Battery metals: market outlook for 2020

The surge in electric vehicles and growing demand for rechargeable batteries have prompted movements in the markets of battery metals such as cobalt, lithium, copper and nickel. In 2019, we have seen volatility in the industry metals space as the equilibrium between supply and demand is still adjusting.

The prospect of growth in electric vehicle production and the increase in battery-powered technologies are shaping the 2020 forecasts for the battery metals market. These metals are considered by some analysts as ‘the new oil’ and promise to become even more significant as sustainability goals take on increasing importance internationally.

Last year, global sales of electric vehicles were up 64% from 2017. In this space, the European market is expected to witness strong demand growth, says Fitch. Growing demand for cobalt, nickel and lithium will the strongest across Europe, in comparison to the US, pushed by favourable policy making in the EU.

German car manufacturer Volkswagen is committed to spend €60 billion on projects for electromobility and digitisation and R&D.

“We will step up the pace again in the coming years with our investments. Hybridisation, electrification and digitalisation of our fleet are becoming an increasingly important area of focus. We intend to take advantage of economies of scale and achieve maximum synergies,” VW boss Herbert Diess said

Lithium: Beyond electric cars

Lithium is one of the most fundamental components of the batteries that power electric cars. In 2019, the lithium market has not been particularly positive due to rapidly increasing supply, so analysts remain cautious about projections into 2020. Even though major lithium companies have reported increase in number of sales like Albermarle, some believe the market could become oversupplied.

Meanwhile, other metal analysts see an opportunity on the horizon with the advent of 5G in China, says SMM News Metal. 5G stations require a lot more power supply to run compared to their 4G cousins reflected in the size and weight of the batteries needed to power this new generation of station.

Main cities in China like Shanghai and Shenzhen are expected to reach full 5G coverage by 2020; while others like Beijing, Guangzhou and Wuhan are said to have targeted 5G coverage at urban areas by 2021.

Another point that could keep lithium prices up is the fact that there is no alternative to the metal and there will be no practical alternative to replace it for the next 5 years, says Resource Capital.

Cobalt: Production slowing down to keep prices up

Research firm Antaike has reported that global cobalt output should decelerate in 2020, according to Reuters. The firm also predicts an increase in cobalt prices in 2020 at around $18 per pound, up from an average of $16 to $16.50 per pound in 2019.

Cobalt prices reached their peak in 2018; giant Glencore expects the market to balance in about two years. In August, the company announced the closing of its mine Mutanda, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for two years to control output.

Global consumption is estimated to grow around 6.6 percent in 2019.

Palladium: Industry applications and safe-haven asset

Palladium has so far been the best performing precious metal in 2019, surging more than 40 percent since January — more than double the gains of gold, silver or platinum. Last month, the price of palladium hit its all-time high of $1804 an ounce.

Palladium is a rare and versatile asset: it has many industrial applications and is also considered a safe haven asset for investors.

75 percent of palladium use is directed to hybrid vehicles and in the catalytic converters used in autos to reduce emissions. At the moment, palladium supply is not able to respond to growing demand, especially from the Chinese market, which is the biggest global auto market. A further push in demand can also come from the industrial use of palladium to substitute rhodium, a much more expensive metal.

“Looking into 2020, from a fundamental point of view, palladium has the most constructive outlook. Palladium has been in deficit for the past seven years and we are forecasting a deficit in 2020 and 2021. The market is structurally undersupplied,” Standard Chartered Precious Metals Research executive director Suki Cooper said to Kitco News.

Company to watch

St Georges Eco-Mining (CSE:SX) is a Canadian-listed company focused on base metals and eco-mining with assets in Canada and Iceland. St Georges’ strategy is to leverage on its new lithium technologies to make mining more sustainable, involving less waste and fewer chemicals. St Georges is at the forefront of smart mining and technology development, deploying innovative tools to make mining operations more effective while reducing the environmental impact.

The company has completed a transaction for its Canada-based gold project Kings of The North with the London-listed entity BWA Group and is itself looking to enter the London space soon.

Watch the company presentation

Battery metals: market outlook for 2020

The surge in electric vehicles and growing demand for rechargeable batteries have prompted movements in the markets of battery metals such as cobalt, lithium, copper and nickel. In 2019, we have seen volatility in the industry metals space as the equilibrium between supply and demand is still adjusting.

The prospect of growth in electric vehicle production and the increase in battery-powered technologies are shaping the 2020 forecasts for the battery metals market. These metals are considered by some analysts as ‘the new oil’ and promise to become even more significant as sustainability goals take on increasing importance internationally.

Last year, global sales of electric vehicles were up 64% from 2017. In this space, the European market is expected to witness strong demand growth, says Fitch. Growing demand for cobalt, nickel and lithium will the strongest across Europe, in comparison to the US, pushed by favourable policy making in the EU.

German car manufacturer Volkswagen is committed to spend €60 billion on projects for electromobility and digitisation and R&D.

“We will step up the pace again in the coming years with our investments. Hybridisation, electrification and digitalisation of our fleet are becoming an increasingly important area of focus. We intend to take advantage of economies of scale and achieve maximum synergies,” VW boss Herbert Diess said

Lithium: Beyond electric cars

Lithium is one of the most fundamental components of the batteries that power electric cars. In 2019, the lithium market has not been particularly positive due to rapidly increasing supply, so analysts remain cautious about projections into 2020. Even though major lithium companies have reported increase in number of sales like Albermarle, some believe the market could become oversupplied.

Meanwhile, other metal analysts see an opportunity on the horizon with the advent of 5G in China, says SMM News Metal. 5G stations require a lot more power supply to run compared to their 4G cousins reflected in the size and weight of the batteries needed to power this new generation of station.

Main cities in China like Shanghai and Shenzhen are expected to reach full 5G coverage by 2020; while others like Beijing, Guangzhou and Wuhan are said to have targeted 5G coverage at urban areas by 2021.

Another point that could keep lithium prices up is the fact that there is no alternative to the metal and there will be no practical alternative to replace it for the next 5 years, says Resource Capital.

Cobalt: Production slowing down to keep prices up

Research firm Antaike has reported that global cobalt output should decelerate in 2020, according to Reuters. The firm also predicts an increase in cobalt prices in 2020 at around $18 per pound, up from an average of $16 to $16.50 per pound in 2019.

Cobalt prices reached their peak in 2018; giant Glencore expects the market to balance in about two years. In August, the company announced the closing of its mine Mutanda, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for two years to control output.

Global consumption is estimated to grow around 6.6 percent in 2019.

Palladium: Industry applications and safe-haven asset

Palladium has so far been the best performing precious metal in 2019, surging more than 40 percent since January — more than double the gains of gold, silver or platinum. Last month, the price of palladium hit its all-time high of $1804 an ounce.

Palladium is a rare and versatile asset: it has many industrial applications and is also considered a safe haven asset for investors.

75 percent of palladium use is directed to hybrid vehicles and in the catalytic converters used in autos to reduce emissions. At the moment, palladium supply is not able to respond to growing demand, especially from the Chinese market, which is the biggest global auto market. A further push in demand can also come from the industrial use of palladium to substitute rhodium, a much more expensive metal.

“Looking into 2020, from a fundamental point of view, palladium has the most constructive outlook. Palladium has been in deficit for the past seven years and we are forecasting a deficit in 2020 and 2021. The market is structurally undersupplied,” Standard Chartered Precious Metals Research executive director Suki Cooper said to Kitco News.

Company to watch

St Georges Eco-Mining (CSE:SX) is a Canadian-listed company focused on base metals and eco-mining with assets in Canada and Iceland. St Georges’ strategy is to leverage on its new lithium technologies to make mining more sustainable, involving less waste and fewer chemicals. St Georges is at the forefront of smart mining and technology development, deploying innovative tools to make mining operations more effective while reducing the environmental impact.

The company has completed a transaction for its Canada-based gold project Kings of The North with the London-listed entity BWA Group and is itself looking to enter the London space soon.

Watch the company presentation

Quantum Computing: dawn of a new tech era?

Much has been said about quantum computing since Google revealed that it has achieved ‘quantum supremacy’. Last month, the search giant reported its quantum computer, called Sycamore, was able to solve a mathematical calculation in 200 seconds — a similar task would take a supercomputer 10,000 years.

Although the concept of quantum physics originated in the early 20th century, we have not yet seen any practical applications of this technology as scientists are still studying its structure and examining its potential. Quantum computers, if they become a reality, could operate well beyond the limits we know today and offer exponential gains in computing power.

Quantum computers use quantum bits, or “qubits”, instead of “bits”, which are the currency of classical computers. While a classical bit has a value of either 0 or 1, a qubit can be both and everything in between: based on the quantum principle known as superposition. Unlike classical computers, quantum computers can many calculations simultaneously, meaning that a quantum computer‘s capabilities increase exponentially.

“Quantum computing represents an emerging technology where the performance could be exponentially better than what is capable today from a classical computer. The hope is that with this technology, in about 10 to 12 years, we have a quantum computer capable of doing something that no computer on earth can do in any amount of time,” said Jim Clarke, Director of Quantum Hardware at Intel, in an NBC interview in 2018.

The race to conquer quantum technology is already taking place: iIBM and Google are leading way the in the US, while D-Wave in Canada is another main player. Meanwhile, China is heavily investing in quantum research and development to achieve its goal of being a global leader in innovation by 2035, Japanese companies like Toshiba and Hitachi are getting involved in the quantum space, and the European Commission has made quantum technologies a priority in the digital single market.

Quantum technology is indeed powerful and promising: once fully developed and harnessed, it could allow for new systems to take over virtually any industry. However, it is still early days, so it might still be some time before we see any day-to-day applications of quantum computing. There are limitations to be overcome, like the fact that qubits are fragile and require a highly controlled physical environment with temperatures close to absolute zero. Some of the most immediate applications of quantum power would be for machine learning development, communication and cryptography.

The calculation carried out by Google’s Sycamore used 53 superconducting qubits and is not useful in daily life. At the moment, quantum machines can perform very simple algorithms. Experts say that a realistic time frame for quantum computing to have a measurable impact is about 10 to 15 years from now, but growing investment and government incentives could accelerate this process.

“Sometimes people think: okay, it went fast with mobile phones, it went fast with this and that, so maybe in a few years I will have my own quantum computer in a mobile phone. I think this is simply not realistic.” Kristel Michielsen, a Quantum Information Processing professor and researcher at Jülich Forschungszentrum, in Germany, told DW in an interview.

A threat to blockchain technology and crypto?

The announcement of Google’s quantum breakthrough set tongues wagging in the blockchain and crypto community. Could the reality of quantum computing end up wiping out the developments and benefits of blockchain technology?

Blockchain is made of encrypted nodes interconnected on a chain, which currently makes it almost impossible to hack, whereas Quantum computers in fact represent a risk to all encryption systems. The way to break into an encrypted system is to calculate a private key using the public key — a very difficult feat for conventional computers, but achievable by quantum machines.

According to the MIT Technology Review, quantum computing would be able to hack the cryptography hash that universally secures the blockchain and the internet in general. This could enable quantum computers to perform fraudulent transactions and break down internet security as we now know it. The massive calculating power of quantum computers will be able to break Bitcoin security within 10 years, said security experts to MIT Technology Review.

Compared to other emerging technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, funding for quantum computing is relatively low. This is because the impact of AI and blockchain is much more immediate and we can see the applications right now. But this reality coulds change as the impact of quantum power become more evident.

Is blockchain able to resist against quantum computers?

PR Crypto Guru Stefania Barbaglio will be speaking with blockchain experts Jared Tate and Jean-Phillippe Baudet, and Quantum Physicist Andre Xuereb along with Frank Dumas about what the emergence of quantum computing means for blockchain and the tech scene. Full episode releasing soon. Stay tuned!

Subscribe to our channel to get notifications about more such interesting and informative episodes and follow us on social media @cassiopeia_ltd.

ZeU Crypto Networks Launches Blockchain-based MulaMail

Considering the modern internet’s many vulnerabilities, it’s safe to say that traditional email systems don’t score highly on security. Traditional email is fast becoming obsolete, with its authentication carried out via username and password only, while the information itself is stored in plain text on the server. Nevertheless, email remains one of the most widely-used communication platforms. In 2018 alone, the number of global email users amounted to 3.8 billion — a figure set to grow to 4.4 billion in 2023, further highlighting the need for an improved system.

In a traditional email system, the transfer of messages from sender to recipient passes through multiple computers between the two points. In addition to the user, many other parties, including mailbox holders, email service providers, and even the network provider may have access to the mail. They could, in theory, modify the content of emails without notifying the user.

In the current email transmission process, the content data is encapsulated in clear text and exposed to universal ports, leaving the data open to easy interception. Network monitoring equipment or software could seize email data information.

In addition to issues around access security, email systems’ data is stored centrally, so vulnerabilities in a storage service may compromise private content. Failure of email services, either through software or hardware failures, may also lead to loss of meaningful communication. After accessing the computer through these vulnerabilities, an intruder can readily obtain the email address and corresponding username, password, and email content. If there is an email address book, the contact information of those users is also exposed.

Creating a secure email system requires more than just data encryption. Such a system would encompass security between the sender and receiver, and the encryption of data between email servers. It would also contain mechanisms to prevent email domain spoofing, verify that messages have been sent from valid domains, and encrypt transactions between email servers that forward email for delivery.

The solution to reducing and removing these vulnerabilities lies in the combination of blockchain technology and email technology so that the blockchain authenticates both the sender and the recipient of the blockchain email.

ZeU Crypto Networks has launched MulaMail, a fully protected, end-to-end encrypted email and messaging system built on blockchain technology.

Benefits of MulaMail

· Built on blockchain: Mula provides privacy and security.

· Reclaimed privacy: Messages remain fully private and cannot be scanned or read by anyone one than the user, not even the company, big tech or government organisations.

· End-to-end encryption: MulaMail is encrypted, so users control their encryption keys, making data secure both for user and recipient.

· Immutable: Mula is blockchain-based, it records emails forever so they can never be lost.

· Spam-free: Mula uses a whitelisting approach whereby the sender needs permission to communicate with the user, so users never receive any unwanted emails.

· Rewards: Mula will offer exclusive rewards for early adopters and influencers.

Advantages of blockchain-built email

These systems offer unparalleled levels of security while ensuring that your messages will never be lost, deleted or altered. Because the blockchain email system’s database cannot be corrupted, there would be no loss of information or messages. Messages sent and received via blockchain-built systems cannot be modified.

Furthermore, there is no central email server, which means increased security and less vulnerability to hacking and theft. The blockchain network is verified and authenticated by each member, which means that malicious actors would not be able to impersonate other users. It would be more difficult to send spam messages since these messages would need to be verified.

The need for privacy

Users’ internet records are retained, which means users are under constant surveillance. The internet service provider companies, telecom operators, and communication service providers may store your data for an extended period of time and make it accessible to authorities. Any internet activity connected with a specific IP address leaves an electronic footprint that everybody, from the ISP to Google, can use to monitor a user. Most online services keep records of your details under the guise of improving user experience, which, in effect, puts users under surveillance. The promise of blockchain-based email is unprecedented privacy.

Challenges of blockchain-built email

Some limitations still need to be overcome for blockchain-built email to become widely adopted. One of the main challenges is the compatibility between blockchain and standard email systems. To ensure a message and its content does not leave the blockchain and is therefore kept safe and private, blockchain email services have to develop unique solutions.

Furthermore, blockchains are generally not built to transfer or store large attachments, a feature that could limit the use potential of blockchain email systems. Bitcoin, for example, uses a blockchain that was 210GB as of April 2019. While that may seem like a large database, it cannot accommodate typical mailbox sizes. The average email is 75KB and considering there are 102.6 trillion emails sent every year, it means that a blockchain email platform with even a small number of users would quickly run into storage problems.

Overall, successful blockchain email systems will require more than just technical accomplishment. They will need to prove that they are more practical than traditional email and social media, meaning that they must provide high user-value to get traction in the market.

PR and Crypto Guru Stefania Barbaglio will be speaking with Jean-Philippe Beaudet, CTO, Zeu Crypto Networks about the benefits of Mula Mail and why blockchain based email and messaging system is a priority in today’s world to secure our personal data. Full episode releasing soon !!
Subscribe to our channel to get notified automatically about more such interesting and informative episodes.

Gold bull market: Investment tips and insights

In the latest episode of FinancialFox, PR and investment guru Stefania Barbaglio welcomes two industry experts to share their insights and discuss the gold market: Amanda Van Dyke, a well-known gold fund manager, Managing Director at South River Asset Management

and former Chairman of Women in Mining UK, and Eamon O’Brien, Chairman of London-listed gold and base metals explorer IMC Exploration plc.

Gold prices have been on the rise for more than a year, a trend which specialist expect to continue as demand grows amid market uncertainty and geopolitical tensions. Exposure to safe haven assets such as gold and precious metals is an important factor to safeguard investment in times of slower economic growth and reduced returns.

Amanda states that we are witnessing the longest bull run in gold in recent years. People look for gold as a safe investment when the market feels unstable, she says: “Geopolitics has a big effect of uncertainty in the markets, and gold reacts to the markets. Gold is a store of wealth, so people put their cash into something that will be resistant to ups and downs.”

There are a number of ways for investors to buy gold, such as coins, bullion and/or equities.

Eamon talks about development and projects at IMC, whose focus is the exploration of gold in Ireland. IMC’s Avoca project in Wicklow presents a gold estimate alone coming in at almost 20,000 ozs. The company holds 6 prospecting licences, all located on the east coast of Ireland, with three of these aimed at targeting an area in Ireland which is considered to have high grade gold.

IMC Chairman also comments on the collaboration between the Irish Company and Trinity College Dublin, whose Raw Materials Research Group has chosen the Avoca projects for studies and analysis.

Furthermore, the experts discussed the role of sustainability and corporate responsibility in the mining industry, and the high standards mining companies must comply with to be listed on the main financial markets.

Amanda’s advice for investors: “You must have a diversified portfolio of gold that includes a combination of large and small cap companies to ensure maximum returns.”

Cassiopeia Services does not offer investment advice. It is very important to obtain professional advice when seeking investment opportunities. Each individual circumstance requires a specific plan that suits the investor’s needs and profile.

Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on social media to keep up to date on market news, companies to watch and networking opportunities.

Gold bull market: Investment tips and insights

In the latest episode of FinancialFox, PR and investment guru Stefania Barbaglio welcomes two industry experts to share their insights and discuss the gold market: Amanda Van Dyke, a well-known gold fund manager, Managing Director at South River Asset Management

and former Chairman of Women in Mining UK, and Eamon O’Brien, Chairman of London-listed gold and base metals explorer IMC Exploration plc.

Gold prices have been on the rise for more than a year, a trend which specialist expect to continue as demand grows amid market uncertainty and geopolitical tensions. Exposure to safe haven assets such as gold and precious metals is an important factor to safeguard investment in times of slower economic growth and reduced returns.

Amanda states that we are witnessing the longest bull run in gold in recent years. People look for gold as a safe investment when the market feels unstable, she says: “Geopolitics has a big effect of uncertainty in the markets, and gold reacts to the markets. Gold is a store of wealth, so people put their cash into something that will be resistant to ups and downs.”

There are a number of ways for investors to buy gold, such as coins, bullion and/or equities.

Eamon talks about development and projects at IMC, whose focus is the exploration of gold in Ireland. IMC’s Avoca project in Wicklow presents a gold estimate alone coming in at almost 20,000 ozs. The company holds 6 prospecting licences, all located on the east coast of Ireland, with three of these aimed at targeting an area in Ireland which is considered to have high grade gold.

IMC Chairman also comments on the collaboration between the Irish Company and Trinity College Dublin, whose Raw Materials Research Group has chosen the Avoca projects for studies and analysis.

Furthermore, the experts discussed the role of sustainability and corporate responsibility in the mining industry, and the high standards mining companies must comply with to be listed on the main financial markets.

Amanda’s advice for investors: “You must have a diversified portfolio of gold that includes a combination of large and small cap companies to ensure maximum returns.”

Cassiopeia Services does not offer investment advice. It is very important to obtain professional advice when seeking investment opportunities. Each individual circumstance requires a specific plan that suits the investor’s needs and profile.

Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on social media to keep up to date on market news, companies to watch and networking opportunities.

Social media companies take opposing stances on political advertising

Ahead of the US presidential elections in 2020 and following growing concerns over disinformation campaigns and freedom of expression on the internet, social media companies have started to demonstrate their commitments and efforts towards maintaining democracy and a fair election.

Last week, Twitter made the decision to ban all political ads globally, as announced by CEO Jack Dorsey. The CEO claimed that “paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimised and targeted political messages on people,” as he explained the company’s stance on political advertising.

According to Twitter’s CFO Ned Segal, the ban will have little effect on the company’s revenue, as he said Twitter made less than $3 million from political ads in last year’s cycle, which equals roughly 0.1% of its $3 billion in total 2018 revenue. “This decision was based on principle, not money,” he said.

The new policy will not only affect politicians and candidates, but also advocacy groups, including different entities from various points on the political spectrum “that advocate for legislative issues of national importance” such as abortion and gun control. Nevertheless, some content will be allowed, such as advertisements that promote voter registration.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explains what motivated the change in policy

Some campaigners have said the Twitter ban could make it more difficult for campaigners to reach a younger and more diverse group of voters, who consume social media on a more frequent basis.

While the announcement was applauded by popular figures like Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said that “not allowing for paid disinformation is one of the most basic, ethical decisions a company can make”, it was criticised by others, including the current president Trump campaign.

However, it is important to note that the ban only applies for paid content — not organic posts by users. According to Shannon McGregor, a researcher on political communication, social media and public opinion, the ban policy will not make much difference to the Trump campaign: “The last person who needs Twitter ads is Trump. My research indicates that upwards of 80% of Trump tweets end up in news stories, earning him massive amounts of media exposure,” the researcher wrote in the Guardian.

Facebook takes an opposing stance

A few days before Twitter announced the ban policy, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg had made clear that his company has no fact-checking tools for political campaigns and no plans to implement any in the near future, claiming that Facebook is a platform for freedom of expression.

“I believe strongly and I believe that history supports that free expression has been important for driving progress and building more inclusive societies around the world,” Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg’s announcement follows the news that Facebook agreed to pay a £500,000 fine to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Officer due to its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, linked to the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Advertising is the highest source of revenue for Facebook. In 2017, nearly 90 percent of the company’s revenue came from digital advertisements, of which political advertising is a sub-segment.

Facebook estimates 2.7 billion people around the world are using its platforms: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger each month, with more than two billion using at least one of the platforms daily.

Social media advertising is growing overall, especially mobile advertising. Last year, social media advertising revenue grew 30.6%. Social media advertising includes all ad revenue generated by social networks or business networks such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Ad spending in the social media advertising segment amounts to US$89,905m in 2019.

The need for regulatory bodies to step in

The question of freedom of expression in social media is indeed a controversial one: in the case of advertising, this is paid content promoted to amplify the reach of its audience, not merely an organic post which has no financial implication for any user.

The announcement of the new policies on social media sparked discussion around the self-regulating mechanisms of social media companies, and questions the role of regulatory bodies in imposing stricter policies and regulating the vast digital advertising market.

“The problem is that companies shouldn’t be self-regulating. And the solution isn’t to ban political ads or allow candidates to put money behind lies. The answer is a combination of clear-cut rules and enforcement mechanisms that will end the Wild West era of digital advertising,” said Bawadden Sayed, a spokesman for the progressive campaign-finance-reform group End Citizens United to Business Insider.

“In an ideal situation, the FEC would be a functioning body that could issue some kind of regulations on what you can and can’t say,” added Amanda Litman, the director of the group Run for Something, referring to the Federal Election Commission, the independent regulatory agency whose purpose is to enforce campaign finance law in the United States.

Keep an eye on the Fake News & Responsible Journalism at the Malta AI & Blockchain Summit, hosted by the World Ethical Data Forum

More information here: https://maltablockchainsummit.com/events/ai-bc-summit-winter-edition/conferences/

Follow us on @cassiopeia_ltd on Twitter and Instagram for more updates.