Archive | Battery Technology Innovation/Electric Vehicles

Coronavirus slows U.S. push to produce electric vehicle minerals – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters Canada – March 26, 2020)

https://ca.reuters.com/

(Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic is hobbling U.S. efforts to produce lithium, rare earths and other materials used in electric vehicles and high-tech equipment, dealing a blow to President Donald Trump’s plan to curb Chinese control of the strategic minerals sector.

As the pandemic has killed nearly 20,000 across the globe, U.S. junior miners have slowed engineering work, environmental reviews and loan applications. “We can just hit pause,” said Keith Phillips, chief executive of North Carolina’s Piedmont Lithium Ltd.

Piedmont, Lithium Americas Corp and ioneer Ltd, both of which have Nevada projects, have said they now face engineering or regulatory setbacks that could push back mine construction. Continue Reading →

Chile lithium miners take coronavirus precautions, say impact on output minimal so far – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters/Financial Post – March 17, 2020)

https://business.financialpost.com/

SANTIAGO — Top lithium miners in Chile, the world´s No.2 producer of the ultralight battery metal, ramped up sanitary precautions at their Atacama salt flat mining operations to protect workers from the coronavirus outbreak, but said impact on output was minimal thus far.

Cases of coronavirus in Chile had jumped to 181 on Tuesday, prompting authorities to shut down the country´s borders, close schools and prohibit gatherings of large groups. The South American nation is also the world´s top copper producer.

SQM, in a letter to Chilean financial regulators late on Monday, said the border closures, decreases in commercial activity and disruptions in supply chains had led to “a reduction of approximately 2,000 metric tonnes of lithium sales volumes in China.” Continue Reading →

Lithium startup backed by Bill Gates seeks a breakthrough at the Salton Sea – by Sammy Roth (Los Angeles Times – March 16, 2020)

https://www.latimes.com/

David Snydacker knew going in that California’s Imperial Valley was a “graveyard for lithium-extraction technologies.”

For years, companies had tried and failed to find a cost-effective way to pull the valuable mineral — a key ingredient in the batteries that power electric cars — from the naturally heated fluid deep beneath the Salton Sea. One of the most recent busts was Simbol Materials, a much-hyped startup that collapsed in 2015 shortly after Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc. offered to buy the firm for $325 million.

But several deep-pocketed investors think Snydacker’s technology may finally launch a new domestic clean-energy industry. His Oakland startup, Lilac Solutions, recently announced a $20-million funding round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which funds startups working to reduce planet-warming emissions. Continue Reading →

Breakthrough Technique Could Produce Lithium in Hours Not Months – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – March 9, 2020)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg) — A new filtration technique could cut the time needed to produce lithium raw materials at South America’s vast evaporation ponds to hours from months, according to a study by a group of international scientists.

The method, developed by researchers at Australia’s national science institute CSIRO, Monash University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Texas at Austin, mimics the filtering capabilities of living cells to extract lithium from concentrated salt water, where the metal is typically mixed with other materials, including potassium and salt.

“We could one day have the capability to produce simple filters that will take hours to extract lithium from brine, rather than several months to years,” said Huanting Wang, a professor of chemical engineering at Monash University, and among the authors of newly published research on the technique. Continue Reading →

Drivers Leading New Push to Cheap EV Batteries (Bloomberg News – March 1, 2020)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — Electric-vehicle manufacturers in China are seen turning to cheaper batteries to slash costs and meet the needs of drivers in its megacities who don’t need to travel huge distances.

There’s been resurgent interest in lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries since the middle of 2019 when China started to rein in subsidies that had spurred adoption of more expensive, longer-range units using materials such as nickel and cobalt. The cost-competitiveness, safety and low sensitivity to commodity price dynamics of LFP batteries are boosting their popularity in the country, according to a report by BloombergNEF.

China’s biggest maker of new energy vehicles, BYD Co., said its latest cobalt-free battery will be in a new sports-utility model from the middle of this year. Continue Reading →

Small miners hungry for fresh capital despite rampant EV enthusiasm – by Jeff Lewis (Reuters U.S. – March 1, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

TORONTO – Small miners hoping to take advantage of demand for battery metals are struggling to convert electric vehicle aficionados into investors, compounding the sector’s funding constraints even as analysts predict a long-term shortage of the raw materials used to make EVs.

The predicament has made it harder for already-strapped miners to raise money and could stall construction of new mines in the event the burgeoning EV industry faces a supply crunch for battery-grade lithium, graphite and other minerals.

“You need a mine for almost everything that we touch, and people still don’t get that,” said Eric Desaulniers, chief executive of Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc (NOU.V), which is developing a graphite mine in Quebec. “They want the electric car to save the planet but no mining.” Continue Reading →

Lithium price: EVs will be $350bn market in just 15 years – by Frik Els (Mining.com – February 25, 2020)

https://www.mining.com/

The global energy storage market is expected to balloon over the next 15 years, according to a report released by Lux Research.

“The energy storage industry is poised for a massive increase in annual revenue and deployment capacity as key innovative technologies, such as solid-state batteries and flow batteries, reach commercialization,” said analyst Chloe Holzinger, one of the report’s lead authors.

The Boston-based company forecasts a global market of $546 billion in annual revenue by 2035. That’s up from $59 billion last year. Capacity will grow even faster, with annual combined deployment level 3,046 GWh over the next 15 years, up from the current 164 GWh and compound growth of 20% per year. Continue Reading →

Bolivia: will the ousting of Morales open lithium to foreign investment? – by Heidi Vella (Mining Technology – February 20, 2020)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

Making up one third of the so-called ‘lithium triangle’, the Andean nation of Bolivia is estimated to have around nine million metric tons of lithium – the largest accumulation in the world, according to the US Geological Survey.

Due to the expected exponential growth in demand for battery technology in recent years, of which lithium is a component, interest in Bolivia’s untapped reserves has skyrocketed. However, unlike neighbouring countries Argentina and Chile, which both have lithium mines in production, efforts to develop these resources have so far amounted to little.

The now exiled former President, Evo Morales, who was a keen proponent of resource nationalism, had tried to kick-start a local lithium industry via a state-owned company and joint partnerships with foreign firms, but he faced public opposition and lack of local expertise. Continue Reading →

Bill Gates-Led Fund Invests in Making Lithium Mining More Sustainable – by Akshat Rathi and Anne VanderMey (Bloomberg/Financial Post – February 20, 2020)

https://business.financialpost.com/

(Bloomberg) — Breakthrough Energy Ventures, helmed by Bill Gates, and MIT’s The Engine fund are leading an investment round of $20 million for Lilac Solutions, a U.S. startup aimed at making the extraction of lithium less water-intensive and more sustainable.

As the world looks to cut carbon emissions, people are increasingly turning to lithium-ion batteries for solutions such as powering electric vehicles or storing renewable energy. While there’s enough lithium available to meet today’s demand, BloombergNEF expects the market could see a shortfall as soon as 2023 as demand for the metal grows fourfold over the next decade.

About 75% of the world’s lithium is trapped in underground deposits of briny water that contain a mixture of salts. The typical way to recover lithium is to pump the water to the surface into miles-long salt ponds and let the water evaporate. What remains is then treated with chemicals, processed, washed, and filtered to leave behind the lithium. Continue Reading →

Tesla’s China surprise big blow for cobalt, nickel price bulls – by Frik Els (Mining.com – February 19, 2020)

https://www.mining.com/

Long-suffering cobalt bulls were dealt another blow on Wednesday after reports that the world’s largest electric carmaker is shifting some production of its most popular model away from batteries that contain nickel and cobalt.

In a surprise move, China’s top battery manufacturer CATL will supply Tesla with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries for its Model 3 production at its newly built $2 billion factory outside Shanghai.

The Model 3 is Tesla’s most popular, and the US-made version uses the company’s nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) cathode chemistry. Most other automakers favour nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) cathode chemistries. Continue Reading →

Europe Floors It in the Race to Dominate Car Batteries – by Laura Millan Lombrana, Chris Reiter and Richard Weiss (Bloomberg News – February 19, 2020)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — Outside the German town of Arnstadt, workers for China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) are hustling to build Europe’s biggest electric-car battery plant.

The site, which covers an area equivalent to about 100 football fields, previously housed one of the continent’s largest solar-panel factories. During a visit in October, wooden crates filled with surplus equipment were stacked up outside the metal-clad structure to make way for car-battery-making equipment. Roaring bulldozers swarmed a nearby lot to prep for construction of a new building.

The $2 billion project—one of about a half dozen battery factories under construction in Germany alone—worries European policymakers, who are desperate to ensure their auto industry doesn’t lose competitiveness in the transition to electric vehicles. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Tesla in talks to use CATL’s cobalt-free batteries in China-made cars – sources – by Zhang Yan, Yilei Sun and Brenda Goh (Reuters U.S. – February 18, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

Beijing (Reuters) – Tesla (TSLA.O) is in advanced stages of talks to use batteries from CATL (300750.SZ) that contain no cobalt – one of the most expensive metals in electric vehicle (EV) batteries – in cars made at its China plant, people familiar with the matter said.

Adoption would mark the first time for the U.S. automaker to include so-called lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries in its lineup, as it seeks to lower production costs amid faltering overall EV sales in China.

Tesla has been talking to the Chinese manufacturer for more than a year to supply LFP batteries that will be cheaper than its existing batteries by a “double-digit percent,” said a person directly involved in the matter, who was not authorized to speak with media and so declined to be identified. Continue Reading →

‘Transformation’ is in the air at Vale – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – February 12, 2020)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Electric vehicle market, carbon neutral plans, environmental safeguards part of Sudbury miner’s current and future operations

The thrust of Dino Otranto’s presentation was on the transformational challenges ahead for base metal mining giant Vale to create a business that’s sustainable in the Sudbury basin for generations to come.

But the opening image he flashed to a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce lunchtime crowd on Feb. 11 was of the Brumadinho tailings dam break at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine in Brazil on Jan. 25, 2019. It was the company’s second major dam breach in that country in four years.

The man-made environmental catastrophe at Brumadinho produced a toxic mudflow that swept away the company’s offices, and houses, farms and roads in a nearby village, and contaminated a major river system. Continue Reading →

Investors from five countries eye Mexico’s nascent lithium market (Reuters U.S. – February 12, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Investors from at least five countries have expressed interest in Mexico’s nascent lithium extraction and production industry, said Francisco Quiroga, the undersecretary for mining, after a promising find in the north of the country.

The find is still in the exploration phase. If initial estimates of lithium deposits are confirmed, Mexico could emerge as one of the world’s largest players in a thriving sector.

In January, the mine’s two foreign operators estimated that it could contain 8.8 million tonnes of lithium. This would put Mexico on a par with Bolivia or Chile, whose mines have large known deposits. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Germany’s Volkswagen and Daimler push for more ‘sustainable’ Chile lithium – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters Canada – February 11, 2020)

https://ca.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – German automakers Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and Daimler (DAIGn.DE) have launched a study to push for more “sustainable” lithium mining in Chile, according to lobbyist filings reviewed by Reuters, a sign of growing supply chain concerns ahead of an expected electric vehicle boom.

Chile’s Atacama salt flat is by far the biggest source of supply of the ultralight battery metal in South America’s so-called “lithium triangle.” The region, whose fragile ecosystem relies on a limited water supply, is home to the globe’s top two producers, U.S.-based Albemarle Corp (ALB.N) and Chile’s SQM (SQMA.SN).

But concerns over sustainability have long plagued Atacama’s miners, which extract the metal from pools of brine beneath the world’s driest desert. Residents and environmental groups worry about potential damage to a regional ecosystem home to an ancient indigenous culture, lagoons inhabited with rare flamingos and a booming tourism industry. Continue Reading →