Archive | Battery Technology Innovation/Electric Vehicles

What really powers your smartphone and electric car – by Lynsey Chutel ( – December 8, 2018)

The rechargeable lithium-ion battery helps define our era. It powers our smartphones and electric cars, and promises a future where we’re better able to store renewable energy. It also requires lithium and cobalt, minerals that some of the world’s poorest countries happen to have in abundance.

That should be good news for all concerned, but mismanagement and graft—common in extractive industries—are making the latest mining boom looks uncomfortably like the bad old days of previous booms.

This week provided reminders of that. First, the Democratic Republic of Congo tripled its levies on cobalt, of which it has the world’s largest natural supply, in a move that could result in pricier smartphones and production slowdowns for electric-car makers. Also, HSBC released a report showing that the projected market share of electric vehicles will be smaller than first thought, due to the high price of lithium and cobalt amid soaring demand. Continue Reading →

FEATURE-Chile drives electric vehicle rollout in Latin America – by Natalia A. Ramos Miranda (Thomson Reuters News – December 9, 2018)

SANTIAGO, Dec 9 (Reuters) – A massive cargo ship docked in the Chilean port of San Antonio at the end of November, carrying it its belly the first 100 electric buses from China that Chileans hope will revolutionize their public transport system.

Chile’s ambitious plan to face down its capital Santiago’s notorious smog problem includes the rollout of electric scooters, cars and taxis, as well as lorries for use in the mining industry.

Mineral-rich Chile – which is not only the world’s largest copper producer but also the second-largest producer of lithium, a key component in electric vehicle batteries – aims to increase the number of electric vehicles tenfold by 2022. Continue Reading →

Going green is not that easy for electric vehicles – by John Dizard (Financial Times – December 7, 2018)

Politics and supply chain difficulties suggest European battery push is too frenetic to work well

“For the European auto companies to change over to electric vehicles is like turning a battleship. And it’s a battleship with a mutinous crew.”

As the European policy world noticed with this week’s French government surrender on diesel taxes, going green is not that easy.

It will become even more difficult as EV production scales up. The problems are not only with public support for decarbonisation charges but with the increased burden on raw material supplies. Continue Reading →

JV Article: Cobalt 27 is Ready to Ride the EV Revolution – by Staff (Northern Miner – December 6, 2018)

Northern Miner

The preceding Joint-Venture Article is PROMOTED CONTENT sponsored by Cobalt 27 Capital Corp., and compiled in cooperation with The Northern Miner. Visit for more information.

Cobalt 27 Capital Corp. (TSXV: KBLT; OTCQX: CBLLF; FRA: 270) is ramping up its exposure to the electric vehicle (EV) revolution with substantial cobalt stream acquisitions to complement its portfolio of battery metal royalties and inventory of physical cobalt.

This year Cobalt 27 acquired from Vale, the world’s first pure cobalt stream for US$300 million on Vale’s Voisey’s Bay mine located in Labrador. The stream, which is expected to deliver approximately 1.9 million pounds of cobalt per year to Cobalt 27, is to be settled in physical delivery for the life of the mine.

Also in 2018, Cobalt 27 acquired a 1.75% net smelter return royalty (NSR) on RNC Minerals’ construction-ready Dumont nickel-cobalt project in Quebec, which includes the world’s largest undeveloped cobalt reserve; and, a 2% NSR on Giga Metals’ Turnagain nickel-cobalt project located in British Columbia, one of the largest undeveloped sulphide nickel-cobalt deposits in the world (in terms of total contained nickel). Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Albemarle pushes Chile to reverse lithium quota decision – filings – by Dave Sherwood and Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – December 5, 2018)

SANTIAGO/HOUSTON (Reuters) – Albemarle Corp (ALB.N) has launched an aggressive lobbying campaign after Chilean regulators denied its request to boost lithium output, stressing the company’s importance to Chile’s economy and workers, according to records reviewed by Reuters.

The behind-the-scenes moves come even as Albemarle has publicly brushed off worries from analysts and investors about rising regulatory pressure in Chile, home to the world’s largest reserves of lithium, a crucial ingredient in electric car batteries and mobile phones.

Ellen Lenny-Pessagno, who became Albemarle’s Chile country manager in October, met with the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN) on Nov. 23 to discuss the rejection, according to filings with Chile’s lobbyist transparency website that have been previously unreported. Continue Reading →

Pioneering nickel sulphate venture draws down on loan – by Martin Creamer ( – December 6, 2018)

JOHANNESBURG ( – Black-controlled Thakadu Battery Materials, a pioneering South African high-purity battery-grade nickel sulphate developer, has made its first drawdown from South Africa’s State-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) under a R152-million loan facility agreement.

The IDC loan is funding yet another important milestone in the construction of Thakadu’s modular nickel sulphate purification plant at the Base Metals Refinery of Lonmin Platinum, in North West province.

The cold commissioning of the R250-million plant, which will have the capacity to produce 25 000 t of high-purity battery-grade nickel sulphate a year, is scheduled to begin towards the end of April, with commercial production planned for end of the first half of 2019. Continue Reading →

Commentary: Vanadium’s electric future hobbled by its industrial past – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – December 5, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – Last year it was cobalt. The year before that it was lithium. This year it is vanadium, another esoteric element of the periodic table that is on a wild bull rampage.

Vanadium prices in China have more than tripled over the course of 2018, albeit with some recent softening from their early-November peaks. The share price of South Africa’s Bushveld Minerals, one of only a handful of primary producers, has soared from less than 10 pence per share at the start of the year to 42 pence currently.

Vanadium is the latest exotic metal to feel the new energy heat. The vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) is a breakthrough technology in energy storage, a fast-growing component of the infrastructure needed to accommodate the global shift to renewable energy. Continue Reading →

High Risk-High Reward Lithium Bet Drives Argentina Mining Surge – by Laura Millan Lombrana and Jonathan Gilbert (Bloomberg News – December 5, 2018)

High risk/high reward. That’s the bet being made by global lithium miners in Argentina who are brushing aside a recession, a currency crisis and political uncertainty in their hunger for the mineral that helps power electric cars.

Rising demand and limited supply have resulted in lithium prices tripling over four years. In response, companies have been scrambling to build new mines, putting Argentina and Chile, two of the world’s largest producers of the mineral, squarely in their sights.

But while Chile may be more economically stable, top producers there — Albemarle Corp. and Soc. Quimica y Minera de Chile SA — have struggled to obtain licenses to expand. Meanwhile, Argentina President Mauricio Macri is pushing a more pro-market agenda. Continue Reading →

Tianqi buys stake in lithium miner SQM from Nutrien for $4.1 billion – by Antonio De la Jara (Reuters U.S. – December 3, 2018)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp (002466.SZ) has purchased a 23.77 percent share in Chilean lithium miner SQM (SQMa.SN) from Canadian fertilizer giant Nutrien (NTR.TO), the Chilean stock exchange said on Monday, for a total sale price of $4.066 billion.

The sale to Tianqi comes as Chinese companies increasingly scour the globe for the raw materials necessary to ramp up Chinese production of electric vehicles. Lithium is a key component in the batteries that power everything from cellphones to electric vehicles.

“A minority stake in SQM is great from our perspective, especially when we look at long term growth and expectations for the lithium industry,” said Ashley Ozols, business development manager for Tianqi, after the deal closed. Continue Reading →

Bolivia’s Almost Impossible Lithium Dream – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – December 3, 2018)

A small army of workers from cities and villages across Bolivia boards the buses for the last leg of a commute that can last days. The meandering, bumpy dirt roads, the thin air at high altitude, the ordeal of bringing labor into the blinding white plain of the world’s largest salt flat—all of this stands between anyone who dreams of retrieving Bolivia’s lithium riches and turning it into electric-car batteries.

These workers will spend two weeks at the Uyuni salt flat in the southern tip of Bolivia before they return home for a seven-day rest. They are attempting to build a world-class lithium mine on top of the Andes mountains, about 12,000 feet above sea level at the heart of landlocked Bolivia. The nearest port is at least 500 kilometers and a border crossing away.

From above, this vast area appears so white it gets mistaken for a giant snow plain. The salt crystallizes in the dry season, forming millions of tile-looking hexagons that span an area as large as Connecticut. During the wet season, it’s covered by a thin layer of water that forms a giant mirror, reflecting the sky so neatly that the line of the horizon disappears. The visual effect draws thousands of visitors and the Dakar Rally every year, making it Bolivia’s top tourist destination. Continue Reading →

Cobalt mining shows clean energy revolution comes at a price – by Zoe Dawson (Irish Times – December 2, 2018)

Zoe Dawson is from Dublin and studying for a master’s degree in global affairs at New York University.

As the global transition to clean energy has progressed, demand for cobalt has rocketed. A natural metallic element, cobalt has unique properties that make it a key component in the production of batteries.

Until recently, smartphones and laptops drove demand for batteries; however, the growing market for electric vehicles and renewable-energy power storage has resulted in a surge in the demand for cobalt.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s wealthiest countries when it comes to natural resources and contains half of the world’s cobalt reserves. Despite the country’s natural mineral wealth, however, many challenges persist there. To facilitate the emerging clean and sustainable economy the world is highly dependent on a mineral produced via some of the most criticised practices, with no one being held accountable for the human-rights abuses taking place. Continue Reading →

The GM paradox: Sell more pick-ups, prepare for an electric car world – by Konrad Yakabuski (Globe and Mail – November 28, 2018)

Mary Barra envisions an all-electric future for General Motors. But to get there, she first needs to bank as much profit as possible by selling millions more gas-guzzling pick-up trucks.

Therein lies the paradox of the strategy GM’s chief executive unveiled on Monday as she announced the elimination of six car models and the idling of five North American factories, including the Oshawa, Ont., facility that makes the soon-for-the-scrap-heap Chevrolet Impala sedan.

Ms. Barra is moving to shed slow-selling models and cut manufacturing capacity ahead of a possible recession, all while investing billions in the development of electric and autonomous vehicles. It’s a risky gamble for an automaker that owes its very existence to the internal combustion engine. Continue Reading →

Lithium producers race to dominate South American output: Roskill – by Ben Kilbey (S&P Global Platts – November 26, 2018)

London — There is a battle to be the “supreme” lithium producer in South America, with Chile now facing competition from other countries on the continent, research outlet Roskill Information Services said Monday.

Speaking at the annual Mines & Money exhibition in London, Robert Baylis, managing director of Roskill, said the global shift away from carbon to renewables and electric was creating a massive demand boost for lithium.

Baylis said he sees lithium demand growing at around 30% annually, from around 94,000 mt in 2018 to 1 million mt and above from the late 2020s. However, he cautioned that recent price volatility and weakness could be putting off increased investment on the supply side. Continue Reading →

BASF makes low-nickel wager amid scramble for battery metals – by Ludwig Burger (Reuters U.S. – November 23, 2018)

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German chemicals giant BASF is betting on a new recipe for electric car batteries which stretches the time between charges while cutting dependence on nickel to help shave costs and grab more of a growing market.

It is part of flurry of activity in the sphere of cathodes materials, a major component of battery cells for an anticipated switch to electric vehicles (EV) due to clean air regulation.

At the moment BASF and others, including Belgium’s Umicore, a market leader, are boosting the nickel content to allow more energy storage and replace expensive cobalt, which is largely sourced from mines in Congo, where exploitation is rife. Continue Reading →

Lithium King Bets Big on Demand Shift With Australia Mine Deal – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – November 21, 2018)

Albemarle Corp. agreed to pay $1.15 billion for a stake in a giant lithium mine in Australia, guaranteeing the biggest producer of the mineral greater access to a more refined form of the raw material that’s increasingly being used in electric-car batteries.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company will take a 50 percent stake in a potential joint venture with Mineral Resources Ltd. that will own and operate the Wodgina hard-rock lithium deposit with a mine life of over three decades. Under the deal, Albemarle will manage the marketing and sales of lithium hydroxide, which fetches a higher price than lithium carbonate. Mineral Resources rose as much as 33 percent, the most since July 2006, in Sydney trading Thursday.

Albemarle plans to expand output in Australia to gain from rising demand for lithium hydroxide, also known as spodumene. The mineral works better with cathodes containing higher levels of nickel, helping electric cars go further on a single charge. The deal signals the company’s swift reaction toward shifting demand that has previously been concentrated mostly on lithium carbonate. Continue Reading →