October 30th, 2023 | 08:10 CET
Innovative technologies and raw materials: BASF, Almonty Industries and Volkswagen in focus
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"[...] China's dominance is one of the reasons why we are so heavily involved in the tungsten market. Here, around 85% of production is in Chinese hands. [...]" Dr. Thomas Gutschlag, CEO, Deutsche Rohstoff AG
Born in Bielefeld, she studied German, English and psychology. The emergence of the Internet in the early '90s led her from university to training in graphic design and marketing communications. After years of agency work in corporate branding, she switched to publishing and learned her editorial craft at Hubert Burda Media.
BASF launches innovative flotation product in the mining industry
Mining and chemistry go together like pitch and sulfur. On the one hand, mining produces valuable raw materials that form the basic materials for the chemical industry. On the other hand, chemistry is integral to mining for the extraction of raw materials and precious minerals. The German chemical company BASF, through its subsidiary BASF Mining Solutions, has launched a new product called Luproset™ for the mining industry.
In recent years, BASF's flotation business has evolved from specialized applications to a broad range of flotation solutions. Flotation is the primary process for treating sulfide and non-metallic ores. It involves crushing the ore and grinding it, depending on the degree of bonding of the mineral components. The smoother this process runs, the faster mine operators can sell their valuable raw materials for further use.
The now-launched Luproset™ portfolio includes innovative technologies for better mineral recovery, higher concentrate grades and less reagent consumption with clear benefits for downstream processes. For BASF, the mining industry is an important building block in its supply chain. The Company uses tungsten in the production of its battery components and emissions catalysts. The stock market is starting the new trading week with BASF's share price at EUR 41.46.
Almonty Industries stock on the rise, up by 11.32% in the last month
One mining company that uses AI-assisted extraction and flotation technology is Almonty Industries. The Canadians have dedicated themselves solely to extracting one valuable commodity: Tungsten. Tungsten is a high-density metal, as hard as diamond and enormously heat-resistant (melting point at 3422°C). Thanks to its outstanding melting point, tungsten is particularly suitable for high-temperature applications in the fields of energy, lighting technology and aerospace. Due to its high density, it is also used in the automotive and telecommunications industries. The EU has classified the metal as a "critical raw material" due to its scarcity. BASF uses it, as described, for battery component production.
Almonty Industries owns five tungsten mining projects in Spain, Portugal and South Korea. All of which are democratically run states. Given the geopolitical situation in China, this is becoming increasingly important to investors. In recent days, China announced it would cap exports of graphite, giving China more control and allowing it to push its products. Graphite is an elementary component in the energy transition. This shows yet another form of control over valuable raw materials for the energy transition. Lewis Black, CEO of the Toronto, Canada-based company, says he is pursuing an ambitious goal, and by 2027, he wants to produce 43% of tungsten outside China with Almonty Industries. That represents 7-10% of global supply, according to the current Investorendeck.
In 2022, the global tungsten market volume was USD 4,411.6 million. By 2031, it is expected to grow to USD 9,320.3 million, representing a CAGR of 7.8% during the forecast period (2023-2031).
For AI in operational mining, CEO Black has enlisted the support of South Korea's telecommunications company KT. The KT-Almonty "Mining Safety DX" solution consists of smart devices such as smart wristbands and helmets with a smart tag worn by workers, a smartphone, access and location management, an AI-based mining safety system, and work environment monitoring. Mining remains a stable business. Therefore, Almonty's share price increase is not surprising, as the valuable metal is in hot demand. Investors should consider taking a look at this exciting stock.
Volkswagen under pressure: 2,200 jobs at Cariad on the line
Since Oliver Blume has been in charge of the Volkswagen Group, Volkswagen employees and employees of its subsidiaries have been experiencing the heavy hand of constant leadership. So Volkswagen is making headlines this week by putting 2,200 jobs at its in-house software company Cariad on the line. The Company was founded specifically to develop software technology in VW vehicles. A particular focus is on modern software specifically for electric vehicles. Ex-CEO Herbert Diess had big plans for Cariad, but Blume, who was still in charge of Porsche at the time, remained skeptical.
The big coup was supposed to be with the Cariad, as the software remains the core element of the prestigious Trinity EV, the German challenge to the electric vehicle Omni-rival Tesla. The original idea was to develop a flat-bottomed electric vehicle with an innovative electronics structure, a new operating system and autonomous Level 4 capability at affordable prices. It was supposed to be ready by 2026. But nothing will come of it. The end of 2028 is now indicated in the space. Given current market developments with strong competition such as BYD, Kia and Tesla, the Wolfsburg-based company is simply running out of time to get its miracle car on the road.
Oliver Blume recently hired a top IT expert from the electric car industry to develop the software. Sanjay Lal has developed a software platform for Rivian and worked for Tesla and Google. Rivian, incidentally, is the EV partner for Amazon in the US. Cariad's software unit, launched during the tenure of former VW Group CEO Herbert Diess, has already gone over budget and failed to meet model and software launch targets on several occasions.
The layoffs at Cariad speak volumes. Speed, mixed with healthy pragmatism, is needed to keep up in the race for market leadership. The Volkswagen Group Global Works Council, of course, sees things differently. But it is only a matter of time before the cuts take effect.
In May 2023, Oliver Blume, in his role as Chairman of the Supervisory Board of VW subsidiary Cariad, dismissed Cariad's entire Board of Directors, led by CEO Dirk Hilgenberg. Both Chief Technology Officer Lynn Longo and Chief Financial Officer Thomas Sedran had to leave the Company. Only the Head of Human Resources, Rainer Zugehör, remained in office as a board member. And he now seems to be left holding the bag.
The introduction of Luproset™ by BASF Mining Solutions represents a significant step in the mining industry. This innovative solution will have a decisive impact on the processing of ores and minerals in the coming years and accelerate production. Almonty Industries could also benefit from this. The mining company owns five tungsten mining projects worldwide in democratically governed countries. Tungsten is a valuable metal in aerospace applications. The ambition to supply most of the world's tungsten needs outside China by 2027 underscores CEO Lewis Black's assertiveness. Investors welcome his steady progress, sending the stock up 11.32% in the past four weeks. Volkswagen's Cariad subsidiary faces significant challenges in software development for electric vehicles. 2,200 IT jobs are on the line. However, the delays and budget overruns are a clear sign that CEO Blume needs to make changes to effectively position the brand in the EV space.**
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