Electric cars spark lithium, nickel and cobalt mining boom – by Marcus Leroux (The Australian – December 28, 2016)


The China boom has come and gone but miners say a new scramble for resources looms, triggered by the dawn of the electric car age.

The motor industry is placing huge bets on electric cars becoming mainstream over the next decade. Miners have been busily looking under the bonnets and inside batteries and decided that they will have to dig up a lot more lithium, copper, nickel and cobalt.

Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer controlled by Elon Musk, has said that it would require today’s entire worldwide production of lithium ion batteries to meet demand for its target of half a million cars in the second half of the decade.

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The new OPEC: Who will supply the lithium needed to run the future’s electric cars? – by Justina Crabtree (CNBC.com – December 30, 2016)


The automotive industry’s focus on electrification has accelerated in 2016. Volkswagen Chairman Herbert Deiss told CNBC at the Paris Motor Show in November that “electric mobility will take off by 2020,” while Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in May his aim for annual production to be at 1 million vehicles by this same year.

The onus is now on rechargeable batteries – rather than petrol – to propel the automotive industry into its proposed greener future, with lithium ion cells being the prevailing form of this technology.

“Lithium is a pretty abundant element naturally,” Jamie Speirs, a fellow in energy analysis and policy at Imperial College London, told CNBC via telephone. But, though worldwide production of the metal is increasing year on year, he detailed that “the current supply chain will not match up with lithium demand by, say, 2040.”

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Lithium litmus test – by Staff (Mining Journal – December 22, 2016)


Australia’s lithium sector has swelled in line with market interest and 2017 could prove the litmus test for some 50 juniors which have entered the space this year.

Among the hopefuls, Blaze International Limited (AU:BLZ) made a foray into lithium in August, announcing it had the option to acquire the Marble Bar lithium project from Great Sandy Pty Ltd, an entity owned and controlled by well-known Pilbara prospector and miner Denis O’Meara.

O’Meara first identified mineralised pegmatites in the area in 1985 but little economic significance was placed on them at the time.

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[Lithium Boom] TOSSED ASIDE IN THE ‘WHITE GOLD’ RUSH – by Todd C. Frankel and Peter Whoriskey (Washington Post – December 19, 2016)


Indigenous people are left poor as tech world takes lithium from under their feet

In the thin air of the salt flats here, nearly 13,000 feet above sea level, the indigenous Atacamas people face a constant struggle. They herd llamas and goats on arid land, knit Andean hats for extra money and chew coca leaves to fight off the altitude’s dizzying effects. They live in mud-brick homes with roofs made of sheets of corrugated metal weighed down with rocks against the stiff winds.

Yet beneath their ancestral land lies a modern-day Silicon Valley treasure: lithium.

The silvery-white metal is essential for the lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles, and the popularity of these products has prompted a land rush here. Mining companies have for years been extracting billions of dollars of lithium from the Atacama region in Chile, and now firms are flocking to the neighboring Atacama lands in Argentina to hunt for the mineral known as “white gold.”

But the impoverished Atacamas have seen little of the riches.

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Stampede to invest in lithium mines threatens price gains – by Eric Onstad (Reuters U.S. – December 15, 2016)


LONDON – A rush to invest in new and expanded mines for lithium, a key ingredient in batteries used in electric cars, means material will flood the market just as fresh demand kicks in, potentially curbing price gains.

While demand for lithium batteries is due to soar, the market is on course for a global surplus next year or 2018 as miners gear up to expand output – overwhelming demand for the commodity by electric automakers such as Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA.O).

It’s not a new phenomenon. Other commodities have seen similar excitement about the future, such as uranium and rare earths. Investors chased bullish scenarios only to be disappointed when prices crashed due to excess supply or less than expected demand.

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[Australia] Lithium creatures are stirring – by Staff (Mining Journal – December 14, 2016)


Fair to say there aren’t many Christmas cards being exchanged between the offices of Lepidico, Lithium Australia, Strategic Metallurgy and newly renamed Parkway Minerals, despite the ‘close’ connections of key figures at the various companies over the years.

Instead it’s ASX statements carrying each other’s names that are flying back and forth at the moment, with legal documents in tow.

Lithium microcap Lepidico’s recent annual general meeting in Perth heard the company would be maintaining a business-as-usual approach to developing its proprietary L-Max process while an ongoing legal stoush with rival junior Lithium Australia bubbled away below the surface.

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Designing a Safer Battery for Smartphones (That Won’t Catch Fire) – by John Markoff (New York Times – December 11, 2016)


SAN FRANCISCO — Mike Zimmerman likes to shock his guests by using a hammer to drive a nail through a solid polymer lithium metal battery. Nothing happens — and that’s a good thing.

Mr. Zimmerman’s battery is a new spin on lithium-ion batteries, which are widely used in products from smartphones to cars. Today’s lithium-ion batteries, as anyone who has followed Samsung’s recent problems with flammable smartphones may know, can be ticking time bombs. The liquids in them can burst into flames if there is a short circuit of some sort. And driving a nail into one of them is definitely not recommended.

With that in mind, Mr. Zimmerman’s demonstration commands attention. His Woburn, Mass., start-up, Ionic Materials, is at the cutting edge of an effort to design safer batteries. The company is working on “solid” lithium polymer batteries that greatly reduce their combustible nature.

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China the Centre of the Lithium Universe – by Kirill Klip (Renewables International – December 7, 2016)


Maybe you missed it, but China is now “The Center of the Lithium Universe”. China is already the world’s largest electric vehicle market, says Kirill Klip, President of International Lithium Corp.

The recent Volkswagen scandal has once again shed light on polluting vehicles and the health hazard they pose to the public and environment. In hopes of ending this tainted legacy governments have began implementing regulations to phase out emission causing vehicles. Respectively, all major automakers have followed suit and pledged to build dozens of electric vehicles in years to come.

BYD, the Chinese company backed by Warren Buffet, is the largest EV manufacturer in the world, thus the Chinese companies are producing the largest amount of lithium chemicals for the batteries required to make them. The market is booming, there are currently 25 companies making 51 models of electric cars in China. Over 500,000 EVs will be sold in China this year alone.

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The hot commodities with leverage to the electric vehicles boom – by Peter Klinger (Australian Financial Review – November 15, 2016)


It was a question out of left field at Tesla Motors’ shareholder meeting in California in May 2016. “Will you be able to source enough lithium to achieve your ambitious electric vehicle growth targets?” a shareholder asked Tesla’s billionaire boss, Elon Musk.

The query summed up the reason so much of Australia’s mining sector is enjoying an extraordinary lithium boom that could wash over into sections of the graphite world.

And as much as Musk tried to hose down concerns his global ambitions could face headwinds because of a slower-than-expected supply-side response to lithium and other commodities, it’s the sort of question the plethora of ASX-listed hopefuls are lapping up with glee.

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Nemaska Lithium’s Whabouchi project to ship lithium hydroxide in first quarter – by Lara Smith (InvestorIntel.com – November 8, 2016)


Nemaska Lithium Inc. (TSX: NMX | OTCQX: NMKEF) is a producer of the compound in Quebec, Canada, and is aiming to supply to the rapidly growing market. The company wholly owns the Whabouchi Mine project, a deposit believed to rank second in the world for size and lithium concentration. The company has developed a commercial process of producing lithium hydroxide (patent pending), which is the compound anticipated to lead demand in batteries.

The Whabouchi project is the flagship of this company, but not only for its size and quality of material. Officially authorised by the Quebec and Canadian Federal Governments in 2015, the project is being funded by over $69 million in investment raised in an offering in July 2016, from when the company began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The Company has previously ranked as “Top Company Overall” of the 2016 OTCQX® Best 50 and performed second best out of the mining sector on the 2016 TSX Venture 50®. Nemaska Lithium has further attracted a significant grant from Sustainable Development Technology Canada, receiving a second installment of $2.12 million in June.

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Chile holds line on lithium exploration limits despite price rise – by Maytaal Angel and Amanda Cooper (Reuters U.S. – November 2, 2016)


LONDON – Nov 2 Chile is sticking to its policy of limiting the exploitation of its vast lithium reserves, the country’s mining minister told Reuters on Wednesday, despite a surge in prices for the battery and electronics ingredient.

Battery-grade lithium prices tripled to more than $20,000 a tonne in top consumer China over the summer as demand surged, but Chile continues to consider the mineral as “strategic” and limits its production.

Private investors, desperate to cash in on the demand-fuelled boom for lithium, which is used in electric vehicles, have criticised Chile’s policy of limiting production of a mineral that is no longer really used in nuclear applications.

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Energy metal demand to outpace output in wake of $20bn battery build boom – by Henry Lazenby (MiningWeekly.com – October 14, 2016)


VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – “The megafactories are coming.” This is the mantra of market analyst, founder and MD of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Simon Moores, citing research showing more than $20-billion currently committed to creating new, or expanding existing lithium- (Li-) ion battery cell plants.

This will take global production capacity from megawatt to gigawatt territory, with the bulk of the activity taking place in China, where massive tooling operations are currently under way.

According to Moores, South Africa-born entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Nevada-based Tesla Gigafactory, which is expected to start production later this year, is leading the ‘capacity revolution’, with a planned total installed production capacity of 35 GWh by 2020.

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Samsung’s woes highlight explosive limits of lithium batteries – by Jeremy Wagstaff (Reuters U.S. – October 12, 2016)


Lithium-based batteries have been powering our portable devices for 25 years. But consumer demand for smaller, longer lasting devices is forcing manufacturers to push the technology, battery experts say, testing the limits of how much energy they can safely pack into smaller spaces.

“A battery is really a bomb that releases its energy in a controlled way,” says Qichao Hu, a former researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of SolidEnergy Systems, a battery startup.

“There are fundamental safety issues to all batteries, and as you get to higher energy density and faster charge, the barrier to explosion is less and less.” On Tuesday, Samsung Electronics scrapped its flagship Note 7 smartphone and told customers return their devices after weeks of bruising reports of phones igniting and images of scorched handsets.

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Coal Miner’s CEO Calls Tesla a ‘Fraud’ and Elon Musk Tweets It – by Jonathan Crawford (Bloomberg News – October 10, 2016)


The head of the biggest privately owned U.S. coal producer on Monday called electric-car maker Tesla Motors Inc. a “fraud” for failing to turn a profit despite subsidies. Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive officer of Tesla, fired back at Murray Energy Corp. CEO Robert Murray within hours on Twitter.

In his post, Musk said Tesla gets “pennies” on the dollar in subsidies compared with the coal industry, and that climate science denial is the “real fraud.”

The verbal sparring between Murray and Musk comes as seismic changes in energy policy and competition from natural gas have pummeled coal miners, leading to bankruptcies and record production cuts. Meanwhile, the presidential election has underscored differences between Republicans and Democrats in their approaches to federal energy regulations and spending.

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Lithium boom losing steam as prices drift lower – by Ian McGugan (Globe and Mail – October 11, 2016)


The great lithium rally is losing momentum. Over the past year, the metal found in your smart phone’s battery has become the unlikely centre of an investing frenzy as speculators bet that surging demand from electric-vehicle manufacturers will create a huge new market for the silver-white metal.

Dozens of new lithium miners have popped into existence while the Global X Lithium ETF, which holds a cluster of stocks related to the material, has advanced more than 20 per cent over the past 12 months.

But skeptics note that prices for the metal, an essential ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, have drifted lower in recent months. One observer suggests today’s boom could end as early as next year.

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