Sunday April 20, 2014
First conducted in 1919, the London gold fix - the internationally accepted process for determining gold prices - has changed very little over the course of nearly a century.
Five member banks negotiate, or 'fix', prices twice each weekday via secure phone line. No transcripts of the conversation, prices or volumes are recorded, and no outsiders are allowed to be party to the discussion.
The prices fixed just after 10:30am and 3:00pm (London time) each day then disseminates to miners, refiners, investors, futures and derivatives markets, jewelers, traders and the countless others who follow and speculate on gold prices.
While most benchmark market pricing mechanisms are now determined electronically, the London gold fix remains a staunchly traditional.
However, the closed-door nature of the price fixing is coming under increasingly intense scrutiny as many wonder whether its opaque nature is conducive to abuse. Read More...
Sunday April 13, 2014
By reducing drag and weight, jet makers can create significant fuel-cost savings, which is why titanium's combination of strength and light weight has made the metal a critical component of the modern aerospace industry.
The use of titanium and titanium alloys in aircraft has more than tripled since the 1960s. By bodyweight, titanium now comprises about 15% of modern Boeing commercial airliners.
Now, three French inventors have developed a lighter passenger seat made of titanium and composite materials, which they are marketing to jet makers and airlines. Read More...
Sunday April 6, 2014
Silver bullion salvaged off the coast of Ireland will be cast into coins at the British Royal Mint 70 years after being sent to the sea floor by a German U-boat.
The SS Gairsoppa was carrying 2800 bars of the metal, along with tea and pig iron from India, when it was attacked and sunk on February 17, 1941. Only one sailor survived.
The ship rested on the sea floor 300 miles off the Irish coast until its discovery in 2011 by the US marine exploration company Odyssey. The deepest maritime rescue operation in history went 3 miles under the ocean surface to bring the silver bullion back to dry land. Read More...
Sunday March 30, 2014
The mineral wealth possessed by the Democratic Republic of Congo, while undeniably attractive to foreign investors, has been a taboo topic for many years.
Congolese minerals, particularly tantalum, tin, gold, copper, cobalt and tungsten, have drawn the ire of international organizations who link the mining and sale of these ores to corruption, warlords and conflict that has afflicted the country for years.
As a result of these concerns, US Congress enacted legislation in 2010 requiring all publicly listed companies that make use of coltan (a source of tantalum), cassiterite (tin), wolframite (tungsten) and gold to report whether any of the metals that they purchase and use may have supported conflict in the central African region.
While it took a number of years to clarify the requirements that befell thousands of manufacturers and the role of the Securities and Exchange Commission in monitoring the regulations, the first disclosures are expected on May 31st of this year. Read More...