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Robin Bromby

About Robin Bromby

Robin Bromby is a journalist, author and sometime publisher who has had titles issued by mainstream publishers, including Doubleday, Simon & Schuster and Lothian Books. Robin began as a cadet journalist in 1962 with The Dominion, the morning paper in Wellington, New Zealand. He also worked for the NZ Broadcasting Corporation, TV1, the South China Morning Post, The Herald (Melbourne), the Sunday Times (Wellington), The National Times (Sydney) and, since 1988, he has been first a staff reporter and now columnist for The Australian and has been a Senior Editor for InvestorIntel since the onset.

Lithium and gold: two safe havens in a storm

South-Haven-Pier-16-to-20-foot-waves Two commodities that are doing so well when almost everything else is not: lithium and gold. While as different as chalk and cheese, they are becoming increasingly valuable in terms of what people are prepared to pay for them. Indeed, last month The Economist did a lithium update under the headline “An increasingly precious metal”. On a day when oil sinks again, nickel subsides below $8000/tonne (compared to $50,000 at its peak), the world groans under surpluses of everything from iron ore to aluminium, the Japanese stockmarket (and others) are in panic mode, and with negative interest rates becoming the…

Gold back on centre stage of the world financial system

Gold_Briefcase It hasn’t got much press or attention, but while campaigning in New Hampshire Republican presidential campaigner Ted Cruz raised the issue of the gold standard. “I think we should look at getting towards rules-based money supply, ideally tied to gold, so you have stability,” he said. It says something about the “success” of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies that gold, as of Monday, has risen 22% from the time U.S. interest rates were hiked in December. Since the beginning of the year, the gain in the gold price, again as of Monday, has been 13%. While Goldman Sachs is sticking…

Why technology needs the right people pushing it

marissa-mayer-yahoo Perhaps we’ve been missing something in our coverage of tech metals, tech entrepreneurs and making companies work. That is, the factor of having a one-person driving force, possibly a dominant founder. Now I am not claiming this as my own brilliant insight. The credit must instead go to John McDuling of the Australian Financial Review. He has just written a piece looking at the troubles at Yahoo, the company that is about lay off 15% of its staff. McDuling makes the point that, while she has been blamed for much of the troubles in which Yahoo finds itself, it is…

China’s statistics: Growing doubts cloud the true picture

China_Puzzle Back in the 1960s analysts and journalists based in Hong Kong tried to keep on top of what was going on in China, then a suspicious Communist power secretive and closed to Western snoopers. Newspapers from the mainland were scoured for clues by the "China watchers" in the British colony, and each morning a reporter from the South China Morning Post met the daily train from the border arriving at the old Kowloon station just by the Star Ferry wharf, interviewing as many passengers as possible about what they had seen and heard behind what was then called the Bamboo Curtain. Any…

Oil, Tech Metals and just about anything: the forecasts are often wrong

So, how are we going on that Peak Oil theory? You know, the one formulated in 1956 by Shell Oil geologist M. King Hubbert that said oil production in the U.S. would peak in 1970? Well, it did; but Hubbert did not have inkling of what was to come after that, such as the shale revolution and the renaissance of American oil. Nor did he foresee horizontal drilling, fracking, not to mention the huge oil finds in the North Sea, the Bakkan Formation of North Dakota, or Alaska. Looking out the window now, no sign of Peak Oil. Rather the…

Graphene comes to the rescue of lithium-ion batteries

Remember the Japan Airlines plane that caught fire due to a malfunction with its lithium-ion batteries? That, and other fires in items such as hover boards and laptops, have cast a shadow over the battery technology. The technology is great; the fires, not so much. Now a solution is at hand, and this could be a great breakthrough – and another bit of good news for those companies planning to produce lithium or graphite. Researchers at Stanford University have been working on how to fix this problem and have developed a new kind of lithium-ion battery that automatically shuts down once it…

Rare earths financing: a contrast in fortunes

piggy_bank Money has never been more important for the emerging rare earth players. We have seen that in spades over the past week or two on the Australian scene. Today Lynas Corp (ASX:LYC | OTCQX:LYSDY) reported it had in the second half of 2015 exceeded its target of 1,860 tonnes of neodymium/praseodymium production, thus ensuring the interest rate it is paying its Japanese financiers drops by 0.5%. Not only that, but the performance will be reassuring the Japanese that performance at LYC is heading in the right direction. In the case of two other companies, we have a contrast in fortunes…

Australia building a formidable junior lithium force

Lithium-Battery-Force "Earth to OPEC: Batteries are the new force. Deal with it." -- Robin Bromby If only we resisted the annual siren call and, instead, heeded Casey Stengel’s advice: “Never make predictions, especially about the future”. For once, your correspondent is going to take that advice and let others stick out their necks. A year ago, who expected oil at below $40/barrel? Or nickel losing 40% of its value? Or zinc 28%. As The Financial Times today recalls, back in January Goldman Sachs predicted that in 2015 zinc would rise by 16% and nickel by 22%. And those paid millions to…

Rare earth turnaround: why Lynas is attracting attention

Amanda_Lacaze_TMS2015 Anyone surprised that a rare earth company is now the subject of speculative activity in the markets (and in a positive way)? In 2011 that prospect would not have seemed unusual. Today, it does. And a financial newspaper turning out a positive turnaround feature on that same company? Not something many investors, six or nine months ago, would have been expecting. We’re talking about Lynas Corp (ASX:LYC | OTCQX:LYSDY) which turns out to be the great survivor of the REE crisis. Not that InvestorIntel readers need be surprised. They have been kept in the Lynas loop. Indeed, in October I…

Lithium looking like a real star

Lithium There was a graph in the recent presentation by emerging lithium producer Neometals (ASX:NMT) that may have escaped your notice but which is revealing considering the dismal outlook for other metals and commodities around the globe. It showed a (then) current lithium carbonate price of $6,400/tonne and lithium hydroxide at $8,500/tonne. But these seem to have been overtaken: the Neometals graph has a broken line going to about $10,500/tonne, which is the price being paid in China for lithium hydroxide. And now another Australian company reports that lithium carbonate is also fetching more than $10,000/tonne in China, and there are serious…