Archive | Lithium

Dictator-Era Rules Stand Between Carmakers and Lithium Riches – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – October 17, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

A little-known nuclear agency, designated as Chile’s lithium watchdog 38 years ago during the military dictatorship, holds the keys to unlocking the country’s massive reserves amid a nascent electric-car boom.

The Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission, or CCHEN by its Spanish initials, authorizes lithium quotas and exports in a throwback to a 1979 decision to declare lithium “strategic” because it was thought to be a key element in nuclear processes.

While that’s no longer the case, the government has no plans to remove CCHEN from lithium permitting even as authorities work on a new code for an industry struggling to keep up with growing demand from rechargeable batteries. More investor-friendly rules in Argentina have lured some interest away from Chile. Continue Reading →

The Supply Chain Can’t Handle Skyrocketing Demand for Lithium-Ion Batteries – by Louise Matsakis (Motherboard/Vice – October 11, 2017)

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/

Less than 1 percent of cars worldwide run electric, but they’re increasingly gobbling up Earth’s lithium-ion battery supply. Almost half of these batteries are used in the automotive industry, according to a new a analysis published Wednesday in Joule, the sister journal to Cell that addresses sustainable energy.

The study argues that the world needs to start preparing for an influx of demand for these batteries, which are used in smartphones, electric cars, and off-grid systems, like Tesla’s Powerwall.

“Even before [the lithium-ion battery industry] went into these large sectors like automotive and grid it was growing at like a 20 percent growth rate,” Gerbrand Ceder, one of the study’s authors and a professor of materials science & engineering at the University of California, Berkeley told me over the phone. Continue Reading →

Peak Lithium? Not So Fast – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – September 28, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Does the world have enough lithium? It depends who you ask.A 2008 study by French researcher William Tahil found there were just 3.9 million metric tons of recoverable deposits globally in mineral ores and Andean salt lakes.

That’s little enough that the world would risk running out as demand for lithium-ion car batteries and utility-scale storage ramps up over the coming decades.

A survey the following year by consultants Gerry Clarke and Peter Harben, though, concluded there was about 10 times that amount. Depending on the other parameters applied, those numbers suggest deposits could provide lithium for anything from a further 100 million cars — about 10 percent of the global auto fleet — to 10 billion or more. Continue Reading →

Electric vehicles trigger search for lithium and cobalt – by Chris Tomlinson (Houston Chronicle – September 27, 2017)

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/

Automakers this summer touted plans to offer more electric vehicles, with Mercedes-Benz announcing it will spend $1 billion to add a battery factory to its plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Ford is investing $4.5 billion in electric vehicle production, Volkswagen has promised 30 electrified models, and Volvo plans to go all electric or hybrid by 2019. Even Porsche will offer a battery-powered sports sedan called Mission E in 2020.

Automakers expect to sell 20 million all-electric vehicles in 2030, according to conservative estimates, prompting questions about where the raw materials will come from to make all of those batteries. Continue Reading →

PotashCorp hires banks to lead sale of stake in Chilean lithium producer – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – September 24, 2017)

http://www.mining.com/

Canada’s Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX, NYSE:POT), the world’s largest producer of the fertilizer by capacity, is said to have hired Goldman Sachs and BofA Merrill Lynch to explore selling its stake in a Chilean lithium producer.

PotashCorp, which holds 32% of Chile’s Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM) and has three of eight board seats, is evaluating selling its part in the company to secure approval for its friendly merger with smaller rival Agrium (TSX, NYSE:AGU).

PotashCorp and Agrium said earlier this month their link-up would close several months later than previously anticipated as regulators in China and India put as a condition the divestment of certain minority interests the Canadian potash giant owns. Continue Reading →

Investors betting on electric cars send millions into lithium ETF – by Evelyn Cheng (CNBC.com – September 21, 2017)

https://www.cnbc.com/

Investors are betting on a surge in electric car sales after indications that China, the world’s largest market for the vehicles, may soon wind down production and sales of cars using fossil fuel.

From the time China’s state-run Xinhua newspaper reported the news on Sept. 11 through Tuesday’s close, investors poured about $143 million into the Global X Lithium & Battery Tech exchange-traded fund (LIT), according to ETF.com. Tuesday alone drew $49.8 million in inflows, nearly 10 percent of the now $651 million fund.

That kind of interest in an ETF, especially one so narrowly focused, is “extremely rare,” said Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA. “A really strong 2017 has triggered strong investor interest at a time when a lot of money is going into well diversified and cheap ETFs.” Continue Reading →

Russian Nuclear Giant Joins Scramble to Supply Electric-Car Boom – by Jack Farchy and Elena Mazneva (Bloomberg News – September 19, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation is joining the lithium rush. After a collapse in the price of uranium, Rosatom Corp. plans to start mining and trading the metal used in batteries as it seeks to profit from the rapid rise of electric vehicles.

“The evolution of the car business is going much faster than predicted,” Kirill Komarov, the company’s first deputy head, said in an interview. “We plan to accumulate the whole integrated line of everything starting from lithium and up to final batteries or even some cooperation with car producers.”

Rosatom is the latest company to join a global scramble for lithium projects to supply growing demand for batteries used in electric cars such as Tesla Inc.’s Model 3 and General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Bolt. Continue Reading →

BlackRock fund bets big on electric future for lithium – by Henry Sanderson (Financial Times – September 15, 2017)

https://www.ft.com/

BlackRock has emerged as a big backer of lithium start-ups, as the world’s largest asset manager bets on the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

The BlackRock World Mining Trust, which has more than £800m in assets and is co-managed by Evy Hambro, has become the largest shareholder in a handful of small mining companies aiming to produce lithium for use in batteries.

Demand for lithium has surged as the first mass-market electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt attract buyers. Growing demand for EVs has sparked a scramble to locate new supplies of lithium and prices have jumped about 26 per cent this year, making it one of the best performing commodities. Continue Reading →

Avalon intent to cash in on rapidly rising technology metal demand – by Henry Lazenby (MiningWeekly.com – September 15, 2017)

http://www.miningweekly.com/

VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – A whole new world for lithium demand has aspiring technology metals firm Avalon Advanced Metals evaluating its options to cash in on the red-hot industry, with the company patiently advancing three projects in its portfolio that will benefit from higher metals prices.

Just this week, new evidence was provided that the emerging age of the electric vehicle (EV) is approaching faster and at a far greater scale than even recent forecasts predicted, with German automaker Volkswagen announcing its investment of about €20-billion in the space, which could alone gobble up the entire supply of lithium today.

China also dropped a bombshell this week when announcing tentative plans to ban internal combustion engines, which analysts expect will coincide with China’s commitment to an emissions cap by 2030. Continue Reading →

PotashCorp mulls selling stake in Chilean lithium producer SQM — report – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Mining.com – September 13, 2017)

http://www.mining.com/

Canada’s Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (TSX, NYSE:POT), the world’s largest producer of the fertilizer by capacity, may sell its stake in Chilean lithium miner SQM to secure approval for its friendly merger with smaller rival Agrium (TSX, NYSE:AGU).

PotashCorp, which holds 32% percent of SQM and has three of eight board seats, said earlier this week the Canadian competition bureau had okayed the merger as it concluded the transaction would not lead to a substantial lessening or prevention of local competition for products sold by both companies, including potash fertilizer, dry or liquid phosphate fertilizer and nitric acid.

The parties, however, warned the link-up is expected to close several months later than previously anticipated due in part to authorities in China and India who want the divestment of certain minority interests owned by PotashCorp. Continue Reading →

ETF Buyers Snap Up Lithium as China Fuels Electric-Car Race – by Luzi-Ann Javier (Bloomberg News – September 11, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The third-best performing exchange-traded fund tracking material producers got a jolt from China after the country said it will set a deadline for automakers to end sales of fossil-fueled vehicles.

Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF climbed as much as 5.1 percent Monday to $36.09, the highest in more than six years, as its biggest holdings FMC Corp., Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA, Samsung SDI Co. and Tesla Inc. rallied.

On Saturday, Xin Guobin, China’s vice minister of industry and information technology, said the government is working with regulators on a timetable to end production and sales of internal-combustion vehicles. The shift to electric vehicles is spurring a surge in demand for lithium batteries and the companies that supply the raw materials. Continue Reading →

We’re Going to Need More Lithium – by Jessica Shankleman, Tom Biesheuvel, Joe Ryan, and Dave Merrill (Bloomberg News – September 7, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

There’s plenty in the ground to meet the needs of an electric car future, but not enough mines.

Starting about two years ago, fears of a lithium shortage almost tripled prices for the metal, to more than $20,000 a ton, in just 10 months. The cause was a spike in the market for electric vehicles, which were suddenly competing with laptops and smartphones for lithium ion batteries.

Demand for the metal won’t slacken anytime soon—on the contrary, electric car production is expected to increase more than thirtyfold by 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Rest assured, Earth has the lithium. The next dozen years will drain less than 1 percent of the reserves in the ground, BNEF says. But battery makers are going to need more mines to support their production, and they’ll have to build them much more quickly than anyone thought. Continue Reading →

The battery revolution: balancing progress with supply chain risks (RCS Global – August 2017)

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For the full report: http://www.rcsglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/rcs/pdfs/RCS-Global%20The-Battery-Revolution.pdf

The lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery is set to fuel a revolution in electric vehicles (EV), home energy storage and even the powering of entire cities. Yet, increasing demand for the Li-ion battery is revealing and amplifying a wide spectrum of risks associated with the materials that make up the battery itself.

As new battery technology transforms consumer markets, there is a growing realisation that the transition to electric is not without social and environmental impact in the countries where battery materials – specifically cobalt, lithium, nickel, graphite and manganese – are mined and chemically processed into battery grade materials.

These risks present significant reputational, legal, compliance and commercial concerns for major industries harnessing the battery revolution including automotive, electronics and utilities infrastructure. For local communities, the risks represent impacts that could exacerbate or even cause environmental and social problems ranging from air pollution to child labour to conflict. Continue Reading →

OPINION: Switch to Renewables Won’t End the Geopolitics of Energy – by Meghan L. O’Sullivan (Bloomberg News – August 21, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Countries that dominate the export of rare-earth minerals will be the petrostates of tomorrow.

In another sign that the age of fossil fuels is waning, the California State Senate has passed a bill to commit the state to use 100 percent renewable energy for power by 2045. Other states and cities — including Massachusetts, Chicago and Atlanta — intend to make similar switches. Proponents highlight a bevy of ways in which the Age of Renewables will improve our lives: lower carbon emissions, cheaper electricity rates, new abilities to bring power to impoverished nations … and independence from the economic and political entanglements of volatile global oil and gas markets.

Yes, there are many reasons to be enthusiastic about a shift toward renewables. Unfortunately, an escape from energy geopolitics is not likely to be among them.

Americans and Europeans in particular are familiar with the geopolitical downsides of a heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Even though energy embargoes are extremely rare, and hardly ever in the interest of the producers, the specter of the 1973 Arab oil remains. For many in Eastern Europe, the 2006 and 2009 gas cut-offs to Ukraine by Russia are an equally disturbing memory. Simply the threat of such actions carries political weight. Continue Reading →

It’s Hard to Keep Up With All That Lithium Demand – by Laura Millan Lombrana and Jonathan Gilbert (Bloomberg News – August 22, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Hidden within the salt flats high in the Andes mountains of South America are vast deposits of the lithium that Elon Musk may need for his electric-car revolution. But extracting the mineral from brine ponds created by Orocobre Ltd. has proved more difficult than expected.

Bad weather and pump glitches meant production at the Olaroz facility in northern Argentina was 21 percent below Orocobre’s initial target in the year through June. While things are getting back on track, Chief Executive Officer Richard Seville says the company “either underestimated the complexity or overestimated our capability.”

Producers everywhere have struggled to keep up with demand as electric cars went from almost no sales a decade ago to more than half a million vehicles last year. The battery in a Model S from Musk’s Tesla Inc. uses about 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of lithium carbonate. More mines are planned, but difficulties at Olaroz — the first new South American lithium mine in two decades — are limiting funding for new ventures in Argentina, home to the world’s third-largest reserves. Continue Reading →