Electric cars spark lithium, nickel and cobalt mining boom – by Marcus Leroux (The Australian – December 28, 2016)


The China boom has come and gone but miners say a new scramble for resources looms, triggered by the dawn of the electric car age.

The motor industry is placing huge bets on electric cars becoming mainstream over the next decade. Miners have been busily looking under the bonnets and inside batteries and decided that they will have to dig up a lot more lithium, copper, nickel and cobalt.

Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer controlled by Elon Musk, has said that it would require today’s entire worldwide production of lithium ion batteries to meet demand for its target of half a million cars in the second half of the decade.

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The new OPEC: Who will supply the lithium needed to run the future’s electric cars? – by Justina Crabtree (CNBC.com – December 30, 2016)


The automotive industry’s focus on electrification has accelerated in 2016. Volkswagen Chairman Herbert Deiss told CNBC at the Paris Motor Show in November that “electric mobility will take off by 2020,” while Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in May his aim for annual production to be at 1 million vehicles by this same year.

The onus is now on rechargeable batteries – rather than petrol – to propel the automotive industry into its proposed greener future, with lithium ion cells being the prevailing form of this technology.

“Lithium is a pretty abundant element naturally,” Jamie Speirs, a fellow in energy analysis and policy at Imperial College London, told CNBC via telephone. But, though worldwide production of the metal is increasing year on year, he detailed that “the current supply chain will not match up with lithium demand by, say, 2040.”

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Big Utility Sees Pathway to $10 Oil – by Francois De Beaupuy (Bloomberg News – December 20, 2016)


The oil industry must brace for five energy “tsunamis” that threaten to drag prices as low as $10 a barrel in less than a decade, according to Engie SA’s innovation chief.

The falling cost of solar power and battery storage, rising sales of electric vehicles, increasingly “smart” buildings and cheap hydrogen will all weigh on crude, Thierry Lepercq, head of research, technology and innovation at the French energy company, said in an interview.

“Even if oil demand continues to climb until 2025, its price could drop to $10 if markets anticipate a significant fall in demand,” Lepercq said at his office near Paris. Crude last slumped to that level in 1998.

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Designing a Safer Battery for Smartphones (That Won’t Catch Fire) – by John Markoff (New York Times – December 11, 2016)


SAN FRANCISCO — Mike Zimmerman likes to shock his guests by using a hammer to drive a nail through a solid polymer lithium metal battery. Nothing happens — and that’s a good thing.

Mr. Zimmerman’s battery is a new spin on lithium-ion batteries, which are widely used in products from smartphones to cars. Today’s lithium-ion batteries, as anyone who has followed Samsung’s recent problems with flammable smartphones may know, can be ticking time bombs. The liquids in them can burst into flames if there is a short circuit of some sort. And driving a nail into one of them is definitely not recommended.

With that in mind, Mr. Zimmerman’s demonstration commands attention. His Woburn, Mass., start-up, Ionic Materials, is at the cutting edge of an effort to design safer batteries. The company is working on “solid” lithium polymer batteries that greatly reduce their combustible nature.

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Glencore sees nickel shortage as electric vehicle demand burgeons – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – December 2, 2016)


JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Diversified mining and marketing company Glencore sees a shortage in nickel arising as a result of burgeoning demand from electric vehicle (EV) production.

Batteries used in EVs are consuming about 100 000 t of nickel demand and if 10% of the world’s vehicle fleet transitions to electric power, 400 000 t of nickel would be required on current yearly production of 1.95-million tonnes.

“We see a shortage in nickel,” Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg said in response to BNP Paribas analyst Sylvain Brunet during a conference call in which Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online took part.

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Trudeau Liberals set to join Wynne Liberals in helping rich people buy electric cars – by Lorrie Goldstein (Toronto Sun – October 22, 2016)


What is it with our governments and public subsidies for electric vehicles? Federal Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna told The Canadian Press this month the Trudeau government is working on “creating incentives” for Canadians to buy electric vehicles. This as part of its overall climate change strategy, in addition to imposing a national carbon price on the provinces.

In other words, the Justin Trudeau Liberals in Ottawa will follow the Kathleen Wynne Liberals in Ontario in throwing more public money at one of the most expensive and least efficient ways of reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change.

In Ontario, the Wynne government is giving public subsidies of up to $14,000 for electric vehicles, plus $1,000 for installing a home charging station. Plus four years of free electricity for overnight charging.

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Chile holds line on lithium exploration limits despite price rise – by Maytaal Angel and Amanda Cooper (Reuters U.S. – November 2, 2016)


LONDON – Nov 2 Chile is sticking to its policy of limiting the exploitation of its vast lithium reserves, the country’s mining minister told Reuters on Wednesday, despite a surge in prices for the battery and electronics ingredient.

Battery-grade lithium prices tripled to more than $20,000 a tonne in top consumer China over the summer as demand surged, but Chile continues to consider the mineral as “strategic” and limits its production.

Private investors, desperate to cash in on the demand-fuelled boom for lithium, which is used in electric vehicles, have criticised Chile’s policy of limiting production of a mineral that is no longer really used in nuclear applications.

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Why Electric Cars Excite the World’s Biggest Mining Company – by Chisaki Watanabe (Bloomberg News – November 1, 2016)


BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest miner, is hot for electric vehicles. The Melbourne-based resources giant, which mines metals and coal used for both steelmaking and fueling power plants, is increasingly optimistic that there’ll be a surge in demand for some of its products as consumers opt for electric vehicles, or EVs, and other renewable energy technologies.

“As you see more renewables and EVs, we also will see an impact on copper demand,” Fiona Wild, BHP’s vice president, sustainability and climate change, said Tuesday at a conference in Shanghai hosted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“EVs at the moment have about 80 kilograms of copper in them. As they become more efficient, you see a greater amount of copper in those vehicles, so there’s always upside for copper.”

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Energy metal demand to outpace output in wake of $20bn battery build boom – by Henry Lazenby (MiningWeekly.com – October 14, 2016)


VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – “The megafactories are coming.” This is the mantra of market analyst, founder and MD of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores, citing research showing more than $20-billion currently committed to creating new, or expanding existing lithium- (Li-) ion battery cell plants.

This will take global production capacity from megawatt to gigawatt territory, with the bulk of the activity taking place in China, where massive tooling operations are currently under way.

According to Moores, South Africa-born entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Nevada-based Tesla Gigafactory, which is expected to start production later this year, is leading the ‘capacity revolution’, with a planned total installed production capacity of 35 GWh by 2020.

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Electric car revolution brightens outlook for a medley of metals – by Jan Harvey (Reuters U.S. – October 5, 2016)


LONDON – Electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf may look no different from the standard family runaround. But the new materials that go into them could revolutionize the market for metals used in the industry, opening up a new field for commodities investors.

“We identified electric vehicles as an area where we are at an inflection point for demand,” said Duncan Goodwin, portfolio manager of the Baring Global Resources Fund.

Around 12 percent of the fund’s $378.2 million in assets is exposed to materials that are used in electric vehicles. It has investments in New York-listed Albemarle and Australia’s Orocobre, two companies producing lithium, a key element in electric car batteries. Shares in both companies have risen sharply this year.

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Could A Lithium Shortage De-Rail The Electric Car Boom? – by James Stafford (Oil Price.com – August 24, 2016)


We’ve gone electric, and there’s no going back at this point. Lithium is our new fuel, but like fossil fuels, the reserves we’re currently tapping into are finite—and that’s what investors can take to the bank.

You may think lithium got too popular too fast. You may suspect electric vehicles are too much buzz and not enough real future. You may, in short, be a lithium skeptic, one of many. And yet, despite this skepticism, lithium demand is rising steadily and sharply, and indications that a shortage may be looming are very real.

It won’t be a shortage in terms of ‘peak lithium’; rather, it will be a game of catch-up with the electric car boom, with miners hustling to explore and tap into new reserves.

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Rally in Super Commodity Strained by Race to Fuel Tesla – by Jesse Riseborough, Thomas Biesheuvel and Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – August 19, 2016)


Even the mining industry’s super commodity of the future may be unable to avoid the Achilles’ heel of all mineral producers — a recurring habit of busting a boom with too much supply.

As miners of everything from copper to iron ore wrestled with losses driven by global surpluses, prices soared for lithium, the light-weight metal used in rechargeable batteries. It’s easy to see why. Booming demand outpaced production thanks to the faster-than-expected growth in global electric-vehicle sales and the aggressive expansion plans of Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors Inc.

But a lot more lithium is on the way. The four largest producers — Rockwood Holdings Inc., Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA, Albermarle Corp. and FMC Corp. — control as much as 90 percent of the market.

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The Key Challenge To Tesla’s Growth – by Michael McDonald (Oil Price.com – August 12, 2016)


Tesla’s increasingly ambitious plans to rule not only the electric vehicle space but also the solar energy space are likely to become more difficult to achieve over the next year. It has been widely reported in recent weeks that Tesla’s gigafactory is facing some challenges in becoming fully operational.

What is perhaps less well understood is the magnitude of the supply chain challenges that will face Tesla and its gigafactory. Tesla’s goal is to produce 500,000 vehicles a year by 2018. The company has accelerated its production time table in large part due to the enormous amount of demand the company saw for its Model 3 sedan.

The firm announced almost 375,000 preorders for the vehicle. To fulfill this demand plus new demand that the company will likely see for its products over the next couple of years, Tesla needs to produce more lithium ion batteries in 2018 than the entire world produced in 2013. That’s not an impossible feat given the size of the gigafactory, but it is challenging.

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There is a race for lithium going on in Nevada – by Phil LeBeau (CNBC.com – July 25, 2016)


Ever since electric carmaker Tesla announced plans to build a battery plant outside Reno, Nevada, investors, fans of Elon Musk’s company and others around the world have started paying attention to the silver state’s large lithium deposits.

Lithium is a key component in the production of batteries used in cell phones and electric vehicles. As sales of electric vehicles, which topped 500,000 worldwide last year, increase, so is demand for lithium. “Every new mine that we can find needs to be brought online and it needs to be done as fast as possible,” said Patrick Highsmith, CEO of Pure Energy Minerals.

Highsmith’s company is exploring how much lithium is in the water tables deep below the Nevada desert in Clayton Valley. This valley, halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, is ringed by mountains and home to one of the largest lithium deposits in North America.

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Electric cars no ‘major disrupter’ to platinum business (Business Day TV – July 26, 2016)


Chris Griffith is CEO of Anglo American Platinum.

BUSINESS DAY TV: Free cash flow is up and net debt is down, but so too are first half profits. Anglo American Platinum continues to refocus its business in a tough environment. Joining me on News Leader with more is CEO Chris Griffith.

Chris … so interim headline earnings are down 58% to just over R1bn. Profit from lower metal prices though in the previous year did have an extraordinary item and that really skews the end result, doesn’t it?

CHRIS GRIFFITH: That’s correct. Last year, in the first half of the year, we had a massive stock gain which added about R2.2bn to earnings. And if you compare a stock gain that we had in this first half of the year of about R0.6bn, you see a net difference between the two periods of R1.6bn.

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