Archive | Lithium

Potential lithium ‘hotspots’ can be identified from space, study finds (Irish Examiner – July 12, 2018)

Satellites detecting changes in trees from space could help identify potential “hotspots” of lithium situated underground in Cornwall, researchers have said.

Global demand for lithium, a vital component in “next generation” batteries for electric vehicles and storage for renewable power, is expected to grow by around 400% by 2025.

Lithium in hot brine springs in Cornwall could provide the UK with a domestic source of the metal, which has been described as “the new gasoline” due to its potential to help in the shift to low-carbon energy supplies. Continue Reading →

Zimbabwe mining: Platinum has promise and lithium looms large – by Tonderayi Mukeredzi (The Africa Report – July 11, 2018)

Harare: President Emmerson Mnangagwa desperately wants to show that he can turn the economy around and is looking for quick wins from the mining sector, which had been spooked by his predecessor’s indigenisation plans. Mnangagwa does not want to completely liberalise the sector, and the government still insists on majority local ownership for platinum and diamond mining projects.

A new mining bill now making its way through parliament proposes to force mining companies to list on the local stock exchange, though foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo told an audience at Chatham House in London on 25 April that the clause would be taken out.

Platinum is the main focus for miners, and in March, Cyprus-based Karo Resources signed a deal with a promise of $4.2bn in investment in the Mhondoro-Ngezi region. A lot of platinum goes into catalytic converters and other devices to reduce emissions on petrol-powered cars. Continue Reading →

Canadian startups focus efforts on zinc, instead of lithium-ion, for future batteries – by Tyler Hamilton (Globe and Mail – July 11, 2018)

The energy storage market is a battlefield, littered with the corpses of failed newcomers that underestimated how deeply entrenched lithium-ion technology would become.

We’re talking 95 per cent entrenched, a market position growing stronger as demand for electric vehicles, wireless devices and cordless tools rise. Costs continue to plunge, with “gigafactories” and “Chinafication” driving the same economies of scale that turned solar photovoltaic panels into a commodity.

This has researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology worried about “technology lock-in.” Their fear, outlined in a recent white paper, is that lithium-ion has become so dominant that it is preventing newer, better battery chemistries from getting funded, gaining market traction and achieving the scale needed to survive, let alone compete on cost. Continue Reading →

These battery skeptics think cobalt and lithium prices are overcooked – by Luzi Ann Javier (Financial Post/Bloomberg – July 2018)

Tesla boss Elon Musk says the amount of cobalt his company will use to make electric cars is headed toward ‘almost nothing’

Call them battery skeptics. Bets on surging demand for electric vehicles have made cobalt and lithium hot commodities, but some investors say the outlook is leaving them cold.

While prices have more than doubled in the past three years on worries over shortages of the metals used in batteries, Bank of America Merrill Lynch is predicting “severe oversupplies” in the lithium market, and Subaru Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. are for now keeping their focus on conventionally powered vehicles.

“The craziness that you see in cobalt will in many ways actually be corrected,” Christoph Eibl, the chief executive officer of asset manager Tiberius Group, said in an interview. “There’s so much uncertainty about how future technologies will be applied and how much replacement and substitution will actually occur. There will be batteries that will use much less lithium. Continue Reading →

Lithium is exploding but Canada’s distance from China has miners at a disadvantage – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – July 7, 2018)

Australia is in the midst of a lithium mine boom whereas Nemaska will be the first new lithium project in Canada in years, when construction is finished around 2020

This spring, Nemaska Lithium Inc’s chief executive Guy Bourassa returned to Canada from a trip to Asia, jet lagged and tired — and still months away from closing a deal to sell lithium from his company’s planned operations in Quebec to South Korean battery maker LG Chem Ltd.

“It seems to be taking longer than we expected,” Bourassa said in an April interview with the Financial Post. This week, Bourassa finally closed the deal. LG Chem will buy 7,000 tons per year for five years beginning in 2020, when his mine and conversion plant are expected to be operating.

A major stumbling block, he explained in an interview this week, which helped drag negotiations out for six months, was figuring out where to obtain the ‘market’ price for lithium. Continue Reading →

Cobalt, lithium and nickel are booming due to China’s insatiable appetite for electric vehicles – by Jane Li (South China Morning Post – June 30, 2018)

World prices of cobalt, lithium and nickel are booming as China’s insatiable need for the battery packs used in electric vehicles drove up demand, recreating the economic bonanza that fuelled commodity-exporting countries a decade ago.

The price of lithium, a soft silvery white metal usually mined from brines, has soared by more than 300 per cent in the past two years. The price of cobalt, mostly mined as a by-product of nickel and copper, surged 129 per cent last year while nickel surged 4.6 per cent to a two-year high in London.

At the centre of the boom is China’s support for developing electric vehicles (EV) to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Electric vehicles made up a mere 2.3 per cent of the 30 million vehicles produced last year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. That proportion may quintuple to 12 per cent by 2025, according to a forecast by JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s analyst Nick Lai. Continue Reading →

China’s firms are scouring the world for mineral ores in pursuit of nation’s electric dream – by Jane Li (South China Morning Post – June 30, 2018)

Chinese companies are scouring the world’s mines for lithium, cobalt and other minerals that go into battery packs used in electric vehicles, resuming the kind of voracious hunt for resources that added to economic booms in exporting countries a decade earlier.

They were the first to get off the starting block in getting their hands on these vital minerals, crucial for China’s ambition to lead the world in the production and use of electric and new energy vehicles, where up to 2 million units are expected to ply the nation’s streets by 2020, according to government forecast.

China Molybdenum, a partly state-owned producer of the chemical element, paid US$2.65 billion in 2016 for the Tenke Fungurume Mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the world’s largest known reserves of copper and cobalt resources. Continue Reading →

Bankers Have Gone AWOL in the Race to Build More Lithium Mines – by David Stringer and Mariko Ishikawa (Bloomberg News – July 3, 2018)

After clinching a deal with a Chinese battery maker in 2016, James Brown figured bankers would be eager to fund his new lithium mine. Altura Mining Ltd. was racing to ship the raw material from Australia to the world’s biggest electric vehicle market as demand was surging.

Instead, while lithium prices kept rising, Brown spent a Christmas holiday cold-calling lenders and jetted around the globe to raise the money. Eventually, Minneapolis-based Castlelake LP, a private equity firm, helped arrange $110 million in bonds. But there was a catch: an interest rate as high as 15 percent, or almost double what banks normally charge for more conventional mining ventures.

“We’d been trying banks we’d known for years,” said Brown, Altura’s managing director, who previously spent 22 years with coal producer New Hope Corp. “They said: Guys we love it, we just don’t have a mandate (for lithium). If you came to us with coal, gold or iron ore, you’d have no worries.” Continue Reading →

Bolivia offers its lithium reserves to India (Gulf News – July 1, 2018)

Ambassador says country willing to sign a Preferential Trade Agreement with India for select goods

New Delhi: Bolivia, known to have the largest reserves of lithium, has offered the metal — used in making batteries of electric vehicles, laptops and smart phones — to India.

The South American nation’s ambassador to India, Sergio Dario Arispe Barrientos, said the country has the largest deposit of Lithium and India could explore this opportunity.

Barrientos said his country is willing to sign a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) — a pact between countries that provides preferential access to certain products by lowering tariff and other conditions — with India for select goods. Continue Reading →

To reduce China’s leverage, rebuild America’s minerals supply chain – by Mark J. Perry (The Hill – June 26, 2018)

Imagine a scenario where the U.S. is entirely dependent on a single nation for oil. You can’t. It’s inconceivable. We would never let one nation — much less a sometimes adversarial rival — dominate our supply of a critical resource. Or would we?

Astoundingly, we have. We are completely import-dependent for 21 mineral commodities, and imports account for more than half of our consumption for 50 critical minerals. Who’s our largest supplier? China.

While much of China’s resource dominance comes from domestic production, it doesn’t end at the border. Chinese companies have come to control the production of key minerals resources in nearly every corner of the world. Continue Reading →

Tantalum miner threatens expansion at Australia’s biggest lithium mine – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – June 25, 2018)

MELBOURNE – (Reuters) – A partner in one of the world’s largest lithium mines said on Monday trial dates have been set to determine whether expansion at the Western Australian mine, in which China’s Tianqi Lithium holds a stake, would unfairly impact its minerals rights.

Private-equity backed Global Advanced Metals (GAM) owns the rights to tantalum and other minerals produced at Greenbushes, the world’s largest hard rock lithium mine, and has requested the courts to halt mine expansion plans to ensure that its rights are secure.

Talison Lithium, a joint venture between units of lithium giants Tianqi Lithium, and U.S.-based Albemarle Corp, owns only the lithium rights at Greenbushes. Tianqi and Albemarle hold 51 percent and 49 percent of Talison each. Continue Reading →

Lithium and cobalt: A tale of two commodities – by Marcelo Azevedo, Nicolò Campagnol, Toralf Hagenbruch, Ken Hoffman, Ajay Lala, and Oliver Ramsbottom ( – June 2018)

What does the rise of electric vehicles mean for two critical raw materials that go into their batteries—and for the players in this ecosystem?

The electric-vehicle (EV) revolution is ushering in a golden age for battery raw materials, best reflected by a dramatic increase in price for two key battery commodities, lithium and cobalt, over the past 24 months. In addition, the growing need for energy storage, e-bikes, electrification of tools, and other battery-intense applications is increasing the interest in these commodities (Exhibit 1).

However, recent concerns regarding the future of the raw-material supply availability for batteries and the impact of rising commodity prices on battery production costs have highlighted risks that might create divergent futures for these two commodities.

The strategic response needed will likely differ across industry players such as automotive OEMs, battery manufacturers, mining and refining companies, and financial investors. For all players, there is a growing imperative to understand the complexities and dynamics of this rapidly changing market and to ensure that their strategies are robust in the face of uncertainty. Continue Reading →

Australia takes over Chile as world’s No.1 lithium producer – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – June 12, 2018)

Australia has taken over Chile as the world’s largest lithium producing nation boosted mainly by record output at two major mines, data from United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows.

Down Under produced 18,700 tonnes of lithium in 2017, according to the USGS, thanks mainly to Western Australia-based mines — Galaxy Resources’ Mt Cattlin and Mt Marion, owned by Neometals and China’s Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium.

Chile, which holds the largest known lithium reserves in the world (about 52%), only produced 14,100 tonnes of the white metal last year, which meant its market share dropped to 32.8% from 37.6% in 2016. Australia, instead, went from having 36.8% of the global market to 43.5% in the same period. Continue Reading →

U.S. electric car sector, wary of China, seeks more domestic lithium – by Nicole Mordant (Reuters U.S. – June 12, 2018)

(Reuters) – Miners are pushing to sharply boost lithium output in the United States, as automakers in the world’s third biggest electric vehicle market are eager to cut their dependence on China for the critical battery ingredient and find more local sources.

In North Carolina, Nevada and half a dozen other states, miners are working to revive the U.S. lithium industry, once the world’s largest until it fell off in the 1990s.

Global demand for the lightweight material is expected to quadruple by 2025. Miners are betting U.S. expansion will pay off with orders from battery and vehicle manufacturers who are wary of relying too much on China, which is home to the majority of the world’s lithium processing facilities and sucks up most output of top producer Australia. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto moves into cleaner resources to chase electric vehicles – by Kaori Takahashi (June 9, 2018)

Global miner shifts focus to lithium after exit from coal

TOKYO — Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto is realigning its business structure in the wake of the global resources boom, after completing its exit from the coal industry earlier this year, with an eye on electric vehicle-related battery materials.

Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sebastian Jacques, in a wide-ranging interview with Nikkei in Tokyo this week, laid out the company’s focus on new minerals, particularly lithium, technology partnerships in Asia, and divestment in coal.

Rio Tinto is shifting tack to respond to China’s demands, but its own operational needs and relationships with Asian customers are changing. On Thursday, Rio Tinto finalized a joint venture with China Minmetals to explore for minerals in the country. Continue Reading →