Archive | Lithium

Chile lithium miners take coronavirus precautions, say impact on output minimal so far – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters/Financial Post – March 17, 2020)

https://business.financialpost.com/

SANTIAGO — Top lithium miners in Chile, the world´s No.2 producer of the ultralight battery metal, ramped up sanitary precautions at their Atacama salt flat mining operations to protect workers from the coronavirus outbreak, but said impact on output was minimal thus far.

Cases of coronavirus in Chile had jumped to 181 on Tuesday, prompting authorities to shut down the country´s borders, close schools and prohibit gatherings of large groups. The South American nation is also the world´s top copper producer.

SQM, in a letter to Chilean financial regulators late on Monday, said the border closures, decreases in commercial activity and disruptions in supply chains had led to “a reduction of approximately 2,000 metric tonnes of lithium sales volumes in China.” Continue Reading →

Lithium startup backed by Bill Gates seeks a breakthrough at the Salton Sea – by Sammy Roth (Los Angeles Times – March 16, 2020)

https://www.latimes.com/

David Snydacker knew going in that California’s Imperial Valley was a “graveyard for lithium-extraction technologies.”

For years, companies had tried and failed to find a cost-effective way to pull the valuable mineral — a key ingredient in the batteries that power electric cars — from the naturally heated fluid deep beneath the Salton Sea. One of the most recent busts was Simbol Materials, a much-hyped startup that collapsed in 2015 shortly after Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc. offered to buy the firm for $325 million.

But several deep-pocketed investors think Snydacker’s technology may finally launch a new domestic clean-energy industry. His Oakland startup, Lilac Solutions, recently announced a $20-million funding round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which funds startups working to reduce planet-warming emissions. Continue Reading →

Breakthrough Technique Could Produce Lithium in Hours Not Months – by David Stringer (Bloomberg News – March 9, 2020)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg) — A new filtration technique could cut the time needed to produce lithium raw materials at South America’s vast evaporation ponds to hours from months, according to a study by a group of international scientists.

The method, developed by researchers at Australia’s national science institute CSIRO, Monash University, the University of Melbourne and the University of Texas at Austin, mimics the filtering capabilities of living cells to extract lithium from concentrated salt water, where the metal is typically mixed with other materials, including potassium and salt.

“We could one day have the capability to produce simple filters that will take hours to extract lithium from brine, rather than several months to years,” said Huanting Wang, a professor of chemical engineering at Monash University, and among the authors of newly published research on the technique. Continue Reading →

Small miners hungry for fresh capital despite rampant EV enthusiasm – by Jeff Lewis (Reuters U.S. – March 1, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

TORONTO – Small miners hoping to take advantage of demand for battery metals are struggling to convert electric vehicle aficionados into investors, compounding the sector’s funding constraints even as analysts predict a long-term shortage of the raw materials used to make EVs.

The predicament has made it harder for already-strapped miners to raise money and could stall construction of new mines in the event the burgeoning EV industry faces a supply crunch for battery-grade lithium, graphite and other minerals.

“You need a mine for almost everything that we touch, and people still don’t get that,” said Eric Desaulniers, chief executive of Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc (NOU.V), which is developing a graphite mine in Quebec. “They want the electric car to save the planet but no mining.” Continue Reading →

Lithium price: EVs will be $350bn market in just 15 years – by Frik Els (Mining.com – February 25, 2020)

https://www.mining.com/

The global energy storage market is expected to balloon over the next 15 years, according to a report released by Lux Research.

“The energy storage industry is poised for a massive increase in annual revenue and deployment capacity as key innovative technologies, such as solid-state batteries and flow batteries, reach commercialization,” said analyst Chloe Holzinger, one of the report’s lead authors.

The Boston-based company forecasts a global market of $546 billion in annual revenue by 2035. That’s up from $59 billion last year. Capacity will grow even faster, with annual combined deployment level 3,046 GWh over the next 15 years, up from the current 164 GWh and compound growth of 20% per year. Continue Reading →

Bolivia: will the ousting of Morales open lithium to foreign investment? – by Heidi Vella (Mining Technology – February 20, 2020)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

Making up one third of the so-called ‘lithium triangle’, the Andean nation of Bolivia is estimated to have around nine million metric tons of lithium – the largest accumulation in the world, according to the US Geological Survey.

Due to the expected exponential growth in demand for battery technology in recent years, of which lithium is a component, interest in Bolivia’s untapped reserves has skyrocketed. However, unlike neighbouring countries Argentina and Chile, which both have lithium mines in production, efforts to develop these resources have so far amounted to little.

The now exiled former President, Evo Morales, who was a keen proponent of resource nationalism, had tried to kick-start a local lithium industry via a state-owned company and joint partnerships with foreign firms, but he faced public opposition and lack of local expertise. Continue Reading →

Bill Gates-Led Fund Invests in Making Lithium Mining More Sustainable – by Akshat Rathi and Anne VanderMey (Bloomberg/Financial Post – February 20, 2020)

https://business.financialpost.com/

(Bloomberg) — Breakthrough Energy Ventures, helmed by Bill Gates, and MIT’s The Engine fund are leading an investment round of $20 million for Lilac Solutions, a U.S. startup aimed at making the extraction of lithium less water-intensive and more sustainable.

As the world looks to cut carbon emissions, people are increasingly turning to lithium-ion batteries for solutions such as powering electric vehicles or storing renewable energy. While there’s enough lithium available to meet today’s demand, BloombergNEF expects the market could see a shortfall as soon as 2023 as demand for the metal grows fourfold over the next decade.

About 75% of the world’s lithium is trapped in underground deposits of briny water that contain a mixture of salts. The typical way to recover lithium is to pump the water to the surface into miles-long salt ponds and let the water evaporate. What remains is then treated with chemicals, processed, washed, and filtered to leave behind the lithium. Continue Reading →

Europe Floors It in the Race to Dominate Car Batteries – by Laura Millan Lombrana, Chris Reiter and Richard Weiss (Bloomberg News – February 19, 2020)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — Outside the German town of Arnstadt, workers for China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) are hustling to build Europe’s biggest electric-car battery plant.

The site, which covers an area equivalent to about 100 football fields, previously housed one of the continent’s largest solar-panel factories. During a visit in October, wooden crates filled with surplus equipment were stacked up outside the metal-clad structure to make way for car-battery-making equipment. Roaring bulldozers swarmed a nearby lot to prep for construction of a new building.

The $2 billion project—one of about a half dozen battery factories under construction in Germany alone—worries European policymakers, who are desperate to ensure their auto industry doesn’t lose competitiveness in the transition to electric vehicles. Continue Reading →

Investors from five countries eye Mexico’s nascent lithium market (Reuters U.S. – February 12, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Investors from at least five countries have expressed interest in Mexico’s nascent lithium extraction and production industry, said Francisco Quiroga, the undersecretary for mining, after a promising find in the north of the country.

The find is still in the exploration phase. If initial estimates of lithium deposits are confirmed, Mexico could emerge as one of the world’s largest players in a thriving sector.

In January, the mine’s two foreign operators estimated that it could contain 8.8 million tonnes of lithium. This would put Mexico on a par with Bolivia or Chile, whose mines have large known deposits. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Germany’s Volkswagen and Daimler push for more ‘sustainable’ Chile lithium – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters Canada – February 11, 2020)

https://ca.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – German automakers Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and Daimler (DAIGn.DE) have launched a study to push for more “sustainable” lithium mining in Chile, according to lobbyist filings reviewed by Reuters, a sign of growing supply chain concerns ahead of an expected electric vehicle boom.

Chile’s Atacama salt flat is by far the biggest source of supply of the ultralight battery metal in South America’s so-called “lithium triangle.” The region, whose fragile ecosystem relies on a limited water supply, is home to the globe’s top two producers, U.S.-based Albemarle Corp (ALB.N) and Chile’s SQM (SQMA.SN).

But concerns over sustainability have long plagued Atacama’s miners, which extract the metal from pools of brine beneath the world’s driest desert. Residents and environmental groups worry about potential damage to a regional ecosystem home to an ancient indigenous culture, lagoons inhabited with rare flamingos and a booming tourism industry. Continue Reading →

Remote desert powering electric car revolution (Crossroads Today – February 10, 2020)

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Lithium is the key element for rechargeable batteries used in phones and Formula E cars. But where is it farmed and how? The answer lies in Chile.

Sleek and futuristic Formula E cars zoom through cityscapes across the globe at speeds of over 170 miles per hour, traveling from zero to 60 in just 2.8 seconds. If electricity is the crucial “E” of Formula E that’s because cars on the track are powered by a 200 kilowatt battery provided by McLaren Applied.

Last month the Formula E circus was in South America for the Santiago ePrix — the city has been the noisy metropolitan home to Chile’s Formula E race for three consecutive years. Seven hundred miles north of the capital is the utterly desolate Atacama desert and it’s here that you find the source helping power Formula E. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Top lithium miner seeks to monitor water scarcity in parched Chile salt flat – by Dave Sherwood (Reuters U.S. – February 9, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – With residents and courts ringing the alarm about depleted water supplies in Chile’s Atacama salt flat, the world’s top lithium miner Albemarle (ALB.N) quietly filed a proposal in December for a network to monitor flows beneath the parched desert floor.

The previously unreported move is an indication of how important it has become for miners to prove their supplies of the so-called “white gold” battery metal are sustainable as they court automakers preparing for the coming electric vehicle revolution.

Car companies have ratcheted up scrutiny in the Atacama, by far the biggest source of supply in South America’s so-called “lithium triangle,” where one lithium producer is locked in a court battle over pumping of brine and a copper miner has opted for pricey desalination over drawing water from local aquifers. Continue Reading →

Northwest lithium deposit provides ‘spark’ for junior miner – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – February 6, 2020)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

A Sudbury lithium exploration company has posted a “maiden” resource estimate of a second high-grade deposit on its property in northwestern Ontario. Frontier Lithium released the numbers for its Spark deposit, located on its Pakeagama Lake Pegamatite (PAK) project, 175 kilometres north of Red Lake.

The company is evaluating if it can be mined by open-pit methods as they turn their attention toward building a plant to make lithium concentrate at the site.

Frontier’s PAK project is a 26,774-hectare property, strung out in a long corridor of claims that runs for 65 kilometres, up near the Manitoba border. The company has been promoting this remote area as an emerging premium lithium-metal district, dubbing it Electric Avenue. Continue Reading →

China Lithium Giant Faces Debt Mountain After Deal at Cycle Top (Financial Post/Bloomberg – January 31, 2020)

https://business.financialpost.com/

(Bloomberg) — After borrowing billions to fund an overseas expansion to ride a lithium boom, a collapse in prices has left one of the world’s top producers straining under a mountain of debt.

Valued at more than $6 billion, Tianqi Lithium Corp.’s predicament highlights the risks of boom-and-bust cycles in commodity markets that can punish mistimed or over-extended ventures, even in sectors fated to become dominant.

While long-term prospects for lithium are bullish as demand for electric-vehicle batteries booms, the sector is reeling from a prolonged price slump triggered by an explosion in supply and reduction of EV subsidies in China, the biggest auto market. Continue Reading →

Australia’s lithium producers see tough market conditions persisting well into 2020 – by Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – Janaury 30, 2020)

https://www.reuters.com/

MELBOURNE, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Australia’s Orocobre Ltd and Pilbara Minerals Ltd on Thursday gave bearish outlooks for lithium demand, as weak orders from electric vehicle makers in China look set to extend a prolonged downturn.

Orocobre Ltd flagged a tepid market for the first half of 2020 and said it had cut costs at its flagship Olaroz lithium project in Argentina. Its shares sank 3.7%.

Pilbara Minerals said it was continuing to moderate production to “match customer demand” after scaling back mining at its Pilgangoora operations in Western Australia in September. Its shares slid 12%. Lithium miners faced severe pressure last year as prices plummeted after a cut in EV subsidies by China, the world’s biggest electric vehicle market. Continue Reading →