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Hyundai plans U.S. EV plant, in talks with Georgia

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(Last Updated On: May 15, 2022)

Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) plans to build a new electric-vehicle manufacturing plant in the United States and has held discussions with officials in Georgia, near existing plants for the Hyundai and Kia (000270.KS) brands, people with knowledge of its plans told Reuters.

Hyundai Motor confirmed an imminent plan for a new EV plant but declined to comment on any details, including site negotiations.

“We are excited to announce a new EV plant plan in the United States soon, but we do not have details to share at this stage,” Hyundai said in a statement to Reuters when asked about its investment plans.

Hyundai has been in advanced discussions with state officials to build a dedicated EV facility in Georgia, three people with direct knowledge of the talks told Reuters. Details of the investment, including its projected cost and the number of jobs it would be expected to create, were not immediately known.

The new Georgia EV facility, if it is finalized, would serve both Hyundai and Kia as the brands move to roll out a pair of fully electric SUVs – the Ioniq 7 and EV9 – aimed at the U.S. market, the three people with knowledge of the plans told Reuters.

Georgia’s Economic Department declined to comment. “We do not comment on speculation about economic development projects,” said a state economic development department spokesperson.

The announcement of an investment deal by Hyundai would come at a time when the administration of President Joe Biden has been pushing for more investment in EVs and related suppliers to create jobs and drive a clean-energy agenda. It would also mark a major economic development win for Georgia, which has pushed to establish itself as a regional hub for the emerging EV industry.

The announcement could come days before the May 24 Georgia primary election in which Republican Governor Brian Kemp is being challenged by former U.S. Senator David Perdue.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the company could hire 8,500 as part of its plans to build a new factory. The newspaper said the plant could be located on a more than 2,200-acre site that the state had previously proposed to Rivian, Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover.

Hyundai had been working to announce its U.S. investment in EV manufacturing sometime later this month to coincide with Biden’s planned visit to Seoul, another person with knowledge of the plans said.

Hyundai announced a $300-million investment last month to manufacture the all-electric Genesis GV 70 and a hybrid version of the Santa Fe at its Alabama plant. The Genesis model would be Hyundai’s first EV made in the United States.

Hyundai’s comment to Reuters was the company’s first confirmation that it was nearing an announcement on a site for a new EV plant.

Hyundai affiliate Kia also said last month that it was looking to shift production to the United States but was not considering a dedicated EV factory on its own.

Kia has said it will have 14 EVs by 2027. Hyundai has said it will roll out 17 by 2030, including six for its luxury Genesis brand.

Hyundai’s battery supplier, SK Innovation’s (096770.KS) battery unit SK On, has just built two adjacent plants in Georgia. The first, which mostly supplies Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE), kicked off production in the first quarter. The second, which will supply batteries for Ford Motor Co (F.N), is set to begin production early next year.

SK On will supply the battery for the Ioniq 7, a person with knowledge of that contract told Reuters. SK On said it cannot comment on supply deals involving specific customers.

Biden is set to travel to South Korea on May 20 for meetings with South Korea’s incoming president Yoon Suk-yeol, an advocate of steps to shore-up South Korea’s ties with the United States.

The Biden administration has said it will allocate more than $3 billion in infrastructure funding to finance EV manufacturing. Biden wants half of vehicles sold in the United States to be electric by 2030.

Other Asian companies that have announced plans to build U.S. battery plants include Korea’s LG Energy Solution (373220.KS) and Samsung SDI (006400.KS).

Reuters reported earlier this month that CATL, the world’s largest battery maker, was in talks to open battery plants that would serve BMW AG (BMWG.DE) and Ford with potential sites in South Carolina and Kentucky.

A South Korea media report said Yoon, who takes office on Tuesday, was also planning a follow-up visit to Washington after Biden visits Seoul, where he would be accompanied by leaders of South Korea’s top conglomerates including Hyundai Motor and SK to discuss investment in the United States.

A spokeswoman for Yoon on Monday denied the plan as reported.

Science & Technology

Rich heritage buried under impoverished Gaza Strip

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

While workers labored on a large construction site in the Gaza Strip, a security guard noticed a strange piece of stone sticking out of the earth.

“I thought it was a tunnel,” said Ahmad, the young guard, referring to secret passages dug by Hamas to help it battle Israel.

In the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas and repeatedly ravaged by war, people are more familiar with burying the dead than digging up their heritage.

But what Ahmad found in January was part of a Roman necropolis dating from about 2,000 years ago — representative of the impoverished Palestinian territory’s rich, if under-developed, archaeological treasures, phys.org reported Sunday.

After the last war between Israel and Hamas in May 2021 left a trail of damage in Gaza, Egypt began a reconstruction initiative worth $500 million.

As part of that project in Jabaliya, in the north of the coastal enclave, bulldozers were digging up the sandy soil in order to build new concrete buildings when Ahmad made his discovery.

“I notified the Egyptian foremen, who immediately contacted local authorities and asked the workers to stop,” said Ahmad, a Palestinian who preferred not to give his full name.

With rumors on social media of a big discovery, Gaza’s antiquities service called in the French non-governmental group Premiere Urgence Internationale and the French Biblical and Archaeological School of Jerusalem to evaluate the site’s importance and mark off the area, phys.org reported.

“The first excavations permitted the identification of about 40 tombs dating from the ancient Roman period between the first and second centuries AD,” said French archaeologist Rene Elter, who led the team dispatched to Jabaliya.

“The necropolis is larger than these 40 tombs and should have between 80 and 100,” he said.

One of the burial sites found so far is decorated with multi-colored paintings representing crowns and garlands of bay leaves, as well as jars for funereal drinks, the archaeologist added.

Stakes and fences have been erected around the Roman necropolis, which is watched over constantly by guards as new buildings go up nearby, phys.org reported.

Gaza is a tiny, overcrowded strip of land whose population in 15 years has ballooned from 1.4 million to 2.3 million. As a result, building construction has accelerated.

“Some people avoid telling authorities if there is an archaeological discovery on a construction site out of fear of not being compensated” for the resulting work stoppage, Abu Hassan said.

“We lose archaeological sites every day,” which shows the need for a strategy to defend the enclave’s heritage, including training local archaeologists, he said.

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Science & Technology

Burmese python weighing almost 100kg caught in Florida

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(Last Updated On: June 24, 2022)

The largest Burmese python ever seen in Florida was caught by researchers who used another python to lure it out of its hiding place in the Everglades, National Geographic reported this week.

The gargantuan snake was a female, measuring nearly 5.4 meters long and weighing 97 kilograms, 13.6 kg more than the next-largest python ever found in the state.

Most Burmese pythons that are found in Florida range between 1.8 and 3 m long, although in their native habitats in Southeast Asia, the snakes commonly reach 5.4 m. The largest can reach lengths of 6 m or more, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Since being introduced in Florida in the 1970s, the invasive pythons have bred successfully in the southern regions of the state, where they prey on many native birds and mammals, as well as the occasional alligator or pet dog, Live Science reported.

A 3.7 m snake nicknamed Dion served as bait for the record-setting female that the team captured in December.

At that time, the team of researchers noticed Dion had stationed himself in one particular location near Naples, within the western Everglades’ ecosystem. When they went to check on him, they found him coiled near a monstrous female.

After an intense wrestling match, the researchers managed to wrangle the huge female into a bag, which they then secured and transported to their research facility.

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Science & Technology

Giant stingray caught in Cambodia is world’s largest freshwater fish

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(Last Updated On: June 22, 2022)

The largest freshwater fish ever recorded was captured in the Mekong River in Cambodia last week by a fisherman collaborating with researchers to document the river’s biodiversity.

The four-meter endangered giant freshwater stingray (Urogymnus polylepis) was hauled from the river on June 13 before being measured and released back into the wild, the non-profit conservation news service Mongabay reported.

Weighing in at nearly 300 kilograms, the stingray surpasses the previous record holder, a 293-kg Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) caught in Thailand in 2005.

Experts say the find emphasizes what’s at stake in the Mekong, a river that’s facing a slew of development threats, including major hydropower dams that have altered the river’s natural flow and exacerbated low river levels due to dry-season droughts in recent years, Mongabay reported.

“This is an absolutely astonishing discovery, and justifies efforts to better understand the mysteries surrounding this species and the incredible stretch of river where it lives,” Zeb Hogan, a fish biologist and leader of the USAID-funded Wonders of the Mekong project, said in a statement.

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