Humble Beginnings to Hollywood Gold
The hit television show Gold Rush has done a lot for Dave Turin in the last few years. Gold Rush, which just wrapped up its fifth season on the Discovery Channel, has become Friday night’s most watched cable program, racking in nearly 5.5 million viewers. The show has helped Turin become an American sensation. The rapid climb to success, however, didn’t happen overnight.
Behind the scenes
Originating from Sandy, Oregon, Turin’s spent the last 24 years managing a family-owned rock quarry business with his father and three brothers.
After finishing his Civil Engineering degree from Portland State University, Turin joined his father and brothers in the paving business. He credits his father for his entrepreneurial spirit.
“My father was a high-school teacher growing up. To keep us boys out of trouble he started a paving company. It became pretty successful so he quit teaching,” Turin recalls.
“My Dad is a risk taker and he instilled that in me. I mean, he had six children and he quits his stable job to start a paving company.”
Turin spent the next two decades managing the family-owned rock quarry plant until six years ago when he received a phone call.
“I get a call from Todd and Jack Hoffman to be an outside consultant at their Porcupine Creek claim,” explains Turin. “They needed help with their wash plant and they asked me take a look. That’s how it started.”
Inspired by the Hoffman’s dream of mining for gold, Dave was offered the chance to join the team full time. He hasn’t looked back since.
Natural born leader
Despite not having years of experience in mining, Turin makes up for it with his expertise in earthworks. He has over two decades experience operating construction equipment safety and effectively, and there isn’t a piece of machinery he isn’t qualified to operate. However, it’s his natural leadership ability that solidifies his importance.
“At a very young age my Dad saw leadership qualities in me,” explains Turin. “He made me the paving boss when I was senior in High School because he could see my potential. That’s how I view people. I think when you see the potential in people, rather than the negatives, you have the patience to train them accordingly.”
Turin’s guidance has made him a vital asset to the Hoffman crew, as well as the TV series. Most notably with Kevin Hyatt, a previous electrical lineman and garbage collector. With the patience and knowledge of Turin, Hyatt has become an accomplished miner.
“That’s one of the things I love to do; taking young men and teaching them to become great. I enjoy watching them take off.”
According to Turin, gold mining requires several things to be successful including hard work, resiliency, and most importantly, understanding of surroundings.
“I’ve been around too many miners and operators that focus in on what’s right in front of them. They don’t see what’s to their left or to their right. When that happens, they’re dangerous. That’s the one thing I always stress with my guys, especially because we have these camera guys darting in and out.”
Not surprising, the filming of the show requires Mr. Miyagi –like concentration for the gold miners.
“Being on the show can be very stressful, however, I believe it makes us better miners and operators,” says Turin. “We can focus on the task at hand while also being aware of our surrounding and knowing where the cameramen are at all times. It makes for great training.”
Lithium producers bullish as EV revolution ramps demand
Rising demand for lithium is stoking prices for the electric vehicle battery metal, fueling long-delayed expansions that still may not produce adequate supplies that automakers need to meet aggressive production plans.
Growing industry optimism from higher lithium prices is a change from last year when funding for mines and processing plants dried up during the pandemic.
Albemarle Corp, Livent Corp and other producers are scrambling to make more lithium, but some analysts worry the recent price jump will not spur a big enough expansion to meet a planned wave of new EV models by mid-decade.
Since January, General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation Co, along with other automakers and battery parts manufacturers, have said they will spend billions of dollars on EV plants.
U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed spending $174bn to boost EV sales and infrastructure. The European Union has similar plans, part of a rush to catch up with global EV leader China.
Those moves have helped an index of lithium prices jump 59 percent since April 2020, according to data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a commodity pricing provider.
The rising demand “reflects what feels like a real and fundamental turning point in our industry,” said Paul Graves, chief executive of Livent Corp, which supplies Tesla Inc. On Monday, it said it would more than double its annual lithium production to 115,000 tonnes.
Graves warned, though, that “it will be a challenge for the lithium industry to produce sufficient qualified material in the near and medium term.”
Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium producer, aims to double its production capacity to 175,000 tonnes by the end of the year when two construction projects are complete. Albemarle's Q1 profit beat expectations thanks to rising lithium prices. Chile’s SQM, the No. 2 producer, said its goal to expand production of lithium carbonate by 71 percent to 120,000 tonnes should be complete by December.
Australia’s Orocobre is paying $1.4 billion for smaller rival Galaxy Resources, a strategy designed to boost scale and help it grow faster in regions closer to customers.
“The next few years are going to be critical in terms of whether there’s enough available lithium supply, and that’s why you’re starting to see commodity prices start to ramp,” said Chris Berry, an independent lithium industry consultant.
The price gains helped Albemarle and other major producers, including China’s Ganfeng Lithium Co and SQM, post big gains in first-quarter profit and boost forecasts for the year.
Even China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp, saddled with debt due to years of low lithium prices, signaled that recovering demand should help it swing to a profit this year.
Forecasts call for demand for the white metals to surge from about 320,000 tonnes annually last year to more than 1 million tonnes annually by 2025, when many automakers plan to launch new EV fleets, according to Benchmark.
Still, demand is expected to outstrip supply in 2025 by more than 200,000 tonnes, so lithium prices may need to rise to encourage producers to build more mines. That could boost the prices consumers pay for EVs. “Companies across the lithium-ion supply chain are in the best position they’ve been in for the last 5 years,” said Pedro Palandrani of the Global X Lithium & Battery Technology ETF , which has doubled in value in the past year.