Good morning on this fine Friday. April 6th was the day in 1808 that John Jacob Astor incorporated the American Fur Company, which would go on to be the foundation for the vast Astor wealth. After furs, he invested presciently in swaths of Manhattan property and leased it out; he became the richest man in the world, a philanthropist and an arts patron. And now for the news:
A GUSHER, OF SORTS
Tiny Bahrain, one of the world’s energy minnows, has discovered an estimated 80 billion barrels of tight oil — the equivalent of all of Russia’s oil reserves. Tight oil is a form of light crude oil held in deep shale and extracted with fracking. It isn’t clear yet how much of that is recoverable, but Bahrain is looking for the big global companies to develop it. And there’s a rather intriguing twist to the timing of the find.
Gabe Friedman reports on the global chase for lithium, which is used in batteries for electric vehicles. The tension is building in the industry, as lithium prices are at a record but there are growing fears they will crash. But because the market for this metal is relatively opaque — no futures market, no benchmark price and because a few large players dominate and keep their prices private — “you’re really left to talk anecdotally.”
CHARGING UP IN CHILE
Gabe Friedman also looks at how Teck is doubling down on a Chile copper mine investment. It is buying out a minority partner at a cost that could reach $262.5 million but the final toll will depend on the metal’s price. The company claims it’s not after the copper because of batteries: “Demand is not dependent on the battery technology in the way it might be for cobalt, lithium or nickel — the copper will be going in to the cars themselves, and into the charging infrastructure that would have to be strengthened around the world.”
MORE BITTER BREW?
Tim Hortons is in the news again, and again it’s not good. The coffee purveyor has fallen 40 spots in an annual reputation ranking of 100 companies Canadians most admire, in a study conducted by Leger and National Public Relations. National’s Rick Murray says Tim Hortons was “a perennial top five brand that we’ve previously believed impervious to issue, but has fallen mightily in the court of public opinion.”
A SIDE OF CARBON TAX WITH YOUR BURGER?
The carbon-tax killjoys want to tax our hamburgers. They think we should pay for the effects of the flatulence coming out of both ends of the cow, and to cover other costs associated with meat’s carbon-producing processes. To cut emissions to meet the obligations of the Paris climate accord, researchers calculated these food taxes: Beef, as the biggest culprit, is hit with the highest tax, at 40 per cent. Milk and dairy get 21 per cent, poultry: eight per cent, eggs: five per cent. But implementing them would produce a horrifying moral dilemma, Peter Shawn Taylor argues.