Wednesday, August 10, 2022

CNN: Billionaires are funding a massive treasure hunt in Greenland as ice vanishes

Wow! They've got helicopters and transmitters! I'm blown away. And billionaires are doing it so it must be big. CNN can sure pick the big stories

Looking past the hype, however, we note that it's just a startup doing the exploring and that what is concerned is just one small patch of Greenland

Amusingly, there is no claim that the melting ice (if it is melting) is due to global warming. That is wise. There is extensive vulcanism in Greenland and a warmer patch could well be due to that

Nuussuaq, Greenland (CNN)Some of the world's richest men are funding a massive treasure hunt, complete with helicopters and transmitters, on the west coast of Greenland.

The climate crisis is melting Greenland down at an unprecedented rate, which -- in a twist of irony -- is creating an opportunity for investors and mining companies who are searching for a trove of critical minerals capable of powering the green energy transition.

A band of billionaires, including Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, among others, is betting that below the surface of the hills and valleys on Greenland's Disko Island and Nuussuaq Peninsula there are enough critical minerals to power hundreds of millions of electric vehicles.

"We are looking for a deposit that will be the first- or second-largest most significant nickel and cobalt deposit in the world," Kurt House, CEO of Kobold Metals, told CNN.

The Arctic's disappearing ice -- on land and in the ocean -- highlights a unique dichotomy: Greenland is ground zero for the impacts of climate change, but it could also become ground zero for sourcing the metals needed to power the solution to the crisis.

The billionaire club is financially backing Kobold Metals, a mineral exploration company and California-based startup, the company's representatives told CNN.

Bezos, Bloomberg and Gates did not respond to CNN's requests for comment on this story. Kobold is partnered with Bluejay Mining to find the rare and precious metals in Greenland that are necessary to build electric vehicles and massive batteries to store renewable energy.

Thirty geologists, geophysicists, cooks, pilots and mechanics are camped at the site where Kobold and Blujay are searching for the buried treasure. CNN is the first media outlet with video of the activity happening there.


Electric Cars Too Costly for Many, Even With Aid in Climate Bill

Policymakers in Washington are promoting electric vehicles as a solution to climate change. But an uncomfortable truth remains: Battery-powered cars are much too expensive for a vast majority of Americans.

Congress has begun trying to address that problem. The climate and energy package passed on Sunday by the Senate, the Inflation Reduction Act, would give buyers of used electric cars a tax credit.

But automakers have complained that the credit would apply to only a narrow slice of vehicles, at least initially, largely because of domestic sourcing requirements. And experts say broader steps are needed to make electric cars more affordable and to get enough of them on the road to put a serious dent in greenhouse gas emissions.

High prices are caused by shortages of batteries, of raw materials like lithium and of components like semiconductors. Strong demand for electric vehicles from affluent buyers means that carmakers have little incentive to sell cheaper models. For low- and middle-income people who don’t have their own garages or driveways, another obstacle is the lack of enough public facilities to recharge.

The bottlenecks will take years to unclog. Carmakers and suppliers of batteries and chips must build and equip new factories. Commodity suppliers have to open new mines and build refineries. Charging companies are struggling to install stations fast enough. In the meantime, electric vehicles remain largely the province of the rich.

To some extent, the carmakers are following their usual game plan. They have always introduced new technology at a luxury price. With time, the features and gadgets make their way into cheaper cars.

But emission-free technology has an urgency that voice navigation or massaging seats did not. Transportation accounts for 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Battery-powered cars produce far less carbon dioxide than vehicles that run on gasoline or diesel. That’s true even accounting for the emissions from generating electricity and from manufacturing batteries, according to numerous studies.

Only a few years ago analysts were predicting that electric vehicles would soon be as cheap to buy as gasoline cars. Given the savings on fuel and maintenance, going electric would be a no-brainer.

Instead, soaring prices of commodities like lithium, an essential ingredient in batteries, helped raise the average sticker price of an electric vehicle 14 percent last year to $66,000, $20,000 more than the average for all new cars, according to Kelley Blue Book.

Demand for electric vehicles is so strong that models like the Ford Mach-E are effectively sold out, and there are long waits for others. Tesla’s website informs buyers that they can’t expect delivery of a Model Y, with a purchase price of $66,000, until sometime between January and April.


Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act includes another lavish EV subsidy for the rich and famous

Of all the ridiculous provisions in the Democrats’ absurdly named Inflation Reduction Act, perhaps the most amazing is the lavish subsidy it provides for the rich and famous. The bill expands upon already deep federal subsidies for Americans who purchase electric vehicles.

There are myriad reasons why this is a bad idea. But with Arizona Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema finally falling in line with the rest of her far left party, this looks to be a done deal. And a very bad one for the average American.

First of all, as many have pointed out, the electricity that runs these futuristic vehicles doesn’t just flow freely from the sky, as envisioned by Nicola Tesla whose name is now synonymous with electric vehicles. Rather these supposedly green status symbols on our roads are powered by the grid. And what powers the grid? In many cases the very fossil fuels meant to be phased out.

Adding to this is the fact that a mandate in the bill requires that the rare minerals needed for the batteries may not come from Russia or China. The only problem is that American auto manufacturers say that without those sources, they simply can’t meet demand. So the already months long waiting lists for many EV’s may only get worse.

It also isn’t clear that this measure will actually lower prices, in fact, manufacturers may simply use the subsidy to create nicer products at the same bottom line cost for their mostly well off consumers.

For the average American an EV is a luxury item, even with Uncle Sam kicking in $7,500 dollars if all requirements are met, it’s a reach these days. It's like giving everyone a thousand dollar gift card to the Rolex store, great, but where do we get the other 9 grand?

But perhaps the biggest flaw of the bill and the one that will stick in the craw of middle class Americans most pointedly is that average price of a new EV is over $54,000, with many much more expensive. Even used EVs, which get a smaller subsidy in the legislation, don’t come cheap.

Dems using gas crisis to push electric cars: ExpertVideo
For the average American this a luxury item, even with Uncle Sam kicking in $7,500 dollars if all requirements are met, it’s a reach these days. It's like giving everyone a thousand dollar gift card to the Rolex store, great, but where do we get the other 9 grand?

There are also regional disparities to consider, California for example has over 550,000 electric cars, which dwarves Texas which has a mere 130,000 and New York with a paltry 62,000. This makes the Golden State a much easier place to drive electric, in part because California Democrats intentionally increased gas prices to create an incentive which resulted in an enormous amount of charging stations, and a culture surrounding the vehicles.

They call this policy a win, but with Californians fleeing the state for less progressive and expensive confines, is this really a path the entire country should be going down? And more broadly, is this even the best way to encourage the growth of the electric vehicle industry?

In the last decade, owing to free market competition with gas guzzlers, EVs have become more competitive, the best way to encourage that is to allow that fair competition to continue, not for the federal government to put its thumb on the scale.

This is not the first time that Democrats under President Joe Biden have sought to give working class cash over to their economic betters. Their desire to forgive student loans for the college educated is another such inverse wealth transfer, and they wonder why they are bleeding blue collar voters like a sacrificial goat.

The bottom line is that top-down attempts to manipulate the American economy so as to achieve environmental or social goals are always a failure. Americans will broadly adopt EVs when they reach a point of equality or superiority in the marketplace.

The actions of people like California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to inflict pain at the pump to prime this change is hurting people. And now with this subsidy for the wealthy, the Democrats, once again, are aiming to make the problem worse.


Tata Steel warns of no choice but to turn to Russian coking coal if Australian supply dwindles

One of the world’s biggest steelmakers will tell the Queensland government a failure to develop new coking coal supplies will inevitably lead Indian producers to buy cheaper supplies from Russia despite sanctions on Moscow.

Tata Steel, which has vowed to stop trading with Russia, will use a meeting with the Palaszczuk government to say the state could double its coking coal exports to India over the next decade to meet surging demand for steel.

However, a failure to bring on new volumes of coal will inevitably result in other Indian steelmakers opting to buy cheaper Russian volumes, meaning Australia misses out on an extra $4bn in annual export revenues from one of its largest trading partners.

“The alternative to Australian coal is Russian coal. I know currently Russia is geopolitically not the best place to buy coal from, but going forward that is an option that Indian companies have,” Tata Steel chief executive TV Narendran told The Australian.

“Tomorrow I have meetings with the Queensland government to look at what we can do together with the mining industry in Australia and the steel industry in India to build a deeper relationship and to increase trade. It‘s about how does the government and industry work together to expand,” said Mr Narendran.

“Metallurgical coal is going to be operating for quite some time to come, particularly in India. I think … the conversation with the government is more about how can we plan better for growth.”

The meeting comes at a sensitive time for the Queensland government, after being slammed by producers for introducing a major windfall royalty tax, prompting warnings that investment in the coal sector could be slashed.

Approvals for new coal mines have also emerged as test for both state and federal governments as pressure grows to limit fossil fuel expansions in Australia.

India has controversially maintained economic relations with Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine in February and increased its imports of coal from Russia in July due to the cut-price supplies on offer during the war.

Tata Steel relied on Queensland for 60 per cent of its coking coal needs, representing a $4.3bn trade between the two countries, and said there was a huge opportunity for the state’s miners if they were able to boost supplies.

“Indian steel consumption or production is going to double in the next 10 years, which means there’s an opportunity for Australia to double its exports of coking coal shipments to India over the next 10 years,” Mr Narendran told The Australian.

“So there‘s a great opportunity for the metallurgical coal industry in Australia to invest and grow in free markets like India.”

The Tata boss, visiting Brisbane for the first time since before the Covid-19 pandemic, said India’s trade with Russia initially started after wild weather in 2019 cut Australia’s exports of the steelmaking material.

“Last time, it was more about how can we have more reliability in terms of supply and what can we tap into to help that context because at that specific point we have variables – that if the supplier is not reliable and India is so dependent on Australian coal – that India will be forced to look at alternate options,” he said.

“Honestly at that time, there was an active movement in India both from the government and industry to look at Russian coal. And in fact that‘s how the Russian coal trade started three of four years back, because supplies from Australia were a bit erratic. And the Russians are offering good quality PCI coal from Vladivostok in the eastern side of Russia. It was easier to get coals from them. So that was the genesis of the Russia idea.”

Russia produces about 75 million tonnes of metallurgical coal a year, according to recent Macquarie figures, and about 360 million tonnes of thermal coal. About 40 per cent of its coking coal is sent into export markets, along with just under half of its thermal coal production.

Its decision to invade Ukraine has again redrawn trade routes and further boosted soaring prices and competition for supplies, including among some of Australia’s oldest customers in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan




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