Archive | Lithium

Tesla and the mining business – by Don Brunell (The Star – September 16, 2015) Grand Coulee Dam Community

Tesla is the premium entry in the electric car market, with a starting price of $75,000. According to the Wall Street Journal, the high-end “Signature” model costs $132,000, slightly more than the base price for Porsche’s AG’s 911 GT3.

Even with a $7,500 federal tax credit, an assortment of state tax credits, and $10,000 in fuel saving over five years, the driver’s investment is over $110,000 – far beyond the reach of the average family.

However, Tesla’s luxury styling and impressive performance give high-end buyers the best of both worlds – luxury transportation and the satisfaction of environmental stewardship. In that light, it might surprise some that Tesla’s success depends, in large part, on lithium mining.

Tesla cars are made of carbon fiber and powered by racks of lithium-ion batteries. Strong, light, and cost-efficient, carbon fiber is being used increasingly by commercial airplane manufacturers. On board Boeing’s 787, the batteries are lithium-ion as well.

Like Boeing and Airbus, auto manufacturers are under economic and regulatory pressure to produce more fuel-efficient products. Continue Reading →

Tesla interest could spark new Nevada gold rush for lithium – by Andy Colthorpe (Storage-PV – September 07, 2015)

A gold exploration and mining company has agreed to purchase a potential site for excavating lithium in Nevada, citing the “great deal of attention” brought onto the state by Tesla’s decision to locate its mammoth manufacturing facility there.

The EV-maker’s decision to go into stationary storage, officially confirmed at the end of April, followed a period in which Tesla was supplying its partner SolarCity with battery-based energy storage in a number of pilot projects for houses and for the installer’s DemandLogic commercial solution.

The confirmation brought high-profile attention onto the energy storage industry, sparking mainstream media interest. By that point, it was already well known that Tesla was building a “Gigafactory” in Nevada and the announcement of the launch of Powerwall, for houses, and PowerPack for the commercial and utility-scale markets merely confirmed the company’s ambitions beyond EVs. The Gigafactory’s planned “500,000 battery packs by 2020” of production would be soaked up by stationary storage too.

In the final week of August this year, Tesla signed a conditional long-term lithium hydroxide supply deal with Canadian company Bacanora and British company Rare Earth Minerals. Continue Reading →

Tesla Secures Lithium Hydroxide Supply for Its Battery Factory – by Mike Ramsey (Wall street Journal – August 28, 2015)

Electric-vehical maker in long-term contract with Bacanora Minerals and Rare Earth Minerals

Tesla Motors Inc. has secured a North American supply of lithium hydroxide through a long-term contract with mining company Bacanora Minerals Ltd. and Rare Earth Minerals PLC, giving the electric car maker a key base material used to produce lithium-ion batteries used its electric vehicles.

Tesla is building a $5 billion battery factory in Nevada that aims to reduce battery costs by 30% or more, partly by bringing in in-house materials suppliers.

The agreement with the two companies gives Tesla access to below-market-rate lithium in exchange for minimum purchase amounts over a five-year period, according to a statement.

The first phase of the battery factory, under construction near Reno, is expected to be completed next year. When the battery factory is fully built out, it will be capable of making 35 gigawatt-hours of battery cells, which is more than all of the current lithium-ion battery plants in the world today combined. Continue Reading →

Warren Buffett And Elon Musk To Spark A Lithium Boom – by James Stafford (Oil – July 28, 2015)

The age of electrification across the transportation sector, the solar panel revolution, and Tesla’s battery gigafactory are igniting a battle for the cheapest battery. That will transform lithium into a boom-time mineral and the hottest commodity on the energy investor’s radar.

It has been easy to take lithium for granted. This wonder mineral is the backbone of our everyday lives, popping up in everything from the glass in our windows to our mountains of electronics.

And while investors have long appreciated the steady rise in demand for this preferred mineral, the number of new applications continues to multiply. Smart phones, tablets, laptops, and other consumer electronics demand more lithium. But the largest driver for future lithium use will be in electric vehicles and home batteries for solar panels. That has lithium on the verge a boom for which supply can no longer be taken for granted.

Not since the shale boom have we seen a market transformation of such significance. Lithium has long been used for a variety of mundane purposes, and while the variety is spectacular—with applications in everything from glass, ceramics and greases to a line-up of industrial process—it has flown under the radar for most investors. Continue Reading →

RB Energy meltdown highlights tough times for lithium, rare earth firms – by Peter Koven (National Post – October 20, 2014)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

TORONTO — As RB Energy Inc. flamed out and fell into creditor protection during the past couple of weeks, investors were shell-shocked.

Despite some start-up problems in recent months, Vancouver-based RB seemed to be in an ideal position. It was emerging as North America’s only serious lithium producer, just as demand for the metal is set to soar because of its use in electric vehicle batteries. Its management team was linked to the legendary Lundin Group, a resource conglomerate with a fantastic track record of success. Lundin companies do not just melt down like that.

But RB did. It filed for protection last Monday after its stock price collapsed and it could not raise capital under reasonable terms.

“I can tell you it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the resource capital market crash as quickly as that,” chief executive Rick Clark said. “I would say the last time was back in the ‘90s.”

There was a time when RB, formerly known as Canada Lithium Corp., had a much easier time raising cash. The company has tapped the capital markets for about $268-million since 2009, according to Financial Post data. RB also received $92-million of debt financing from Bank of Nova Scotia and Caterpillar Financial Services that was partially guaranteed by the Quebec government. Continue Reading →