Titanium Sponge Plant to be Built in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia-based Royal Commission in Yanbu — an independent organization from the government — is currently building a factory to create titanium sponge. The current plant will undergo a technological upgrade, and will be outfitted with high-pressure oxidation equipment in order to generate titanium dioxide.

The plant is slated to finish and begin producing titanium sponge by 2017. It is anticipated that the output of the new plant and the retrofitted plant will be 15,600 metric tons of titanium sponge annually, and 120 thousand tons of titanium dioxide yearly.

Titanium sponge is a rock-life formation of titanium that is produced during the initial stage of titanium processing. It’s used across many industries, such as the aerospace, telephone, and jewelry industries.

Japanese company Toho is also getting a cut of the action: Toho will move forward with RCY and Saudi company Tasnee to create a project aimed at producing titanium sponge as well. Tasnee and Tasnee-owned company Cristal will each own 32.5 percent of the new Crystal Complex project, while Toho will own 35 perfect.

Saudi Arabia’s influence in oil wanes as natural gas has reached soaring heights in the US. It seems to counter their oil collapse, as Saudi Arabia is looking to widen its berth in the metals industry.

Just recently, Saudi Arabia commissioned the operation of world’s largest aluminum complex, from bauxite to finished products. Like aluminum, production of other light metals, like titanium and magnesium, are very energy intensive, a major cost factor. They have taken action in both aluminum and titanium. The next logical step for them will be delve in the production of magnesium.

Saudi Arabia already has a significant investment, presence, and operation in the chemical industry using oil-based feedstock.

China now is the major global producer of all the light metals: aluminum, titanium, and magnesium. The country uses very uneconomical energy inputs, using cheap and abundant energy resources. With this new venture, Saudi Arabia can challenge China in the production of world-hungry light metals.

(From Arab News)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 30, 2015

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“GOP oil titan: Keystone’s irrelevant” – Politico, 14 November 2014

Though the Keystone XL pipeline has been a hot-button issue with environmentalists, it seems that it has become an irrelevant discussion. The pipeline was introduced in 2005, and still no decision has been made about its construction. In October, the House approved a bill that would authorize the pipeline; however, a few days later, the bill failed to pass through the Senate. If it had passed, the bill would have gone directly to President Obama, though it’s likely he would have vetoed it.

But all that might change when the new Republican-majority Congress reconvenes in January. In fact, it has become the mission of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell (KY) to have the bill pass. It’s probable that the bill will pass both Congress legislatures, but the bill will need 67 votes in favor in order to quash a presidential veto.

Regardless of the pipeline’s importance, proponents firmly contend that the $8 billion pipeline will allow for a flood of new jobs and bolster North American energy independence; but opponents believe that it will increase fossil fuels and further incite the effects of climate change.

It seems like the oil industry has moved on from Keystone; oil companies are employing other pipelines to carry their oil. Furthermore, the US now has an abundance of oil, which has reduced prices. Bringing more oil in from Canada doesn’t seem like the best plan.

What some suggest — like Harold Hamm, the CEO of Oklahoma’s Continental Resources — is that the US should end its crude oil export ban, which would make the oil market fairer for US oil companies. Congress imposed the ban in the 1970s due to the worry that we were becoming too reliant on foreign oil. Now that US oil prices have dropped, Saudi Arabia is attempting to undercut our prices so that it can recover what it has lost in the market. Further, a lift on the ban could help Ukraine and European countries that are under the thumb of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Conversely, if the ban is lifted, we could see gas prices soar; lawmakers would become our scapegoat.

(From Politico)

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

November 29, 2014

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“UBC recycling rate stands at 66.7 percent” – Recycling Today, 30 September 2014

Together, the Aluminum Association, the Can Manufacturers Institute, and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries have reported that 2013′s used aluminum beverage can recycling rate hit 66.7 percent. This marks the third year in a row that the US recycling rate has surpassed 65 percent.

According to the Aluminum Association, the US’s Used Beverage Cans (UBC) recycling rate from the previous decade only averaged 54 percent. The Aluminum Association notes that the UBC recycling rate has grown in the last decade because US recyclers have been importing used cans from Canada, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia, amongst other countries. Due to the US’s closed-loop recycling process, the imported UBCs bolster the US’s recycling stream.

In 2012, the amount of imported cans declined; however, in the same year, US consumers recycled more cans, so the numbers balanced out.

Aluminum Association — Sustainability Facts
Can Manufacturers Institute — Beverage Can Facts

Can Manufacturers Institute — Recycling & Sustainability
Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries — White Papers, Reports, and Analysis

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

October 6, 2014

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“Turkey’s Crisis Dents American Steel” – Wall Street Journal, 5 February 2014

Turkey is the world’s biggest scrap steel importer and a key consumer in the $20 billion US steel scrap industry. But Turkey’s current economic crisis is taking its toll on the US scrap steel industry, the country’s weak demand and declining currency making imports very costly.

The US is the number one exporter of iron and steel scrap, selling $10 billion per year, more than two times the amount Japan sells, second to the US. Turkey has been the number one importer of US scrap since 2008; the country’s steelmaking companies mainly use electric-arc furnaces to melt down the scrap imports. Turkey, in turn, sells to Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, becoming the largest exporter to these countries.

In the first 11 months of 2013, Turkey’s imports dropped 18% to 4.9 million tons, a huge hit to the US scrap steel industry. Turkey is now importing more steel from Europe, and manufacturing steel products from semi-finished steel items purchased from Russia, instead of manufacturing steel from scrap.

East Coast scrap traders are more widely affected by Turkey’s decline, whereas West Coast traders chiefly export to Asia. While demand from Asian countries, such as China, is predicted to continue growing, there is a worry that the demand could dwindle as China has its first “scrap cycle,” a phrase applied to a young, industrialized country that begins producing its own scrap with recycled steel goods. China will remain an importer for now, but the question remains whether China, like the US, will also become a global exporter of steel scrap. The US steel scrap industry has a lot to lose.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

February 24, 2014

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