Archive | Battery Technology Innovation/Electric Vehicles

The Lithium Sector Surge Is Poised to Ignite a Deals Bonanza – by David Stringer, Jack Farchy and Crystal Tse (Bloomberg News – March 21, 2018)

The tripling in lithium prices over three years is poised to fuel a multi-billion dollar rush of deals as major players jostle for dominance to supply the metal needed for the electric vehicle battery revolution.

China’s expected to lead a mergers and acquisition bonanza as companies seek to wrest more control of the market from Western rivals. The Asian nation accounted for more than half of global electric vehicle sales last year, which exceeded 1 million for the first time. And that’s just a taster of what’s to come as the government targets 7 million vehicles by 2025.

“You’ll see elevated activity this year driven mainly by the Chinese,” Chris Berry, a New York-based analyst on energy metals, and founder of House Mountain Partners LLC, said in an email. “The consolidation necessary in the space will start to happen now.” Continue Reading →

Motor Mouth: The inconvenient truth about China, Norway’s EV subsidies – by David Booth ( – March 16, 2018)

If there is one constant refrain from the electric vehicle lobby, it is the deification of Norway and China as leaders in the automobile’s green revolution. Indeed, “Why can’t we be more like Beijing or Oslo?” is probably the most popular comment on any Internet forum relating to the lack of progress in electrifying our North American fleet.

And it’s an image both countries take pains to promote: One of the key speakers at this year’s Canadian International Auto Show was Morten Edvardsen, senior political adviser for the Norwegian EV Association, whose whole message seemed to be, ah, “Why can’t Canada be more like Norway?”

At first glance there is much to covet. Norway, as Edvardsen took great pains to point out, has the highest penetration of electric vehicles per population — 216 per 10,000 inhabitants, roughly 20 times than that in Canada — and market share — about 35 per cent of all cars sold in Norway in 2017 were plug-ins. Continue Reading →

Tiny Chilean regulator thrust into global lithium battle – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters U.S. – March 20, 2018)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A global battle for lithium has landed in the office of a tiny Chilean regulator, which may decide a winner as it reviews a petition to block Chinese firms from buying a stake in top producer SQM SQM_pb.SN.

The scramble for lithium, used in rechargeable batteries for mobile phones to electric vehicles, is pitting the Chilean government against China and, potentially, the independent regulator against the Latin American country’s new business-friendly government.

The National Economic Prosecutor’s office, known by its Spanish initials FNE, is set to review the sale by Canada’s Nutrien Ltd of a 32 percent stake in Santiago-based SQM for more than $4 billion to Chinese bidder Tianqi Lithium or any state-backed firm. Chile’s development agency Corfo said in a complaint on March 9 that the transaction would “gravely distort market competition.” Continue Reading →

EV adoption rate reaching critical mass as search for ethical cobalt heats up – by Henry Lazenby ( – March 20, 2018)

VANCOUVER ( – Cobalt company Cobalt 27 is seeing an ideal storm brewing for its key commodity as the adoption rate of electric vehicles (EVs) accelerates faster than even optimistic forecasts had speculated.

“Cobalt 27 is a proxy for the adoption of the EV,” executive chairperson Anthony Milewski told Mining Weekly Online in an interview. “What our most recent raise tells one is that the thematic is picking up pace.”

He pointed to the EV adoption rate hitting 1.8% at the end of 2017. “Currently, Wall Street has projections for 2025 of an EV penetration rate of 15%. Continue Reading →

Battery makers descend on Australia, Canada cobalt developers – by Melanie Burton and Nicole Mordant (Reuters U.S. – March 19, 2018)

MELBOURNE/VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Nervous Asian battery makers are turning to early-stage cobalt projects in Australia and Canada to lock in supplies of the critical battery ingredient ahead of expected shortages as demand for electric vehicles revs up.

Mine developers say interest from Japanese and Korean firms is particularly strong as they compete with rivals from China, which has built deep supply chain ties with the Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s top producer.

The central African country accounts for nearly two-thirds of global cobalt output and production is set to rise despite concerns over the use of child miners and rising royalties. “We are starting to see the first signs of an arms race to secure long term cobalt supplies,” said Joe Kaderavek, chief executive of Australia’s Cobalt Blue (COB.AX). Continue Reading →

New Chile govt undecided on blocking SQM sale to China firms -official – by Antonio De la Jara (Reuters U.S. – March 16, 2018)

SANTIAGO, March 16 (Reuters) – Chile’s new government is evaluating whether to support a petition filed by its predecessor to block the sale of a stake in top lithium miner SQM to a Chinese firm, a senior government official told Reuters on Friday.

Chile development agency Corfo filed a complaint last week to block the sale of a 32 percent stake in SQM to China’s Tianqi Lithium or any related entities or state-backed firms, saying it would “gravely distort market competition.”

The move was the latest in a battle to secure lithium, a major ingredient in rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles, mobile phones and tablets. Continue Reading →

Battery Chemistry Review – Can lithium continue to dominate? – by Lara Smith ( – March 16, 2018)

Although the technology was discovered at the beginning of the 20th century, the first lithium batteries didn’t make it to market until the 70s, and it was a series of breakthroughs in the early 80s that cemented it as the market leading product it is today.

Lithium (and cobalt / graphite / nickel / manganese) cells replaced lead acid as the foremost battery chemistry simply because lithium has the lightest weight, highest voltage, and greatest energy density of all metals (why is a bubble round?); nevertheless, its relative scarcity and recent price escalation has some manufacturers shopping for alternatives.

The expansion of energy storage capacity is undoubtedly a societal necessity for the foreseeable future, but with extensive R&D in this area being a constant force for change, there is no reason to expect a single type of device to dominate the market indefinitely. Continue Reading →

Electric car dreams may be dashed by 2050 on lack of cobalt, lithium supplies – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – March 16, 2018)

Supplies of cobalt and lithium, key for making the batteries that power electric cars and mobile phones, are likely to be limited by 2050, German researchers have warned.

According to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) study, published this week in the journal Nature Reviews Materials, a shortage and price increase of cobalt are likely to occur in about thirty years, especially since demand for the metal is expected to be twice as high as today’s identified global reserves.

The authors are not so pessimist when it comes to lithium, as there are several companies rushing to explore and produce the so-called white petroleum. They do warn production will have to be strongly boosted — more than ten times, they predict — to match future demand. Continue Reading →

Explainer: Chile attempts to block China from prize lithium asset – by Dave Sherwood and Nicole Mordant (Reuters U.S. – March 13, 2018)

SANTIAGO/VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Chile’s government has asked antitrust regulators to block the sale of a 32 percent stake in Chilean lithium company SQM SQM_pb.SN to a Chinese firm on the grounds it would give it an unfair advantage in the global race to secure resources to develop electric vehicles.

Chile development agency Corfo, which oversees SQM’s lithium leases in the Salar de Atacama, claimed in a 37-page complaint filed on Friday that the purchase of a stake in SQM by “Tianqi Lithium, or any entity related to it directly or indirectly (including companies controlled by the government of China)” would “gravely distort market competition.”


It was unclear if Corfo’s complaint, if upheld, would block all potential Chinese bidders for the stake. But it certainly seeks to block Tianqi Lithium, one of China’s top lithium producers. Continue Reading →

First Cobalt Buys Idaho Explorer in Race to Supply Battery Boom – by Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – March 14, 2018)

First Cobalt Corp. is seeking to speed up its timetable to begin producing cobalt, riding the wave of interest in the metal used in electric-vehicle batteries and smartphones.

The Vancouver-based exploration company agreed to buy explorer US Cobalt Inc., which has properties in Idaho, in an all-stock deal with an implied equity value of about C$149.9 million ($116 million). Trading in the two companies’ shares was suspended.

“We’re trying to fast-track our way into North American mining and refining,” First Cobalt Chief Executive Officer Trent Mell said in an interview. Continue Reading →

VW Just Gave Tesla a $25 Billion Battery Shock – by Chris Reiter and Christoph Rauwald (Bloomberg News – March 13, 2018)

Volkswagen AG secured 20 billion euros ($25 billion) in battery supplies to underpin an aggressive push into electric cars in the coming years, ramping up pressure on Tesla Inc. as it struggles with production issues for the mainstream Model 3.

The world’s largest carmaker will equip 16 factories to produce electric vehicles by the end of 2022, compared with three currently, Volkswagen said Tuesday in Berlin.

The German manufacturer’s plans to build as many as 3 million of the cars a year by 2025 is backstopped by deals with suppliers including Samsung SDI Co., LG Chem Ltd. and Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. for batteries in Europe and China. Continue Reading →

This Commodity Investor Is Hoarding the World’s Cobalt Supply – by Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – March 13, 2018)

Backed by a Russian billionaire, Anthony Milewski started stockpiling the metal in 2015.

Anthony Milewski was among the first investors to realize that if electric-vehicle sales take off the way automakers expect, the world is going to need a lot more cobalt—an essential ingredient in lithium-ion batteries.

But the market for cobalt isn’t very big, and there aren’t many easy ways for investors to bet on prices. The metal is a minor byproduct of copper and nickel mining, and only a few places produce meaningful quantities. More than half the world’s supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, an impoverished country in central Africa mired in corruption scandals and political unrest.

So, in 2015, backed by a Russian billionaire, Milewski started buying metal from mining companies and putting it in warehouses. At the time, it was cheap because most industrial commodities were stuck in long slumps. Continue Reading →

Battery builders get the cobalt blues – by Anthony King (Chemistry World – March 12, 2018)

Demand for battery metals surges on the back of a global appetite for electric vehicles

At the beginning of 2017, $32,500 (£26,300) would buy you one tonne of cobalt. Today you’d have to fork out $81,000. Since 2016, cobalt’s price has spiked enormously, and it’s all because of batteries.

Cobalt is an essential component of the lithium ion batteries that power our phones and laptops, and which are expected to be a key part of the world’s energy mix. ‘In 2017, we saw demand from the battery sector at 102 GWh, but we expect that to increase to 709 gigawatt hours by 2026,’ says Caspar Rawles, market analyst at Benchmark Minerals Intelligence.

That demand comes from consumer electronics and using batteries as grid storage for renewable energy sources. But by far the biggest driver is electric vehicles, with governments around the world looking to make the switch from petrol and diesel. Continue Reading →

Commentary: Why electric vehicles could fracture the nickel market – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – March 8, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – China’s Ministry of Finance made some minor but significant tweaks to its nickel import tariffs at the start of this year.

The import duty on melting-grade nickel cathode was doubled from 1 percent to 2 percent, while that on nickel sulphate was cut from 5.5 percent to 2 percent. Why the differentiation?

The reason is that nickel sulphate is a form of the metal highly suited to the production of precursor battery materials. China, already a leader in the electric vehicle (EV) battery sector, is evidently laying the ground for stimulating imports of nickel in the most readily usable composition for lithium-ion battery processing. Continue Reading →

Cobalt: The Achilles Heel for Electric Car Makers – by Tim Treadgold (Forbes Magazine – March 7, 2018)

Fueling future generations of electric vehicles is making some mining entrepreneurs rich as demand grows for critical metals, such as lithium and cobalt. But as with all commodity booms, there are early signs of a shortage turning into a flood, with a predictably depressing effect on prices.

Lithium is the metal most likely to be hit by a surge in production and a fall in price, especially if demand for electric cars does not match optimistic forecasts.

Ironically, it could be a shortage of cobalt that delays the production of the lithium-ion batteries needed to power electric cars and a range of other products, such as smartphones and household appliances. Continue Reading →