Archive | Lithium

SoftBank moves to lock up lithium, the lifeblood of electric cars – by Minoru Satake (Nikkei Asian Review – September 24, 2018)

TOKYO — SoftBank Group is on the hunt for natural resources, particularly the lithium needed for electric car and smartphone batteries.

Demand is expected to surge as more electric vehicles hit roads worldwide. Competition for battery materials is stiff, with Apple rushing to secure supplies of cobalt. And SoftBank considers lithium a priority, as it looks to build a stronger foundation for its other investments, like ride-hailing companies.

In June, SoftBank enlisted the chairman of trading house Mitsui & Co., Masami Iijima, to serve on its board as an outside director. A SoftBank executive said the move was made to “facilitate our future efforts to secure resources.” Continue Reading →

Solid demand to underpin lithium as price slides in 2018 – by Zandi Shabalala (Reuters U.S. – September 17, 2018)

LONDON (Reuters) – An oversupply of lithium this year has nearly halved prices this year in China, halting an unprecedented run for the key component for batteries used in electric vehicles.

But analysts say solid long-term demand should shore up the market after a slight surplus in demand this year. A boom in electric vehicles has boosted prices for components of lithium-ion batteries including lithium and cobalt, as consumers such as car companies to scramble to secure supplies.

But lithium prices have come under pressure in 2018 because miners have ramped up production, consumers destocked supplies and a subsidies in China’s new energy vehicles (NEV’s) market have been pulled back. Continue Reading →

Chile lawmakers mull additional mining tax for copper, lithium – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – September 14, 2018)

The Lower Chamber of Chile’s Parliament has begun studying a project that would set a 3% mining royalty for all companies operating in the country, which is the world’s top copper producer and the one with the largest known reserves of lithium.

The proposed tax, to be applied on the nominal value of extracted metals, would affect copper miners that produce more than 12,000 tonnes of the metal annually and those extracting 50,000 tonnes a year of lithium, used in batteries that power electric cars.

The idea is to have miners contributing part of their profits to the regions where they operate, Radio Universidad de Chile reported (in Spanish). Continue Reading →

Tesla Lithium Dash Could Slow as Mine Project Faces Hurdle – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – September 13, 2018)

An Australian mining lithium project that has an agreement to supply Tesla Inc. faces a legal hurdle that may delay plans to start production, potentially spurring shortages of the mineral used in batteries for electric cars.

A court in Perth recommended Western Australia’s mining ministry shouldn’t approve an exemption from past minimum exploration-expenditure obligations at the Mt. Holland hard-rock project, lithium giant SQM said in a statement on Wednesday.

Development of Mt. Holland, owned by SQM and Kidman Resources Ltd., could be slowed if the ministry doesn’t award the exemption, SQM said. Continue Reading →

Electric Cars Give New Life to Mine Excavated for Nuclear Power – by Jonathan Tirone (Bloomberg News – September 10, 2018)

Demand for a new generation of electric vehicles is breathing life into an Alpine mine that was originally excavated to feed an Austrian nuclear industry that never materialized.

The developer of the site in Wolfsberg, European Lithium Ltd., is planning to move its primary stock listing to Austria from Australia in anticipation transforming the site into the continent’s biggest producer of the light metal that powers plug-in vehicles, according to a company executive.

“The potential off-take clients are European automakers,” Stefan Mueller, a non-executive director at European Lithium, said in a telephone interview. “They know that they have to secure lithium.” Continue Reading →

Lithium: Best of Times/Worst of Times? – by Joe Lowry ( – September 8, 2018)

Joe Lowry: One of the World’s Leading Lithium Market Experts.

This has been a strange year in the lithium world. There has been a constant stream of good news about long term demand growth from the electric transportation and ESS markets. Yet, lithium stock prices have dropped precipitously largely due the constant din from the “oversupply camp” that a “tsunami of supply” from Australia was about to enter the market via China converters and crash lithium chemical prices.

In 2018 there is some level of “logic” to support either the short term “oversupply” or “tight market” view. Those who believe lithium start-ups are easy have no support from history but that belief is the cornerstone of “oversupply” thinking

However, in my opinion, the vast majority of data still supports relatively tight supply and strong lithium prices for the next few years. Strong price does not mean the highest China pricing from 2016. As long as the market is tight the price will not be cost curve driven but a result of market forces: meaning above and in certain cases, such as today, well above the cash cost of the high cost producer. Continue Reading →

Battery Maker Eyes India’s $300 Billion Lithium-Ion Market – by Archana Chaudhary and Swansy Afonso (Bloomberg News – September 6, 2018)

Amara Raja Batteries Ltd., India’s second-biggest traditional battery maker by value, will build a lithium-ion assembly plant as it seeks to grab a slice of the market for electric vehicle power packs that is set to grow to $300 billion by 2030.

The battery maker is in the process of building a 100 megawatt-hour assembly plant in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh and the company is working closely with the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai, Chief Executive Officer S. Vijayanand said in an interview in New Delhi.

“There’s incubation work going on because we are at a beginning stage both from the market-demand and product-development perspective,” Vijayanand said. “We are very focused on building solutions for the early stage of electrification of vehicles and work with the OEM programs at the same time.” Continue Reading →

Tiny WA town of Greenbushes is ground zero for global lithium energy revolution – by Sean Smith (The West Australian – September 2, 2018)

Just out of sight of the South Western Highway, in State forest between the tourism hotspots of Bridgetown and Balingup, one of WA’s oldest mining centres and its sleepy host town are at the heart of a global energy revolution.

More than a century after the area was first worked by tin miners, the Greenbushes mine and the town of the same name on its doorstep have emerged front and centre of the State’s multibillion-dollar development boom around lithium.

The metal and its chemical compounds have long been used in aluminium smelting, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, glassware and ceramics. Its light weight and energy density means it is also found in the batteries powering laptop computers, mobile phones, calculators and digital cameras. Continue Reading →

Neo Lithium in Talks for $490 Million Argentine Mine Venture – by Jonathan Gilbert and Carolina Millan (Bloomberg News – September 4, 2018)

Neo Lithium Corp. is negotiating a $490 million deal to finance development of a mine in Argentina as the Toronto-based penny stock looks to tap a nascent lithium boom in the South American country. Shares rose.

The company is in talks with would-be U.S., European and Asian joint-venture partners for Tres Quebradas in Catamarca province, Chief Executive Officer Waldo Perez said.

The project, which straddles salt flats and lakes across 135 square miles near the Chilean border, is billed as having high concentrations of the mineral used in rechargeable batteries and low impurities. Continue Reading →

Australia-based lithium company looks to set up shop in Sudbury – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – August 31, 2018)

As demand grows for batteries to power eco-friendly vehicles, an Australia-based lithium company is looking at setting up shop in Sudbury.

Lepidico, with a head office in Perth, is planning to launch a plant in the Nickel City that will extract lithium concentrate from hard-rock deposits, using a unique process it touts as more efficient than existing methods.

The company says its system can “achieve high lithium recovery,” while also offsetting production costs and eliminating tailings or effluent by refining a variety of useful byproducts. “We’re doing the full feasibility study now and if it proves viable, it means we would have a chemical plant that effectively has no waste coming out of it,” said Joe Walsh, managing director of Lepidico.

The company has already secured an Australia patent for its L-Max technology, with other patent applications pending in Europe, the U.S. and Japan. “There are other processes out there but they tend to employ roasting technology, which is power-intensive and not the greenest,” said Walsh. Continue Reading →

Nevada Mine Could Produce 25% of World’s Lithium – by Paul Nelson (KTVN News – August 29, 2018)

The largest known lithium deposit in the United States is in northern Nevada, and a mining company says it has big plans for the property.

The largest known lithium deposit in the United States is in northern Nevada, and a mining company says it has big plans for the property. The high-grade, highly-concentrated mineral is found in the McDermitt Caldera, stretching from Humboldt County into Oregon.

“Chevron started drilling this site out back in the 70s, looking for uranium and they found lithium instead, so it’s a known resource,” Alexi Zawadzki, CEO of Lithium Nevada said. “The McDermitt Caldera is one of the most highly mineralized calderas in the world.”

A prehistoric volcano created the caldera, which turned into a lake. The lithium is in the clay that sat at the bottom of the water. “This was basically the Yellowstone hot spot, which has moved over the last 16 million years to the east and this is a geological artifact of that,” Zawadzki said. Continue Reading →

Inside Albemarle’s quest to reinvent the lithium market – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters U.S. – August 30, 2018)

(Reuters) – As global demand for lithium hits overdrive, Albemarle Corp is investing millions of dollars to engineer specialized types of the light metal for electric car batteries, part of a strategy to remain the niche market’s top producer.

The pivot comes as battery makers such as Panasonic Corp, the sole battery supplier to Tesla Inc, increasingly demand more purified versions of lithium that can help boost electricity storage and increase a battery’s charge, shaping Albemarle’s strategy, according to sources and documents reviewed by Reuters and confirmed by the company.

Once used primarily as a pharmacological treatment for bipolar disorder, lithium has become one of the world’s most in-demand commodities thanks to the rising popularity of electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries. Continue Reading →

In Chilean desert, global thirst for lithium is fueling a ‘water war’ – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters India – August 29, 2018)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – On Chilean water regulator Oscar Cristi’s desk, a small white espresso cup teeters atop piles of documents and loose folders that appear on the point of collapse, perhaps an apt metaphor for the growing water crisis in parts of the Andean country.

Sitting in his eighth-floor office adjacent the presidential palace, Cristi, a PhD economist, lays out a map of Chile showing key watersheds for mining. Swaths of the mineral-rich north are colored blue, denoting areas where aquifers are over-exploited. Soon, if Cristi gets his way, they will be red, meaning new water rights will be banned.

Reams of water rights were granted by Chilean governments over decades with little consideration for their cumulative impact as miners scrambled to stake claims on the small pockets of water available in the salt flats of the Salar de Atacama. Continue Reading →

Chile’s SQM expects lithium prices to dip in second half – by Felipe Iturrieta and Aislinn Laing (Reuters U.S. – August 24, 2018)

SANTIAGO, Aug 24 (Reuters) – Chilean lithium miner SQM said it forecast lithium prices dropping as much as 10 percent in the second half of the year compared to the first but stressed it saw no problems with potential water restrictions in the Atacama salt flat where it operates.

Chief executive Patricio de Solminihac said on a second-quarter earnings call that Australian lithium concentrate being converted in China for use in car and cell phone batteries was responsible for downward “price pressure.”

“There’s consensus the market will continue to grow, but on supply there’s more uncertainty,” he said. “We see that the price will be slightly lower in the second half of the year, although still significantly higher than in the second half of last year.” Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Chile says to clamp down on water rights in lithium-rich Salar de Atacama – by Dave Sherwood and Fabian Cambero (Reuters U.S. – August 23, 2018)

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile is preparing major new restrictions on the extraction of water from the lithium-rich Salar de Atacama salt flats, home to top lithium miners Albemarle and SQM SQM_pb.SN, the head of the country’s water authority told Reuters on Thursday.

Water authority chief Oscar Cristi said in an exclusive interview that regulators had stopped issuing new permits to extract water from the southernmost sector of the Salar’s watershed, known as C2, which is a key water supply for BHP’s Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, and Antofagasta’s Zaldivar mine.

Cristi said the government had granted BHP and Antofagasta permits to pump six times more water from an aquifer at Atacama than it could sustain, prompting the ban. BHP has since proposed to cut water extraction from wells in C2 by more than half, but Cristi said regulators still believed that rate to be “insufficient.” Continue Reading →