Archive | Lithium

Electric car dreams may be dashed by 2050 on lack of cobalt, lithium supplies – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – March 16, 2018)

Supplies of cobalt and lithium, key for making the batteries that power electric cars and mobile phones, are likely to be limited by 2050, German researchers have warned.

According to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) study, published this week in the journal Nature Reviews Materials, a shortage and price increase of cobalt are likely to occur in about thirty years, especially since demand for the metal is expected to be twice as high as today’s identified global reserves.

The authors are not so pessimist when it comes to lithium, as there are several companies rushing to explore and produce the so-called white petroleum. They do warn production will have to be strongly boosted — more than ten times, they predict — to match future demand. Continue Reading →

Explainer: Chile attempts to block China from prize lithium asset – by Dave Sherwood and Nicole Mordant (Reuters U.S. – March 13, 2018)

SANTIAGO/VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Chile’s government has asked antitrust regulators to block the sale of a 32 percent stake in Chilean lithium company SQM SQM_pb.SN to a Chinese firm on the grounds it would give it an unfair advantage in the global race to secure resources to develop electric vehicles.

Chile development agency Corfo, which oversees SQM’s lithium leases in the Salar de Atacama, claimed in a 37-page complaint filed on Friday that the purchase of a stake in SQM by “Tianqi Lithium, or any entity related to it directly or indirectly (including companies controlled by the government of China)” would “gravely distort market competition.”


It was unclear if Corfo’s complaint, if upheld, would block all potential Chinese bidders for the stake. But it certainly seeks to block Tianqi Lithium, one of China’s top lithium producers. Continue Reading →

Cobalt: The Achilles Heel for Electric Car Makers – by Tim Treadgold (Forbes Magazine – March 7, 2018)

Fueling future generations of electric vehicles is making some mining entrepreneurs rich as demand grows for critical metals, such as lithium and cobalt. But as with all commodity booms, there are early signs of a shortage turning into a flood, with a predictably depressing effect on prices.

Lithium is the metal most likely to be hit by a surge in production and a fall in price, especially if demand for electric cars does not match optimistic forecasts.

Ironically, it could be a shortage of cobalt that delays the production of the lithium-ion batteries needed to power electric cars and a range of other products, such as smartphones and household appliances. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Zimbabwe has potential to meet 20 pct of global lithium demand – by Alfonce Mbizwo (Reuters U.S. – February 28, 2018)

HARARE, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Zimbabwe has the potential to supply 20 percent of the world’s lithium, the mines minister from Africa’s top producer of the alkali metal used in batteries for electric vehicles said on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe is keen to attract capital to its mining sector after the ousting last year of former president Robert Mugabe after almost four decades in power and is pushing lithium as a major draw for investors.

“We believe we have the potential to actually account for 20 percent of global demand when all known lithium resources are being exploited,” Winston Chitando told a mining investment conference in the capital, Harare. Continue Reading →

Lithium glut? No way, say industry executives eyeing demand – by Nicole Mordant (Reuters U.S. – February 27, 2018)

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (Reuters) – Forecasts for a glut in lithium, a major ingredient in rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles, fail to account for strong demand and how complicated it is to process and mine, industry executives and analysts said.

Morgan Stanley sent lithium stocks tumbling on Monday after it forecast a surplus in the market in 2022 of 190,000 tonnes, resulting in predicted prices nearly halving to $7,699 a tonne. However, some industry officials took issue with the outlook.

“I am firmly of the view that everyone, including Morgan Stanley, is grossly underestimating how quickly the market is moving on the demand side,” Ken Brinsden, chief executive of Australian lithium miner Pilbara Minerals, said at a mining conference in Florida this week. Continue Reading →

Giustra-Backed Lithium X Plunges on Doubts About Chinese Buyer – by Natalie Obiko Pearson and Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – February 28, 2018)

A lithium explorer backed by Canadian mining magnate Frank Giustra dropped in Toronto trading amid speculation that its prospective buyer, a Chinese investment company, may fail to cough up the cash.

Vancouver-based Lithium X Energy Corp. fell the most in nearly two years Wednesday, the latest casualty in a sector that’s been pummeled this week on forecasts that a supply glut may loom for the metal used in electric-vehicle batteries.

In the midst of the lithium boom in December, Beijing-based NextView Capital had struck agreements with two Canadian lithium explorers — a roughly C$53 million ($41 million) deal to buy a 20 percent stake in Calgary-based Bacanora Minerals Ltd. and a few days later a C$265 million plan to acquire Lithium X, founded by Giustra’s Vancouver-based Fiore Group. Continue Reading →

South Korea’s POSCO signs long-term deal to buy lithium from Australia’s Pilbara (Reuters U.S. – February 27, 2018)

SEOUL, Feb 27 (Reuters) – South Korean steelmaker POSCO on Tuesday said it had agreed to buy up to 240,000 tonnes of lithium concentrate per year from Australian miner Pilbara Minerals, using the commodity to help supply producers of electric vehicle batteries.

As part of the deal, the Australian unit of POSCO will acquire a 4.75 percent stake in Pilbara for A$79.6 million ($62.49 million).

POSCO said in a statement that it planned to make about 30,000 tonnes of lithium products per year starting from 2020. It plans to supply these to firms including battery material manufacturing affiliate POSCO ES Materials and its joint venture with China’s Huayou Cobalt Co Ltd, as well as South Korean battery makers. Continue Reading →

Australian miners ramp up investment in electric-vehicle metals – by Kaori Takahashi (Nikkei Asian Review – February 22, 2018)

Copper and lithium among targets for spending as demand and prices climb

SYDNEY — Australia’s mining companies are shelling out more to find copper and other materials used in electric vehicles as demand for the next-generation automobiles grows.

Anglo-Australian mining group BHP Billiton looks to invest $6.9 billion in plants and exploration in the year through June, up 32% from the previous fiscal year’s $5.22 billion.

The aim is to improve productivity at the company’s core coal and iron ore operations, and to develop its copper business. BHP in February completed a $350 million facilities upgrade at the Olympic Dam copper mine, where it plans to raise output 25-35% on the year. Continue Reading →

An electric vehicle warning and outlook for lithium, cobalt, nickel – by Peter Kennedy (Resource World – February 21, 2018)

It is no secret that speculation in the mineral exploration is currently being driven by optimistic forecasts about the market penetration of electric vehicles and the future impact on demand for lithium ion batteries. That, in turn, is driving investor interest key battery ingredients, including lithium, cobalt and nickel.

But in a new report, BMO Capital Markets says battery costs may not come down as fast as many analysts have predicted.

As a result, it says that although it is difficult to accurately predict the pace of transition from fossil fuel-powered ICEs (internal combustion engines) to EVs (electric vehicles), BMO believes its best case estimate of a 10% penetration rate by 2025 (a 30% compounded annual growth rate) is reasonable. Continue Reading →

Sale of $5bn lithium stake to test electric car hype – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – February 17, 2018)

PotashCorp plans to sell a big stake in Chile’s SQM, a key supplier of the metal

When Canadian fertiliser company PotashCorp acquired shares in Chile’s SQM almost 20 years ago, the latter’s lithium business appeared an afterthought.

Controlled by Julio Ponce, the well-connected son-in-law of Chile’s former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, SQM was known as a fertiliser company. However, the then obscure lithium business is why the 32 per cent stake is now valued at $4.7bn.

Lithium has hitched a stunning ride on the wave of interest in electric cars, making it one of the world’s hottest commodities. SQM’s lithium business generates about 60 per cent of the profits for the company, which is in talks with Elon Musk’s Tesla over a deal to supply lithium, a key ingredient in electric car batteries. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Why Tesla is turning to Chile for its lithium – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – February 7, 2018)

LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Tesla, the pioneer of the electric vehicle revolution, is turning to Chile to secure the lithium it needs to power its mass production drive.

Tesla and Chilean lithium producer SQM are “exploring” opportunities after the automotive company expressed interest in buying “important volumes” of the battery ingredient, according to Eduardo Bitran, head of Chilean development agency Corfo.

It’s an obvious place for Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, to look for secure supply. The global lithium mother-lode is in the brine lakes of Chile’s Atacama desert. Continue Reading →

Zimbabwe’s mining minister says lithium biggest draw – by Barbara Lewis (Reuters Africa – February 6, 2018)

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Zimbabwe has the potential to be a leading producer of lithium, which has so far attracted more interest than any other of its minerals, Zimbabwe’s new Minister of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando said on Tuesday.

He said he had last week reached a deal with a small listed company, which was expected to generate revenue of $1.4 billion over eight years from a lithium project.

Chitando took office after Emmerson Mnangagwa became president in November 2017 when the military took charge and Robert Mugabe resigned after 37 years in office. Continue Reading →

Electric Cars and Niche Metals Lure Cash to Africa’s Mines – by Thomas Wilson and Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – February 2, 2018)

Rising commodity prices may have revived enthusiasm for African resources, but it’s unlikely to be the old mainstays of coal and iron ore pulling crowds next week as the mining industry meets in Cape Town.

The electric-vehicle boom and shifting industrial demand have transformed formerly niche metals — from lithium and cobalt to praseodymium and neodymium — into the hot new drawcards of African mining.

Far smaller and cheaper than the gargantuan mine, port and rail developments pursued by the likes of BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group during the last boom, these next-generation mines may stand a better chance of success.

Here are five metals grabbing attention across the continent. Continue Reading →

Australia’s $2 trillion lithium opportunity (Australian Mining – January 31, 2018)

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) has urged Australia to expand along the estimated $2 trillion lithium value chain in the next two years.

Lithium used in the batteries of smartphones and electrical vehicles (EV) represents one of Australia’s great opportunities, according to AMEC, which released a report on the country’s lithium prospects this week.

The association anticipates that Australia will dominate the front of the lithium value chain for the foreseeable future, with projects at Greenbushes, Mt Cattlin, Mt Marion and Pilgangoora all ramping up production. Continue Reading →

WHITE GOLD: Tesla may get into the lithium business in Chile as the price of battery ingredients soar – by Michael J. Coren ( – January 30, 2018)

While showing off Tesla’s Gigafactory in the Nevada desert last year, its designers showed journalists a curious thing: One side of the factory’s massive wall could be opened up to received lithium ore one day.

Tesla said that the facility had been built with an eye toward receiving raw lithium material on one side and producing a finished battery pack on the other. The only operating lithium mine in the US is about 200 miles away in Clayton Valley, Nevada.

But Tesla is hedging its lithium bets. The Finanical Times reports (paywall) Tesla is in talks with Chile’s largest lithium producer Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) to invest in a processing plant. Continue Reading →