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Jack Lifton

 
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  • Is The Rare Earth Supply Crisis Due to Peak Production Capability or Capacity? [View instapost]
    Note well, everyone, that by "capacity" I mean "validated resources and validated and inferred reserves." By "capability" I mean PP&E now in place and now in use.
    Sep 7 08:57 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • 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 09:42 PM | 2 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 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 07:54 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Debunking PHEV Mythology [View article]
    -i HIT THE PUBLISH BUTTON BEFORE i WAS DONE-

    -The free market car industry could build a universal small fuel efficient car easily, and it could even be profitable after an intial subsidy driven period, but its use would have to be mandated by taxes or restricitve laws on size and fuel consumption.

    Such a movement-into cars like that-would not necessarily be a regressive move into socialism but could be seen as the only way to failry distribute resources. I think this will happen first in Asia, and i think it will happen by the middle of this century.

    Thanks for letting me travel down memory lane.


    On Aug 24 09:22 AM William Taylor wrote:

    > And those expensive batteries will be punished by the necessity of
    > heating cars in the winter.
    > Anyway, what kind of solution is it to subsidize batteries??
    > A subsidy is just shifting costs elsewhere. We still have to pay!
    >
    > Common sense say build a little car that gets 70 MPG or better and
    > chug along at 45MPH.
    > It is my belief that all cars should be the same exterior size and
    > shape year after year so that you could replace a bumper or engine
    > or parts cheaply as they would be standardized year after year, (no
    > complicated wasted inventory of thousands of parts). The cars would
    > all be the same small size and the spirit of competition would mean
    > fancier and safer interiors. Since all cars would be small, road
    > traffic and parking would be easier.
    Aug 24 10:14 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is China Planning to Restrict or Eliminate Export of 'Heavy' Rare Earth Metals? [View article]
    Other popular promises include:

    1. The check's in the mail,
    2. I'll still respect you afterwards, and
    3. I'll gadly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today.

    I agree with you on your investment choices for the long term.


    On Aug 19 04:28 PM jimp wrote:

    > Lynas Corp has adamantly expressed that it has maintained multiple
    > contracts outside of China, presently and in the future. It also
    > made clear that the Chinese state owned partner of Lynas Corp, CNMC,
    > currently under review by the Australian govt., is solely interested
    > in making a profit. Not to direct rare earths direct to China.<br/>
    >
    > I would think owning Lynas Corp and Avalon Rare metals AVL would
    > make a great long term investment.
    Aug 20 04:43 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Lies, Damned Lies and MPG Claims for the Volt [View instapost]
    John,

    This "controversy" makes me think of the World War II American admiral who while retreating from superior Japanese forces radioed "I am retiring before the enemy with all deliberate speed." I don't think the EPA or DOT is "actively complicit" in any deception of anyone other than themselves.

    I did the same calculation as you have done and came to the same conclusion.

    I have a new marketing approach for GM for the Volt:

    "The Chevrolet Volt, the car that makes decisons on travel distance for you. Never again worry about getting anywhere more distant than 40 miles in a reasonable amount of time. Let your car make the decison for you. Admire the scenery as you wait hours for a recharge, or, better yet, admire the neighborhood as you walk looking for a recharging capability in an area with which you are not familiar.

    See America the Volt Way
    In your Chevrolet
    Walking
    Aug 13 11:00 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Is the Chevy Volt Only a Fair Weather Car? [View article]
    jd-

    Whenever I say that the Chevrolet Volt is basically a souped up "golf cart" I get a torrent of personal abuse from many of my fellow Detroiters whose lives were formerly intertwined with the future of General Motors.

    In fact I frequently hear from my fellow "Detroiters" the same kind of irrelevant arguments as were written above by "Springbob" and "Trueblue." I suspect that they haven't read what I actually said, or if they have, simply, like Washington bureaucrats, 1.) Don't care about people outside of their own backtard, and 2.) Dont care about the future of Detroit or the OEM American automotive industry. I care about both.
    Aug 13 09:34 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Will Japanese Industry Find Critical Earth Metal Solutions in Kazakhstan? [View article]
    Actually it's like Poe's "The Purloined Letter." The solution is sitting right out in front of us, and we don't notice it. Japanese traders speaking Russian and the local Kazakh language(s) have probably been scouting the area for technology metals for years while western "businessmen" looked only at gold, copper, and more recently molybdenum.

    Year ago, to expalin the reason why Japanese businesses were rapidly moving into the US market while the reverse wasn't true, the International Herald Tribune published the statistic that 75,000 Japanese businessmen spoke English while 75 American businessmen spoke Japanese. I doubt that the ratio has changed much since then.


    On Aug 12 08:12 AM Davewmart wrote:

    > Very interesting article.
    > It makes me wonder whether something has not been happening under
    > the radar there for some years.
    > Toyota are very far from being stupid, and must have realised the
    > importance of securing supplies of rare earths years ago.
    > It might also make sense for them to play it quiet, to avoid alerting
    > the competition.
    > Shades of the Great Game, in that region of the world!
    Aug 12 08:29 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Electric Cars Could Dominate Market by 2030 [View article]
    Gentlemen,

    It's all about real world economics not government projections of cost savings and job creation.

    The US Department of Transportation sees a 3% conversion of the US production to electrification by 2020 and 10% by 2030. But what does this mean? If a mature US OEM automotive industry is making long lived "replacement" cars by 2020, which I think it will be, then the US DOT is predicting the yearly production of electrics to be less than 1,000,000 in 2020 and less than 3,000,000 in 2030. If those cars have the useful life of today's Toyota Prius this means that the US on the ground fleet could well be electrified by 2050 or so, but there is a larger ignored issue: If we do not find a way to generate electricity en masse without burning fossil fuels then the huge increase in demand for "fueling" electrified cars will simply defeat the original purpose of vehicle electrification. You all have the priorities for vehicle elctrification backwards. We must first diversify our energy economy away from burning fossil fuels before we can consider the economics and environmental impact of vehicle electrification.

    Stop worrying about battery developmet and start worrying about alternate energy. Otherwise this whole discussion is academic.
    Jul 30 08:46 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Tellurium Supply Conjecture and the Future of First Solar [View instapost]
    My last comment of the day. I was part of the team that made the first phase change memory "device" in the period 1962-66, which was invented by my first employer as a degreed scientist, Stanford R. Ovshinsky, who is many things but not at all a charlatan.

    It has taken about 45 years of parallel development in solid state electronics to make the phase change memory practical. As a monument to Stan I can tell you that I made the first working thin-film phase change memory device by layering films of germanium, arsenic, and tellurium and then alloying them in place. Today Samsung uses Germanium, Antimony, and Tellurium. It strikes me as incredible that we came up with almost the correct three elements on the first try. Stan was and is an intuitive genius.

    Remember, dear readers, that Stan also led the teams that made the amorphous silicon thin film photovoltaiccell and the nickel metal hydride battery.


    Jul 12 03:49 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Solar's New Important Players: Chevron, Lockheed Martin [View article]
    When the Royal Navy dispatched a modern warship with a trained crew to "investigate" an insult to the flag by unorganized or disorganized "pirates" it was not to get into the piracy business it was to show the little guys that you could not poach upon the business of empire without incurring the danger of retaliation. And, if the pirates turned out to be "on to something" then it was the job of the RN to institute a protectorate in the area if there were no one stronger locally to do the job.

    The resources deployed by Chevron, for example, are, as this author shows, trivial in comparison to their total, but far from trivial in comparison to the "little guys." The green points earned by Chevron, for example, in California, are very important to its PR image.
    May 19 09:15 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • White House Report: GM Volt Is Not Ready for Prime Time [View article]
    John. I screwed up my math, mea culpa. My lithium carbonate costs are for the entire, 16 kWh battery at $270. This makes the cost per kWh for lithium carbonate equivalent of fine chemicals about $17/kWh, which makes it incredibly obious where the costs are.
    Apr 24 12:35 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • MolyCorp Issues Letter of Intent For The Purchase Of Great Western Minerals Group; A Rare Earth Play Gets Legs [View instapost]
    jmp,

    It's a mystery to me, because Lynas seemed to be very highly thought of by Goldman last September,, when, at a conference in Hong Kong I had a chance to talk, separately, with officials of both companies. Lynas looked to me like it had all of its ducks in line at that point.Quite frnkly I thought that the MolyCorp deal was intended to include the use of the Lynas refinery then being financed to be buit in Maylaysia. In fact it was this project that got "suspended" when Goldman took its funding back. It seems to me that Mountain Pass could work either as a mine or as a refinery.If California will allow the reception and transit to the refinery of ores from Australia, Canada, Africa, Idaho, or Montana then Mountain Pass might well become a profit center even without producing from its own ore body. But did Goldman shut down Lynas to preserve its investment in MolyCorp for a reason such as that? I don't know.


    On Apr 21 02:41 PM jimp wrote:

    > Jack,
    > Do you have any idea why GS withdrew its funding for Lynas Corp?
    >
    > I see you have concentrated on North American rare earth miners,
    > but do you have any further comments on Lynas?
    Apr 21 04:04 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Book Review: Critical Metals Handbook Edited By Gus Gunn [View article]
    Ben,

    This is a good review, because it zeros in on what this book is not. It is not a guide for investors. The review is well written.

    I do take exception to the denigration of generalists as when this reviewer says:

    "On the plus side, you have an expert writing on the subject and not some generalist dabbling into way too many categories"

    Specialists tend to be myopic. They very often miss the synergies of, for example, the adaptability for a wide variety of separations of a refining process, such as the separation of the rare earths, or of uranium and vanadium, or zirconium and hafnium, or cobalt and nickel by solvent extraction. I have been in many conversations in the last decade with solvent extraction process engineers who are mystified by the fact that so many rare earth juniors were not only unaware of the process but thought it arcane.

    I find that generalists (such as myself) tend to examine the trees holistically as the components of the forest rather than the other way around as this reviewer might be suggesting.
    Academics, such as the authors of the sections of this book, are almost always specialists or even when not are frequently beholden to governmental grants and industrial special interests.

    Critical materials can only be defined in a specified frame of reference of time and space. This definition must include both a political and a moral space. Many "critical " materials are, in fact, strategic for lifestyle enhancement and not necessary for health, safety, or welfare.

    Investors need to be aware of 'fashions" in critical materials' studies.

    I will have much more to say about this in the coming months on the web sites of Investor Intel and of Technology Metals Research. I think investors can learn much more from general discussions of the concept of critical materials than from "expert" analyses of subjectively chosen materials.

    Jack Lifton
    Sep 27 12:06 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
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