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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.

JP.


	Hey, love, here's some info. related to fuel cells.  The Russians
have the corner on palladium, which is used for that tech.

love,
	T

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.
Russia 
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
production 
of platinum and diamonds. Palladium (unlike the very similar platinum) has
no 
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
chemical 
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
2003. 
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
loans, 
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
broke 
Russia was a dangerously unstable Russia. The G7 nations had bought this
line 
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.
Russia 
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>