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Commodities: Gold and Zinc Crush it in Q1, Energy Gets Smoked

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Presented by:  First Mining Finance

Commodities: Gold and Zinc Crush it in Q1, Energy Gets Smoked

Commodities: Gold and Zinc Crush it in Q1, Energy Gets Smoked

The start of 2016 has been a roller coaster for investors.

Global markets had their worst ever start in the first trading days of the year, with the S&P 500 eventually shedding 10.5% by early February. Stocks have rebounded since then, but tension is still in the air with record longs on the VIX Volatility Index.

Precious Metals
For this reason, among many others, investors piled into precious metals in Q1 of 2016. Gold finished up an impressive 15.9%, buoyed by record buying in gold ETFs. Meanwhile, silver and platinum, which are considered precious metals with more industrial uses, were also up in Q1 to a lesser extent: 9.4% and 6.6% respectively.

Base Metals
Base metals were all over the map in the first few months of the year. Zinc shot up a surprising 20%, though it has been overdue for a bounce back since hitting five-year lows in 2015. Nickel and copper, however, did not perform as admirably. Nickel was in negative territory (-3.1%) and copper ultimately ended up flat, despite a large rally in February and early-March.

Energy
The energy sector had no real winners, with WTI crude, natural gas, and uranium all ending up in the red. Natural gas was the worst of these with a steep -17.0% drop as it continues to eye multi-decade lows. Some analysts expect more downward pressure on natural gas now that the quantity of gas in storage is 34.2% higher than the five-year average.

Food
The world’s key agricultural commodities were a mixed bag in terms of performance. Soybeans jumped 4.2% in value, but wheat (1.0%) and corn (-0.3%) only had subtle changes in prices.

With many looming questions for Q2, we’re sure that our next quarterly update will be just as eventful. Concerns around a potential Brexit, negative interest rates, stagnating manufacturing, and a potential U.S. rate hike could make for a particularly interesting time period.

Chart presented by: First Mining Finance Corp.

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Agriculture

Balancing the Environmental Costs of Cannabis

Legal cannabis cultivation emits as much CO2 as 92,660 cars annually. Growing cannabis sustainably can reduce this massive environmental footprint.

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Balancing the Environmental Costs of Cannabis

Economic development comes with a massive environmental cost.

Since 1980, heavy industrial activity has caused the doubling of CO2 emissions. As scientists warn of the lasting negative impacts this will have on the planet, nearly every industry is committing to sustainable practices to try to counteract this effect.

Today’s infographic comes from The Green Organic Dutchman, and it demonstrates that while the business of cannabis isn’t always eco-friendly, there are several tried-and-tested ways to reduce its massive footprint.

A HEFTY PRICE TO PAY

Energy is the second-highest cost driver in cannabis cultivation after labor.

There are two main culprits – lighting and HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Combined, they make up a whopping 89% of energy use in cannabis cultivation operations.

Last year, legal cannabis cultivation was responsible for consuming 1.1 million MWh of electricity, and producing 472,000 tons of CO2 emissions. That’s enough to power 92,500 homes, and produce the same emissions as 92,660 cars per year. As legal cannabis production scales, this will only escalate.

Much of this data can be attributed to how the plant is grown.

Growing methodPower consumption (kWh/g)Carbon intensity (lbs CO2e/g)
Indoor1.271.24
Greenhouse0.940.72
Outdoor0.070.05

Indoor cultivation is roughly 18 times more energy-intensive than outdoor cultivation, and produces 25 times the carbon emissions. On the other hand, outdoor production produces lower overall yield per square foot. Since it’s difficult to control the environment, impurities can also end up in the final product.

That’s why many companies opt for a hybrid approach instead – balancing the benefits of precise control, with the use of natural light to lower production costs.

A GAME PLAN FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Many licensed producers are adopting a suite of strategies to relieve this environmental footprint.

  • Renewable energy
    Diversifying the energy sources for cannabis cultivation can reduce carbon emissions. Solar and wind are top choices among cultivators.
  • LED lighting
    LED light bulbs are more than 60% more efficient than other types. They also produce barely any heat, lowering ventilation requirements.
  • Water efficiency
    A single cannabis plant can use up to 23 liters of water per day. Water can be recycled and re-used through innovative techniques such as reverse osmosis.
  • Packaging
    The plastic packaging often associated with cannabis products is a considerable contributor of waste. There are several alternatives, such as paper, glass, and tin. Each of these have their own benefits and drawbacks, depending on what they are used for.

Maximizing energy-efficiency has a domino effect not only on the planet, but on reduced operating costs. These savings can then be passed on to the buyer, which could prove to be a strong competitive advantage as the cannabis industry matures.

Stay tuned for part 6 of this series, where we’ll delve into the scientific evidence for medical cannabis compounds.

The Story of Cannabis: What Investors Need to KnowAnatomy of a Cannabis PlantA Quality Cannabis ProductThe Rise of OrganicA Sustainable Cannabis ProductThe Science Behind the $13 Billion Medical Cannabis IndustryComing soonComing soon

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Agriculture

The Rise of Organic Cannabis in North America

Consumer spending on cannabis is projected to hit $10 billion in 2018. As the industry matures, a trend towards organic cannabis will ensue.

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The Rise of Organic Cannabis in North America

Canna-business is booming on the heels of Canada’s momentous decision to legalize cannabis nationwide, and the industry is now projected to bring in close to $95 billion by 2026.

Much like the way organic products have risen to prominence in supermarkets, consumers will start to demand high-quality products as the cannabis industry matures, as well.

Today’s infographic comes from The Green Organic Dutchman, and it elaborates on why investors and consumers alike are anticipating a growing trend towards organic cannabis.

Roots of the Movement

In a nutshell, organic refers to products grown without fertilizers, pesticides, or genetic modifications. By that definition, organic practices also help to minimize the impact of farming on an environmental level.

The organic trend originates in the post-WWII era, as technological advances transformed the efficiency of large-scale agriculture. As practices changed, farmers and scholars worried about the long-term effects that the use of synthetic chemicals could have.

Thus, the organic movement was born:

1940
The phrase “organic farming” is first coined by English agriculturalist Lord Northbourne.

1962
The book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson raises public awareness of the harms posed by pesticides, launching the contemporary environmental movement.

1972
The International Federation of Organic Movements (IFOM), a worldwide organization for the organic agriculture movement, is founded.

1990
The U.S. passes the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA), defining standard organic production practices.

More recently, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion demonstrates the influence of consumers in catapulting organic products into the mainstream.

The Allure of Organic Cannabis

Consumers are expecting the same quality standards from other products they consume, such as cannabis.

Growing cannabis organically ensures that it is:

1. Safe for consumption

Natural cultivation methods mean that organic cannabis is often a safer end-product.

2. A premium experience

Organic cannabis offers consumers improved flavor and quality, with enhanced potency.

3. Environmentally sustainable

With organic practices, the surrounding water, soil, and biodiversity are unharmed.

Fine Print?

One caveat to choosing organic is the price differential. One gram of organic cannabis can cost 26% more than regular grade cannabis – but that’s because organic cultivation requires more attention to detail.

Nevertheless, increasing consumer demand for less chemically-laden products can outweigh this price differential in many cases. The growing market for cannabis is now on track to bring in $10 billion this year – outpacing all previous estimates.

Stay tuned for part 5 of this series, which will look at the way growing organic cannabis can be complemented by sustainable practices.

The Story of Cannabis: What Investors Need to KnowAnatomy of a Cannabis PlantA Quality Cannabis ProductThe Rise of OrganicBalancing the Environmental Costs of CannabisThe Science Behind the $13 Billion Medical Cannabis IndustryComing soonComing soon

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