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Jack Lifton

 
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  • The Rare Earth Security of Supply Crisis in Simplified Form [View instapost]
    I'm not a financial advisor, but if I were buying shares in publicly traded REE based resource companies I would buy Avalon Rare Metals (AVL.TO) and Great Western Minerals Group (GWG.V), because they are going to be successful producers of rare earths (and other rare metals) within less than 5 years.

    I don't know when MolyCorp will go public, but I know that it will unless it is bought outright by a Fortune 500 company, or a consortium of them, for security of supply purposes. If there is such a purchase I suspect it would then involve the Canadian producers also in a mass consolidation. This consolidation by a major end-user makes so much sense that I wonder if it isn't inevitable.

    I do not own shares in any public or private REE producing or using company. I prefer this situation, because I am an independent consultant. As I have said before I have received travel expenses from all of the companies named above, and I am being paid as a consulatnt on business development by a private REE resource developer not associated with any of the above companies.




    On Sep 04 02:54 PM ARC wrote:

    > so, what you recommned to be the best purchases in ree......................
    > ...should be good sine i think the ausses will take the mowny so
    > needed ....................will that make the priice go up considerably
    > and hopefully the aussies will maintain control..................
    > Canada better and will molycorp go public soon???
    >
    > lotsa questions from an amateur
    Sep 4, 2009. 09:42 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Postal Service Set to Lead the Way in Deploying Electric Fleet [View article]
    John,

    What a great idea! A real time, real world, test of many "20 kWh ... lithium-ion batteries of unspecified chemistry." I wish that investors would hold T.E.A. parties demanding that this be done before any more taxpayer money is wasting on betting on anything and everything "lithium."

    I am speaking in Seattle on October 6 at the Metals in Aerospace Conference sponsored by Metal-pages.com; my topic is Recycling Rare Metals in a Closed Loop." My audience is also to be procurement officials and engineers, but some investors always show up.

    I propose that you and I get together in Seattle and do a diavlog (A video dialog) on the two conferences, which we can post on SeekingAlpha. What do you think?
    Sep 4, 2009. 08:53 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Rare Earth Security of Supply Crisis in Simplified Form [View instapost]
    Ladies and gentlemen,

    I thank you for your support. I am a one-man shop, and I have no publicist or PR firm to support me. If anyone knows someone at Fox Business News or knows John Stossel, I would be much obliged for the contact.

    I have been invited, for the second time, to give a talk at the Annual General Meeting of Great Western Mineral Group in Saskatoon next week, and the CBC may cover it, as they did my trip to Avalon Rare Metals Thor Lake, Northwest Territories, development. My topic at the GWMG AGM is going to be a continuation and expansion of the above theme with a focus on what exactly can we do, and must we do, right now to make North America independent and self-sufficent in all of the rare earth metals (including Yttrium, by the way).

    I don't own, nor have I ever owned, stock in any Canadain company, nor, other than travel expenses, have I ever been compensated by them. I only report on companies that I like and that I think can perform. If I don't mention a company it means that either I don't know anything about them or that I do not like them-usually the first.

    It takes time and effort to value the potential of a company or a technology. Please don't fall for sound or video bites, because it takes time to explain the results of a study of a company also.
    Sep 3, 2009. 10:57 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Rare Earth Security of Supply Crisis in Simplified Form [View instapost]
    The article you read was correct, and the idea of a cut-ff of HREEs has been bruited about since at least April in Chinese REE circles. The real problem for non Chinese end users is that the production of HREEs is so small that it may not leave China anyway and all that we actually "get' may be contained in products made in China. It is easy in China's centyarlized system to simply end the allocation of a domestic resource to a company that is manufacturing for export. Thus the cut-off may have already occurred, but even if not Chinese prodcuers for export are now on notice. These policies are not set for the benefit or harm of foreigners they are for the benefit (as perceived by bureaucrats) of China!


    On Sep 02 10:02 PM Wisdom vs. Information wrote:

    > jack, i read a well-written article last night that said the rare-earth
    > cut-off was a proposal from some bureaucrats on the interior, not
    > an actual policy. thoughts? i hope you can get the word out on mining,
    > all this angst about importing oil while not allowing mining is hypocritical
    > to the point of being ridiculous. thanks for your work!
    Sep 2, 2009. 10:28 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • PHEVs and EVs: Plugging into a Lump of Coal [View article]
    Bull's Eye, John

    How do the econometric models look when the residual value of the battery is ZERO? In fact, at that point, IT'S A COST! How did the value of propeller driven commerical passenger aircraft fare in the 1950s as Jets (that didn't crash) were introduced? Would a car or battery company perhaps HESITATE to introduce a new technology until its current one was fully depreciated? Could any such company afford not to COVER UP or DISCOURAGE new technology? WQon't this type of speculation be used to promote every single idea to vary battery technology for vehicles from now until the end of capital markets?

    It is amazing how people simplify their models until they work and bear little or no relation to reality at all.


    On Sep 02 11:13 AM John Petersen wrote:

    > Shai Aggasi is a very smart guy and it will be interesting to see
    > how the Better Place model works in places like Denmark, Israel and
    > Japan where gasoline prices are 2x to 3x U.S. prices and driving
    > distances are typically short. I'm generally skeptical about cycle-life
    > assumptions because nobody has these new wonder batteries in vehicles
    > yet and without real world testing by people who are nowhere near
    > as predictable as computer test racks the best anybody can do is
    > estimate. I also think that anybody who believes they can use a battery
    > for five to ten years and then sell it for a significant value has
    > never sold a used five to ten year old anything. Frankly, if a new
    > battery is going to cost half as much in the future and deliver twice
    > the performance, why would a purchaser in that golden future want
    > a used battery?
    Sep 2, 2009. 11:43 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • PHEVs and EVs: Plugging into a Lump of Coal [View article]
    Don,

    If the leaf requires 160 grams of "lithium" per kWh that means it requires approx 1 kg of lithium carbonate per kWh; I have always understood that to be Keith Evans' estimate.

    There were 27,400 metric tons of lithium, measured as the metal, produced last year; this is 155,000 mt of "lithium carbonate."

    25% of the above figure was used for storage batteries for portable electronics and tools. A negligible amount was used for motor vehilce battery packs.

    There may have been a 20% surplus of lithium produced last year.

    There is NO economical recycling process in operation today. All are disposal rather than recycling processes; i.e., someone (such as the American taxpayer is paying) is subsidizing an inherently uneconomical process. TOXCO was freezing lithium-ion batteries in liquid nitrogen to enable the "safe" disassembly of them. One wonders, if the batteries are so safe, why then go to such an extreme?

    There is no shortage even today of the supply of lithium, and it is so cheap that there can be today no economical recycling of lithium from the most currently used types. Neither the price of the lithiumitself or the cost of recycling it is now or have has been a factor in the cost of producing large scale packs for vehicle use. The costs arise from the manufacturing engineering cots for such short lived devices. There will be no changeover to lithium-ion battery packs until the hype and reality mesh and until after real time testing proves that such a battery system is economcial.

    Do any of you remember the hype about Iraq'a "crack" Republican Guard? They were last seen running from their abandoned Russian tanks as US Army forces blasted them to pieces from beyond the range of Iraqi return fire capability. A Toyota Prius can drive 500 miles in 6 hours; the same trip would take a week in a Prius. Is there really a mass market for an expensive VOLT?
    Sep 2, 2009. 07:54 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • PHEVs and EVs: Plugging into a Lump of Coal [View article]
    Gentlemen,

    Keep in mind that all natural thorium is Th-232 and it is fertile. Moderated neutrons from fisisoning U 235 or Pu 239 will breed Th 233 which decays to U-233, which is fissionable. It is not true that there is 3 or 4 times as much minable thorium as uranium but even though there is actually much less minable thorium than uranium ALL of the natural thorium can be used to enhance a uranium reactor whereas only 0.7% of natural uranium is U-235. Thus ound for pound thorium is much more useful as a reactor fuel component than uranium. In this sense we can say that there is more throium available than uranium.

    Google my name anfd thorium ("jack Lifton" and thorium) and you will see a number of articles and links about this technology. I am in a few hours on my way to Beijing to speak about the sourcing of thorium. I am also a member of an industry trade group promoting thorium as a nuclear fuel component in Washington. Three bills are now pending as part of the 2010 defense Appropriations Act to mandate that the NRC and the Navy study thorium reactor and fuel technology with a view to licensing it.

    The Age of Thorium has begun.

    Atomic energy of Canada has already successfully tested a retrofitted CANDU with thorium enhanced uranium fuel. An anouncement about an American group formed to bring thorium reactor technology forward will be out in October, and the group's composition will surprise you as it gives you confidence in how seriously this issue is being taken.

    Just wait a little longer, please.
    Aug 30, 2009. 11:27 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • PHEVs and EVs: Plugging into a Lump of Coal [View article]
    So it came to pass that in year 9 of the false god Climate, whose priest was lithium, there arose a prophet called John and all that John foretold came to pass and the rain of truth fell and lithium dissolved to reveal bright lead underneath as it had been foretold verily by John...the text breaks off here.
    Aug 30, 2009. 08:13 AM | 13 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How PHEVs and EVs Will Sabotage America's Drive for Energy Independence [View article]
    John,

    I was much taken by the profound nature of your comment

    --------"Trade is a two-way street with goods going in both directions. Goods coming in with money going out is not trade - it is debt - and you eventually have to pay the piper."---------

    You have succinctly (as usual) made the case for domestic production of strategic and critical natural resources.

    Producing natural resources creates wealth, not debt, so that the reduction of the need to export money or dreate debt to aquire those resources reduces debt. What the American economy is doing today is creating debt to pay for imported goods and services and then making payments on this debt by creating additional debt rather than using new wealth. It is a sucker game, and one we comdemn heartily as a "lower class" solution to overconsumption. It's like adding the fees of a "check cashing company' to your taxes just to get a quick fix.

    All of this nonsense only works when credit and confidence is high. What will happen to us if there is a world wide "correction" to the exchange rate of our currency? I hate to be a party pooper but I know it is going to happen in rare metals; they are going to skyrocket as southeast Asia, which produces or controls them now globally, recovers and withdraws them from the world market to feed their own domestic economies.

    Don't worry about rare earth metals, lithium, and cobalt you will not be able to get them at any price sometime in the next five years, and they will return to western markets only after an additional 3-7 years, the time it will take for southeast Asian investors to fund their production in poorer countries that have them in abundance such as the USA, which do not allow wealth creation through new mining at the present time. I suspect that China for example could simply offer to trade the US some existing debt for raw materials-I doubt China will continue to take new debt for old debt at the current exchange rate anyway.

    I told you I was pessimestic in the short term. I am fatalistic in the long term.

    I remember reading long ago that Gibbon wrote (I'm paraphrasing) that "in the end 200,000 barbarians swept aside a like number of Rome's legions. Yet it is clear from our study of history that any one of Caesar's legions could have swept them aside easily..."

    Is an evolving mixed economy dedicated to the uplift of its nation going to sweep aside fragmented free market capitalism?
    Aug 29, 2009. 09:38 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How PHEVs and EVs Will Sabotage America's Drive for Energy Independence [View article]
    John,

    I was much taken by the profound nature of your comment

    --------"Trade is a two-way street with goods going in both directions. Goods coming in with money going out is not trade - it is debt - and you eventually have to pay the piper."---------

    You have succinctly (as usual) made the case for domestic production of strategic and critical natural resources.

    Producing natural resources creates wealth, not debt, so that the reduction of the need to export money or dreate debt to aquire those resources reduces debt. What the American economy is doing today is creating debt to pay for imported goods and services and then making payments on this debt by creating additional debt rather than using new wealth. It is a sucker game, and one we comdemn heartily as a "lower class" solution to overconsumption. It's like adding the fees of a "check cashing company' to your taxes just to get a quick fix.

    All of this nonsense only works when credit and confidence is high. What will happen to us if there is a world wide "correction" to the exchange rate of our currency? I hate to be a party pooper but I know it is going to happen in rare metals; they are going to skyrocket as southeast Asia, which produces or controls them now globally, recovers and withdraws them from the world market to feed their own domestic economies.

    Don't worry about rare earth metals, lithium, and cobalt you will not be able to get them at any price sometime in the next five years, and they will return to western markets only after an additional 3-7 years, the time it will take for southeast Asian investors to fund their production in poorer countries that have them in abundance such as the USA, which do not allow wealth creation through new mining at the present time. I suspect that China for example could simply offer to trade the US some existing debt for raw materials-I doubt China will continue to take new debt for old debt at the current exchange rate anyway.

    I told you I was pessimestic in the short term. I am fatalistic in the long term.

    I remember reading long ago that Gibbon wrote (I'm paraphrasing) that "in the end 200,000 barbarians swept aside a like number of Rome's legions. Yet it is clear from our study of history that any one of Caesar's legions could have swept them aside easily..."

    Is an evolving mixed economy dedicated to the uplift of its nation going to sweep aside fragmented free market capitalism?
    Aug 29, 2009. 09:37 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How PHEVs and EVs Will Sabotage America's Drive for Energy Independence [View article]
    John,

    What prescient words!

    "...the price of rescue will forever change the way goods are allocated and used in developed and developing economies."

    The "price" will be ethical and moral as well as economical. We will reduce our consumption per capita as theirs increases. We will reduce our waste of natural resources and the drivers will be scarcity, price, and last, but not least, the morality of consumption for the sake of a consumption driven economy of profiligate waste.

    Thus endeth either the lesson or our western society's dominance of the world's economy. I wonder what lessons, though, the east will take from the west regarding consumption, per se, as a store of value?

    The US DoD is worried about "destabilizing" regional conflicts over water, energy, and material natural resources. Lately the US DoD has also begun to look at how the US might be directly involved in such conflicts due to American domestic "issues."

    I'm nearly 70, so I wish you younger folks (President Obama's favorite collective noun for the less fortunate) the best of luck.



    Aug 28, 2009. 10:04 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • How PHEVs and EVs Will Sabotage America's Drive for Energy Independence [View article]
    Marketquant

    It's time for the engineers, the materials and manufacturing engineers, to be heard. Electrochemical reactions are rate limited by physical and chemical factors. For example, a battery using a liquid electrolyte can only be charged, all other factors being under control, at a rate that will not boil off the electrolyte, because, and, in particular, in a sealed battery this could distort (destroy) the internal geometry. In an "open," unsealed, battery this could, of course, simply boil off the electrolyte's water component rendering the battery, at best, out of service.

    Before the religious among the readers begin to scream of dry electrolyte and sealed batteries let me point out that heat is a destroyer of plastics and a mobilizer of ions.

    A so-called "fast charger" will have to be a device that hooks up to the cooling system of the battery and energizes it simultaneously with the "fast charge." Thus the fast charger will be neither cheap nor cool.

    I ask all of the battery proponents one question: Will you show us your fast charging data that prove that your battery can be fast charged with existing technology in the desert and in the mountains repeatedly over its warranted lifetime without degradation below its minimum effective specifications?

    Also, may I be apprised please of the state of development of the fast charger "machine." Are you going to build enormous numbers of cannon without building new gunpowder factories?

    Electrified power trains are end users of electricity, not net producers of it! These powertrains will have to be serviced and fueled.

    Fast charging is a fuel service function. What companies are in it and where are they in the devlopment or specification of the new fast chargers to make PHEVs practical?
    Aug 28, 2009. 09:28 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • How PHEVs and EVs Will Sabotage America's Drive for Energy Independence [View article]
    John,

    Your comment below on the "purpose" of the new GE battery plant in New York State certainly adds evidence that your arguments are valid and supported by the facts.

    Is GE going to make giant lithium-ion, or nickel metal hydride, or, even lead-acid, batteries? No, I understand it is not. GE is going to manufacture, as I recall, a molten salt battery that is well suited to the application-enormous weight requiring enormous power rapidly delivered and rapidly stopped. Whether or not the battery is a molten salt type the point is that an expensive limited resource, a complex generator, perhaps, if DC, needing rare earth metals, for example, will be replaced by a battery using far cheaper materials, which can be recycled in any case, and reduce the complexity and manufacturing cost of the locomotive.

    It seems to me that GE is betting on diesel-hybrid locomotives as future traction engines for passenger, rail, and ocean freight and is positioning itself to be independent of foreign sources of permanent magnet alloys that are rapidly drying up.

    It seesm to me to not be a stretch to say that at GE locomotive "cheap and available, reliably, beats cool" everytime. Gosh, those GE economists are conservative!


    On Aug 28 03:50 AM John Petersen wrote:

    > drkhrse, I'm all in favor of anything that works and reduces aggregate
    > waste, but since Seeking Alpha is an investment site I'll only talk
    > about storage technologies that are being made or developed by public
    > companies that file regular reports with the SEC.
    >
    > Fred Lin, biofuels are very tough because producers are subject to
    > uncorrelated commodity price risks. I have an interest in a biodiesel
    > producer that was almost crushed in 2005-06 when agricultural commodity
    > prices were rising rapidly and petroleum prices were drifting downward.
    > There's also the ethical question about turning food into fuel. Cellulosic
    > ethanol may overcome part of that problem, but I'm not all that convinced
    > that the energy balance offers much benefit at the end of the day.
    >
    >
    > Anadarkos, all of the lithium-ion battery developers are asserting
    > that their planned products will perform perfectly in HEV applications.
    > I suppose time will tell on that account, but I certainly won't argue
    > that they're not up to the job from a technical perspective.
    >
    > On the rail front, GE is building a new battery plant to make batteries
    > for hybrid locomotives. As I understand it, the plan is to remove
    > one of the three generators and replace it with a monster battery
    > pack that will recover a big chunk of the energy lost in braking
    > and downhill grades. It's probably a great application.
    Aug 28, 2009. 08:56 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • How PHEVs and EVs Will Sabotage America's Drive for Energy Independence [View article]
    John,

    Are your readers aware of the fact that a typical OEM automotive assembly plant today in the USA is only cost effective when it can produce a lot of cars? There are now less than 20 assembly plants operated in North America by the former big three; there were more than double that number at the turn of the century just between GM and Ford.

    Chrysler's Jeep Toledo plants (2) produced a record 320,000 "units" one year in the early 1990s under the management of a close friend of mine. He then moved to the Windsor, Ontario Chrysler plant at which the minvans and crossovers were made and ramped that plant up to 1,000 units per day (16 hours).

    Imagine how ineffective it is today to run a plant making just 10,000 Chevrolet Volts a year! I understand that such a plant will not be, at first, a "flex' plant; it will make just the one model. This will be a huge costly "beta" site where GM will learn by trial and error.

    The last thing the manager of the Volt plant will think about is "how long will the battery maintain its performance specifications intact?" That will be the repsonsibility of a hugely expensive engineering group carefully maintaining a log on each car made and then following the first few 'thousand" carefully.

    Oh, and did I mention that there will need to be a separate service group writing a mnual, specifying parameters and equipment to measure and repair, sourcing the equipment, financing the equipment for dealers and service shops, training technicians, and monitoring them?

    The cost of this experiment will be in the billions-it has already cost more than one billion! The result is at this time unknown.

    Let's see: If the battery type chosen for initial prodcution doesn't work out it will have to be studied to see if the problem was the chemistry, the manufacturing engineering, or the actual use that made it fail. While all of that is going on another battery will have to be specified and sourced and production will be curtailed until further testing is finished.

    How long do your readers think the above sequences will take just for ONE TYPE OF LITHIUM-ION BATTERY?

    My guess is up to five years, so I think that the electrification of cars will not get to the stage of multiple manufacturers making hundreds of thousands of units per year for perhaps a decade.

    Is this really a horizon for small investors, or, even, for large private investors. No, it is not. The elctrification of the motor car for private personal use can only proceed if it is to be done with new battery technology by massive public financing.

    Did I mention that I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I read about how much simpler to build an electrified car will be than an ICE type? A current ICE car has around 6,000 components. I suppose the electrified ones will only have 5,500 components. That will make no difference at all in the complexity of building a car.

    Engineering minds are a terrible thing to waste and wasted resources of rare metals and oil cannot be recovered or replaced.


    Aug 27, 2009. 12:50 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • First Solar Sell-Off Is Overdone [View article]
    Yellowhoard,

    Tellurium is mostly produced as a byproduct of copper mining and refining, so that China by no means has a stranglehold on tellurium production, although it actually does have one mine that may be called a primary tellurium mine-the only one in the world- and that mine's output is today processed in China to solar grade tellurium, 5x9s. The real company to watch if you like FSLR is China's Apollo Solar, which is now supplying tellurium and other related rare metals in high grades to FSLR. Apollo is now traded in the US as a bulletin board stock, but it has applied to the NASDAQ for listing there.

    I am going to China next week, and I will be speaking on materials for solar energy conversion at two conferences there. I will report my findings when I return after Sep.8.




    On Aug 26 07:31 PM yellowhoard wrote:

    > FSLR depends on cheap tellurium to manufacture it's panels.
    >
    > The Chinese have a stranglehold on tellurium.
    >
    > If the Chinese want to own the solar energy business, they have the
    > power to control their own destiny.
    Aug 26, 2009. 10:02 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
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