Archive | Lithium

COLUMN-Why Tesla is turning to Chile for its lithium – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – February 7, 2018)

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Tesla, the pioneer of the electric vehicle revolution, is turning to Chile to secure the lithium it needs to power its mass production drive.

Tesla and Chilean lithium producer SQM are “exploring” opportunities after the automotive company expressed interest in buying “important volumes” of the battery ingredient, according to Eduardo Bitran, head of Chilean development agency Corfo.

It’s an obvious place for Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, to look for secure supply. The global lithium mother-lode is in the brine lakes of Chile’s Atacama desert. Continue Reading →

Zimbabwe’s mining minister says lithium biggest draw – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters Africa – February 6, 2018)

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Zimbabwe has the potential to be a leading producer of lithium, which has so far attracted more interest than any other of its minerals, Zimbabwe’s new Minister of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando said on Tuesday.

He said he had last week reached a deal with a small listed company, which was expected to generate revenue of $1.4 billion over eight years from a lithium project.

Chitando took office after Emmerson Mnangagwa became president in November 2017 when the military took charge and Robert Mugabe resigned after 37 years in office. Continue Reading →

Electric Cars and Niche Metals Lure Cash to Africa’s Mines – by Thomas Wilson and Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – February 2, 2018)

Rising commodity prices may have revived enthusiasm for African resources, but it’s unlikely to be the old mainstays of coal and iron ore pulling crowds next week as the mining industry meets in Cape Town.

The electric-vehicle boom and shifting industrial demand have transformed formerly niche metals — from lithium and cobalt to praseodymium and neodymium — into the hot new drawcards of African mining.

Far smaller and cheaper than the gargantuan mine, port and rail developments pursued by the likes of BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group during the last boom, these next-generation mines may stand a better chance of success.

Here are five metals grabbing attention across the continent. Continue Reading →

Australia’s $2 trillion lithium opportunity (Australian Mining – January 31, 2018)

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) has urged Australia to expand along the estimated $2 trillion lithium value chain in the next two years.

Lithium used in the batteries of smartphones and electrical vehicles (EV) represents one of Australia’s great opportunities, according to AMEC, which released a report on the country’s lithium prospects this week.

The association anticipates that Australia will dominate the front of the lithium value chain for the foreseeable future, with projects at Greenbushes, Mt Cattlin, Mt Marion and Pilgangoora all ramping up production. Continue Reading →

WHITE GOLD: Tesla may get into the lithium business in Chile as the price of battery ingredients soar – by Michael J. Coren ( – January 30, 2018)

While showing off Tesla’s Gigafactory in the Nevada desert last year, its designers showed journalists a curious thing: One side of the factory’s massive wall could be opened up to received lithium ore one day.

Tesla said that the facility had been built with an eye toward receiving raw lithium material on one side and producing a finished battery pack on the other. The only operating lithium mine in the US is about 200 miles away in Clayton Valley, Nevada.

But Tesla is hedging its lithium bets. The Finanical Times reports (paywall) Tesla is in talks with Chile’s largest lithium producer Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) to invest in a processing plant. Continue Reading →

UK funds satellite hunt for new minerals – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters U.K. – January 25, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government has handed out 850,000 pounds for research that uses satellites to identify deposits of minerals, including battery metal lithium, as part of efforts to bolster the economy after the exit from the European Union.

The project named the Satellite Applications Catapult is seeking to assess the quality of mineral structures, to ensure exploration spending is focused on the best deposits, by analysing satellite images of geology and vegetation, British miner Cornish Lithium, which is participating, said.

Others involved in the project include the British Geological Survey, the Camborne School of Mines, which is part of Exeter University, and environmental consultancy North Coast Consulting. Continue Reading →

China charges Australia’s lithium boom – by Lachlan Colquhoun (Asia Times – January 23, 2018)

Australia enjoys new mining growth with rising demand for the light metal used in many ‘next generation’ technologies

Australia is on the cusp of a new commodities boom as a lithium exporter, and Chinese investors are well ahead in the race to secure their supply.

As the critical ingredient in next generation battery storage and electric vehicle technologies, global demand for lithium is forecast to grow at a compound rate of 18% in the decade to 2025, according to Macquarie Research.

In 2015, Australia supplied around 36% of the world’s lithium. By 2021, that proportion is forecast to grow to 48% of a much larger global market. Australian exports of spodumene, the mineral ore containing lithium, have increased 84% in the three years since 2014. Continue Reading →

Expansion talk wipes billions off lithium miners – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – January 19, 2018)

Whichever narrative you choose to believe about the supply and demand outlook for lithium, there was something to suit your argument this past week.

If you’re convinced the world’s auto manufacturers will have an insatiable demand for the battery commodity, Ford’s announcement that it would more than double investment in electric vehicles over the next five years would have been music to your ears.

If you’re concerned about an oversupply of lithium coming from the salt lakes of South America, look no further than the royalty settlement struck by Chilean producer SQM, which gave the company permission to more than triple production over the next seven years. Continue Reading →

WoodMac urges automakers to ‘get out their chequebooks’, secure energy metal supplies – by Henry Lazenby ( – January 17, 2018)

VANCOUVER ( – Auto manufacturers are ramping up strategies to cash in on the accelerating worldwide acceptance and demand for electric vehicles (EVs), prompting advice from research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie for automakers to ‘get out their chequebooks’ and take stakes in mines or new mine projects to lock-in future supply.

WoodMac issued a statement on Tuesday, following news that Ford will boost its investment in EVs to $11-billion between 2015 and 2022 – a sharply higher figure than a previously announced target of $4.5-billion by 2020.

Ford also revealed plans to expand its electrified portfolio to include 40 electrified vehicles globally, including 16 full-battery EVs by 2022. It outlined plans to accelerate investment in EVs and sportd utility vehicles (SUVs). Continue Reading →

Car makers may need to take a stake in mines: Wood Mackenzie (Mining Journal – January 17, 2018)

Car makers may need to “get out their chequebooks” and take a stake in mines to guarantee materials for their shift to electric vehicles, according to research and consultancy group Wood Mackenzie.

The comments follow automotive giant Ford’s announcement yesterday it would invest US$11 billion by 2022 in electrification, and expand its line-up to 40 EVs globally including 16 full battery EVs by 2022.

Wood Mackenzie director metals markets Gavin Montgomery said Ford planned to use NMC lithium-ion batteries in its EVs and it would be a challenge securing supply of the key raw materials, namely lithium, nickel and cobalt. Continue Reading →

Lithium wave near peak as Australian exports soar – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – January 15, 2018)

Lithium prices will peak in 2018 as a wave of new supply from Australian mines outstrips short-term demand, according to business intelligence firm Roskill.

Australian miners have been the fastest responders to recent rises in lithium prices amid optimism around demand for lithium-ion batteries, and at least three more Australian mines are expected to start exporting lithium-rich spodumene in 2018.

Roskill managing director Robert Baylis said the flurry of new mines risked swamping a market that was still small despite its growing profile. “The big issue is this wave of spodumene supply from Australia, where is it going to get processed and what is going to happen in terms of competition between producers?” he said. Continue Reading →

Beyond lithium — the search for a better battery – by Nic Fildes(Financial Times – January 7, 2018)

As the world’s power needs grow, the search is on for better battery technology — not just to keep smartphones charged for longer, but to run electric cars and to store energy produced by solar and wind power.

For the last 25 years, the lithium-ion battery, has held sway. Packing a large amount of energy into a relatively small space and weight, these are in greater demand than ever for mobile phones and electric cars. In fact, 2017 has been, in the words of HSBC’s Paul Bloxham, a nirvana for lithium.

The price of the commodity has been driven 240 per cent higher. Batteries accounted for 35 per cent of lithium use in 2015, up from 25 per cent in 2007, with electric vehicles, phones and personal computers accounting for 60 per cent of that market. Continue Reading →

The future of our technology and our planet depends on one thing: the battery – by Jamie Carter ( – January 6, 2018)

The lithium-ion battery is growing to power the electric car era, but solid-state batteries are incoming

Most of us are running on empty. Since the mobile phone spawned a smartphone-first world, we’ve all been tending to the needs of batteries.

The daily or nightly charge of the smartphone is the most prevalent, but laptops, tablets, drones, wireless headphones, smartwatches and other wearable devices are becoming more common.

We are constantly recharging batteries, there are some attempts to create fast-charging batteries and, of course, a new generation of wireless charging devices, but they’re just about convenience. Continue Reading →

The spark plug of the world’s electric cars – by Jonathan Pearlman (Singapore Strait Times – January 3, 2017)

A vast stretch of remote territory in Western Australia has become the epicentre of the world’s electric car and battery storage boom. The area, once famous for sourcing the iron ore that supplied China’s construction boom, is now providing the lithium required for the world’s so-called energy revolution.

Australia is the world’s largest supplier of lithium, with roughly half of the global supply coming from a growing number of mines scattered across the resource-rich state of Western Australia. The amount is due to increase in the coming years as several large-scale projects start extractions.

An expert on mining economics, Professor Allan Trench of the University of Western Australia Business School, said lithium extraction in the region has had “exceptionally fast growth”. He told The Straits Times that the explorations and discoveries are likely to continue. Continue Reading →

Autonomous Cars Need Tougher Batteries, Lithium-Ion Pioneer Says – by Chisaki Watanabe (Bloomberg News – December 26, 2017)

Battery makers must rethink their technology if predictions for a wave of self-driving vehicles pan out, according to one of the inventors of the lithium-ion battery.

In addition to focusing on making batteries more powerful to extend the driving range of single-owner cars, manufacturers will also need to develop devices that can withstand the rigors of near-constant driving and short-range trips from the shared use expected of autonomous vehicles, said Akira Yoshino, who invented a prototype of the lithium-ion battery in 1985.

“A car shared by 10 people means it will be running 10 times more,” Yoshino, an honorary fellow at Asahi Kasei Corp., the world’s biggest maker of separators used in batteries, said in an interview at the company headquarters in Tokyo. “Durability will become very important.” Continue Reading →