BlackRock fund bets big on electric future for lithium – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – September 15, 2017)

BlackRock has emerged as a big backer of lithium start-ups, as the world’s largest asset manager bets on the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

The BlackRock World Mining Trust, which has more than £800m in assets and is co-managed by Evy Hambro, has become the largest shareholder in a handful of small mining companies aiming to produce lithium for use in batteries.

Demand for lithium has surged as the first mass-market electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt attract buyers. Growing demand for EVs has sparked a scramble to locate new supplies of lithium and prices have jumped about 26 per cent this year, making it one of the best performing commodities.

“Today the energy space is evolving towards a low carbon footprint and the combustion engine is going to be replaced with an alternative,” Mr Hambro said. “We want to be invested in companies that will be producing the raw materials that will be needed to meet this growth.”

Mr Hambro is one of the world’s most influential mining investors and his views are closely followed by the industry. Blackrock’s move parallels a growing investor interest in lithium as regulators push a transition to electric cars, and battery costs continue to decline.

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