Archive | Lithium

Lithium producers hit by first big downturn of electric vehicle era – by Ernest Scheyder (CNBC/Reuters – November 13, 2019)

https://www.cnbc.com/

LOS ANGELES, Nov 13 (Reuters) – The burgeoning lithium industry, which produces the powerhouse metal used to make electric vehicle (EV) batteries, has entered its first major downturn, an unwelcome bruising for investors eager to help combat climate change.

Albemarle Corp, Tianqi Lithium Corp and others have been producing more lithium than automakers need. Global supply exceeds demand by about 5 percent, according to Canaccord data.

That comes as electric vehicle sales in China – the world’s largest EV market – fell nearly a third in September amid sliding government subsidies, the third consecutive monthly decline, according to Jefferies. Continue Reading →

DEBUNKER: Bolivia’s Lithium Isn’t The New Oil – by Keith Johnson and James Palmer (Foreign Policy – November 13, 2019)

https://foreignpolicy.com/

The recent ouster of Bolivian President Evo Morales has sparked plenty of theories, especially on the left. One of the most prominent has been the idea that the military’s intervention is a coup intended to ensure U.S. control of a critical global resource: lithium.

That’s part of a tradition that sees U.S. foreign policy as being essentially about controlling natural wealth by any means necessary—one rooted in real American practices, from the deployment of U.S. Marines in defense of the United Fruit Company’s interests in Central America to President Donald Trump’s repeated orders to troops to protect oil, not Kurds, in Syria. But in this instance, the idea, heavily touted in the online left-wing media and by the occasional politician, is fundamentally mistaken.

Lithium is undoubtedly important to the future economy, because it’s one of the key components in lithium ion batteries that power everything from laptops to many electric cars. U.S. strategists have been interested in it since the 1960s for just these reasons. Continue Reading →

[Lithium] This metal is powering today’s technology—at what price? – by Robert Draper (National Geographic – February 2019)

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/

ONE EARLY SATURDAY morning in La Paz, Álvaro García Linera, the vice president of Bolivia, greets me in the spacious salon outside his office overlooking Plaza Murillo. The debonair, silver-haired 56-year-old politician is known in his country as a committed Marxist ideologue. But today he presents himself as a capitalist pitchman.

The pitch in question involves lithium. García Linera speaks of his country’s natural resource in a simultaneously factual and awestruck way. Lithium, essential to our battery-fueled world, is also the key to Bolivia’s future, the vice president assures me.

A mere four years hence, he predicts, it will be “the engine of our economy.” All Bolivians will benefit, he continues, “taking them out of poverty, guaranteeing their stability in the middle class, and training them in scientific and technological fields so that they become part of the intelligentsia in the global economy.” Continue Reading →

Morales manoeuvred himself out of Bolivia’s presidency – by Gwynne Dyer (London Free Press – November 11, 2019)

https://lfpress.com/

“Democracy is in danger in Bolivia as the result of legitimate pressures from the poor. We cannot generate economic growth and well-being for a few and then expect that the large majorities that are excluded will watch silently and patiently.”

A recent president of Bolivia said that, but it wasn’t Evo Morales (who has just quit). It was Carlos Mesa, the man whom Morales tried to cheat out of the presidency in last month’s election. Mesa said it in 2005, the last time he was president, just before he quit and Morales won a landslide victory in the election triggered by his resignation.

Most outside commentators used to stick to a simple script when talking about Bolivia. Morales was the good guy because he was the country’s first Indigenous president (he grew up speaking Aymara, and learned Spanish only as a young adult) and because he looked like and seemed to care about the poor majority of Bolivians. Continue Reading →

Bolivia: Where revolutionaries and lithium miners go to die – by Rick Mills (Mining.com – December 26, 2018)

https://www.mining.com/

Other than being the country where Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara was killed, most North Americans know little about Bolivia.

The landlocked country is surrounded by Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile. Today, it is South America’s poorest nation. But in the 1960s, Bolivia was going to be the launchpad of Che Guevara’s socialist revolution.

Born in Argentina, Ernesto “Che” Guevara became radicalized by the poverty, hunger and disease he saw while traveling South America as a young medical student. He got involved in social reforms enacted by Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz, which were resisted by the United States. Continue Reading →

Protests in Chile, Bolivia threaten India’s search for assets in ‘Lithium Triangle’ – by Ajoy K Das (MiningWeekly.com – November 11, 2019)

https://m.miningweekly.com/

KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – Civil unrest and violence in Chile and prospects of tougher security norms, together with unrelenting protests over a disputed electoral process in Bolivia, have thrown a spanner in the wheels of Indian mining companies getting a toe-hold in the so-called ‘Lithium Triangle’.

As protestors continue to hit the streets, with widespread reports of violence, snowballing into a deeper anti-government movement, India’s recent push for lithium assets in Latin America is being forced to the backburner, if not becoming unstuck completely.

The perception among Indian mining companies planning forays in search of lithium assets in Latin America is that though unrest and violence in Chile was triggered by a marginal hike in subway fares, opposition to the right-of-center neoliberal economic policy of the incumbent Chilean government is at the heart of civil movement. Continue Reading →

Bolivia scraps joint lithium project with German company (Deutsche Welle – November 4, 2019)

https://www.dw.com/en/

The Bolivian government has cancelled a joint partnership with Germany’s privately owned ACI Systems Alemania (ACISA) to develop a massive lithium project.

Residents in the city of Potosi, where the joint venture had planned to build a factory for electric vehicle batteries and a lithium hydroxide plant, have been protesting since early October against the project. Organized by the Potosi Civic Committee, protesters say the project would not benefit local communities.

Potosi Department Governor Carlos Cejas said Sunday he had received a decree from the government of President Evo Morales to overturn a previous decree permitting the project, Bolivian state news agency ABI reported. Continue Reading →

Not The Best Deal: Albemarle Pays $1.3 Billion For A Lithium Asset— And Closes It – by Tim Treadgold (Forbes Magazine – November 1, 2019)

https://www.forbes.com/

Too much lithium and not enough demand for the battery-making material have hit the Australian expansion plans of U.S.-based specialty chemical maker Albemarle Corporation which effectively acquired, and closed, a new mine on the same day.

The deal to buy a stake in the Wodgina lithium mine in Western Australia was first negotiated 12 months ago, a time when lithium prices were higher and demand for the electric vehicles which use it in their batteries was forecast to be stronger than it is.

Celebrations Turn Sour

Rather than celebrating the deal today turned into commiserations with the workforce sent home and the almost new mine put in mothballs. Continue Reading →

Chile protesters block access to lithium operations: local leader – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters U.S. – October 25, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Protesters from indigenous communities around Chile’s Atacama salt flats, among the world’s richest reserves of lithium, have blocked access to lithium operations amid nationwide rallies over inequality, a local leader said on Friday.

The South American nation possesses the world’s largest reserves of the lightweight metal crucial to manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles, laptops and cellphones.

The desert salt basin is home to the world’s top two lithium producers: Chile’s SQM SQMa.SN and U.S.-based Albemarle (ALB.N). Sergio Cubillos, president of the Atacama Indigenous Council, told Reuters a road blockade had shut down SQM’s operations since Wednesday morning. Continue Reading →

Rio Tinto has ‘eureka moment’ with California lithium discovery – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – October 22, 2019)

https://www.ft.com/

Rio Tinto said it had found a potentially large source of lithium for electric car batteries while looking for gold in piles of waste rock in California, describing it as a “eureka moment” for the company.

The London-based miner said it could become the largest producer of lithium for batteries in the US if it can successfully process the rock on a larger scale.

The discovery may pave the way for Rio’s entry into the lithium market, which is set to see dramatic growth over the next decade due to the rise of electric vehicles, which are powered by lithium-ion batteries. Continue Reading →

Russia’s Rosatom may buy controlling stake in Chile lithium project – by Polina Devitt and Dave Sherwood (Reuters U.S. – October 15, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

MOSCOW/SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Uranium One Group, a subsidiary of Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom, may buy a controlling stake in a lithium project in Chile’s Atacama salt flat from Wealth Minerals Ltd (WML.V), the Canada-listed company said on Tuesday.

Under a deal struck with Wealth, the Russian nuclear firm has the option to purchase up to a 51% stake in Wealth’s Atacama project in northern Chile, the statement said.

Chile’s Atacama salt flat, home to leading lithium producers SQM (SQMa.SN) and Albemarle (ALB.N), accounts for around one-third the world’s supply of lithium, a key ingredient in the batteries that power electric vehicles, tablets and cell phones. Continue Reading →

Nobel prize honours breakthroughs on lithium-ion batteries – by David Keyton, Jamey Keaten and Christina Larson (The Associated Press/CTV News – October 9, 2019)

https://www.ctvnews.ca/

STOCKHOLM — If you’re reading this on a cellphone or laptop computer, you might thank the three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work on lithium-ion batteries.

The batteries power cellphones, laptops, electric cars and countless other devices of modern life, and could become the foundation for a greener future. Batteries that economically store energy from renewable sources like the wind and sun open up new possibilities to curb global warming.

“This is a highly charged story of tremendous potential,” quipped Olof Ramstrom of the Nobel committee for chemistry. The prize announced Wednesday went to John B. Goodenough, 97, an engineering professor at the University of Texas; M. Stanley Whittingham, 77, a chemistry professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton; and Akira Yoshino, 71, of chemical company Asahi Kasei Corp. and Meijo University in Japan. Continue Reading →

Lithium at Two-Year Low Hobbles U.S. Bid to Loosen China’s Grip on Market – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – October 10, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The lowest lithium prices in over two years are hampering a handful of miners that want to challenge China’s dominance in the market.

China controls most of the processing that makes the mineral usable in rechargeable batteries, leaving American vehicle makers vulnerable to supply disruptions if trade tensions escalate. With automakers from Tesla Inc. to General Motors Co. aiming to manufacture more electric cars at home, small companies are seeking to build the first U.S. lithium mines in decades as a step toward forming a local supply chain.

However, financing mines is proving a challenge after a rush of Australian supply dragged down prices by a third from a record in mid-2018. Companies also face stricter environmental rules and regulatory hurdles in the U.S., which currently accounts for just 1.2% of global lithium production. Continue Reading →

Chile’s attempts to move up the lithium value chain are not working (The Economist – October 5, 2019)

https://www.economist.com/

Chile’s economic boom is copper-bottomed. Since pre-colonial times people have worked the metal. Today Chile produces 28% of the world’s output. The industry accounts for almost 10% of gdp, 48% of exports and a third of foreign direct investment. Copper has helped make Chileans the richest people in South America.

Politicians, however, dream of doing more than exporting unrefined commodities. In 2016 Michelle Bachelet, then the president, announced a plan to encourage manufacturing and innovation at home through the use of another metal that Chile has in abundance: lithium.

This is used in batteries for mobile phones, laptops and electric cars. The idea was for Chile not only to mine the metal but also to make components for car batteries, the fastest-growing part of the market. Continue Reading →

Lithium at Two-Year Low Hobbles U.S. Bid to Loosen China’s Grip on Market – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Washington Post/Bloomberg – October 2, 2019)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

The lowest lithium prices in over two years are hampering a handful of miners that want to challenge China’s dominance in the market. China controls most of the processing that makes the mineral usable in rechargeable batteries, leaving American vehicle makers vulnerable to supply disruptions if trade tensions escalate.

With automakers from Tesla Inc. to General Motors Co. aiming to manufacture more electric cars at home, small companies are seeking to build the first U.S. lithium mines in decades as a step toward forming a local supply chain.

However, financing mines is proving a challenge after a rush of Australian supply dragged down prices by a third from a record in mid-2018. Companies also face stricter environmental rules and regulatory hurdles in the U.S., which currently accounts for just 1.2% of global lithium production. Continue Reading →