May 17, 2020

Pentagon Wastes $30 Billion on No-Bid Contracts

Commission
On
Wartime
Contracting
Admin
3 min
The Commission on Wartime Contracting claims that $30 billion in no-bid contracts has been wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan due to bad management and fraud
I wish I could say I was shocked to learn that the Pentagon wasted over $30 billion on private no-bid contracts for projects in Iraq and Afghanistan th...

I wish I could say I was shocked to learn that the Pentagon wasted  over $30 billion on private no-bid contracts for projects in Iraq and Afghanistan that will never come to fruition.  However, considering the economic calamity currently defining the United States and its leadership, I’m not surprised.  In an independent inquiry due to be submitted to Congress on Wednesday, the Commission on Wartime Contracting warns of waste and fraud in the Pentagon’s contracting activities.

"Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted through poor planning, vague and shifting requirements, inadequate competition, substandard contract management and oversight, lax accountability, weak interagency coordination, and subpar performance or outright misconduct by some contractors and federal employees," the co-chairs of the panel, Christopher Shays and Michael Thibault, wrote in a commentary in the Washington Post

Examples cited by the Commission include a $300 million power plant in Kabul.  It is feared that the Afghan government will not have the technical means by which to run the plant on its own, nor the funds to sustain its operation.  Other examples of wasteful contracts include a $40 million prison in Iraq that the government there “did not want and that was never finished,” according to Shays and Thibault.

One of the major downfalls in the Pentagon’s contracting process is believed by the Commission to be the lack of competition in the no-bid process.  In fact, no-bid contracts nearly tripled from $50 billion in 2001 to $140 billion in 2010 following the attacks of September 11, 2011.  The Pentagon defends non-competitive no-bid contracts claiming that there is often only one supplier of certain goods and that wartime efforts offer an unusual and compelling urgency. "There have been many instances because of wartime needs where a long, lengthy competitive bid contract process does not serve the needs of the warfighters," says Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan.

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In one interesting case, U.S.-based company Applied Energetics won a contract worth over $50 million for a futuristic lightning weapon used to detonate roadside bombs.  The weapon, however, failed some tests and was ultimately decommissioned for use. 

The Commission’s report, to be officially published on Wednesday, makes recommendations on how to improve contracting activities to ensure this kind of waste is minimized in the future.  It also recommends modifying or canceling completely projects that are unsustainable.  The report claims corruption both by the U.S., the contractors and the host countries where these projects are being developed. 

So while bridges, dams, roads and levies here in the United States literally crumble due to a lack of infrastructure redevelopment, Pentagon officials have been lining the pockets of government contractors with billions in taxpayer dollars for projects that are of no use at all.  The Roman Empire fell from within, and if history has taught us anything, it’s that it tends to repeat itself.   

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Oct 19, 2020

Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process

cleantech
manganese
USA
Scott Birch
3 min
Nevada firm aims to become the primary manganese producer in the United States
Nevada firm aims to become the primary manganese producer in the United States...

Itronics - a Nevada-based emerging cleantech materials growth company that manufacturers fertilisers and produces silver - has successfully tested two proprietary processes that recover manganese, with one process recovering manganese, potassium and zinc from paste produced by processing non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The second recovers manganese via the company’s Rock Kleen Technology.

Manganese, one of the four most important industrial metals and widely used by the steel industry, has been designated by the US Federal Government as a "critical mineral." It is a major component of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, one of the largest battery categories sold globally.

The use of manganese in EV batteries is increasing as EV battery technology is shifting to use of more nickel and manganese in battery formulations. But according to the US Department of Interior, there is no mine production of manganese in the United States. As such, Itronics is using its Rock Kleen Technology to test metal recoverability from mine tailings obtained from a former silver mine in western Nevada that has a high manganese content. 

In a statement, Itronics says that its Rock Kleen process recovers silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and nickel. The company says that it has calculated – based on laboratory test results – that if a Rock Kleen tailings process is put into commercial production, the former mine site would become the only primary manganese producer in the United States.

Itronics adds that it has also tested non-rechargeable alkaline battery paste recovered by a large domestic battery recycling company to determine if it could use one of its hydrometallurgical processes to solubilize the manganese, potassium, and zinc contained in the paste. This testing was successful, and Itronics was able to produce material useable in two of its fertilisers, it says.

"We believe that the chemistry of the two recovery processes would lend itself to electrochemical recovery of the manganese, zinc, and other metals. At this time electrochemical recovery has been tested for zinc and copper,” says Dr John Whitney, Itronics president. 

“Itronics has been reviewing procedures for electrochemical recovery of manganese and plans to move this technology forward when it is appropriate to do so and has acquired electro-winning equipment needed to do that.

"Because of the two described proprietary technologies, Itronics is positioned to become a domestic manganese producer on a large scale to satisfy domestic demand. The actual manganese products have not yet been defined, except for use in the Company's GOLD'n GRO Multi-Nutrient Fertilisers. However, the Company believes that it will be able to produce chemical manganese products as well as electrochemical products," he adds.

Itronics’ research and development plant is located in Reno, about 40 miles west of the Tesla giga-factory. Its planned cleantech materials campus, which will be located approximately 40 miles south of the Tesla factory, would be the location where the manganese products would be produced.

Panasonic is operating one of the world's largest EV battery factories at the Tesla location. However, Tesla and other companies have announced that EV battery technology is shifting to use of nickel-manganese batteries. Itronics is positioned and located to become a Nevada-0based supplier of manganese products for battery manufacturing as its manganese recovery technologies are advanced, the company states.

A long-term objective for Itronics is to become a leading producer of high purity metals, including the U.S. critical metals manganese and tin, using the Company's breakthrough hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and electrochemical technologies. ‘Additionally, Itronics is strategically positioned with its portfolio of "Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies" to help solve the recently declared emergency need for domestic production of Critical Minerals from materials located at mine sites,’ the statement continues.

The Company's growth forecast centers upon its 10-year business plan designed to integrate its Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies and to grow annual sales from $2 million in 2019, to $113 million in 2025.

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