Chinese shadow growing longer over India’s electric-vehicle dream


India’s dream of getting more and more middle-class families to use electric vehicles (EVs) seems to be hinging to Beijing, which controls the supply of some key battery components. And this might well become another flashpoint in the volatile relations between India and China.

With nations placing a strategic interest in controlling the supply chain, political interference in mining activities is increasingly making the availability of lithium, cobalt, nickel and copper scarce, EV major Tesla has warned. India might soon have to join a global struggle for Lithium, the most consequential of these minerals.

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25 ton self-driving trucks to be tested on British roads for the first time


The government is testing driverless trucks on the A14 highway

Self-driving trucks that could help to speed up roadworks are being tested on Britain’s highways for the first time.

A 25-tonne autonomous truck, capable of moving huge amounts of earth without human supervision will take to the roads on a stretch of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon as part of a trial by Highways England.

The trucks, capable of carrying a load of 40 tonnes, can be programmed remotely to follow a pre-determined route along road work sites and can detect and avoid obstacles, like other vehicles, along the route as they drive.

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Life-blood of Tesla batteries hits supply limits in Andean mine


For the past nine months, a U.S. company that is the world’s largest producer of lithium—a key ingredient in electric-car batteries—has been locked in battle with the Chilean government over pricing issues, production quotas, and environmental compliance. With no resolution in sight, the fight is sending tremors all the way up the electric vehicle supply chain that provides batteries to Tesla Inc., Nissan Motor Co., Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, and other car makers.

The drama is playing out in the northern reaches of Chile’s Andes Mountains amid the arid and austere Atacama Desert, a vast, high-altitude bowl surrounded by snow-capped volcanic peaks named after ancient gods of the indigenous people. The U.S. company, Albemarle Corp., has taken over a massive salt-flats mine, pumping scarce briny water through dried-out salt marshes and lagoons to extract the prized mineral. A dozen or so miles away, thick flocks of Andean flamingos feed peacefully in a lagoon teaming with tiny shrimp, as they have for countless millennia. But as mining activity surges, water tables are falling amid growing environmental concerns.

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A $20 trillion rock could turn Planetary Resources into the richest company on Earth


Amun 3554 is a little more than a mile wide and it’s one of the smallest M-class (metal-bearing) asteroids yet discovered. Unless it ever decides to smash into us — a theoretical possibility, but extremely unlikely over the next few centuries — it will continue orbiting the sun, unknown and unmolested.

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Top 10 predictions for Bitcoin in 2014

The use of Bitcoin will evolve beyond ‘store of value’ or ‘transactions’

There was a lot of speculation and excitement about Bitcoin in 2013. A good way to start 2014 is with a list of predictions for Bitcoin. These predictions are based on growth patterns of similar networks, the traction in various ecosystem activities last year, and conversations with various Bitcoin enthusiasts.



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Deep sea ‘gold rush’ moves closer to reality

Exploiting precious metals on the ocean floor is an idea that has been considered for decades.

A deep sea “gold rush” is a controversial new frontier for mining the ocean floor and it has moved a step closer to reality.  The United Nations has published its first plan for managing the extraction of so-called “nodules” – small mineral-rich rocks – from the seabed.



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Is the miraculous North Dakota boom over?

Fracking rig in North Dakota.

Today’s North Dakota, flush in its energy frenzy, has been characterized “the luckiest place on earth” by Chip Brown.  His New York Times Magazine article showed chief executives and miners both giddy about their topographical luck and only slightly nervous that this boom would end as the last ones have ended in a bust.


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