Archive | Lithium

U.S. ‘falling behind’ in global race to develop electric vehicle supply chain – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – September 17, 2019)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is losing the race to extract and refine minerals used to make electric vehicles and should do more to spur domestic production, a bipartisan group of senators said on Tuesday.

The push comes as China has grown to dominate the market for lithium, rare earths, cobalt and other so-called strategic minerals used to make a plethora of consumer products, a dominance that politicians have said poses a strategic threat to the United States.

The Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a Tuesday hearing in part to keep the topic fresh in the national dialogue even as attention begins to lurch toward the 2020 presidential campaign. Continue Reading →

Chilean lithium producer SQM bullish on white gold demand; shares rise – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – September 11, 2019)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Shares in Chilean lithium producer SQM jumped on Wednesday after it announced plans to invest about $2.1 billion in the next five years to strengthen its production amid an expected increase in demand for the ultralight battery metal.

About $1.332 billion of this investment would be in lithium operations, with further amounts going toward growing its nitrates and iodine capacity and maintenance between 2019 to 2023, Chief Executive Ricardo Ramos said in a presentation to investors in New York on Tuesday.

B-Series shares in SQM were up more than 5% in trading on Santiago’s blue-chip stock exchange following the promise of beefed-up investment. Continue Reading →

Lithium bulls need to chill out – by Neil Hume (Financial Times – September 10, 2019)

Quick to develop supply will keep a lid on prices

Battery metal bulls suddenly have more to cheer about. This week saw the flashy launch of VW’s ID. 3, a mass-market hatchback that symbolises the potential market for the lithium that powers its battery. Last week, China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) bought an 8.5 per cent stake in Australian lithium miner Pilbara Minerals.

The investment by China’s biggest battery producer — and supplier to carmakers including VW, Toyota and Volvo — was seen as a vote of confidence for the sector, which supporters say will be a big beneficiary from decarbonisation and the mass adoption of electric vehicles.

“While there has been commentary talking down the current state of lithium markets, it has belied the significant interest we have continued to see from the strategic players,” said Ken Brinsden, managing director of Pilbara. Continue Reading →

Is Chile losing ground in the lithium space? – by Tom Azzopardi (Northern Miner – September 4, 2019)

Northern Miner

Chile should lead the world in lithium production. The Salar de Atacama in northern Chile is the world’s largest and richest lithium resource, containing almost half the world’s known reserves, according to the United States Geological Survey. And the region’s geological and climatic conditions make it the most competitive place to produce the mineral.

The country’s only two lithium producers, Albemarle (NYSE: ALB) and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) (NYSE: SQM), enjoy production costs of less than US$3,000 a tonne, compared to almost US$4,000 a tonne in some Argentinean salars.

So when lithium demand and prices began to take off earlier this decade, Chile’s economic development agency, Corporación de Fomento de la Producción (CORFO), which owns mineral rights on the Salar, signed new lease contracts with Albemarle and SQM allowing them to increase production to around two million tonnes over the life of the leases. Continue Reading →

Top ten biggest lithium mines in the world (Mining Technology – August 30, 2019)

Western Australia hosts five of the world’s biggest lithium mines, whose combined reserves exceed 475.24 million tonnes (Mt). Mining-technology ranks the top ten biggest lithium mines in the world, based on proven and probable reserves.

1. Sonora Lithium Project – 243.8Mt

The Sonora lithium project, located in Sonora, Mexico, is the biggest lithium deposit is being developed by a joint venture (JV) of Bacanora Minerals (30%) and Cadence Minerals (70%).

The mine is estimated to hold proven and probable reserves of 243.8Mt, containing 4.5Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). The bankable feasibility study for the project has been completed, which estimates a mine life of 19 years. Continue Reading →

[Lithium] There May Be a Fortune Buried in a Forgotten Corner of Europe – by James M. Gomez and Misha Savic (Bloomberg News – August 29, 2019)

Some estimate that the continent’s largest reserves of lithium⁠—the metal used for batteries⁠—are in Serbia. The hard part might be getting it out.

The ancient scooter gurgling through a languid summer afternoon brought groceries and a fistful of cash to Sasa Antic’s house. Like many of his neighbors, the 30-year-old Serb hasn’t had a job for some time so the family relies on the arrival of his mother’s pension.

Yet buried in the ground beneath this forgotten corner of former Yugoslavia is the prospect of becoming a new European front in the economic battle with Asia. Geologists are exploring the hilly landscape for the metal that’s become ubiquitous in modern technology: lithium.

“It would be a godsend if they can prove lithium reserves,” said Antic, as his mother counted out the dinars handed to her by a merchant who also delivered milk, rolls and butter to them in Klinovac, a hamlet of barns, stone houses and more goats than cars. “This is the least developed part of Serbia and we are at a dead end.” Continue Reading →

Lithium prices to remain low as “hype” meets “reality” — CRU – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – August 21, 2019)

An ongoing avalanche of lithium supply, coming mostly from Australia, as well as cuts to China’s electric-vehicles (EVs) subsidies, is set to keep prices for the coveted battery metal in the single digits for longer than expected, analysts at commodity research group CRU warn.

Prices for lithium carbonate, the most common type used in the batteries that power electric cars, doubled over 2016 and 2017, but have fallen by more than 40% over the past year, crashing through the $10/kg mark at the end of July.

While many market players continue to forecast long-run prices in the mid-teens, based on bullish forecasts for sales of EVs and energy storage systems, CRU analysts remain unconvinced. Continue Reading →

Quebec is poised to be a leader in lithium development, Legault says (Montreal Gazette – August 19, 2019)

Lithium is a “jewel” that Quebec has yet to exploit, Premier François Legault said on Sunday.

Speaking to the youth wing of the Coalition Avenir Québec meeting in Sherbrooke, Legault dreamed of a Quebec that would one day export lithium batteries around the world, noting that the province is home to the world’s third-largest deposit of lithium, an element essential to the manufacturing of batteries used by electric vehicles.

Along with other “strategic metals” that are also found in Quebec, Legault said it would be possible to construct “100-per-cent Quebec batteries.” “We have the potential to take our place in this enormous market,” Legault said. Continue Reading →

Germany hopes to mine lithium, the white gold of e-mobility – by Hardy Graupner (Zinnwald) (Deutsche Welle – August 19, 2019)

A small community in the German state of Saxony may soon see the revival of its centuries-old mining tradition. But this time around, the focus is no longer on tin or tungsten but on lithium, as Hardy Graupner reports.

Hans-Andre Tooren is a longtime municipal administrator in the Saxon community of Zinnwald-Georgenfeld near the German-Czech border, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Dresden. His and his wife’s piece of land happens to be in an area that’s attracted the interest of geologists and a mining company.

Tooren lives in a place where lithium abounds, the new white gold of the automotive and other industries. The chemical element is needed for batteries in electric cars, but is also required in steadily rising quantities for glass ceramics, ceramic glass cooktops and a number of lubricants, to name but a few fields of application. Continue Reading →

Supply glut pushes down rare-metal prices – by Hiroki Masuda (Nikkei Asian Review – August 14, 2019)

China’s possible policy shift on hybrid cars further dampens market sentiment

TOKYO — Prices for rare-earth metals are falling sharply, with the price of cobalt dropping 30% since the start of the year, and that for lithium remaining sluggish.

Global markets are swimming in rare earths, as production has outstripped demand for the batteries used to power electric vehicles. Speculation is rife that demand for the commodities will slow further as China considers promoting production of hybrid cars, which require fewer rare earths. This is further stifling market sentiment.

Cobalt and lithium are mainly used to make cathodes for lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars. Spot prices for cobalt in Europe are near three-year lows. Continue Reading →

Clean energy dream fuels a dirty mineral rush ( – August 8, 2019)

A future of environment-friendly energy, where dirty engines and power plants rust in history’s scrapyard, is an idyllic vision. In the cynical real world, the rush for green batteries is fueling a harmful mining boom.

By 2030, there will be 140 million electric cars on Earth, and by 2040 every third vehicle will be powered by green electricity instead of the fossil fuels that have been slowly choking the environment for the past couple centuries. That’s according to assessments by Glencore Plc and BloombergNEF.

Sounds like we’re on the right track and Greta Thunberg’s zero-emission dream could be achieved within her lifetime. Humanity is finally coming to its senses.

Get digging

Not quite. All those cars will need batteries, and all those batteries will need to be built with a small periodic table of minerals. And all those minerals need to be mined – in some cases strip-mining the rest of the planet’s explored deposits. Continue Reading →

Hyperdrive: The Top Miners Are Split on How to Chase the EV Battery Boom – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – August 4, 2019)

The world’s biggest miners, including BHP Group and Glencore Plc, are finally firm believers in the electric vehicle battery revolution — what they don’t agree on is which metals will deliver the best long-term exposure to the developing global market.

BHP has revived a declining nickel unit in Western Australia to target the sector, while Rio Tinto Group is accelerating work to enter the lithium market. Glencore is focusing on cobalt and copper and Anglo American Plc is examining prospects for platinum and palladium to be deployed in future battery technologies.

“We did a review of all the battery input materials — nickel, cobalt, lithium,” said Eduard Haegel, asset president at the BHP’s Nickel West unit. “We think that in the medium-to-longer term there will be a margin that will be sticky for nickel — we think it’s an attractive commodity.” Continue Reading →

Lithium Industry Buildup Is Outracing the Electric-Car Boom – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – July 29, 2019)

Lithium miners are bulking up for a booming future when electric cars go mainstream. But speed bumps loom, with prices tumbling on a burst of new production and demand growth slowing in China.

Between mid-2015 and mid-2018, prices for lithium, the soft, silvery-white metal crucial for rechargeable batteries, almost tripled as the world’s fleet of electric vehicles hit the 5 million mark, and the auto industry began to fret over the supply of raw materials.

That sparked the opening of six lithium mines in Australia since 2017 as companies raced to gain from an evolving technology. But while the EV boom is coming, it isn’t here yet. Sales growth is slowing in China, the top market, and the drive to fill the battery supply chain has cooled. The result: A 30% price plunge for lithium that’s spurring concern over where the bottom may lie. Continue Reading →

China’s electric cars: Can they drive Chilean copper? – by Diego Laje ( – July 29, 2019)

Growing demand for battery storage and lithium could be a silver lining for Chile’s mining industry.

In the arid north of Chile some 1,500km from the capital, Chuquicamata has been a plentiful source of copper since before the rise of the Inca Empire in the 1400s.

“Chuqui” – as it is informally known – is one of the country’s most emblematic mines, a symbol of human ingenuity despite the fortnight of labour strikes held this June against mine owner Codelco over job cuts and compensation.

Economic reality sunk in last month when the mine shut down, as miners demanded better wages at the same time the place began an expensive transformation from an open pit to an underground shaft mine. Continue Reading →

CALIFORNIA: Must Reads: A war is brewing over lithium mining at the edge of Death Valley – by Louis Sahagun (Los Angeles Times – May 7, 2019)

A small Cessna soared high above the Mojave Desert recently, its engine growling in the choppy morning air. As the aircraft skirted the mountains on the edge of Death Valley National Park, a clutch of passengers and environmentalists peered intently at a broiling salt flat thousands of feet below.

The desolate beauty of the Panamint Valley has long drawn all manner of naturalists, adventurers and social outcasts — including Charles Manson — off-road vehicle riders and top gun fighter pilots who blast overhead in simulated dogfights.

Now this prehistoric lake bed is shaping up to be an unlikely battleground between environmentalists and battery technologists who believe the area might hold the key to a carbon-free future. Continue Reading →