- A jury found former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin guilty of all three charges he faced in the death of George Floyd last May. Floyd’s death sparked protests across the U.S., and remains a rallying cry for the left: in fact, the judge in Chauvin’s trial warned that a guilty verdict could be overturned on appeal because of comments Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) made at a protest last weekend urging “all of the people who stand for justice” to “stay on the street” if Chauvin was not found guilty. (It’s not clear whether Chauvin will appeal).
- New reports suggest the White House is considering sending fresh weapons to Ukraine in response to Ukrainian requests. Ukrainian officials have specifically requested Patriot missiles, which the U.S. sent to Poland, but it seems risky to deploy them to a more fragile ally.
- Meanwhile, Pres. Putin delivered his State of the Nation address today, and threatened to retaliate “harshly,” “quickly” and “asymmetrically” to any Western challenges that cross “red lines.”
- Supporters of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny planned protests to distract from Putin’s address, and Putin didn’t mention or even allude to Navalny in his speech (Putin has long refused to speak Navalny’s name, and when he is forced to address questions about Navalny—who’s sometimes called “the man Vladimir Putin fears most”—he usually refers to Navalny with vague identifiers like “this gentleman”).
- The U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Amb. John Sullivan, relented on his plan to stay in Moscow despite Russia’s recall of its Ambassador the U.S., and will now return to the U.S. for “consultations”—although he vowed he would be back in Moscow before a possible meeting between Presidents Biden and Putin.
- Turkey’s Foreign Minister said the UN-led Afghan conference that was due to start on Saturday would be postponed until after Eid al Fitr, which ends May 13, because of the Taliban’s cancellation.
- Other reports say the reason the Taliban cancelled its participation in the conference was that the U.S. and UN wouldn’t meet its demands to release prisoners and remove UN sanctions ahead of the conference—not because Pres. Biden delayed the withdrawal of U.S. troops beyond the original May 1 deadline.
- The rebels whose fighting killed Pres. Deby vowed to take N’Djamena, and criticized the transition of power to Deby’s son: “Chad is not a monarchy. There can be no dynastic devolution of power in our country.”
- That makes the fighting sound less like the foreign-born insurgency Chad’s military claimed it to be and more like a somewhat-principled domestic uprising.
- Given the lingering murkiness over how Deby’s son was appointed to lead the transitional government, some fringe analysts are wondering if Deby Jr. might have staged a coup against his own father.
- Pres. Xi will speak at the first day of the U.S.-organized virtual climate summit tomorrow. The U.S. and China issued a vaguely-worded joint statement last weekend vowing to work together to “tackle the climate crisis;” this appears to be one example of that kind of cooperation.
- Mining.com says that a rise in purchases of electric sports cars—like Tesla Model 3 and Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Audi e-tron Quattro—is driving greater demand for cobalt and nickel, which are more heavily used in performance EVs than in budget ones. On the other end of the market, sales of budget EVs, which tend to use cheaper lithium-iron-phosphate batteries, are also growing—but they don’t demand nearly as much battery power as the performance sports EVs. Article pasted below.
Cobalt, nickel battery use rises as electric sports cars gain popularity(Mining.com)
Despite a big drop from December’s blowout, largely due to seasonal factors, the February 2021MINING.COMEV Metal Index, which tracks the value of battery metals in newly registered passenger EVs (including hybrids) around the world, still ranks as the fourth best month on record.
Just shy of $300 million worth of lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite hit roads in February, up 170% from the same month last year as the impact of the coronavirus only just started to ripple beyond China. For the first two months, the year on year comparison is a 240% rise to $590 million.
The total battery capacity of EVs sold during the month increased 123% year on year to close to 11.3 GWh, according to Adamas Intelligence, which tracks demand for EV batteries by chemistry, cell supplier and capacity in over 90 countries.
To produce the most accurate data, the monthly battery capacity deployed numbers in theMINING.COMEV Metal Index do not include cars leaving assembly lines, those on dealership lots or in the wholesale supply chain, only included are end-user registered vehicles.
Average nickel, cobalt use rises
Tesla was number one in terms of battery capacity deployed, accounting for 1 out of every 4 MWh deployed in February (including hybrids) and also led in the deployment of lithium, nickel and cobalt.
Adamas says the global sales weighted average amounts of cobalt and nickel per vehicle (including hybrids) grew by double digits year on year as performance full-electric cars using high nickel content batteries such as the Tesla Model 3 and Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Audi e-tron Quattro record strong sales.
The brawny electric version of Ford’s iconic pony car enjoyed a particularly successful February, coming in third worldwide after the two Tesla models in terms of battery capacity deployed with a 4% market share.
High nickel content in NCM (nickel, cobalt, manganese) cathodes improves energy density and thereby range, while cobalt is essential for thermal stability.
Deployment of cathode materials cobalt and nickel increased by two-thirds and 84% respectively compared to the same month last year. Nickel use in battery technologies has climbed steadily and now constitutes some 43% value of the index, underpinned by a rising price compared to a year ago.
Cobalt’s share is also climbing, to over 30% thanks to a sharp rally in the priciest cathode material from a low of $30,000 a tonne in December 2019 to above $65,000 a tonne, according to Benchmark’s February price assessment.
The increased use of cobalt and nickel also came despite the growing popularity of LFP (lithium-iron-phosphate) battery-equipped cars, which for the first two months of the year made up more than 16% of total battery capacity deployed worldwide.
LFP batteries are generally more associated with low cost, low range, compact vehicles like the Hong Guang Mini EV, made by Wuling, General Motors and SAIC, which costs less than $5,000.
Despite overtaking the Model 3 this year to become the world’s most popular electric car in terms of unit sales, the Hong Guang Mini only commands 3% of the market in terms of battery capacity versus the the Model 3, which accounts for 15.3% of the overall market on a MWh basis.
The entry-level LFP version Model 3 sold in China and exported in limited quantities to Europe alone holds 6% of the market.
While Volkswagen has said LFP would be its go-to battery for its entry-level models, China’s BYD confirmed that it is going all-in on LFP batteries, scrapping NCM technology from its model line-up entirely.
BYD, which is backed by legendary US investor Warren Buffet through a 21% stake, is the second-largest electric vehicle brand by volume behind Tesla and also supplies other carmakers with its battery technology. BYD is also kicking off exports to Europe later this year.