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[Fwd: fuel cell-related info]
Just some info. on palladium - a component in fuel-cells.
Their long term success may be determined by Russia's ability
to mine it and sell it at a fair price.
Hey, love, here's some info. related to fuel cells. The Russians
have the corner on palladium, which is used for that tech.
October 18, 2000; Internal changes in the Russian government on 18 Sept
handed control over the production of precious metals and gems from the
Economic Development Ministry to the Finance Ministry (the Russian
organization that represents that government in international financial
markets). This is a major change, and reflects Russian reactions to the
reluctance of the West to extend more credit to Moscow. Giving the Finance
Ministry more economic guns to use in negotiating deals means a major
realignment in how Russia deals with the West. Russia has major percentages
of the world's oil and diamonds (and 20% of the platinum), but its greatest
control is over the palladium market. Russia has 80% of the world's
palladium, and stockpiles the metal like other nations stockpile gold.
easily manipulates that market, driving prices to a record $859 per ounce by
simply delaying scheduled deliveries to Japan. Palladium production is more
tightly controlled by Moscow than anything else in Russia. Production and
stockpile figures are state secrets, as are figures concerning the
of platinum and diamonds. Palladium (unlike the very similar platinum) has
aesthetic value as jewelry and is valuable only as an industrial commodity,
but its thousands of uses (due to its high conductivity and use as a
catalyst) keep the metal in continuous demand. It is palladium that makes
catalytic converters on Western automobiles work. Palladium is the key
component of fuel cells, which are expected to reach the mass market in
Global demand for palladium doubled from 1998 to 1999, with no increase in
supply. Virtually all non-Russian stockpiles of Palladium were reduced to
zero last year. It is likely that Finance Minister Kasyanov will use control
over palladium to demand concessions from Western countries, including
rescheduled debt payments (Russia's foreign debt is $160 billion), and even
the cancellation of some debts. Kasyanov had previously had no leverage in
the international financial arena other than to warn that a desperately
Russia was a dangerously unstable Russia. The G7 nations had bought this
for several years, but finally rejected it at the June summit, rebuking all
Russian efforts to gain debt relief. Kasyanov has also moved to dismantle
Norilsk Nickel, the Russian company that controls palladium production. This
company is controlled by Vladimir Potanin, a Russian magnate who engineered
the "loans for shares" scheme of the 1990s that wrecked the Russian economy.
President Putin is said to take personal delight in dismantling Potanin's
financial empire and transferring it to the state. Deputy Finance Minister
Rudakov is already using Russian control over a major portion of the diamond
market to seek control over companies that polish and market diamonds.
has also reached technological breakthroughs that allow them to produce
nearly perfect synthetic diamonds in jewelry grades, not just industrial
grades.--Stephen V Cole
<FYEO, 18 Oct 00>