Archive | Lithium

China Looks to Control Global Lithium Supply – by Fan Yu (Epoch Times – May 20, 2018)

China is slowly amassing control over the global supply of lithium, an important mineral in the production supply chain of new technologies.

On May 17, China-based Tianqi Lithium paid more than $4 billion to purchase a sizable stake in Chile’s Sociedad Química y Minera (SQM), one of the world’s biggest producers of lithium. Tianqi bought the stake in SQM from Canadian fertilizer company Nutrien.

Lithium is a critical mineral for production of high-capacity batteries, those powering the world’s smartphones, electric cars, and renewable energy grids. Expected global production of electric cars is expected to dramatically increase demand for lithium. Whoever controls the production of lithium has great influence over the price and supply chain for these emerging technologies. Continue Reading →

The Lithium Cartel Should Be Stopped – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – May 18, 2018)

Why are we so relaxed about an emerging oligopoly in the key battery element?

The world doesn’t like its essential commodities being controlled by a small group of producers. When Arab members of Opec resolved to cut their oil exports in response to U.S. involvement in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the situation was rightly deemed a global crisis.

Less than a year after BHP Billiton Ltd. announced plans to merge its iron ore operations with those of Rio Tinto Group in 2009, the proposal was dropped amid expectations that regulators in Europe and Asia would oppose the deal on antitrust grounds.

So why is there so little noise about the emerging oligopoly in one of the hottest elements on the periodic table, lithium? Continue Reading →

Electric vehicle rush fuels optimism at LME Asia Week – by Melanie Burton and Tom Daly (Reuters U.S.- May 18, 2018)

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Rising demand for battery materials cobalt and lithium infused some optimism into an otherwise cautious London Metal Exchange (LME) Asia Week, amid a backdrop of slowing growth in China and escalating trade tensions between it and the United States.

In the event’s first ever session on battery materials in Hong Kong, Chinese cobalt producers such as Jinchuan Group International Resources and Wanbao Mining said they were ramping up production to sate an anticipated demand boom from electric vehicles (EVs).

That is a market that the LME hopes to tap with the launch of cash-settled cobalt and lithium contracts, slated for late this year or early next year. Continue Reading →

‘They actually sold it at a premium’: Nutrien sells stake in Chilean lithium producer for $4.1 billion – by Gabriel Freidman (Financial Post – May 18, 2018)

In a sign of how hot the lithium market is, Canadian fertilizer producer Nutrien Ltd. sold a 24 per cent stake in Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. for US$4.07 billion, at a healthy premium.

The purchaser, China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp., agreed to pay US$65 per share for the Chilean producer, which represented a premium on the US$58 trading price, which surprised some analysts, as antitrust regulators in China and India had required Nutrien — the company formed by the merger of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan and Agrium Inc. — to sell its stake in SQM as a condition of the deal.

“The price seemed good,” said John Chu, an analyst with Laurentian Bank Securities. “Because Nutrien had given advanced notice that they had to sell it, and because it was such a large block of shares, it was thought that they would have to sell it a discount, and they actually sold it at a premium.” Continue Reading →

Battery makers pushing for ten 10-year lithium contracts: Albemarle – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – May 14, 2018)

A push to offer long warranties for batteries used in electric cars is one factor forcing lithium miners to change the way they sell their product, according to one of Australia’s biggest producers.

US company Albemarle, which owns 49 per cent of the lithium-rich Greenbushes spodumene mine in Western Australia, said battery manufacturers are increasingly demanding 10-year contracts in a bid to secure supply. The comments came as the New York listed company indicated first production on its $400 million lithium hydroxide plant in WA may come a year later than previously expected.

Addressing investors, Albemarle’s lithium president John Mitchell said a desire to offer 10-year warranties on lithium-ion batteries was driving some manufacturers to seek guaranteed sources of raw materials for similar periods. Continue Reading →

RESOURCE EXTRACTION: Chile’s lithium – blessing or curse? – by Sophia Boddenberg (Deutsche Welle – May 11, 2018)

Salar de Atacama is rich in lithium, essential to electric cars and other low-carbon tech. But indigenous people are fighting its extraction, saying private interests are cashing in at the expense of their environment.

The Salar de Atacama’s geysers, volcanoes and flamingos attract tourists from around the world. But beneath its dramatic vistas, the Chilean salt flats hide something of far greater economic potential that’s drawing a different kind of interest – from the world’s chemical companies.

Lithium batteries are essential to all kinds of gadgets from laptops and mobile phones to the electric cars and power storage facilities that are to help wean the world of fossil fuels. As the world shifts to renewables, more and more sectors are to be electrified, and demand for lithium is expected to double by 2025. Continue Reading →

Private firm takes on Codelco for control of Chile lithium deposit – by Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – May 9, 2018)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A foreign-backed miner has sued Chile to block state-run Codelco from exploiting a lithium deposit where both have claims, according to a lawsuit filed in March that will be carefully watched by potential investors being courted by the country’s new government.

The little-known and remote Maricunga salt flat is far smaller than the expansive Salar de Atacama, where top lithium producers Albemarle and Chile’s SQM SQM_pb.SN rule supreme.

But the legal conflict at Maricunga under the newly inaugurated conservative government of President Sebastian Pinera may prove a bellwether for foreign miners anxious to invest in Chile, which is home to half of the world’s lithium reserves. Continue Reading →

Europe Has the Potential to Develop Domestic Lithium Sources – by Stuart Burns (Metal Miner – May 7, 2018)

We normally associate Cornwall in England with scones and cream teas … or, if we are really metal nerds, we associate the sometimes sunny southeast country of the British Isles with mining (particularly with tin mining).

The area dominated with igneous morphology has been mined since Roman times for tin, copper and a number of other metals. But one metal, not surprisingly, that has never featured is lithium. I say “not surprisingly” because up to the end of the last century, it barely featured as a metal of value.

Nickel metal hydride batteries dominated the small appliance world and lead acid still served the rest. This century has seen an exponential growth in the use of lithium-ion batteries, from iPhones to electric cars to massive storage barns. The growth has been such that fears are mounting of a market shortage in the next decade, fueled in no small part by state support for electric vehicles (EVs) in Asia. Continue Reading →

China lithium top player boosts investment in emerging Australian miner – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – May 7, 2018)

Sichuan Yahua Industrial Group, one of China’s largest lithium hydroxide and carbonate producers, is injecting further funds into emerging Australian lithium producer Core Exploration (ASX:CXO) as Chinese companies continue to aggressively try securing supply of the key ingredient needed for making the batteries that power electric cars.

Through its subsidiary Yahua International, Sichuan has given Core Exploration $1.4 million as share placement, on top of a $2 million cash injection it provided it in August last year.

With demand for EVs set to skyrocket in the next decade, Chinese companies have inked several deals in the past year to secure steady lithium supplies with mine developers in Australia, South America, Canada and Africa. Continue Reading →

As Electric Cars Multiply, This IPO Will Test Big Lithium Value – by Carolina Millan and Jack Kaskey (Bloomberg News – May 3, 2018)

How much is a lithium business really worth? Enthusiasts of the metal used in rechargeable batteries are about to find out.

FMC Corp. is looking to separate its lithium assets and list a portion of the shares in October, before providing the remainder to FMC shareholders within six months, the Philadelphia-based company said Thursday. It’s set to be the first U.S. initial public offering by a major lithium pure-play.

The decision comes as lithium demand is expected to surge along with purchases of electric vehicles. Demand for the lightweight metal will rise five-fold by 2025, potentially exceeding the world’s production capacity, Chief Executive Officer Pierre Brondeau said in February. Continue Reading →


Argentinian lithium producer Orocobre (TSX: ORL) recently reported lower than expected lithium production in its third fiscal quarter because weather interfered with its evaporation rates of its lithium brines. This reveals two problems with lithium brine production: reliability and geography. Another source of lithium is rising to met these problems, hard rock lithium mining.

One analyst pointed out that Orocobre’s production problems “clearly demonstrate” that production is not a straightforward process. “Weather events are beyond the control of Orocobre, but this reaffirms that there is still room to improve on the robustness of operations and reduce production variability from we ather impacts,” the analyst stated.

The company reported a 25-per-cent lower evaporation rate compared with the same quarter in 2017 which caused production problems and lithium output to fall 29 percent to 2,802 tonnes of Lithium Carbonate equivalent, from 3,937 tonnes in the December quarter. Its February rates were the lowest since 2011. Continue Reading →

Britain looks to ancient mines for electric future – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters Canada – April 27, 2018)

SOUTH CROFTY, England – Britain is banking on a series of ancient mines on its southwestern tip to secure a slice of the global electric car revolution.

The English county of Cornwall and the surrounding area boast one of the world’s largest tin deposits yet their centuries-old mines have lain abandoned since the 1990s when a collapse in prices for the metal made them unviable.

Now however a rise in demand for tin, along with other metals that can be used in electric vehicles, electronics and renewable energy, has helped create a global deficit and quadruple prices. British officials are supporting reopening of the mines and seeking investment, leading to a mini-rush of mining companies into the area. Continue Reading →

The World’s Lithium King Is Ready to Unleash a Flood of New Supply – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – April 26, 2018)

A little-known Chilean company that until recently churned out mostly crop nutrients may hold a key to the future of electric-vehicle production. And a Chinese mining company is standing ready, poised to grab a big piece of it.

Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA sits on the world’s richest deposit of lithium. It already produces more than 20 percent of the global supply and is about to produce a whole lot more. SQM will at least double and could eventually quadruple lithium capacity, thanks to recent agreements between the company and the Chilean government.

Ramping up production of the mineral, once mined mostly as the main ingredient in anti-schizophrenia drugs, will help meet seemingly insatiable demand from electric-car makers. Continue Reading →

Lithium in abundance, but…: Bolivia’s huge resources face huge challenges, Simon Moores points out – by Greg Klein (Resource Clips – April 26, 2018)

It’s a testament to lithium market expectations that companies will compete with each other to do business in Bolivia. When news broke that the country wanted help to develop its fabled Salar de Uyuni, several firms showed willingness to overlook a history of investment confiscation. So has one of the world’s worst mining jurisdictions become serious about opening what just might be the world’s largest lithium resources?

Yes, an April 21 government announcement would seem to indicate. Media reports say the German firm ACI Systems GmbH had been selected out of five applicants from China and one each from Canada and Russia to team up with the state-owned Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos, which would hold the lion’s share of a 51%/49% joint venture. The actual agreement has yet to be signed.

Clearly there’s an incentive for Bolivia to change its approach to mining. According to la Razón, the deal calls for $900 million from YLB (all figures in U.S. dollars) and $1.3 billion plus expertise from ACI to develop facilities that would process lithium and manufacture batteries and cathodes, primarily for the European electric vehicle market. Continue Reading →

Raw material suppliers join Finland battery factory project – by Mariaan Webb ( – April 25, 2018)

JOHANNESBURG ( – Five companies that can supply essential raw materials for an emerging battery industry in Finland have joined a cooperation network that aims to obtain international investment in the battery cluster.

The cooperation network includes the cities of Vaasa and Kokkola, Freeport Cobalt, the world’s largest cobalt refinery and producer of battery chemicals, Norilsk Nickel, the producer of nickel metals and nickel chemicals in Harjavalta, Terrafame Group, the parent company of Terrafame producing nickel, zinc, cobalt and copper in Sotkamo, Keliber, which is preparing to start lithium production in Kaustinen and Kokkola, as well as Beowulf Mining, the owner of a graphite deposit in Heinävesi.

Kokkola Industrial Park, in Kokkola, is home to Freeport Cobalt’s cobalt refinery and Keliber’s lithium refining chemical plant will also be located there. Continue Reading →