Archive | Battery Technology Innovation/Electric Vehicles

China’s cobalt dominance meets blockchain-backed resistance – by Rurika Imahashi and Nikki Sun (Nikkei Asian Review – July 17, 2018)

https://asia.nikkei.com/

TOKYO/HONG KONG — The equation could not be simpler. Electric cars are widely considered the future of the auto industry. Each electric car battery requires about 10 kg of cobalt. Control the cobalt supply, win the future. China, clearly, has done the math.

Most of the cobalt produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo — the world’s top source of the metal by far — is purchased by Chinese companies like Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt and refined back in China. The strategy appears to be to control the supply chain so that electric car production is virtually impossible without Chinese involvement.

“If cobalt falls into the hands of the Chinese, yeah you won’t see EVs being produced in Europe, etc.,” Ivan Glasenberg, the chief executive of Swiss miner Glencore, warned in March at the FT Commodities Global Summit. Continue Reading →

Motor Mouth: From well to wheel, EVs don’t make sense with solar, wind power – by David Booth (National Post/Driving.ca – July 13, 2018)

https://driving.ca/

Ironically – and without factoring emissions – some renewable energies make electric cars less efficient in cost than gasoline-powered versions

You know you’re doing something right when William Henry Gates III — you might know him better as Bill — is a fan boy. Yes, as brilliant and lauded as Mr. Microsoft is, he literally fawns over a (semi) obscure Canadian scientist named Vaclav Smil.

Citing Smil’s unique ability to go both deep and broad — as in being able to plum a subject to its depths but also bring insights from across many disciplines — Gates claims to have read almost all of Smil’s books. Considering that the University of Manitoba professor emeritus has published 37 — four in 2013 alone, says Bill — that’s quite a feat.

Nonetheless, the world’s sometimes richest man claims he waits “for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next Star Wars movie.” Continue Reading →

Potential lithium ‘hotspots’ can be identified from space, study finds (Irish Examiner – July 12, 2018)

https://www.irishexaminer.com/

Satellites detecting changes in trees from space could help identify potential “hotspots” of lithium situated underground in Cornwall, researchers have said.

Global demand for lithium, a vital component in “next generation” batteries for electric vehicles and storage for renewable power, is expected to grow by around 400% by 2025.

Lithium in hot brine springs in Cornwall could provide the UK with a domestic source of the metal, which has been described as “the new gasoline” due to its potential to help in the shift to low-carbon energy supplies. Continue Reading →

Zimbabwe mining: Platinum has promise and lithium looms large – by Tonderayi Mukeredzi (The Africa Report – July 11, 2018)

http://www.theafricareport.com/

Harare: President Emmerson Mnangagwa desperately wants to show that he can turn the economy around and is looking for quick wins from the mining sector, which had been spooked by his predecessor’s indigenisation plans. Mnangagwa does not want to completely liberalise the sector, and the government still insists on majority local ownership for platinum and diamond mining projects.

A new mining bill now making its way through parliament proposes to force mining companies to list on the local stock exchange, though foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo told an audience at Chatham House in London on 25 April that the clause would be taken out.

Platinum is the main focus for miners, and in March, Cyprus-based Karo Resources signed a deal with a promise of $4.2bn in investment in the Mhondoro-Ngezi region. A lot of platinum goes into catalytic converters and other devices to reduce emissions on petrol-powered cars. Continue Reading →

Canadian startups focus efforts on zinc, instead of lithium-ion, for future batteries – by Tyler Hamilton (Globe and Mail – July 11, 2018)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

The energy storage market is a battlefield, littered with the corpses of failed newcomers that underestimated how deeply entrenched lithium-ion technology would become.

We’re talking 95 per cent entrenched, a market position growing stronger as demand for electric vehicles, wireless devices and cordless tools rise. Costs continue to plunge, with “gigafactories” and “Chinafication” driving the same economies of scale that turned solar photovoltaic panels into a commodity.

This has researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology worried about “technology lock-in.” Their fear, outlined in a recent white paper, is that lithium-ion has become so dominant that it is preventing newer, better battery chemistries from getting funded, gaining market traction and achieving the scale needed to survive, let alone compete on cost. Continue Reading →

Electric vehicle demand will double nickel price – as soon as 2022 – by Frik Els (Mining.com – July 9, 2018)

http://www.mining.com/

After a gravity-defying run, nickel has now also succumbed to weakness in the industrial metals complex as global trade fears mount, declining to $14,125 per tonne on Monday.

The metal, mainly used in stainless steel manufacture, is down 10% or more than $1,600 a tonne from more than three-year highs hit on the LME a month ago.

Nickel is still up by 62% compared to its June 2017 lows, mostly on the back of falling inventories in top consumer China. On the Shanghai Futures Exchange nickel stocks have dropped for 24 straight weeks while LME warehouses are the emptiest since mid-2014. Continue Reading →

These battery skeptics think cobalt and lithium prices are overcooked – by Luzi Ann Javier (Financial Post/Bloomberg – July 2018)

https://business.financialpost.com/

Tesla boss Elon Musk says the amount of cobalt his company will use to make electric cars is headed toward ‘almost nothing’

Call them battery skeptics. Bets on surging demand for electric vehicles have made cobalt and lithium hot commodities, but some investors say the outlook is leaving them cold.

While prices have more than doubled in the past three years on worries over shortages of the metals used in batteries, Bank of America Merrill Lynch is predicting “severe oversupplies” in the lithium market, and Subaru Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. are for now keeping their focus on conventionally powered vehicles.

“The craziness that you see in cobalt will in many ways actually be corrected,” Christoph Eibl, the chief executive officer of asset manager Tiberius Group, said in an interview. “There’s so much uncertainty about how future technologies will be applied and how much replacement and substitution will actually occur. There will be batteries that will use much less lithium. Continue Reading →

Critical Minerals Alaska – Cobalt – by Shane Lasley (North of 60 Mining News – June 22, 2018)

https://www.miningnewsnorth.com/

More EVs, unstable supply put battery metal on US critical minerals list

Cobalt is an essential ingredient to optimizing the performance of batteries in the growing number of electric vehicles on global highways, yet essentially none of this battery metal is mined in the United States. With at least one advanced stage exploration project in Alaska looking into the potential of producing cobalt alongside its copper, America’s 49th State could provide a domestic source for this critical metal.

In its annual report, Mineral Commodity Summaries 2018, the United States Geological Survey forecasts that the rechargeable battery sector is expected to drive the demand of cobalt higher faster than the mining sector will bring new supplies of the battery metal to market.

“As a result, the global cobalt supply was expected to remain limited in the near term,” USGS penned in the annual report. This limited supply could affect more than U.S. carmakers such as Tesla Inc. Continue Reading →

Cobalt, lithium and nickel are booming due to China’s insatiable appetite for electric vehicles – by Jane Li (South China Morning Post – June 30, 2018)

http://www.scmp.com/

World prices of cobalt, lithium and nickel are booming as China’s insatiable need for the battery packs used in electric vehicles drove up demand, recreating the economic bonanza that fuelled commodity-exporting countries a decade ago.

The price of lithium, a soft silvery white metal usually mined from brines, has soared by more than 300 per cent in the past two years. The price of cobalt, mostly mined as a by-product of nickel and copper, surged 129 per cent last year while nickel surged 4.6 per cent to a two-year high in London.

At the centre of the boom is China’s support for developing electric vehicles (EV) to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Electric vehicles made up a mere 2.3 per cent of the 30 million vehicles produced last year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. That proportion may quintuple to 12 per cent by 2025, according to a forecast by JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s analyst Nick Lai. Continue Reading →

China’s firms are scouring the world for mineral ores in pursuit of nation’s electric dream – by Jane Li (South China Morning Post – June 30, 2018)

http://www.scmp.com/

Chinese companies are scouring the world’s mines for lithium, cobalt and other minerals that go into battery packs used in electric vehicles, resuming the kind of voracious hunt for resources that added to economic booms in exporting countries a decade earlier.

They were the first to get off the starting block in getting their hands on these vital minerals, crucial for China’s ambition to lead the world in the production and use of electric and new energy vehicles, where up to 2 million units are expected to ply the nation’s streets by 2020, according to government forecast.

China Molybdenum, a partly state-owned producer of the chemical element, paid US$2.65 billion in 2016 for the Tenke Fungurume Mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the world’s largest known reserves of copper and cobalt resources. Continue Reading →

Bankers Have Gone AWOL in the Race to Build More Lithium Mines – by David Stringer and Mariko Ishikawa (Bloomberg News – July 3, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

After clinching a deal with a Chinese battery maker in 2016, James Brown figured bankers would be eager to fund his new lithium mine. Altura Mining Ltd. was racing to ship the raw material from Australia to the world’s biggest electric vehicle market as demand was surging.

Instead, while lithium prices kept rising, Brown spent a Christmas holiday cold-calling lenders and jetted around the globe to raise the money. Eventually, Minneapolis-based Castlelake LP, a private equity firm, helped arrange $110 million in bonds. But there was a catch: an interest rate as high as 15 percent, or almost double what banks normally charge for more conventional mining ventures.

“We’d been trying banks we’d known for years,” said Brown, Altura’s managing director, who previously spent 22 years with coal producer New Hope Corp. “They said: Guys we love it, we just don’t have a mandate (for lithium). If you came to us with coal, gold or iron ore, you’d have no worries.” Continue Reading →

Bolivia offers its lithium reserves to India (Gulf News – July 1, 2018)

https://gulfnews.com/

Ambassador says country willing to sign a Preferential Trade Agreement with India for select goods

New Delhi: Bolivia, known to have the largest reserves of lithium, has offered the metal — used in making batteries of electric vehicles, laptops and smart phones — to India.

The South American nation’s ambassador to India, Sergio Dario Arispe Barrientos, said the country has the largest deposit of Lithium and India could explore this opportunity.

Barrientos said his country is willing to sign a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) — a pact between countries that provides preferential access to certain products by lowering tariff and other conditions — with India for select goods. Continue Reading →

To reduce China’s leverage, rebuild America’s minerals supply chain – by Mark J. Perry (The Hill – June 26, 2018)

http://thehill.com/

Imagine a scenario where the U.S. is entirely dependent on a single nation for oil. You can’t. It’s inconceivable. We would never let one nation — much less a sometimes adversarial rival — dominate our supply of a critical resource. Or would we?

Astoundingly, we have. We are completely import-dependent for 21 mineral commodities, and imports account for more than half of our consumption for 50 critical minerals. Who’s our largest supplier? China.

While much of China’s resource dominance comes from domestic production, it doesn’t end at the border. Chinese companies have come to control the production of key minerals resources in nearly every corner of the world. Continue Reading →

Tantalum miner threatens expansion at Australia’s biggest lithium mine – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – June 25, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

MELBOURNE – (Reuters) – A partner in one of the world’s largest lithium mines said on Monday trial dates have been set to determine whether expansion at the Western Australian mine, in which China’s Tianqi Lithium holds a stake, would unfairly impact its minerals rights.

Private-equity backed Global Advanced Metals (GAM) owns the rights to tantalum and other minerals produced at Greenbushes, the world’s largest hard rock lithium mine, and has requested the courts to halt mine expansion plans to ensure that its rights are secure.

Talison Lithium, a joint venture between units of lithium giants Tianqi Lithium, and U.S.-based Albemarle Corp, owns only the lithium rights at Greenbushes. Tianqi and Albemarle hold 51 percent and 49 percent of Talison each. Continue Reading →

Lithium and cobalt: A tale of two commodities – by Marcelo Azevedo, Nicolò Campagnol, Toralf Hagenbruch, Ken Hoffman, Ajay Lala, and Oliver Ramsbottom (McKinsey.com – June 2018)

https://www.mckinsey.com/

What does the rise of electric vehicles mean for two critical raw materials that go into their batteries—and for the players in this ecosystem?

The electric-vehicle (EV) revolution is ushering in a golden age for battery raw materials, best reflected by a dramatic increase in price for two key battery commodities, lithium and cobalt, over the past 24 months. In addition, the growing need for energy storage, e-bikes, electrification of tools, and other battery-intense applications is increasing the interest in these commodities (Exhibit 1).

However, recent concerns regarding the future of the raw-material supply availability for batteries and the impact of rising commodity prices on battery production costs have highlighted risks that might create divergent futures for these two commodities.

The strategic response needed will likely differ across industry players such as automotive OEMs, battery manufacturers, mining and refining companies, and financial investors. For all players, there is a growing imperative to understand the complexities and dynamics of this rapidly changing market and to ensure that their strategies are robust in the face of uncertainty. Continue Reading →