Articles in Category: Logistics

Dr. Nicholas Garrett is a Director of RCS Global and an internationally recognized expert in the company’s six core work areas: supply chain due diligence and conflict minerals compliance, transparency, artisanal and small-scale mining, responsible supply chains, human rights and public policy and institutional reform. He has worked on more than 50 projects for over 10 years and regularly advises a range of clients, including AngloGold Ashanti, AVX, the EITI, Nokia, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Trafigura, the World Bank, and the World Gold Council, the British, German, Japanese and U.S. governments, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and World Vision. MetalMiner welcomes his perspective on conflict minerals compliance.

A lack of clarity on how and when key provisions of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will be fully implemented is leaving downstream businesses in limbo — many of whom are looking to enhance their minerals sourcing compliance.

Conflict Minerals Flowchart

RCS Global’s simple IPSA flowchart. Source: RCS Global.

When passed, the implications of Dodd-Frank 1502 looked game-changing, significantly increasing the obligations on downstream companies using “conflict minerals,” but following an upheld appeal, the requirement to undertake an audit under Dodd-Frank 1502 is in stasis, leaving many companies either unsure as to how to validate their compliance obligations linked to the bill, or whether they should even attempt to validate at all.

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Nevertheless, at some point in the not too distant future, more than 6,000 Securities and Exchange Commission issuers producing products containing tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold — better known as the 3TG — will be forced to make significant efforts to improve transparency, monitoring and oversight of their supply chains, and ultimately determine the source of the materials in a vast range of everyday products. Read more

The Obama administration slammed the brakes on the Dakota Access pipeline on Sunday, refusing to issue a required easement from the Army Corps of Engineers while saying it will conduct a more stringent environmental review to consider alternate routes and consult further with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has bitterly opposed the project.

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However, the 1,172-mile pipeline may not be dead in its current form. Nearly all of the pipeline has been completed except a few miles that are planned to flow underneath the Missouri River and the manmade Lake Oahe in North Dakota. The Army has said they will ask Energy Transfer Partners, the developer of the pipeline, to consider alternative routes and said that would be best accomplished through an environmental impact statement with full public input and analysis.

The Army Corps had actually approved the easement back in June but stepped in again after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by the Standing Rock Sioux whose reservation is near Lake Oahe. President-elect Donald Trump came out in support of completing the pipeline as planned last week and his administration could, potentially, undo these recent actions by the Obama administration.

India’s mining sector has the potential to contribute as much as $70 billion to the country’s economy by 2030 and generate about 6 to 7 million jobs, believes the country’s industry association, the Confederation of Indian Industry.

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A report titled, Mining Opportunities – Realizing Potential was recently released by the CII, though with an added a cautionary note: clearances “still remain an impediment for a smooth transition from auction stage to implementation stage.”

Mining Reforms Having an Effect

The current Modi government initiated reforms in the mining sector, which underperformed during the previous regime, many say, due to red tape. One of the most important steps was the clearance of the National Mineral Exploration Policy (NMEP) by the government in.

NMEP has the following main features for facilitating exploration in the country:

  1. The Ministry of Mines will carry out auctioning of identified exploration blocks for exploration by the private sector on a revenue-sharing basis. If exploration leads to auctionable resources, the revenue will be borne by the successful bidder of those auctionable blocks.
  2. Creation of baseline geoscientific data as a public good for open dissemination free of charge.
  3. A National Geoscientific Data Repository was supposed to be set up to collate all baseline and mineral exploration information generated by various central and state government agencies and also mineral concession holders and to maintain these on a geospatial database.

While these policy changes have been welcomed overall, there has been some criticism over the implementation. The CII report, for example, talks of the “inordinately long time that is required for obtaining this clearance and the cumbersome process involved therein.”

Why Can’t Companies Start Mining Faster?

The report was recently released at the International Mining and Machinery (IMME) and Global Summit 2016. It said that the Environment and Forest clearance processes take a long time and added that there was significant room for improvement in the clearance system in terms of efficiency, speed of decision making, predictability and transaction.

There’s also unexpected criticism from another quarter on the new mining policy. A report in the DNA newspaper, quoting global miner Anglo American PLC, said the Indian auction system discourages foreign direct investment as the auction process does not provide adequate risk-reward incentive.

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In the report, John Vann, group head of exploration at Anglo, said the auction system makes it difficult to see India competing with other countries where Anglo American invests. According to him, the granting of licenses rather than auctioning off mines would give confidence to foreign investors.

Dutch 3D printing technology firm MX3D is close to beginning construction on its stainless steel, 3D-printed pedestrian bridge in Amsterdam.

We wrote about the bridge and its design in 2015. MX3D Co-Founder and CMO Gijs van der Velden recently explained to me at the Autodesk University trade show in Las Vegas where the project is at and why they expect construction (via giant welder robots who will weld individual parts “printed” in mX3D’s facility together) to start in early 2017.

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“We’re at the point where we’ve printed every critical part of the bridge and all we need is approval from the engineers,” van der Velden said. “Our design is quite elaborate and all the diameters change everywhere and we use 3D printed parts. We’re getting pretty close and once they approve we have agreed with the City government that once we do a full load-bearing test it will be acceptable. It’s not the normal procedure but the city was very helpful in accommodating us.”

The bridge, which will be made of stainless steel 316 alloy, will be installed in a public park in Amsterdam and cross one of the city’s famous canals.


One of the stainless steel supports of MX3D’s 3D-printed pedestrian bridge that will soon be assembled and welded together in Amsterdam. Source: Jeff Yoders.

“(We chose 316 stainless) because it’s highest grade standard and not too expensive,” van der Velden said. “We want to make this technique available for other professions — other than aerospace (where it’s already being used) — so, we want to work in steel, stainless steel, bronze, aluminum.”

After winning a silver medal at the London Paralympics in 2012, German cyclist Denise Schindler wanted more at the Rio games last Summer. More comfort.

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Paralympian Denise Schindler and her silver and bronze medals from the Rio Summer Paralympics. Source: Jeff Yoders

Paralympian Denise Schindler and her silver and bronze medals from the Rio Summer Paralympics. Source: Jeff Yoders

Schindler, a native of Germany’s Bavarian region, had her right leg amputated below the knee after she was in a tram accident when she was three years old. She took up competitive cycling at 18 (she’s now 30) and has been racing at the top level for the last six years.

She won silver in the women’s road race at the London Olympics in 2012. At that Olympics, Schindler wore a carbon-fiber racing leg on her residual limb that cost $12,733.20 (€12,000) to produce and… it still didn’t work right. She got a large abrasion that caused her a great deal of pain during competition even though she was able to finish all of her races.

Lighter, But Stronger and More Malleable

The answer was a polycarbonate prosthetic with a lighter, web-like “smart lattice” structure that Schindler spent two years working with Paul Sohi — an Autodesk engineer, maker and start-up evangelist — on designing and 3D printing with Fusion 360. The resulting limb, the “Real Leg Racing Leg” only cost about $2,652 (€2,500) to produce and, thanks to rapid prototyping and 3D printing, was tested much more extensively with design iterations simply created via “printing” iterations of it. It fit much better than the carbon-fiber, traditional manufacturing process one. Schindler was the first person to compete in an Olympics with a 3D-printed or additive manufactured prosthesis. Read more

Have you brought your metals suppliers into the digital economy? Would you like to?

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Tracking shipments, confirming delivery schedules and knowing when rail, ship or road bottlenecks are affecting your materials supply chain can give you the time and cost certainty you need to run your business more efficiently.

Are your suppliers part of a proprietary supplier network? From an overall digitization perspective, asking suppliers to join a proprietary supplier network in today’s world, especially for the complicated metals supply chain, would be like giving them a model T to get from point A to point B on today’s complicated interstate highway system.

For manufacturers, the metals supply chain can involve international freight, financial risk management, logistics and technical expertise. Yet many suppliers still aren’t optimizing the technologies to track, hedge, ship and manage your metals purchases that are available today.

What does readying your suppliers for the digital economy really require? Join Jason Busch from Spend Matters and Marco De Vries, Senior Director, OpenText Business Network, as they discuss and debate the topic. They’ll explore a range of topics and their impact on procurement and supply chain transformation: The Internet of Things (IoT), peer-to-peer, the sharing economy, AI/machine learning, platform business models, social collaboration, blockchain and more.

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Tune in Thursday, November 17th at11:00 AM Eastern (10:00 AM Central and 4 PM U.K.). The even will be available On-Demand after the day of recording. Register Now!

Unplanned global oil supply disruptions averaged more than 3.6 million barrels per day in May, the highest monthly level recorded since the U.S. Energy Information Administration started tracking global disruptions in January 2011.

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From April to May, disruptions grew by 0.8 million bpd as increased outages, largely in Canada, Nigeria, Iraq, and Libya, more than offset reduced outages in Kuwait, Brazil, and Ghana. Six months later, the U.S. is joining the energy disruption party. On Saturday, an explosion and fire in Alabama sent futures surging and traders scrambling to supply the East Coast states with fuel.

EIA Energy Disruptions

Oil supply disruptions as measured by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Source: EIA.

Colonial Pipeline Co., which carries gasoline and other refined products from Houston to Linden, N.J., was forced Monday to shut its two main pipelines after a crew working near the site of a prior spill hit the line with construction equipment. Read more

The development of natural gas and hydrogren technologies is a focus of research at Voestalpine AG‘s new DRI hot-briquetted iron ore facility near Corpus Christi, Texas.

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“We are hoping to run blast furnaces with hydrogen instead of coal and coke,” said Dr. Wolfgang Eder, Voestalpine’s chairman and CEO. “Development of such technology will take a 20-30-year time frame, but I am convinced we’ll hit that target.”


This blurry “art shot” of Voestalpine’s 450-foot HBI production facility signifies that this will be a “think piece” about research, smog and environmental sustainability. Or Jeff took this from the bus. Jeff seriously took this from the bus. Source: Jeff Yoders

Natural Gas and Natural Hydrogen

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the potential of converting natural gas (the fuel material for Voestalpine’s iron ore reduction tower) to hydrogen to decarbonize dirty production processes. Voestalpine’s head and environmental heart certainly seem like they’re in the right place, but what might be advantageous, for the U.S. and South Texas, is the jobs that that research will bring. Read more

Rio Tinto has cut its guidance for iron ore shipments and U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly fell this month.

Rio Tinto Cuts Back Iron Ore Guidance

Global miner Rio Tinto on Thursday cut its 2016 guidance for iron ore shipments by as much as 5 million metric tons after releasing lower third-quarter production data, citing shipping interruptions.

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The downward revision — equivalent to as much as $290 million at current ore prices — comes as the steelmaking commodity stages a recovery on the back of a surprise lift in demand from China.

U.S. Consumer Confidence Falls

Consumer confidence unexpectedly fell to a one-year low in October as Americans soured on the outlook for the economy amid a contentious presidential election campaign.

The University of Michigan preliminary index of sentiment declined to 87.9 from 91.2 in September, according to a report Friday. That was weaker than the lowest estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Long-term inflation expectations declined to a record low.

The shipping industry would argue that it moves more cargo with a lower carbon footprint per ton than any of the alternatives.

Airlines, by comparison, move a fraction of the cargo (even including passengers) and yet emit comparable global CO2 emissions. Yet, while automakers and car buyers have been forced to accept the costs and burdens of substantial legislation, the manufacturing (particularly in Europe) has had to pay ever higher power costs to subsidize national reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from their power industries and heavy industry has been regulated on emissions of just about everything, the shipping industry has gotten off relatively scot-free.

Escaping Regulation

Frugal as the shipping industry is in terms of CO2 emissions per mile/ton, it is still a major polluter as anyone who has witnessed a ferry boat or ocean liner firing up its boilers will testify. Not only does the industry account for some 3% of greenhouse gas emissions on current trends, it is forecast to rise to 5% by 2050, when all other targets are set to halve from 1990 levels.

Source European Commission report on Shipping

Source European Commission report on Shipping.

The problem is compounded by the fact that a ship’s bunker fuel is probably the most hazardous and polluting of fuels burned for any major industrial application anywhere, with higher levels of sulfur and other health damaging constituents. Read more