Archive | Battery Technology Innovation/Electric Vehicles

Electric Car Revolution Could Stall on Cobalt Shortage – by Stephen Gardner (Bloomberg News – November 21, 2018)

BMW Group, General Motors Co., Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., and other car companies could hit a roadblock in their efforts to put more electric vehicles on the market: a cobalt shortage.

The silvery metal, a byproduct of copper mining, is in high demand as a component of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. But there might not be enough cobalt to go around, forcing car companies to look for alternatives, potentially delaying the transition to electric motoring.

Even in a scenario in which battery technology is improved to minimize the need for cobalt, the metal will be in short supply from 2025 on, according to projections published this month by the Joint Research Centre, the in-house science service of the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm. Continue Reading →

Trouble in the Congo: The Misadventures of Glencore – by Franz Wild, Vernon Silver and William Clowes (Bloomberg News – November 16, 2018)

What a time to own the world’s most valuable cobalt mine, and to have to fight to keep it.

A dozen years ago the future of technology bounced out of a remote corner of Africa on the back of a truck, along with a world of potential trouble. Both, embodied in the same load of rock, landed in the hands of Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive officer of Glencore Plc, the world’s largest middleman for the raw materials that fuel, feed, and underpin civilization.

Glasenberg’s obsession was copper, because China’s appetite for it was insatiable, with copper wire electrifying the nation’s rising cities and running through the appliances its factories sold to the West. The metal’s price had quadrupled in less than three years, triggering a global frenzy. Miners blasted it from Chilean mountaintops and dug it from the African earth as fast as they could.

At a processing plant in Zambia, Glencore was buying up all the ore containing copper it could get its hands on when technicians noticed something extraordinary. One trader consistently rolled in with rocks showing levels of purity that were off the charts—not just for copper, but also for the blue metal cobalt. Continue Reading →

WA’s newest lithium mine officially opens, with plans to expand already in motion – by Hamish Hastie (Sydney Morning Herald – November 16, 2018)

The lithium train shows no sign of slowing in WA as the state’s newest mine officially opens, with plans already in motion to expand the Pilbara operation. The first shipment from Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project left the mine on October 2 but was officially opened by WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston on Friday.

Located 120 kilometres south of Port Hedland, the mine will produce 330,000 tonnes of lithium a year and about 300,000 pounds of tantalum. The Pilgangoora project’s workforce peaked at more than 800 during construction, but now there are about 200 operational staff on-site and in Perth.

The opening comes just more than four years to the day the first hole was drilled and is one of the fastest major lithium developments in recent history. Plans are already underway to expand the mine. Continue Reading →

Battery wars: Japan and South Korea battle China for future of EVs – by KITO TANAKA, TAKASHI KAWAKAMI and YUKIHIRO OMOTO (Nikkei Asian Review – November 14, 2018)

Toyota leads ‘solid state’ push, but next-generation batteries still a decade away

OKYO/NAGOYA/OSAKA/ SEOUL/HUIZHOU, China — It is 5 p.m. on a weekday in Huizhou, a lake-studded city in China’s Guangdong Province, and workers are streaming out of a BYD manufacturing plant looking weary after a day’s work. Many head straight for the crowded street food stalls lined up in front of the factory for after-work noodles and drinks. “No matter how much overtime we work, we still have a manpower shortage,” said one worker.

The heavy workload at BYD’s Huizhou factory is just one indicator of the growing demand for the product built there: batteries for electric vehicles. BYD is one of the world’s top producers of EV batteries, and the company is racing to meet an ambitious goal of expanding its battery manufacturing capacity to 60 gigawatt-hours by 2020 — equal to half of China’s total in 2017.

Founded in 1995, BYD — whose slogan is “Build your dreams” — is China’s largest manufacturer of alternative fuel cars. In the West, the company is best known for its place in Warren Buffett’s stock portfolio. But in China, it is one of the companies at the vanguard of a national push to dominate the future of automaking. Continue Reading →

Abandoned Canadian silver mines could boom again as battery demand prompts gold rush in cobalt – by Peter Armstrong (CBC News Business – November 15, 2018)

Cobalt, Ont., could could be sitting on a gold mine — of cobalt — to help power electric cars, phones

The flooded bottom of an abandoned silver mine is an unlikely source of hope. But down there in the flickering light, a once worthless metal known as cobalt has sat idle for decades. Now it’s one of the most sought after metals in the world and that has many in this town in northern Ontario dreaming of boom times once again.

A century ago, prospectors came to Cobalt, Ont., in search of silver. They found it, and the town boomed. Amid all the silver, miners also found cobalt. So much that they named the town after it. Back then though, it was a mere indicator, a sign that something of actual value was nearby.

Now, all that ignored and discarded cobalt is the town’s best hope. “The potential here is huge,” says Frank Basa, chief executive officer of Canada Cobalt Works. Cobalt the metal has had a spectacular run over the past few years. And now Cobalt the town is poised to cash in. Continue Reading →

Chilean regulators reject Albemarle’s plans to boost lithium output – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters U.K. – November 13, 2018)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chilean environmental regulators have rejected plans by Albemarle Corp (ALB.N), the world’s top lithium producer, to expand output from the Salar de Atacama salt flat, according to filings with Chile’s Environmental Assessment Service (SEA).

SEA said in a resolution on Monday that Albemarle’s environmental impact statement, which included plans to build a new plant to produce 42,500 tonnes of lithium carbonate in northern Chile, lacked key information to gauge the project’s impact, prompting an “early termination” of its review.

“The applicant [Albemarle] does not present the details necessary to rule out significant adverse impacts on the quantity and quality of renewable natural resources, including the soil, water and air,” the regulator concluded in the Nov. 12 resolution, which was first reported by Reuters. Continue Reading →

Ni & Co CONFERENCE: Nine key takeaways from Xiamen – by Charlotte Radford, Susan Zou and Violet Li (Metal Bulletin – November 12, 2018)

The spotlight was in Xiamen last week when market participants gathered to discuss hot topics in the cobalt and nickel markets, including higher cobalt prices and their impact on the market in addition to new trends for the cobalt industry.

High prices do not hurt the overall use of cobalt in consumer electronics

Cobalt prices hit a near 10-year high in April, but the blue metal’s high prices will not lead to many cobalt substitutions in consumer electronics, according to battery manufacturer ATL’s procurement director, Xu Shihui.

Cobalt demand from the consumer electronics industry will continue to grow due to new trends, including the intact adoption of lithium-cobalt-oxide (LCO) batteries in laptops and smart phones. Continue Reading →

‘We’re just not there’: Batteries not ready to replace fossil fuels, says lithium miner – by Cole Latimer (Sydney Morning Herald – November 5, 2018)

A battery material miner headed by global energy experts says the world is still a decade away from large batteries and renewables replacing baseload power.

Junior lithium miner ioneer, whose board includes the former chairman of lithium miner Orocobre, James Calaway; the former president of Shell, John Hofmeister; and the former head of Rio Tinto’s minerals and energy division, Alan Davies, said batteries and solar aren’t ready to replace gas or coal.

“Today, when people say you can apply lithium-ion batteries to create baseload from intermittent power they’re just not right,” Mr Calaway told Fairfax Media. “It’s too expensive. It’s a folly to think it will be a switch that just goes from one to the other. People can talk about intermittency, and how batteries will solve intermittency, it’s coming but we’re just not there. Continue Reading →

How Electric Vehicles Should Give a Jolt to Copper Miners – by Simon Constable ( – November 2, 2018)

Copper prices have dropped 18% in recent weeks, creating a long-term opportunity to get in on some cheap copper-mining giants with generous dividend payouts. Their prospects will depend on a major technological transition: the move from gasoline-powered to electric vehicles.

“If you’re bullish on global growth over the next 18 to 24 months, you have to own copper-related assets, especially since current prices aren’t high enough to fund new-mine development,” says Adam Johnson, founder and author of the Bullseye Brief financial newsletter. “Longer term, and this is key, rising electric-vehicle production will shift the entire demand curve since EVs require multiple times the copper content of internal-combustion engines.”

Investors should consider buying shares of a handful of European-based miners: Rio Tinto (ticker: RIO), Glencore (GLEN.UK), and Anglo American (AAL.UK). All are diversified, but they’re also among the largest copper miners. Better yet, they have hefty dividends of 5%, 5.1%, and 4.7%, respectively. Continue Reading →

Electric car demand fueling rise in child labor in DR Congo: campaigners – by Nellie Peyton (Reuters U.S. – November 2, 2018)

DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Demand for electric vehicles is fueling a rise in child labor in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, experts said this week, urging companies to take action as the industry expands.

Cobalt is a key component in batteries for electric cars, phones and laptops, and Congo provides more than half of global supply. Tens of thousands of children as young as six dig for the toxic substance in artisanal mines in the country’s southeast, without protective clothing, rights groups say.

As companies move to secure their supply of cobalt, they should also make a push to improve transparency and labor rights, said U.S.-based advocacy group Enough Project. Continue Reading →

Mining Veteran Wants to Build a $1 Billion Battery Metals Giant – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – November 1, 2018)

South African mining veteran Brian Menell wants to build a battery material giant to help challenge China’s domination of the nascent industry.

It’s still early days for his privately funded company, TechMet Ltd., which controls just a handful of assets from Canada to Rwanda. But he’s raising more money and sees countries such as the U.S. and Japan as potential partners to help catch China in the rapidly growing industry to provide battery grade supplies of everything from tin and tungsten to nickel and cobalt.

“There’s a degree of urgency now,” said Menell, who started his mining career with diamond giant De Beers in the 1980s and whose family built one of South Africa’s largest mining companies. “It’s a massive problem” that China has dominated supply of these materials for about 15 years, he said. Continue Reading →

Borden mine innovations tested at Hoyle Pond – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – October 31, 2018)

The Hoyle Pond Mine in Timmins has become something of a testing ground for many pieces of mining equipment destined for the new all-electric Borden Lake gold project near Chapleau.

It might also turn out that Hoyle Pond and other “traditional” mines will eventually rely more and more on using all-electric equipment.

Borden is the newest gold mine operation for Goldcorp’s Porcupine Gold Mines division, which also includes Hoyle Pond, the Hollinger open pit and the Dome Mine and milling complex now being studied for the possible Century Project. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-China’s Tsingshan rains on nickel bulls’ party – by Andy Home (Reuters U.K. – October 30, 2018)

LONDON, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Has nickel lost its electric buzz? Bull spirits had been galvanised by the potential boost to demand from the electric vehicle revolution. Nickel is expected to be one of the winners in the battle for more efficient batteries.

The price of nickel on the London Metal Exchange surged by 63 percent between October 2017 and April 2018, hitting a three-year high of $16,690 per tonne. It is now trading at $11,750.

Trade war anxiety has played its part in the price fall. But nickel has its own worries. Assumptions as to how both nickel’s price and supply chain would need to adapt to the new electric demand driver have just been upended. Continue Reading →

Battery Metal Bulls Fear China’s Big Disrupter to Hit Nickel – by Mark Burton and Jack Farchy (Bloomberg News – October 28, 2018)

Commodity traders expect nickel, the silvery-white metal used to make stainless steel, to be a winner from the electric-vehicle revolution — it’s a key component of batteries.

But a Chinese metals giant with a knack of upending markets is threatening to spoil the party. Tsingshan Holding Group announced last month it’s building an Indonesian plant to produce nickel-cobalt salts for the battery market.

Transforming the Southeast Asian nation’s low-grade deposits into “class 1” metal — the equivalent of turning cheap table wine into a prized vintage — would disrupt the bullish narrative that’s helped shield nickel from a broader selloff in metal markets this year. Continue Reading →

Even the World’s Biggest Miners Are Switching to Electric Vehicles – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – October 29, 2018)

(Bloomberg) — BHP Billiton Ltd.’s giant Olympic Dam mine in Australia’s Outback is a labyrinth of 450 kilometers of tunnels and roads — an ideal testing ground for the industry’s burgeoning shift toward cleaner power.

Taking about 30 minutes to drive from top to bottom, there’s ample opportunity for the world’s biggest miner to test electric SUVs in a bid to cut both costs and pollution, including potentially harmful diesel emissions. BHP will make a decision by the middle of next year whether to extend the program across a 240-strong fleet of light vehicles at the South Australia operation.

“Getting mines to be completely diesel free is our end goal,” said Andrew Draffin, a project manager at Voltra, a supplier that’s provided BHP with adapted Toyota LandCruiser models fitted with an electric motor and lithium-ion batteries. “We’ve started with light vehicles because that’s the easiest for companies to prove the electric concept.” Continue Reading →