Codelco does away with rumours on the nature of its lithium play

“Codelco will play a small role in the lithium market and has no plans to compete with some of the world’s giants in the field, according to copper’s “behemoth” Chairman.

Enthusiasts should “curb your enthusiasm” for Codelco’s involvement, Oscar Landerretche said, adding that the company was in no immediate rush to develop its two lithium projects in Chile’s northern region of Atacama.”, Metal Bulletin reports.

“I’ve tried to be very clear saying we have two salt lakes in the north of Chile but they’re not as large as the major salt lakes in Chile, Argentina or Bolivia, so Codelco will – if these projects mature – become a player in lithium but nobody should expect us to become the major player. There’s no way that’s going to happen,” Mr. Landerretche said.

Codelco’s Chairman also communicated his staunch believe in EV (r)evolution.

“I really do buy into the electrical revolution. I’m not sure I have a position on the timing, but it’s coming; it’s obvious, it’s going to happen. I’m not an expert in the auto industry but it’s very clear that it’s inevitable and electro-mobility is the thing of the future,”

 

India’s participation in the lithium race

India’s is rarely mentioned along with China, US, EU, South Korea and Japan as a contender in lithium race. However, with an eye on achieving an all-electric car fleet by 2030, Indian government and private sector focus increasingly on building bridges with South American producers.

Established in 2016, by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Mondi International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an initiative fostering South-South Cooperation in reduction of reliance on fossil fuels. Created with solar energy in mind, it can be as well effectively employed as a platform to engage some of its signatories in a dialogue on fulfilment of India’s future lithium needs.

The Indian Space Research Organisation and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are working on the development of low-cost lithium-ion batteries that can be used in EVs and other equipment’s.

India’s market for EV batteries is estimated to be worth as much as $300 billion by 2030 and investments in large battery manufacturing factories are planned.

Ambassador of Bolivia to India Sergio Arispe Barrientos stated, “With the largest lithium reserves in the world, Bolivia can partner with India in its electric vehicle park projects. In fact, Tata Motors is expected to travel to Bolivia to explore possibilities for sourcing lithium for its electric cars.”

Cash and know-how strapped Bolivia, with the current political situation is much more likely to find a common language with investors from China or India than with their Western counterparts.

 

Leipidico & Grupo Mota

As part of its plan to become a fully integrated lithium producer, Lepidico developed its proprietary L-Max technology, which can produce lithium carbonate from lithium minerals as lepidolite or spodumene.

The phase one L-Max plant feasibility study is evaluating the viability of building a L-Max processing plant that can produce lithium carbonate from lithium concentrates sourced from Alvarroes.

Grupo Mota operates Alvarroes and Lepidico is undertaking the feasibility study as part of deposit’s access agreement.

“The collaboration between Grupo Mota and Lepidico allows each company’s expertise to be leveraged to maximise the potential of the Alvarroes pegmatite deposit,” Leipidico Managing Director Joe Walsh noted.

Grupo Mota is the only producer of lithium in Portugal, operating for years on domestic market and supplying mostly glass & ceramic industries.

 

Japan’s scares of China’s lithium domination

Mainichi Japan, Japanese nation-wide daily since 1922, published an article on China’s advancing domination of global lithium landscape through the means of acquisition and off-take agreements. It continues a long-lasting tradition of Japanese scare for critical elements deficiencies, in which China’s control of rare earths historically played a large part.

Jujuy province is one of the key Argentinian lithium producing provinces located within the “lithium triangle” spanning 3 neighbouring countries. According to Toyota Tsusho employee, working on site “This location is ideal for lithium production as it is positioned above the clouds, meaning lots of fair weather”.

Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales states, “China leads the pack in terms of lithium development and investment. All new ventures go through the Chinese Embassy here. So, in other words, all investment is determined by the Chinese government.

We also want to engage in technological collaborations with Japanese and German companies. However, the only Japanese company to have come here so far is Toyota Tsusho,”

Indeed, Toyota has experienced record electric hybrid vehicle sales and released its new energy vehicle strategy up to 2030, further firming up its exposure to lithium.

“The market also received news that Toyota Tsusho will acquire a 15% stake in Orocobre for a total investment of A$282 million, which will allow the companies to significantly increase output at their flagship lithium brine asset, Olaroz. Production at Olaroz will increase from around current production rates of 14,000 T LCE per annum (nameplate 17,500T/year) to 42,500 T LCE starting in 2019-2020. Toyota Tsusho will also take the exclusive marketing rights for all lithium chemicals produced from the expanded facility. Lastly, the Joint Venture is moving to build a lithium hydroxide facility in Japan, using a combination of debt and available government incentives to cover the vast majority of the capital expenditures.” as Seeking Alpha reports.

Yet, in Mainichi Japan’s view, Toyota’s involvement is not nearly enough as for the needs and capacities of Japanese economy.

Article end’s up with a gloomy outlook on the nature of the competition:

“Lithium-producing nations will ban exports of lithium, and only export rechargeable batteries. If that happens, China will monopolize lithium because of its vested interest in the product.

If the price of lithium hits the roof due to low supply, China and only China will be able to secure cheap lithium and proceed with development of rechargeable batteries and EV. That is the predicted scenario that is being quietly talked about by those in the know.”

Referenced article available under:

https://mainichi.jp/articles/20180413/ddm/003/030/032000c

 

Latitude moves in Zimbabwe

Lithium Today has been focused on highlighting the opportunities for lithium exploration in Zimbabwe from its very beginning.

Hence, we follow with much interest the recent acquisitions in the country.

Latitude Consolidated has agreed to acquire a 70% interest in the Mbeta lithium project in southern Zimbabwe from Zimbabwean national Robert David Hutchings.

The project consists of 18 square kilometres of mineral claims for lithium and associated elements, with mineralised pegmatites and historic workings that extend over 700 metres.

Latitude will pay the vendor a non-refundable deposit of US$50,000. An extra US$50,000 will be paid after the project licence is transferred.

Latitude will also issue the owner and its nominees 6 million shares and fund the project through to the completion of a definitive feasibility study.

The project will be operated as a JV (Latitude owning 70% and Mr. Hutchings retaining 30% of shares). Latitude Consolidated has been more known by now through its involvement in gold.

However, as Latitude’s chairman, Tim Moore states: “The Board has been actively assessing a number of investment opportunities in the resources sector globally with the aim of providing our shareholder base with a direct exposure to the rapidly growing renewable energy sector. In line with this strategy, the board intends to further extend Latitude’s reach into other lithium opportunities within Africa[..]

In respect to the acquisition of Mbeta, our technical team has identified considerable exploration potential within the Mbeta project and surrounding mining claims which we believe have the potential to host additional lithium mineralisation.”

 

Can science may render cobalt redundant in the long term?

Application of cobalt-free cathodes could end supply issues and cobalt atmospheric price hike. US researchers have made a lithium-ion battery that uses solely manganese as the cathode material instead of cobalt or nickel.

Ceder and colleagues at the University of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, US, stand behind this breakthrough that could (beside limiting cobalt dependencies) also store more energy.

‘Our idea was that if we could make cathodes where we don’t care about layering, we could use a much broader spectrum of metals,’ says lead author Jinhyuk Lee from MIT. ‘We decided to go for manganese as it is one of the cheapest metals available.’

Previous attempts to make cathodes purely from disordered manganese and other metal oxides have been limited because they become unstable and lose capacity due to too much oxygen redox activity when lithium ions move from the cathode to the lithium-based anode during charging, as Chemistry World informs.

 

China’s FDG Electric Vehicles builds new plant in Sichuan

The company stated the CNY16bn (US$2.54bn) investment will be made in the city of Jianyang in vehicle and battery plants, to ultimately generate an annual production capacity of 400,000 vehicles per year and total lithium-ion battery output of 4 gigawatt-hours.

The first phase of the project is expected to be completed already in 2019 and will establish an annual capacity of 100,000 NEVs per year and lithium-ion plant capable of producing 1 gigawatt-hour of batteries on yearly basis.

All to cover the market expectations of NEVs sales in China to increase from 777,000 units in 2017 to around 1m units in 2018 and 2m by 2020, according to The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

 

Urban mining in South Korea

In 2016, the most recent year from which data is available, 19.6 trillion won, a staggering $18.38 billion worth of metals were extracted from recycled materials, meeting roughly 22 percent of the country’s total metal demand, according to a report by the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology.

South Korea tries to address China supply chain domination woes by turning to recycling cobalt and lithium from their own urban (back)yards. SungEel HiTech, one of South Korea’s largest battery recycler, became a part of a supply chain for some of the world’s biggest battery makers, including Samsung SDI and LG Chem, neatly fitting into domestic battery cluster.

SungEel HiTech, has a capacity to process about 8,000 tonnes per year of lithium-ion batteries and metal scraps, producing about 830 tonnes of lithium phosphate, 1,000 tonnes of cobalt metal equivalent and 600 tonnes of nickel.

“For South Korea, we don’t have an option but if we have recycled resources, that could be our strength,” Yum Un-joo, chairman of the Korea Urban Mining Association said.

More under: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-mining/urban-mining-in-south-korea-pulls-rare-battery-materials-from-recycled-tech-idUSKBN1HJ14T?il=0

 

Orocobre on production figures and weather impacts

Orocobre CEO Richard Seville, goes over latest production figures and explains the impact of weather on the output, in this short and interesting video:

 

Lithium batteries disposal risks

Ubiquity of lithium batteries, landing in the trash, along with other household waste poses bigger and bigger fire threats to the landfills.

“If you throw that type of hazardous material into a landfill that is rife with fuel, it could mean disaster.” Especially with warm summer weather approaching.

Society should better understand the importance of proper disposal of lithium batteries and the dangers they can pose if mishandled.


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