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SnapshotsFeb 25, 2020 | 22:07 GMT
Saudi Arabia Arms Its Vision 2030 With an Investment Ministry
On Feb. 25, Saudi Arabia's King Salman issued eight royal orders designed to jump-start the country's Vision 2030 program after nearly four years of mixed results. The most notable of these orders included converting the General Investment Authority into a full Ministry of Investment and creating tourism and sports ministries. The former energy minister and Saudi Aramco CEO, Khalid al-Falih, will serve as the first investment minister. Al-Falih's appointment may indicate that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman realizes the greater pitfalls of chasing such big, high-profile announcements. It will thus be important to track whether Saudi Arabia starts winding down its pursuit of megaprojects at home and abroad, including the country's large investments into companies such as Uber and Tesla, which have been criticized as having more to do with prestige than profit.
SnapshotsAug 7, 2019 | 22:08 GMT
Congo: Why the Shutdown of One Cobalt Mine Matters
British-Swiss mining powerhouse Glencore has announced that it will shut down cobalt and copper production from its Mutanda mining operation in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by the end of the year. The company expects the shutdown to last at least two years, although, after that amount of time, the benefits of restarting operations could be insufficient to justify a restart. In 2018, besides about 200,000 metric tons of copper, the mine produced just over 27,000 metric tons of cobalt -- around 20 percent of total global production of the strategic metal.
SnapshotsOct 18, 2018 | 22:20 GMT
Rather than retaliating against U.S. companies in response to further U.S. tariff pressure, an influential Chinese economist is counseling prudence, a view that has adherents in China.
China: Beijing Considers a Prudent Economic Response to U.S. Pressure
Speaking at Tsinghua University on Oct. 17, Fan Gang, an economist, influential Chinese government adviser and former member of the People's Bank of China's Monetary Policy Committee, argued that China must not launch retaliatory attacks against U.S. business operations in China. He said this will only reinforce U.S. President Donald Trump's pressure campaign on the country, and that Beijing needs to maintain its connections with U.S. businesses, since those relationships now offers "the only voice" that can speak for China.
AssessmentsOct 1, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
An employee works on a Volkswagen e-Golf electric automobile on the assembly line inside a factory on May 8 in Dresden, Germany.
Electric Vehicles Reach a Crossroads
The global automobile sector stands at the intersection of three major geopolitical trends: shifting trade dynamics, the transportation revolution and the rise of China as a technological competitor to the United States. In the short term, automobiles represent a key focus of the Trump administration, which has proposed measures that would target foreign cars with tariff barriers. Steel and aluminum tariffs, combined with extensive tariffs levied against China (as well as Beijing's retaliation to the United States), have the potential to disrupt supply chains and increase component costs. As electric vehicles themselves alter automobile markets over the coming decade, partnerships will be crucial to reducing developmental costs and standardizing components. And though the U.S. auto market will remain one of the world's largest, it will be dwarfed by the market opportunities that will emerge as demand for electric vehicles climbs in China, especially if a protracted trade battle limits access
SnapshotsAug 23, 2018 | 20:10 GMT
Saudi Arabia: The Freezing of the Aramco IPO Serves as a Reality Check for the Crown Prince
Reuters reported Aug. 22 that the initial public offering of stock in the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. had stalled and that the panel of financial advisers that had been working on it had been disbanded as Riyadh looks at alternatives. But while it appears to be down, the IPO of the national oil company may not officially be out. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said that the government still aims to go through with the sale when market conditions are right. For now, however, it's evident that the Saudi Aramco IPO -- the centerpiece of funding for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's lofty Vision 2030 plan for reform -- is unlikely to move forward any time soon.
AssessmentsAug 3, 2018 | 09:30 GMT
An electric substation in Santiago, Chile.
Why Chile Is Chasing Tech Over Copper
Copper is big business in Chile, which exports more of the metal than any other country in the world. The commodity's importance to Chile is unlikely to change anytime soon, but if Santiago has its way, something else will soon help propel the nation forward: technology. Chile's dependence on the mining sector, especially copper, has convinced the government to push forward with plans to transform the country into a tech hub in South America. And although two issues -- education and electricity -- stand in the way of Chile's tech dreams, even they are unlikely to obstruct the country's plans for long.
AssessmentsJul 5, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
As it makes changes to its economy, China is intent on ensuring greater control over the entire supply chain for lithium-ion batteries for years to come.
How China Is Muscling In on Lithium-Ion Batteries
From the salt flats of the Atacama Desert in Chile to the savannas of the Congo, the makers and users of the world's batteries are scrambling to secure the vital raw materials needed to produce the lithium-ion cells that will power electric vehicles around the globe. But no battery-makers are more aggressive than those from China, which is working to lock down the entire supply chain for its companies. Meanwhile, the United States will rely on economies of scale to compete in storage-cell manufacturing, turning toward North American raw material producers to ensure supplies whenever possible. Even then, the country will face stiff competition from Chinese investors -- to say nothing of European automobile companies, who will be compelled to increase their reliance on China. Buoyed by support from the highest levels of government, Chinese companies are likely to find few challengers over the next decade and a half as
AssessmentsJun 15, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
A lithium ion battery is on display at a technology trade show in the united states.
Why Cashing in on Lithium in South America Won't Be Easy
South America is home to a veritable goldmine. The mountainous border region shared by Argentina, Bolivia and Chile -- dubbed the South American lithium triangle -- holds some of the world's largest reserves of lithium, making it poised to rise in importance as the demand for the globe's "new oil" increases in the years to come. However, a host of political and regulatory risks, as well as logistical impediments, will hamper the development of lithium in the area, meaning the only country to fully benefit from the riches that lie beneath could be Chile.
Contributor PerspectivesFeb 20, 2018 | 08:00 GMT
The Falcon Heavy, a fully reusable rocket from SpaceX, takes off from a launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 6, 2018.
Reusable Rockets and the Dawn of the Next Space Age
When Tesla founder Elon Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos began testing reusable rockets, few understood the significance of what they were trying to achieve. Now that Musk's company SpaceX is routinely re-launching used Falcon 9 boosters -- not to mention the Falcon Heavy, which launched Feb. 6 with three times the payload of the space shuttle -- the feat seems practically mundane. It's the new normal. But these launches are nothing short of extraordinary. The rise of reusable rockets is a revolution on par with the invention of the sail or the steam engine: It will change everything.
AssessmentsFeb 19, 2018 | 09:00 GMT
A map of South America shows the long-disputed borders between Chile and Peru.
Sparks Fly Between Chile and Peru
Relations between Peru and Chile have historically been some of the most troubled in South America, but the past few years have brought a new energy to the relationship. On Feb. 6, Chilean Minister of Energy Andres Rebolledo confirmed that the two countries will begin construction this year on a 30-mile electricity transmission line connecting them. The line could be completed by the end of 2019. The announcement is a sign that both countries have decided to leave their historic animosity behind and that deeper integration between them will likely continue in the coming year.
AssessmentsFeb 6, 2018 | 20:24 GMT
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk delivers a presentation while standing beside scale models of the rockets his company produces.
Falcon Heavy Rocket Flies Like an Eagle
SpaceX's process of disrupting of the space industry remains long and prosperous. The private company has successfully launched its Falcon Heavy rocket, sending its "payload" spacecraft, which in this case carries founder Elon Musk's personal midnight cherry-colored Tesla Roadster, on the path to its Earth-Mars orbit around the sun. SpaceX is far and away the leader of the space exploration private sector, having seized on a distinctive, multi-pronged strategy to increase the frequency of its launches while driving costs down. The company has taken advantage of industry competition to negotiate lower costs for its materials, while at the same time utilizing savvy techniques to retool and sometimes completely reuse various rocket designs and models.
Contributor PerspectivesDec 6, 2017 | 09:00 GMT
Saudi Defense Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center, stands for a photo-op with his counterparts from other countries in Saudi Arabia's Islamic Military Counterterrorism Coalition at a meeting in Riyadh.
The Rapid Rise of Mohammed bin Salman
The young Saudi crown prince's tough approach and brusque demeanor rub some in and outside the kingdom the wrong way. But the shake-up he's carrying out may be just what Saudi Arabia needs to survive in a new era.
AssessmentsDec 6, 2017 | 08:00 GMT
A picture of world leaders at the COP 23 United Nations Climate Conference In Bonn, Nov. 15.
A Gloomy Forecast for Climate Change
When it comes to climate change, there is no disputing that the world is getting warmer. For those pondering how best to manage a sultry Earth, the issue is increasingly binary: what can be done to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, and what can humans do to better adapt to a hotter environment? For those present at the 23rd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany, the question might well have been "how do countries agree to agree?" The COP23 conference concluded Nov. 17 with none of the fanfare of COP21 in Paris, just two years earlier. The expectations, and the resultant goals, were modest, even though human-generated carbon emissions for 2017 have risen by 2 percent, something largely attributed to China. It was also the first U.N climate conference since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump,
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