JOHANNESBURG/HOUSTON (Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic has paused the electric vehicle revolution, forcing producers of battery metal lithium into survival mode with output cuts, expansion delays and sales of major assets.
Lithium industry shares have dropped sharply since January as the economic downturn from the pandemic slammed the brakes yet again on the electrification revolution that for years has seemed just around the corner. Investors are giving the cold shoulder to mine developers seeking funding for lithium projects.
“This pandemic further kicks the EV can down the road,” said Seth Goldstein, a lithium industry analyst with Morningstar.
The holdup will result in a shortage of the white metal available for EV batteries when markets rebound, warned industry analysts, executives and consultants.
“We don’t want to spend a great deal on lithium at the moment,” said Vincent Mascolo, chief executive of Ironridge Resources Ltd, which has put its Ghana lithium project up for sale. “Investor appetite is not there.”