• Business
    Bloomberg

    U.S. Launches Tool to Stake Claim to World’s Rare Earth Minerals

    (Bloomberg) -- In a high-tech twist on hammering pickets into the ground, the U.S. State Department has helped launch an online tool aimed at staking America’s claim to many of the world’s rare-earth minerals.The U.S. has become increasingly concerned about securing a stable supply of critical minerals used in car batteries, solar panels and wind turbines. Many of those resources are located in emerging markets that may be seen as too risky by American investors looking for “best-in-class” standards.That raises the potential for “two really bad outcomes,” Francis Fannon, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for energy resources, said in an interview. “Either the world will not get the minerals it needs in order to fuel energy transition technologies,” or “that investment would only come from those who are less concerned about governance issues, transparency, corruption, environmental standards and best practices.”The new initiative is designed to address these problems by giving countries with nascent resource industries an online “toolkit” to help them develop assets in a way that will allow them to meet the standards of U.S. investors.Fannon made the comments ahead of the annual convention of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada in Toronto, at which the online toolkit is being launched.By 2050, as much as 24% of the world’s electricity will be used to power electric cars, and solar and wind energy will provide almost half the world’s electricity, BloombergNEF predicts. Many of the minerals required for decarbonization are used in other high-demand products, including smartphones. As just one example, BNEF forecasts nickel demand from lithium-ion batteries alone will grow 15.6 times between 2018 and 2030.READ MORE: Critical Metals: Demand Uncertainty and Supply AnxietyChina, which already produces roughly 70% of the world’s rare earth minerals, supplied about 80% of America’s rare earth imports in the three years ended 2018, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. State-owned Chinese companies have also been active buying up critical mineral deposits outside the country.“Africa is a huge continent for a lot of these critical minerals and the Chinese have been making heavy advances in that area, offering support and offering investment,” Colin Hamilton, managing director of commodities research at BMO Capital Markets, said last week on the sidelines of a conference in Florida. Meanwhile, coronavirus has “crystallized” America’s determination to diversify its supply chain of key materials and products, he said.Last year, the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources launched an international partnership, the Energy Resources Governance Initiative, to encourage responsible mining of key minerals.The website is the latest part of that initiative. Founding member countries with track records for responsible development, including Canada, will share strategies and tips with other nations on project development, production and stewardship, Fannon said. The website includes specific information such as how to create data management systems to quantify a mineral resource, and complex “decision trees” to weigh the costs and benefits of different approaches.In 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order seeking to protect America from supply disruptions in critical minerals, saying such disruptions represent “a strategic vulnerability” to the country’s security and prosperity. ERGI has identified 17 rare earth elements and 14 minerals, including copper, lithium and uranium, that are seen as essential for renewable energy equipment and infrastructure.At the height of the trade war between the two countries, China suggested it could restrict the export of some rare earth minerals. Those concerns have eased with the signing of a phase-one trade deal, but Trump remains determined to ramp up domestic production and form partnerships with other countries to secure supply. American production rose 44% last year.READ MORE: U.S. Drones Scour for Rare Earths to Break China Addiction“We know that reliance on one country for anything, or any one source, exposes all customers to a risky supply chain, if there were a supply disruption of any type,” Fannon said. “The Earth’s crust is blessed with good rocks everywhere. It’s what’s above the ground that will help determine whether a U.S. firm -- a best-in-class company -- will invest in that country.”\--With assistance from Nick Wadhams.To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Bochove in Toronto at contact the editors responsible for this story: Luzi Ann Javier at , Derek Decloet, Steven FrankFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Business
    Oilprice.com

    Markets Unfazed By $100 Billion Saudi Shale Plan

    Saudi Arabia announced a $110 billion investment in a huge unconventional natural gas field, and despite the dire state of oversupply, market were not impressed

  • World
    The Daily Beast

    Italy Shows Just How Crazy Coronavirus Panic Can Get

    ROME–Ah, the smell of hand sanitizer in a public space. At least that’s the first thing you notice almost anywhere in Italy right now. The next, of course, is the masks and furrowed brows. While words like “epicenter” and “emergency” seem to tell the story of a massive plague gripping the country, the reality is that the real problem is not fear of catching the virus, but fear of getting caught up in the global reaction to it. Even while European Union health ministers braved the “threat” and came to Rome this week to announce solidarity and plead that there is no need to close the borders to stem the spread, several countries and lots of companies are doing it anyway. Late Friday, the Trump administration raised the safety threat level to the ominous “level 3,” which will almost certainly set off a global panic attack about this country.Yet, even so, half a dozen American study abroad programs had already yanked their students out of Florence even though the city is not part of the current lockdown and there are only a couple cases in all of Tuscany. Most of the rest followed suit after Trump’s heightened alert. British Airways cancelled direct flights to Milan citing a “decreased demand” and Israel and Mauritius banned all flights from Italy no matter where they take off from. An Italian journalist even got shut out of a hotel he had reserved in Greece just because he was coming from Rome. Greece! How could you?Italy’s hotel federation says that just one week into the crisis, the cancellation rate for reservations has shot to 70 percent in Milan and 40 percent in Rome. Those numbers will skyrocket now that the U.S. has told Americans to “reconsider” travel to Italy. That’s bad news for this tourism-dependent country since one of the biggest tourist seasons is Easter, a few weeks away. What the Worst Case of a Coronavirus Pandemic Might Look LikeBut does cancelling your trip to the bel paese make sense? The experts say no. Dr. Adrian Hyzler, chief medical officer of Healix International, says it is far too late to restrict travel to and from Italy and other places. The virus is now in nearly 60 countries, and he says trying to single out a few with higher numbers of infections is counterproductive. “You cannot stop air travel without huge repercussions,” he told The Daily Beast. “To restrict travel now would be to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted! And anyway, how on earth would you do it on the continent? It's practically impossible.”Hyzler notes that the World Health Organization put out a statement saying travel restrictions should be “consistent and proportionate to local risk assessment” which means cancelling travel to a city like Rome, where just three people were infected, including two Chinese tourists and a researcher who flew in from China who have since recovered completely, doesn’t make sense. Still, the number of cancellations will almost definitely strain, if not destroy, the smaller tourism entities. “The world's governments are trying desperately to calm the understandable panic as this would paralyze the world, with much greater knock-on effects for health care, poverty and the economy.”It is hard to deny that infected Italians are spreading the virus. The first cases in at least 14 countries, including Mexico, Brazil and Nigeria, have been infected Italians who traveled to those regions from northern Italy, possibly subjecting everyone on their flight along the way. But experts argue that it would have likely happened anyway, it’s just that the Italians got there first. Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch suggested to The Atlantic this week that trying to stop the unstoppable will only make it seem worse. “I think the likely outcome is that it will ultimately not be containable,” he said, adding that many who test positive won’t even know they have it. “It’s likely that many will have mild disease, or may be asymptomatic.”It could also be a case of what you don’t know really won’t hurt you. In Italy, authorities concede that perhaps they’ve gone a little crazy with the number of tests they have carried out, which has topped 18,000 so far with more than 821 positive results, compared to under 500 carried out in all of the U.S. The civil protection agency in Italy gives daily statistics, like they do when there is a major earthquake or other natural disaster. But the number of infected now also includes the number of positive cases where the person has no symptoms at all in an attempt, it would seem, to keep the population yet unaffected from freaking out completely. The figure is near half of all positive cases who wouldn’t even know they were carrying the virus had someone not stuck a swab down their throat or up their nose. The 29 deaths so far in the country all occurred in patients who had serious health conditions. They most likely died “with” coronavirus, not because of it.  Still, the world is panicking and now those Italians who wouldn’t go into Chinese restaurants when the virus first broke the confines of China are feeling xenophobia against them. When four Italian guests tested positive in a resort in Tenerife in the Canary Islands off Spain, travel companies started calling other Italians to say they needed medical certificates if they lived in the north of the country. Would you feel uncomfortable if an Italian group checked in to the hotel room next to you? “In just over 48 hours we have gone from a safe country, without a single valid or logical reason, to be a European cluster,” Italy’s tourism federation said in a statement Friday. “Part of that is due to hysterical communication that does not take into account the real security conditions of the country. The consequences are an avalanche of cancellations, missed reservations, and closing of the Italian travel market that have no justification.”It must be noted that while Italy will have a hard time denying that it is not part of the problem at the moment, closing the country off is almost certainly not the solution. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • Business
    TechCrunch

    Apple agrees to settlement of up to $500 million from lawsuit alleging it throttled older phones

    The preliminary proposed class action lawsuit was disclosed Friday night and would see Apple pay consumers $25 per phone, as reported by Reuters. Any settlement needs to be approved by U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, who oversaw the case brought in San Jose, Calif. The cost may be varied depending on how many people sue, and the company is set to pay at least $310 million under the terms of the settlement.

  • Politics
    Associated Press

    The Latest: 6 deaths from virus in Washington state

    Washington state health authorities now say six people have died from coronavirus. At a news conference Monday Dr. Jeff Duchin from Public Health – Seattle & King County – said five of the deaths were people from King County and one was a person from Snohomish County, north of Seattle. Researchers said earlier that the virus may have been circulating for weeks undetected in Washington state.

  • Lifestyle
    Glamour

    Your Horoscope for the Week of March 2, 2020

    It's a great week to do something nice for yourself, whether that means getting a massage, buying a new pair of shoes, or spending a few hours doing absolutely nothing.