Letters of the Week

Financial planners. What's happening at Mineral Resources? Graphite versus graphene.

Financial planners
I am a financial adviser. I am in complete agreement with Bruce Brammall (Financial planners don’t make the grade). Sometimes I think he is a bit hard on planners, but on this occasion I could not agree more about his concerns. The findings of ASIC come as no real surprise to me. I see a lot of very poor advice. As a small, independent non-aligned planner, I think there are huge opportunities for us to differentiate ourselves in the market, but then I wonder about that – what about the people who have received poor advice but think it's good? How do you get your point of difference across to them? And they appear to be in the majority! It seems the industry has completed a really good con job on the consumer.

– G Wiseman

Mineral Resources

I wondered if you knew why Mineral Resources directors were selling down their stock?

– A Brunner

Editor’s response: We are curious as well. So far several phone calls have gone unanswered, but we’ll stay on the case.

Graphite v graphene

I would be interested to know the link, if any, between any of the types of graphite Michael Feller references and the substance graphene (Under the radar: Pencil this in).

– D Loh

Michael Feller’s response: Graphene is basically a single, one-atom-thick layer of bonded carbon atoms, which through an atomic microscope look a bit like chicken wire. Unlike graphite, which is naturally occurring, graphene has to be created.

There are a number of ways to create graphene, but since the base element – carbon – can come from any carbon-based substance (even sugar can be used to make graphene), or indeed from reduced carbon dioxide, graphite isn't necessarily required. Having said that, scientists have made graphene from graphite via sonification (i.e. applying ultrasound to agitate the particles) and should the uses of graphene really take off, then graphene may provide an additional source of demand for graphite.

I'm no expert in graphene, or in fact any other nano technology, but there could be commercial applications in electricity production, organic light-emitting diodes (oLEDs), solar cells, integrated circuits and medicine. Scientists have even come up with a way to use graphene to distil vodka at room temperature! No idea whether this will provide additional support to graphite prices, but you never know!

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