Archive | Battery Technology Innovation/Electric Vehicles

Pollution studies cast doubt on China’s electric-car policies – by Charles Clover (Financial Times – May 20, 2018)

The environmental case for electric vehicles in China has been complicated by research that asserts the cars produce more pollution than those with internal combustion engines.

The issue is likely to raise questions about China’s push to become the world’s EV champion by 2025. The government has justified devoting massive resources to encouraging domestic EV production — including billions of dollars in subsidies and production quotas — based on the proposition they are greener than petrol-engine cars.

But the environmental benefits were unclear, experts said. While China has been on a green energy push for years, coal still accounts for an overwhelming proportion of electricity production, meaning that charging electric batteries also burns carbon — often at a higher per-kilometre rate than petrol engines. Continue Reading →

Threat of Cobalt Supply Shock Is Top Risk for Electric Vehicles – by David Stringer and Martin Ritchie (Bloomberg News – May 21, 2018)

A burgeoning risk of a supply crunch in cobalt — a key battery metal that’s more than tripled in price in two years — poses one of the biggest threats to forecasts for rising electric vehicle adoption.

Major investment in mines is required to avoid price spikes that could see cost reductions for lithium-ion batteries stall, Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysts said Monday in a report.

Shortages of cobalt are likely earlier than previously forecast and the issue poses a potential challenge to EV sales over the coming five to seven years, according to the report. Continue Reading →

Cobalt price: Congo ebola outbreak compounds acute supply fears – by Frik Els ( – May 20, 2018)

The price of cobalt has been drifting after hitting near 10-year peaks in March to exchange hands for $91,000 a tonne on Friday. Cobalt is still up nearly fourfold since hitting multi-year lows at the beginning of 2016 as worries about supply of the metal, a crucial element in batteries, combine with expectations of booming demand from the electric vehicle sector.

Supply risks for cobalt are centred on the Democratic Republic of the Congo which is responsible for nearly two-thirds of world output. And the country’s share will only increase over the next five years (see chart).

Fears of disruption from the conflict ridden central African country has intensified after an outbreak of the deadly ebola disease and the possibility of a return to civil war in the run up to long-postponed national election now set for December. Continue Reading →

China Looks to Control Global Lithium Supply – by Fan Yu (Epoch Times – May 20, 2018)

China is slowly amassing control over the global supply of lithium, an important mineral in the production supply chain of new technologies.

On May 17, China-based Tianqi Lithium paid more than $4 billion to purchase a sizable stake in Chile’s Sociedad Química y Minera (SQM), one of the world’s biggest producers of lithium. Tianqi bought the stake in SQM from Canadian fertilizer company Nutrien.

Lithium is a critical mineral for production of high-capacity batteries, those powering the world’s smartphones, electric cars, and renewable energy grids. Expected global production of electric cars is expected to dramatically increase demand for lithium. Whoever controls the production of lithium has great influence over the price and supply chain for these emerging technologies. Continue Reading →

The Lithium Cartel Should Be Stopped – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – May 18, 2018)

Why are we so relaxed about an emerging oligopoly in the key battery element?

The world doesn’t like its essential commodities being controlled by a small group of producers. When Arab members of Opec resolved to cut their oil exports in response to U.S. involvement in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the situation was rightly deemed a global crisis.

Less than a year after BHP Billiton Ltd. announced plans to merge its iron ore operations with those of Rio Tinto Group in 2009, the proposal was dropped amid expectations that regulators in Europe and Asia would oppose the deal on antitrust grounds.

So why is there so little noise about the emerging oligopoly in one of the hottest elements on the periodic table, lithium? Continue Reading →

Electric vehicle rush fuels optimism at LME Asia Week – by Melanie Burton and Tom Daly (Reuters U.S.- May 18, 2018)

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Rising demand for battery materials cobalt and lithium infused some optimism into an otherwise cautious London Metal Exchange (LME) Asia Week, amid a backdrop of slowing growth in China and escalating trade tensions between it and the United States.

In the event’s first ever session on battery materials in Hong Kong, Chinese cobalt producers such as Jinchuan Group International Resources and Wanbao Mining said they were ramping up production to sate an anticipated demand boom from electric vehicles (EVs).

That is a market that the LME hopes to tap with the launch of cash-settled cobalt and lithium contracts, slated for late this year or early next year. Continue Reading →

‘They actually sold it at a premium’: Nutrien sells stake in Chilean lithium producer for $4.1 billion – by Gabriel Freidman (Financial Post – May 18, 2018)

In a sign of how hot the lithium market is, Canadian fertilizer producer Nutrien Ltd. sold a 24 per cent stake in Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. for US$4.07 billion, at a healthy premium.

The purchaser, China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp., agreed to pay US$65 per share for the Chilean producer, which represented a premium on the US$58 trading price, which surprised some analysts, as antitrust regulators in China and India had required Nutrien — the company formed by the merger of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan and Agrium Inc. — to sell its stake in SQM as a condition of the deal.

“The price seemed good,” said John Chu, an analyst with Laurentian Bank Securities. “Because Nutrien had given advanced notice that they had to sell it, and because it was such a large block of shares, it was thought that they would have to sell it a discount, and they actually sold it at a premium.” Continue Reading →

Battery makers pushing for ten 10-year lithium contracts: Albemarle – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – May 14, 2018)

A push to offer long warranties for batteries used in electric cars is one factor forcing lithium miners to change the way they sell their product, according to one of Australia’s biggest producers.

US company Albemarle, which owns 49 per cent of the lithium-rich Greenbushes spodumene mine in Western Australia, said battery manufacturers are increasingly demanding 10-year contracts in a bid to secure supply. The comments came as the New York listed company indicated first production on its $400 million lithium hydroxide plant in WA may come a year later than previously expected.

Addressing investors, Albemarle’s lithium president John Mitchell said a desire to offer 10-year warranties on lithium-ion batteries was driving some manufacturers to seek guaranteed sources of raw materials for similar periods. Continue Reading →

RESOURCE EXTRACTION: Chile’s lithium – blessing or curse? – by Sophia Boddenberg (Deutsche Welle – May 11, 2018)

Salar de Atacama is rich in lithium, essential to electric cars and other low-carbon tech. But indigenous people are fighting its extraction, saying private interests are cashing in at the expense of their environment.

The Salar de Atacama’s geysers, volcanoes and flamingos attract tourists from around the world. But beneath its dramatic vistas, the Chilean salt flats hide something of far greater economic potential that’s drawing a different kind of interest – from the world’s chemical companies.

Lithium batteries are essential to all kinds of gadgets from laptops and mobile phones to the electric cars and power storage facilities that are to help wean the world of fossil fuels. As the world shifts to renewables, more and more sectors are to be electrified, and demand for lithium is expected to double by 2025. Continue Reading →

Why Congo could stop the charge of electric vehicles – by Anthony King (Irish Times – May 10, 2018)

Car makers and tech firms rely on cobalt mined in Katanga, the unstable province where Irish soldiers were attacked in 1961

The Congo. September 1961. Irish soldiers in Jadotville are attacked by separatist Katangan forces led by Belgian mercenaries. Jadotville is a copper-mining town in Katanga, a province in south-east Congo that is rich in minerals. The events in Jadotville feature in a popular film on Netflix starring Jamie Doran as Irish commander Pat Quinlan.

Mineral wealth drove the Katangan conflict. Katanga is back in the news. The copper mines again are involved. Car company execs are hearing “Katanga” and fretting about the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The reason: it mines most of the world’s cobalt – a sought-after ingredient for electric vehicles (EVs).

Odds are you own Congo cobalt, since each smartphone batteries contains 10 to 20 grams. Electric cars are hungrier for it, packing between six and 15 kilos. Car makers depend on big DRC mines for the metal – not ideal given its predilection for corruption, political instability and war. Continue Reading →

Private firm takes on Codelco for control of Chile lithium deposit – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – May 9, 2018)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A foreign-backed miner has sued Chile to block state-run Codelco from exploiting a lithium deposit where both have claims, according to a lawsuit filed in March that will be carefully watched by potential investors being courted by the country’s new government.

The little-known and remote Maricunga salt flat is far smaller than the expansive Salar de Atacama, where top lithium producers Albemarle and Chile’s SQM SQM_pb.SN rule supreme.

But the legal conflict at Maricunga under the newly inaugurated conservative government of President Sebastian Pinera may prove a bellwether for foreign miners anxious to invest in Chile, which is home to half of the world’s lithium reserves. Continue Reading →

Europe Has the Potential to Develop Domestic Lithium Sources – by Stuart Burns (Metal Miner – May 7, 2018)

We normally associate Cornwall in England with scones and cream teas … or, if we are really metal nerds, we associate the sometimes sunny southeast country of the British Isles with mining (particularly with tin mining).

The area dominated with igneous morphology has been mined since Roman times for tin, copper and a number of other metals. But one metal, not surprisingly, that has never featured is lithium. I say “not surprisingly” because up to the end of the last century, it barely featured as a metal of value.

Nickel metal hydride batteries dominated the small appliance world and lead acid still served the rest. This century has seen an exponential growth in the use of lithium-ion batteries, from iPhones to electric cars to massive storage barns. The growth has been such that fears are mounting of a market shortage in the next decade, fueled in no small part by state support for electric vehicles (EVs) in Asia. Continue Reading →

China lithium top player boosts investment in emerging Australian miner – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – May 7, 2018)

Sichuan Yahua Industrial Group, one of China’s largest lithium hydroxide and carbonate producers, is injecting further funds into emerging Australian lithium producer Core Exploration (ASX:CXO) as Chinese companies continue to aggressively try securing supply of the key ingredient needed for making the batteries that power electric cars.

Through its subsidiary Yahua International, Sichuan has given Core Exploration $1.4 million as share placement, on top of a $2 million cash injection it provided it in August last year.

With demand for EVs set to skyrocket in the next decade, Chinese companies have inked several deals in the past year to secure steady lithium supplies with mine developers in Australia, South America, Canada and Africa. Continue Reading →

As Electric Cars Multiply, This IPO Will Test Big Lithium Value – by Carolina Millan and Jack Kaskey (Bloomberg News – May 3, 2018)

How much is a lithium business really worth? Enthusiasts of the metal used in rechargeable batteries are about to find out.

FMC Corp. is looking to separate its lithium assets and list a portion of the shares in October, before providing the remainder to FMC shareholders within six months, the Philadelphia-based company said Thursday. It’s set to be the first U.S. initial public offering by a major lithium pure-play.

The decision comes as lithium demand is expected to surge along with purchases of electric vehicles. Demand for the lightweight metal will rise five-fold by 2025, potentially exceeding the world’s production capacity, Chief Executive Officer Pierre Brondeau said in February. Continue Reading →

Are Electric Cars Doomed To Be Just A Niche Market? – by Jean-Marc Vittori ( – May 4, 2018)

PARIS — The car of the future will be electric. That is now a certainty. Or rather a consensus. Unless it’s an illusion?

Let’s start at the beginning. A symbol of the industrial revolution of the 20th century, the automobile has nonetheless one flaw: it pollutes. And in fact, it has now become the symbol of pollution, even if the one billion cars in use around the world emit less carbon dioxide than agriculture or coal-fired power stations.

Under pressure from voters, governments are imposing ever lower emission ceilings. The movement has grown with the “dieselgate” scandal and the Paris Conference on Climate Change. France and the United Kingdom have announced their intention to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. The City of Paris is banning old diesel vehicles starting next year.

China, the world’s largest market, goes further. It turns emission standards into a tool for industrial reconquest. Continue Reading →