[My title isn’t what the article is principally about, but it’s what got my radar up. So, if you like to read the story behind the story, read this, and make sure to click the link below to read it all]
So far, lithium has been the hottest metal of 2016, beating out gold, with exponential demand expected over the coming years. Although the price trajectory of the metal has been subdued in recent months, the fundamentals behind the long-term trajectory suggest strong potential for long-term growth. Price doubling from 2014/2015 was first seen in China and is now being felt worldwide, with lithium hydroxide prices from $16-20 and carbonate prices from $12-14 thousand USD per ton.
[Afghanistan has very large deposits of lithium which in the current context constitutes a strategic mineral. M. Ch. GR Editor]
The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
There is no doubt as to the push that Tesla has given the current automotive transition to electric vehicles (EVs). As the company’s mission statement outlines, it hopes “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”
However, since 2014, when Tesla first announced the Gigafactory with Panasonic, other manufacturers have begun to take notice and take action. Volkswagen AG announced last week that it was considering LG Chem Ltd. or Panasonic Corp. as partners for several US$2-billion factories, according toBloomberg, with confirmation expected later in the year.
Previous announcements of billion-dollar investments in battery factories by Volkswagen were largely brushed off by investors as deflections from their ‘Dieselgate’ scandal. But with LG and Panasonic in the picture, concrete plans appear to be crystalizing.
Combined with Daimler putting US$550 million into tripling its battery production capacity in Germany, Nissan’s planned investments in the UK for its third generation Leaf, and GM’s joint venture with LG Chem to produce batteries in Holland, Michigan, for its Volt and Bolt, it is clear that auto manufactures are beginning to shift to electric—and in a very big way.
Given this new investment, plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales are expected to experience 62 Percent Year-over-Year Growth in 2016, 60% in 2017, and likely 100% in 2018. This translates into over 600,000 in PEV sales expected in 2018, creating a new level of demand for which the market will need two new lithium mines in operation to even begin to satiate.
“Looking at the full picture here, the future demand for lithium is truly staggering,” says Michael Kobler, CEO and director ofAmerican Lithium Corp., one of the ambitious new explorers shaking up the lithium mining scene in Nevada.
Electrical Grid Connections
While future demand from the automotive industry is significant, the real game changer for the lithium industry may be electrical grid storage. Grid storage is designed on a variety of scales, each with a different price point. Already price-competitive with diesel fuel for stand-alone renewables and remote locations, home storage applications with devices like Tesla’s powerwall, and grid frequency modulation applications are now making major inroads in the grid storage market.
More good stuff at the link