Battery Maker Eyes India’s $300 Billion Lithium-Ion Market – by Archana Chaudhary and Swansy Afonso (Bloomberg News – September 6, 2018)

Amara Raja Batteries Ltd., India’s second-biggest traditional battery maker by value, will build a lithium-ion assembly plant as it seeks to grab a slice of the market for electric vehicle power packs that is set to grow to $300 billion by 2030.

The battery maker is in the process of building a 100 megawatt-hour assembly plant in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh and the company is working closely with the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai, Chief Executive Officer S. Vijayanand said in an interview in New Delhi.

“There’s incubation work going on because we are at a beginning stage both from the market-demand and product-development perspective,” Vijayanand said. “We are very focused on building solutions for the early stage of electrification of vehicles and work with the OEM programs at the same time.”

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Journo’s new book shines light on nickel – by Josh Chiat (Kalgoorlie Miner – September 6, 2018)

A pioneering mining journalist who bore witness to the Goldfields’ first nickel boom as a reporter at Kalgoorlie’s ABC bureau believes there is a bright future for the cyclical base metal.

Ross Louthean came to Kalgoorlie-Boulder as a young journalist from Port Pirie in the late 1960s and witnessed the onset and development of the famous Kambalda nickel district.

He also lived in the region through the Poseidon crash — the nickel exploration boom in the 1970s which prompted the regulation of Australia’s stock markets after a reported find near Laverton fuelled by speculation pumped shares in penny stock Poseidon Nickel to more than $280 a share in a matter of weeks.

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Tiny WA town of Greenbushes is ground zero for global lithium energy revolution – by Sean Smith (The West Australian – September 2, 2018)

Just out of sight of the South Western Highway, in State forest between the tourism hotspots of Bridgetown and Balingup, one of WA’s oldest mining centres and its sleepy host town are at the heart of a global energy revolution.

More than a century after the area was first worked by tin miners, the Greenbushes mine and the town of the same name on its doorstep have emerged front and centre of the State’s multibillion-dollar development boom around lithium.

The metal and its chemical compounds have long been used in aluminium smelting, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, glassware and ceramics. Its light weight and energy density means it is also found in the batteries powering laptop computers, mobile phones, calculators and digital cameras.

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Neo Lithium in Talks for $490 Million Argentine Mine Venture – by Jonathan Gilbert and Carolina Millan (Bloomberg News – September 4, 2018)

Neo Lithium Corp. is negotiating a $490 million deal to finance development of a mine in Argentina as the Toronto-based penny stock looks to tap a nascent lithium boom in the South American country. Shares rose.

The company is in talks with would-be U.S., European and Asian joint-venture partners for Tres Quebradas in Catamarca province, Chief Executive Officer Waldo Perez said.

The project, which straddles salt flats and lakes across 135 square miles near the Chilean border, is billed as having high concentrations of the mineral used in rechargeable batteries and low impurities.

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Australia-based lithium company looks to set up shop in Sudbury – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – August 31, 2018)

As demand grows for batteries to power eco-friendly vehicles, an Australia-based lithium company is looking at setting up shop in Sudbury.

Lepidico, with a head office in Perth, is planning to launch a plant in the Nickel City that will extract lithium concentrate from hard-rock deposits, using a unique process it touts as more efficient than existing methods.

The company says its system can “achieve high lithium recovery,” while also offsetting production costs and eliminating tailings or effluent by refining a variety of useful byproducts. “We’re doing the full feasibility study now and if it proves viable, it means we would have a chemical plant that effectively has no waste coming out of it,” said Joe Walsh, managing director of Lepidico.

The company has already secured an Australia patent for its L-Max technology, with other patent applications pending in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. “There are other processes out there but they tend to employ roasting technology, which is power-intensive and not the greenest,” said Walsh.

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From the deforestation of the Peruvian Amazon to a ‘lake of toxic sludge’ in China: How building a smartphone devastates planet Earth – by Patrick Byrne and Karen Hudson-Edwards) Daily Mail/The Conversation – August 29, 2018)

Dr Patrick Byrne is a researcher at Liverpool John Moores University, and Karen Hudson-Edwards is a scientist at the University of Exeter.

Nearly five billion people worldwide will use a smartphone by 2020. Each device is made up of numerous precious metals and many of the key technological features wouldn’t be possible without them.

Some, like gold, will be familiar. Others, such as terbium, are less well-known. Mining these metals is a vital activity that underpins the modern global economy.

But the environmental cost can be enormous and is probably far greater than you realise. Let’s walk through some of the key metals in smartphones, what they do, and the environmental cost of getting them out of the ground.

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Nevada Mine Could Produce 25% of World’s Lithium – by Paul Nelson (KTVN News – August 29, 2018)

The largest known lithium deposit in the United States is in northern Nevada, and a mining company says it has big plans for the property.

The largest known lithium deposit in the United States is in northern Nevada, and a mining company says it has big plans for the property. The high-grade, highly-concentrated mineral is found in the McDermitt Caldera, stretching from Humboldt County into Oregon.

“Chevron started drilling this site out back in the 70s, looking for uranium and they found lithium instead, so it’s a known resource,” Alexi Zawadzki, CEO of Lithium Nevada said. “The McDermitt Caldera is one of the most highly mineralized calderas in the world.”

A prehistoric volcano created the caldera, which turned into a lake. The lithium is in the clay that sat at the bottom of the water. “This was basically the Yellowstone hot spot, which has moved over the last 16 million years to the east and this is a geological artifact of that,” Zawadzki said.

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Inside Albemarle’s quest to reinvent the lithium market – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – August 30, 2018)

(Reuters) – As global demand for lithium hits overdrive, Albemarle Corp is investing millions of dollars to engineer specialized types of the light metal for electric car batteries, part of a strategy to remain the niche market’s top producer.

The pivot comes as battery makers such as Panasonic Corp, the sole battery supplier to Tesla Inc, increasingly demand more purified versions of lithium that can help boost electricity storage and increase a battery’s charge, shaping Albemarle’s strategy, according to sources and documents reviewed by Reuters and confirmed by the company.

Once used primarily as a pharmacological treatment for bipolar disorder, lithium has become one of the world’s most in-demand commodities thanks to the rising popularity of electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries.

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Why battery miners are swarming Europe’s biggest rock collection (MiningWeekly/Bloomberg – August 30, 2018)

STOCKHOLM – Being home to Europe’s biggest rock collection has finally come in handy for Sweden amid the global race for the scarce metals that power electric cars.

For more than a century, the Nordic nation has accumulated thousands of ore samples—so many that if they were laid end to end, they’d stretch from Minneapolis to Mexico and beyond.

They’re stored at the Geological Survey of Sweden’s drill core archive, where visitors pay 1 000 kronor ($110) a day to examine rocks stashed in rows and rows of wooden crates in hopes of spotting rich deposits of minerals like cobalt, the bluish-grey mineral that’s got carmakers in a tizzy.

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China accelerates electric vehicle strategy with investments in B.C. clean energy firms – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – August 30, 2018)

Ballard Power Systems Inc. and Westport Fuel Systems Inc. stocks pop on the news

Randy MacEwen has made 39 separate trips to China in less than four years — an indication of how much opportunity the British Columbia-based executive sees in that country.

On Wednesday, MacEwen, who is chief executive of Burnaby-based hydrogen fuel cell maker Ballard Power Systems Inc. announced a $208 million deal that links the company’s future to China’s fast-growing clean vehicle market.

Under the deal, Weichai Power Co., one of China’s largest diesel engine manufacturers, agreed to purchase $163 million worth of Ballard’s stock at a 15 per cent premium; and to invest an additional $45 million to form a joint venture that will manufacture Ballard’s fuel cells at a plant in China, where they could end up in buses, commercial trucks and forklifts.

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In Chilean desert, global thirst for lithium is fueling a ‘water war’ – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters India – August 29, 2018)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – On Chilean water regulator Oscar Cristi’s desk, a small white espresso cup teeters atop piles of documents and loose folders that appear on the point of collapse, perhaps an apt metaphor for the growing water crisis in parts of the Andean country.

Sitting in his eighth-floor office adjacent the presidential palace, Cristi, a PhD economist, lays out a map of Chile showing key watersheds for mining. Swaths of the mineral-rich north are colored blue, denoting areas where aquifers are over-exploited. Soon, if Cristi gets his way, they will be red, meaning new water rights will be banned.

Reams of water rights were granted by Chilean governments over decades with little consideration for their cumulative impact as miners scrambled to stake claims on the small pockets of water available in the salt flats of the Salar de Atacama.

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Chile’s SQM expects lithium prices to dip in second half – by Felipe Iturrieta and Aislinn Laing (Reuters U.S. – August 24, 2018)

SANTIAGO, Aug 24 (Reuters) – Chilean lithium miner SQM said it forecast lithium prices dropping as much as 10 percent in the second half of the year compared to the first but stressed it saw no problems with potential water restrictions in the Atacama salt flat where it operates.

Chief executive Patricio de Solminihac said on a second-quarter earnings call that Australian lithium concentrate being converted in China for use in car and cell phone batteries was responsible for downward “price pressure.”

“There’s consensus the market will continue to grow, but on supply there’s more uncertainty,” he said. “We see that the price will be slightly lower in the second half of the year, although still significantly higher than in the second half of last year.”

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Blood, Sweat, and Batteries – by Vivienne Walt and Sebastian Meyer (Fortune Magazine – August 23, 2018)

Two-thirds of the world’s cobalt, an essential ingredient in our smartphones and electric cars, comes from one of the planet’s poorest countries. All too often it is mined by children.

This story was produced with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

MOST OF HIS NEIGHBORS are still sound asleep at 5 a.m., when Lukasa rises to begin his 12-hour workday. The slender 15-year-old, with an oval face and piercing stare, slips out of his family’s mud-brick home before dawn six days a week. Then he makes the two-hour walk from his tiny village in the southern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to a government-owned mining site.

(Fortune is withholding the name of the village in order to protect Lukasa and other children.) Once at the mine, Lukasa spends eight hours hacking away in a hole to accumulate chunks of a mineral that is crucial to keeping our modern lives moving: cobalt.

By about 3 p.m., Lukasa has filled a sack with his day’s haul. He hoists the load, which can weigh up to 22 pounds, on his back and lugs it for an hour by foot to a trading depot. “I sell it to Chinese people,” he says, referring to the buyers from Chinese commodity trading companies who dominate the market in the area.

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Exclusive: Chile says to clamp down on water rights in lithium-rich Salar de Atacama – by Dave Sherwood and Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – August 23, 2018)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile is preparing major new restrictions on the extraction of water from the lithium-rich Salar de Atacama salt flats, home to top lithium miners Albemarle and SQM SQM_pb.SN, the head of the country’s water authority told Reuters on Thursday.

Water authority chief Oscar Cristi said in an exclusive interview that regulators had stopped issuing new permits to extract water from the southernmost sector of the Salar’s watershed, known as C2, which is a key water supply for BHP’s Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, and Antofagasta’s Zaldivar mine.

Cristi said the government had granted BHP and Antofagasta permits to pump six times more water from an aquifer at Atacama than it could sustain, prompting the ban. BHP has since proposed to cut water extraction from wells in C2 by more than half, but Cristi said regulators still believed that rate to be “insufficient.”

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Avalon plans smaller scale Ontario lithium project – by Mariaan Webb ( – August 23, 2018)

TSX-listed junior Avalon Advanced Materials has outlined a new preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for its Separation Rapids lithium project, which simplifies the Kenora, Ontario-based project to initially produce lithium mineral concentrates, with the potential for later expansion to produce battery materials lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide.

The smaller scale development model “substantially” reduced capital expenditure (capex) requirements from the original model completed in September 2016, the company said in a news release, adding that the full updated PEA would be published online in the next few weeks.

The updated PEA uses a plant throughput rate of 475 000 t/y, compared with the 950 000 t/y rate used in the 2016 PEA. This will result in a 20-year operating life, based on the present known mineral resources, with production of 71 500 t/y of petalite concentrate and 11 800 t/y of lepidolite concentrate for 18.5 years.

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