LOS ANGELES, January 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
FN Media Group Presents USA News Group News Commentary
Driven by the lithium battery revolution, researchers are looking at every alternative and may have a breakthrough using cobalt in fuel cells.
Cobalt focused companies moving to increase raw supplies of cobalt include Cruz Cobalt Corp. (OTC: BKTPF) (TSX-V: CUZ), Katanga Mining Limited (OTC: KATFF) (TSX: KAT), Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX), and China Molybdenum (OTC: CMCLF).
As the race to replace combustion vehicles on the roads with electric cars picks up pace, one of the remaining impediments is battery efficiency and cost. The existing EV technology is reliant on lithium-ion batteries, but manufacturers are constantly looking to develop more efficient and cheaper alternatives.
Researchers at the University of California have announced the invention of a new type of fuel cell that uses a cheap catalyst known as polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). A key element of the cell's efficiency is cobalt replacing more expensive catalysts currently used.
Select companies are working to provide socially responsible cobalt, including Canadian junior miner Cruz Cobalt Corp. (OTC: BKTPF) (TSX-V: CUZ). The company is invested in cobalt resources from new prospects located entirely in North America.
Other mining companies are also focusing on expanding supplies of cobalt to meet the increase in demand including Katanga Mining Limited (OTC: KATFF) (TSX: KAT), Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX), and China Molybdenum (OTC: CMCLF).
THE NEW FUEL CELLS
Researchers at the University of California have opened a whole new horizon with the invention of a new type of fuel cell that uses a cheap catalyst known as polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC).
Fuel cells turn the chemical energy of hydrogen into electrical power. Like batteries, fuel cells using positive and negative electrodes that interact with an electrolyte to produce electricity.
Hydrogen is injected onto the anode and through the action of a catalyst, hydrogen atoms are broken into protons and electrons. The electrons are directed through an external circuit as electricity before being rejoined with positively charged hydrogen ions and oxygen to form water.
Fuel cells are however exceedingly expensive because they rely on a platinum catalyst.
By replacing the platinum catalyst with a porous carbon nanofiber embedded in cobalt, which costs just 1% of the price of platinum, the researchers expect the price to come down significantly.
The UC researchers relied on a technique known as electrospinning; developing a thin carbon nanofiber containing metal ions. Through heating, the metal ions were transformed into ultrafine metal nanoparticles, which in turn stimulated the formation of high-performance graphitic carbon.
As the metal nanoparticles and residual non-graphitic carbon were oxidized metal oxide nanoparticles dispersed in a network of graphite.
The new system was shown to work at the same level of efficiency as the platinum-carbon standard, while taking up a fraction of the cost to manufacture.
FUEL CELLS WILL NEED THE LIKES OF CRUZ COBALT
In spite of the efforts by the industry to keep up with soaring demand, events like a new push toward fuel cells using cobalt will add even further to future demand.
Currently, the Democratic Republic of Congo produces about two-thirds of the world's cobalt supply, and the region is plagued with political complaints over human rights violations - even extending to child labor in mining.
Forward-looking companies, like junior miner Cruz Cobalt, however are moving ahead of the curve to ensure new sources.
Cruz Cobalt has strategically acquired 7 cobalt projects in Canada (BC and Ontario), one in Idaho, USA, and another in Montana, USA-all of which are very mining-friendly jurisdictions, with no mining issues regarding human rights or other stumbling blocks.
On its four Ontario cobalt prospects, Cruz recently engaged airborne surveys, which amassed additional data to uncover new cobalt targets. In total, the four prospects cover 8,725 acres, all of which are near the city of Cobalt, Ontario.
Cruz has commenced work programs on its Idaho Star Cobalt Prospect in Idaho, as well as its Chicken Hawk Cobalt Prospect in Montana-both 100%-owned by Cruz.
The company's War Eagle Cobalt Prospect in British Columbia, Canada spans 4,935 acres, and covers a past producing mine. Cruz has plans to start operations on the project shortly.
Cruz Cobalt is perfectly timed to become a developer of responsible cobalt and stands to profit handsomely from its early mover position.
Cobalt has nearly tripled in price during 2017.
Although fuel cells are still in their infancy, some car makers are already using them and more are expected to take up the call - especially if these new developments by researchers can be cheaply incorporated.
Clearly fuel cells are attractive since they have a much higher efficiency than combustion technologies and their only byproduct is water.
With this new technology adding to the numerous alternatives that rely on cobalt to some extent, cobalt will certainly be in high demand in the near future.
Junior and major mining companies alike will have to look to new, ethical areas of exploration if the demand is to be met.
Katanga Mining Limited (OTC: KATFF) (TSX: KAT)
Katanga Mining Limited, through its subsidiary, Kamoto Copper Company SA, engages in the copper and cobalt mining and related activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is involved in the exploration, mining, refurbishment, rehabilitation, development, and operation of the Kamoto/Mashamba East mining complex; the Kamoto Oliveira Virgule copper and cobalt mine; T17 open pit and T17 underground mines; various oxide open pit resources; the Kamoto concentrator; and the Luilu metallurgical plant. The company is based in Whitehorse, Canada. Katanga Mining Limited is a subsidiary of Glencore International AG.
Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE: FCX)
Freeport-McMoRan Inc. engages in the mining of mineral properties in the United States, Indonesia, Peru, and Chile. It primarily explores for copper concentrate, copper cathode, copper rod, gold, molybdenum, silver, and other metals, as well as oil and gas. The company's portfolio of assets include the Grasberg minerals district in Indonesia; Morenci, Bagdad, Safford, Sierrita, and Miami in Arizona; Tyrone and Chino in New Mexico; and Henderson and Climax in Colorado, North America, as well as Cerro Verde and El Abra mines in South America. The company was formerly known as Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. and changed its name to Freeport-McMoRan Inc. in July 2014. Freeport-McMoRan Inc. was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.
China Molybdenum (OTC: CMCLF)
China Molybdenum Co., Ltd., together with its subsidiaries, engages in the mining and processing, smelting, deep processing, and scientific research of molybdenum, tungsten, copper, cobalt, niobium, phosphorus, and other base and precious metals in the China, Japan, Brazil, Switzerland, Singapore, Finland, Korea, and internationally. The company provides molybdenum oxide, ferromolybdenum, molybdenum and tungsten concentrates, copper concentrate, electrolytic copper, cobalt hydroxide, ferroniobium, phosphate fertilizer, gold and silver, and sulfuric acid. The company was founded in 2006 and is based in Luoyang, the People's Republic of China.
For a more in-depth look into CUZ you can view the in-depth report at USA News Group: http://usanewsgroup.com/2017/12/18/bmw-throws-fuel-on-cobalt-price-fire-well-need-10x-as-much/
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