Archive | Battery Technology Innovation/Electric Vehicles

Lithium price: Chile giant’s scorched earth strategy – by Frik Els ( – August 17, 2018)

SQM this week sold its 50%-share in an Argentinian brine joint venture, leaving the world’s number two producer of lithium with a single project outside its core Chilean operations.

The $12.8 billion Santiago based company can afford to let assets go – its pipeline is choc full already.

Production startup for the 40,000 tonnes per year Mt Holland project alongside Kidman Resources in Western Australia is 2020. The spodumene mine will begin producing lithium carbonate and hydroxide a year later. Continue Reading →

Commentary: Nickel is dancing to a new electric (vehicle) beat – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – August 15, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – The world used almost 2.2 million tonnes of nickel last year. Around two thirds of that metal was absorbed by the stainless steel industry, which uses it as a key alloying agent.

Stainless steel production has been booming. Global output rose by 5.8 percent last year and accelerated by another 9.5 percent in the first quarter of 2018, according to the International Stainless Steel Forum.

This has been good news for nickel. The International Nickel Study Group (INSG) estimates that global first-use nickel usage jumped by 7.8 percent last year and by another 9.7 percent in the first five months of this year. Continue Reading →

Battery Boom Revives World War II Cobalt Mines – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – August 14, 2018)

The giant rocky outcrop known by locals as La Cobaltera offers a glimpse into northern Chile’s mining past, and a hint of its future.

Slag from an ancient furnace is piled at the entrance of a mine shaft that hasn’t seen commercial activity since World War II. Inside, eucalyptus posts still support narrow tunnels, placed there by German engineers as a kind of alarm system: when they creaked it was a sign the tunnel might collapse.

Now the global hunt for cobalt, a key commodity in the electric-vehicle revolution, is rousing the sleepy community on the edge of Chile’s northern desert. Trucks are bouncing down the meandering dirt road from Freirina, carrying modern mining equipment to La Cobaltera. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Electric car bets boosting nickel demand, Nornickel says – by Polina Ivanova (Reuters – August 13, 2018)

MOSCOW, Aug 13 (Reuters) – Expectations of a boom in demand for electric vehicles are leading investors and battery makers to stockpile nickel and helping to fuel a spike in global prices of the metal, Russian mining company Norilsk Nickel said on Monday.

Nornickel, the world’s second-largest nickel producer, said demand for the metal from the battery sector leapt 38 percent in the first half of this year versus the same period last year.

Along with demand from the stainless steel sector, this helped boost prices to $15,750 per tonne in June, their highest in over four years, the company said, with the battery sector accounting for 5 percent of total global nickel demand. Continue Reading →

China Takes Control of Cobalt Mines as It Advances Its Battery Industry for Electric Vehicles – by Frank Fang (Epoch Times – August 14, 2018)

A new source of energy can be found at the forefront of electric-vehicle development in the 21st century, and China is beginning to dominate in controlling the world’s supply of this so-called new petroleum: the mineral cobalt. Cobalt is one of the key components of the lithium-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles (EVs).

While Japanese electric carmakers are struggling to acquire the mineral and called for government assistance during a July 24 industry meeting in Tokyo, Chinese companies have been able to control one of the world’s key sources: mines in the central African nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is one of the world’s poorest countries.

More than half of the world’s cobalt originates from Congo, and China’s control of the cobalt industry is as if it “had total control over oil fields in the Middle East,” an unidentified official with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry told Nikkei. Continue Reading →

State urged to strike while lithium ion’s hot – by Daniel Mercer (The West Australian – August 13, 2018)

An influential mining lobby has urged the McGowan Government to grasp the “once-in-a-generation” chance to make batteries in WA, saying it could deliver huge economic benefits to the State.

In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies said WA had natural advantages in lithium ion battery manufacturing and needed to exploit them.

Mines Minister Bill Johnston said there was “no question” WA had a finite chance to get a share of the lithium battery market but it was imperative to have a clear plan about how to build the industry. Continue Reading →

Auto industry’s use of lithium-ion batteries to grow seven-fold by 2025 – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – August 13, 2018)

The use of lithium-ion batteries by automakers is expected grow seven-fold by 2025, helped mainly by their dropping costs as well as by subsidies and incentives in many countries, particularly in China, to encourage sales of electric vehicles (EVs)

According to Will Adams, Metal Bulletin’s Head of Research for the battery materials, base metals and precious metals markets, demand for lithium-ion batteries will soar to 650 GWh by 2025, from only 70 GWh last year.

The need to store electricity, generated by renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, will also help demand to grow, he said on a report published Monday. Continue Reading →

Climate Changed: The Battery Boom Could End Up Burning Some Investors – by Anna Hirtenstein (Bloomberg News – August‎ ‎13‎, ‎2018‎)

Spending on battery start-ups has boomed to $1.5 billion in the first half of this year. Not all projects will survive.

Some of the latest battery technologies may become obsolete before reaching the market because of the breakneck pace of advances in the industry.

Teams of scientists from San Francisco to Shenzhen are experimenting with new chemical processes to improve the traditional lithium-ion cell and find new ways to bottle up electricity for use at another time. Investors in those projects are starting to worry that they might have picked the wrong technology.

That’s turning the debate about so-called stranded assets on its head. To date, the term has been deployed to refer to fossil-fuel projects that may turn unprofitable as pollution regulations tighten. In the future, upheaval in the way energy storage devices are made mean that investments in batteries may turn unprofitable even though they’re at the heart of transforming the way the energy system works. Continue Reading →

Australian miners steam ahead with lithium exploration – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – August 9, 2018)

KALGOORLIE (Reuters) – Australian miners are ramping up exploration for lithium even as prices dip, betting on renewed strength in the raw material used for rechargeable batteries.

Australian miners’ enthusiasm for lithium projects appears undimmed by sliding prices as they expand their exploration and development efforts on the back of expected strong demand for battery chemicals.

Australia accounts for around half the world’s supply of lithium where it is mined from hard rock deposits, with the rest of the world’s supply found below salt lakes, mostly in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. Continue Reading →

Future Demand for Batteries Bodes Well for Ontario Nickel – by Tartisan Nickel corp. (Investing News Network – August 8, 2018)

Investing News Network

Ontario could provide manufacturers like Tesla, Apple and Toyota with a stable, long-term supply of the nickel sulfide required to build lithium-ion batteries.

In 2017, global nickel production amounted to 2.1 million tons and 85 percent served stainless and alloy steel manufacturers. However, recent years have not been easy for some nickel producers. In the past decade, manufacturers have pursued cheaper substitutes for class 1 nickel, including ferronickel and nickel pig iron.

In response, prices for nickel plummeted from US$29,000 per tonne in 2011 to just US$10,000 in 2017. The price drop led to the curtailment of class 1 nickel production globally. The London Metal Exchange posted a nickel price of US$13,870 on July 13, 2018.

But nickel markets are evolving. Nickel comprises an increasingly large portion of lithium-ion battery cathodes. Because lithium-ion batteries are compact in size and hold a significant charge, they are highly sought after. Continue Reading →

The next major innovation in batteries might be here – by Akshat Rathi ( – August 7, 2018)

Lithium-ion batteries were first introduced to the public in a Sony camcorder in 1991. Then they revolutionized our lives. The versatile batteries now power everything from tiny medical implants and smartphones to forklifts and expensive electric cars.

And yet, lithium-ion technology still isn’t powerful enough to fully displace gasoline-powered cars or cheap enough to solve the big energy-storage problem of solar and wind power.

Dave Eaglesham, the CEO of Pellion Technologies, a Massachusetts-based startup, believes his company has made the leap beyond lithium-ion that will bring the battery industry to the next stage of technological disruption. He and his colleagues have accomplished something researchers have been struggling with for decades: they’ve built a reliable rechargeable lithium-metal battery. Continue Reading →

BHP boosts nickel mining, exploration investment amid electric vehicle boom – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – August 6, 2018)

KALGOORLIE, Australia (Reuters) – Global miner BHP is plowing more investment into nickel mine development and exploration in Western Australia, seeking to secure its own supply of a key material in batteries needed to meet booming demand for electric cars.

BHP is building what is expected to be the world’s largest battery-grade nickel sulphate plant on the outskirts of Perth and is boosting output to be “as self-sufficient as possible”, asset president Eduard Haegel, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Diggers and Dealers mining conference in Kalgoorlie.

Nickel is in increasingly hot demand in new battery technologies that mean cars can travel further on a single charge. Using more nickel also cuts costs by reducing the amount of expensive cobalt, a mainstay of current electric vehicle (EV) battery technology. Continue Reading →

Battery boom skeptics seen driving short holdings in lithium miners – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – August 3, 2018)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Short selling of shares in lithium miners SQM, Albemarle, Galaxy and Orocobre has ballooned this year, reflecting what fund managers say is a sign of growing scepticism of an imminent battery boom.

The heavy shorting of the stocks puts investors at risk of a short squeeze if project timelines meet or beat expectations, or if near-term oversupply of battery chemicals proves to be more seasonal than structural, fund managers and analysts said.

Short selling entails a bearish investor selling shares he or she does not own in the hope of profitably buying them back at a lower price in the future. If the shares rose instead, an investor would need to close, or “cover”, their position by buying back the shares for a loss. Continue Reading →

C-Suite Moves Rock Lithium as Industry Expands in Battery Boom – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – July‎ ‎26‎, ‎2018‎)

Unexpected leadership changes within a day at the world’s two largest lithium producers underscore concerns over a lack of executive experience in the industry amid a nascent boom for the battery metal.

On Wednesday, Albemarle Corp. announced the replacement of its lithium president John Mitchell, who was named chief of a Chilean exploration company hours later.

Also on Wednesday, Soc. Quimica y Minera de Chile SA said Chief Executive Officer Patricio de Solminihac will leave the company by the end of the year. Both executives will be replaced internally. Continue Reading →

Japan takes steps to ensure stable cobalt supply for automakers – by Yuka Obayashi (Reuters U.K. – July 24, 2018)

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s automakers aim to set up a joint procurement body by end-March to secure stable supplies of cobalt, a key component of lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars, the country’s industry ministry said on Tuesday.

The move comes as global carmakers race to lock in battery supplies and move away from traditional combustion engines, and as China locks down supply chains to secure its own fast-growing battery sector.

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry unveiled the plan at a committee set up by the ministry to map out the country’s plans for the auto industry, which includes Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201.T) and Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T). The ministry and automakers will discuss details of the new organisation which is designed to help battery users secure long-term supplies of cobalt and buy clean materials with no issue of conflict minerals or child labour, it said. Continue Reading →