Archive | Lithium

Lithium is the latest hot metal commodity, but investor fever could be cooling – by Sunny Freeman (Financial Post – March 18, 2017)

Lithium, the lightest metal on earth, has become such a heavyweight in commodities markets that it is increasingly being mentioned in the same sentence as rare earths or vanadium. It’s not a compliment.

Once red hot, those commodities are just the most recent metals to experience a boom/bust cycle of quickly rising prices and a subsequent rush by miners into the space, only to end in burst bubbles.

Demand for lithium, a silvery-white metal called “the new gasoline” by Goldman Sachs, rose 26 per cent in 2016 and is predicted to climb another 39 per cent in 2018. By 2025, demand is projected to increase by 73 per cent as electric vehicles become more viable and an increasing number of countries, including China, tighten restrictions on gas- and diesel-powered cars. Continue Reading →

Argentina Eyeing Lithium Superpower Status Amid Battery Boom – by James Attwood and Jonathan Gilbert (Bloomberg News – March 6, 2017)

Argentina has some good news for Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc., and bad news for lithium producers elsewhere: the country may be about to flood the market with lithium.

After President Mauricio Macri removed currency and capital controls and taxes introduced by his predecessors, about 40 foreign companies began to consider opportunities in Argentina’s mining industry, more than half of those in lithium, according to Mining Secretary Daniel Meilan.

Industry heavyweights Albemarle Corp., Soc. Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, Eramet SA and Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. are among groups looking at expanding or building new lithium operations in Argentina, as part of a $20 billion pipeline of mining projects through 2025, Meilan said Monday in an interview. China’s CITIC is also looking for opportunities, according to the government. Continue Reading →

Codelco’s lithium assets lure big sector companies: CEO – by Nicole Mordant (Reuters U.S. – March 1, 2017)

HOLLYWOOD, FLA. – International and domestic companies have expressed interest in partnering with Codelco, the world’s biggest copper producer, to develop its lithium assets, the Chilean state-owned company’s chief executive said on Tuesday.

In a wide-ranging interview, CEO Nelson Pizarro said Codelco was sticking to a shrunken capital expenditure program to revive and expand its copper assets unveiled last year amid weak copper prices, despite a rebound in prices by nearly a third since November.

Pizarro also said he expected “more difficult” labor negotiations at Codelco’s flagship El Teniente mine early next year as workers’ demands for higher wages and benefits clashed with the company’s need to invest in its aging mines. Continue Reading →

Argentina lithium projects seek financing as production seen tripling – by Juliana Castilla (Reuters U.S. – February 8, 2017)

BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s lithium carbonate production will triple by 2019, and could grow by even more if companies find financing for various projects they are prepared to launch, industry executives and a government official told Reuters.

Demand for lithium – a crucial material in electric car batteries and mobile phones – is soaring worldwide, prompting miners to lock up new sources of supply. Argentina is already the world’s third largest producer, and forms part of the so-called lithium triangle with Bolivia and Chile that accounts for half the world’s reserves.

Center-right President Mauricio Macri has implemented a number of pro-market reforms in Latin America’s third-largest economy since taking office in December 2015, making Argentina a natural choice for miners looking to boost output. Continue Reading →

Battery expert Jeff Dahn wins major Canadian science prize – by Ivan Semeniuk (Globe and Mail – February 7, 2017)

When Jeff Dahn answers the phone at work, the first thing you notice is the sound of blowing air.

“Our air conditioners run in the winter,” said Dr. Dahn, a professor of physics at Dalhousie University and a leading expert in battery technology. Working in rooms packed from floor to ceiling with testing equipment, all of which generates enormous amounts of heat, he and his team have spent years advancing the subtle science of lithium-ion batteries – the slim little power packs that have become key enablers of the smartphone era.

In recognition of his long and impressive track record in the field, Dr. Dahn has been named this year’s winner of the Herzberg Gold Medal, Canada’s most prestigious science prize. But at 60, Dr. Dahn shows little sign of powering down. Continue Reading →

RPT-COLUMN-Cornish lithium dreams may die in South America’s salt lakes – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – February 6, 2017)

LONDON, Feb 3 There’s lithium in them there Cornish hills! News that a start-up, Cornish Lithium, is going to explore for the “metal of the future” in Britain’s historic tin-mining region has been greeted with predictable national euphoria.

“Cornwall’s mining industry set for 50bn pound revolution,” proclaimed a headline in The Sun newspaper. Which may be just a little bit premature.

The company, led by Jeremy Wrathall, a graduate of Cornwall’s famous Camborne School of Mines and now a banker with Investec, is currently trying to raise 5 million pounds to start an exploration programme. Any production of lithium is at least five years away. Continue Reading →

Canada’s Strongbow’s UK partner to explore for lithium in Cornwall – by Barbara Lewis and Peter Hobson (Reuters Canada – January 19, 2017)

LONDON (Reuters) – British company Cornish Lithium said on Thursday it had reached a mineral rights agreement with Canada’s Strongbow Exploration (SBW.V: Quote) to explore for lithium in Cornwall, southwest England, stoking hopes for a British mining revival.

Cornwall historically was a mining hub for metals such as tin and copper and the British government is keen to resurrect the industry as it seeks to bolster the economy against the shock of leaving the European Union.

Cornish Lithium said new technology offered the potential to extract lithium from underground hot springs and to supply products to the rapidly growing battery market for electric cars and for power storage. Continue Reading →

Chile to invite bids on value-added lithium tech in April – by Rosalba O’Brien and Felipe Iturrieta (Reuters U.S. – January 17, 2017)

SANTIAGO – Chile will hold a tender in April to encourage companies to use its vast lithium resources to move it up the value chain with cathode or battery production, the head of the country’s development agency told Reuters on Tuesday.

It is pressing ahead on deals with international firms as relations remain bitter with local lithium producer SQM SQM_pb.SN, where royalties arbitration is expected to take at least another year, said Eduardo Bitran, executive vice president of Corfo, which manages Chile’s lithium leases.

The price of lithium, a rare bright spot in commodities, has rocketed in recent years and is expected to continue to rise alongside demand. Lithium plays a small but essentially irreplaceable part in powering electric car batteries. Continue Reading →

[Lithium Mining] Harsh desert climate in Chile is one place that literally helps to power the world – by Neil Vorano ( – January 11, 2017)

You can see the road we’re going down with electric cars; though they still only make up a very small percentage of all the vehicles in North America, their sales are growing. And you only need to look at the hype surrounding the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt and, a little later, the Tesla Model 3, to see how people are getting behind this technology. Continue Reading →

Tesla starts Gigafactory battery cell production – by Tom Randall (Australian Financial Review – January 5, 2017)

The Gigafactory has been activated. Hidden in the scrubland east of Reno, Nevada, where cowboys gamble and wild horses still roam, a diamond-shaped factory of outlandish proportions is emerging from the sweat and promises of Tesla chief executive Elon Musk.

It’s known as the Gigafactory, and today its first battery cells are rolling off production lines to power the company’s energy storage products and, before long, the Model 3 electric car.

The start of mass production is a huge milestone in Tesla’s quest to electrify transportation, and it brings to America a manufacturing industry – battery cells – that’s long been dominated by China, Japan, and South Korea. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

The new OPEC: Who will supply the lithium needed to run the future’s electric cars? – by Justina Crabtree ( – 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.” Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

[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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →