British Steel in administration – An update from the official receiver.
The Official Receiver is working with a group of potential new owners of British Steel to try and achieve the sector’s survival in Scunthorpe. The British Steel site alone is absolutely vast, until recently the place where over 4,000 people were employed.
Apparently, a spokesperson for the Receiver said they’re continuing to work with interested parties to explore preserving the business as a going concern. The negotiations are secret and right now the company is still trading, supplying its customers. Demand remains good as well, in part thanks to a government indemnity that lets the company buy essential supplies despite being broke.
So far the Receivers have contacted 80 potential take-over partners, and 60 have been given non-disclosure agreements so their bids can go ahead. It looks like raw material orders for the next three months have been made, even though the Business Secretary Greg Clark refused a loan request from British Steel over debts of £880 million.
The UK government had already supplied a massive £120 million financial rescue package so the company could pay their carbon credits, delayed by Brexit but still owed. British Steel went into administration in late May 2019 and one of the interested take-over parties is the top Indian steelmaker JSW Steel. The matter will go in front of the North Lincolnshire area council of the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce shortly, and we’ll soon see the government’s Business Committee start their own enquiry into the collapse, focusing on the way the current owners, Greybull Capital, handled it.
US, Canada and Australia join forces to tackle metal shortage risk
America, Canada and Australia have launched an international plan to drive the ‘responsible’ development of the materials needed for future energy tech, metals like lithium, copper and cobalt. It’s because of fast-growing concern over supplies of critical resources, which are being used up at a record rate. As we shift towards electric vehicles and battery energy storage demand rises, we’ll need to pinpoint new critical mineral resources.
The alliance is planning to advise on metals management and governance frameworks to attract international investment as well as positive environmental and social policies. Frank Fannon, America’s Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, says clean tech is the only hope for some poor nations, but damage driven by development without good resource governance “could be really damaging”.
A shift in the global energy system away from fossil fuels sits at the heart of all this, and it’s predicted to result in steep increases in demand for some metals, for example, copper. Demand for it could rocket by 350% by the year 2050, according to a team at Yale University.
The World Bank concurs. In 2017 they estimated we’ll see a seven-fold hike in demand for cobalt and an even bigger hike for lithium, as we take action to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2C from pre-industrial levels.
Chinese companies have long been trying to secure supplies for essential metals, actually buying mines in Australia, South America and elsewhere. It matters because the nation that controls the supply of metals in the future will control industrial power as well.
‘Entangled aluminium’ delivers timekeeping magic
Metalex products include aluminium in all sorts of forms, so it’s exciting to see ‘entangled’ aluminium ions being harnessed to create the world’s most accurate clock. Physics World
Physics World reports on how ‘confining single ions of aluminium and magnesium in an electric trap, cooling them to near absolute zero and probing them with laser beams’ allows the eggheads to make a clock like no other.
It’s all down to the physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, who have shown their device won’t lose or gain any time whatsoever, not so much as a second, even across 33 billion years. This super-accurate timekeeping means we could soon see remarkable insights into the remaining sticky mysteries behind fundamental physics.
Atomic time currently measures the frequency of microwaves emitted during a specific transition in caesium atoms incredibly accurately. But the devices used are limited by the radiation’s low frequency. The new ‘quantum-logic clock’ was created by Samuel Brewer and colleagues and uses a positive ion of aluminium-27 as the timekeeper. They expose it to ultraviolet laser light at wavelength 267 nm, and the ion transitions with a narrow linewidth, which means the frequency is extraordinarily well-defined. It’s also immune to exterior noise and radiation. A magnesium-25 ion is used to cool the aluminium down to the uber-low temperatures needed to minimise thermal noise. Magic!
Want metals? Come to Metalex
Whatever happens out there in our sector, we keep on supplying great quality metals to our customers. In a thoroughly unreliable world, you can rely on us!
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