The lowest lithium prices in over two years are hampering a handful of miners that want to challenge China’s dominance in the market.
China controls most of the processing that makes the mineral usable in rechargeable batteries, leaving American vehicle makers vulnerable to supply disruptions if trade tensions escalate. With automakers from Tesla Inc. to General Motors Co. aiming to manufacture more electric cars at home, small companies are seeking to build the first U.S. lithium mines in decades as a step toward forming a local supply chain.
However, financing mines is proving a challenge after a rush of Australian supply dragged down prices by a third from a record in mid-2018. Companies also face stricter environmental rules and regulatory hurdles in the U.S., which currently accounts for just 1.2% of global lithium production. Continue Reading →