-Earths Crisis?

technologyreview_Four years ago, manufacturers fretted that trade controls in China would lead to a shortage of materials used in making an array of technology products. But demand fell more than expected.

February 25, 2015

      Four years ago, some manufacturers worried that they would run up against a shortage of rare-earth elements, which are used to make wind turbines, certain light bulbs, computers, and many other high-tech products. Rare earths actually aren’t rare, but they are found in low concentrations, attached to minerals from which they must be separated. And most of the facilities designed to mine and separate rare earths are based in China, which limited exports of these materials in 2009 and 2010 (see

“The Rare-Earth Crisis”

    ). A 2010 U.S. Department of Energy


    •  envisioned a possible “critical shortage” of five rare earth elements, especially dysprosium—crucial to the permanent magnets used in wind turbines and motors in hybrid or electric cars—between 2012 and 2014. But such worries seemingly dissipated without much fanfare. Why?
A chunk of dysprosium.

Falling prices Tiếp tục đọc “What Happened to the Rare-Earths Crisis?”

Critical Minerals of the United States

US Geological Survey, US Department of Interior

 Critical Minerals of the United States
It would be no exaggeration to say that without minerals, no aspect of our daily lives would be possible.

From the high-tech devices we use to access the information superhighway to the cars and trucks we use to drive the freeways, from the urban jungle to rural farms, every aspect of our lives relies on minerals. Thus, access to sufficient supplies of these minerals is a crucial part of keeping our economy and our security running.

In this new volume, entitled Critical Minerals of the United States, USGS geologists provide the latest and greatest on the geology and resources of 23 mineral commodities deemed critical to the economy and security of the United States. This work is meant to provide decision-makers, researchers, and economists with the tools they need to make informed choices about the mineral mix that fuels our society.

Image shows a chart of the elements used in computer chips over time
The number of elements used in computer chip technology  has changed: 12 in the 1980s, 16 in the 1990s, and more than 60 by the 2000s. (Public domain.)

Tiếp tục đọc “Critical Minerals of the United States”