Mad Scramble for Lithium Stretches From Congo to Cornwall – by Thomas Wilson and Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – October 25, 2017)

For evidence of just how hot battery ingredient lithium is right now, look no further than Australia’s AVZ Minerals Ltd.

A penny stock until a few months ago, the mining hopeful has surged about 1,300 percent this year. The proposition: recasting a remote, century-old tin mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a supplier of lithium needed to power electric cars.

While its rise has been dramatic, AVZ isn’t alone in the rush to position for a rechargeable-battery boom. In the U.K., a company founded by former investment banker Jeremy Wrathall is planning to tap thermal springs in Cornwall, a region more famous for its beach coves. Other companies are hunting for lithium deposits from Germany to Mali, and even Afghanistan plans to tender exploration permits.

“You’ve got a scramble for deposits, a demand side that looks very impressive, the question is always around the supply,” said Paul Gait, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd. in London.

In the rush to meet demand there is a risk too many mines will be developed and too much metal supplied, Gait said. “When the tide goes out, those that do not have good geology will always be found wanting.”

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