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What You Need To Know About #Lithium $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 2:07 PM on Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

In our July piece, Is This a Turning Point for Lithium Demand?, we discussed our belief that we are in the early stages of a dramatic shift in lithium demand. The main driver: the acceleration of electric vehicle (NYSE:EV) sales. In this piece, we seek to address three key questions relating to electric vehicles, lithium, and batteries:

  • Why Now?
  • What does this Growing Demand Mean for Lithium Prices?
  • Do Rising Lithium Prices Hurt Battery Producers?

Why Now?

While electric vehicles have previously been viewed as a gadget for affluent early adopters, EVs appear to be on the verge of going mainstream. A major driver of this change is a major reduction in battery costs, which has made EVs much more affordable relative to traditional combustion engine-powered vehicles. Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance unit found that lithium-ion battery costs fell by nearly 50% from 2014 to 2016 as battery producers raised output and competition increased.1 Falling battery costs along with simpler engine designs and cheaper ‘fuel’ are making consumers around the world seriously consider EVs. Nowhere is this more apparent than in China, which made up over half of the world’s EV market in 2016, and a quarter of the world’s plug-in hybrid sales.2

Another important catalyst for EV sales is government policy. Some governments have historically helped improve the economics around EVs by providing generous subsidies to car buyers. But now regulations are being taken to a whole new level by setting end-dates for the sale of combustion engines. Here’s a list of countries that have recently implemented these policies and the number of new cars sold in these countries in 2016:3,4

  • Norway (0.2m cars): new passenger cars and vans must have zero emissions by 2025
  • India (3.7m): will ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030
  • UK (3.1m): will ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2040
  • France (2.5m): will ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2040
  • China (28m): recently announced it will ban the sale of gasoline and diesel cars (official date still pending)


All Eyes On #Gold – But Its #Platinum That Will Soar Up To 95% – And New Age Metals $ Could Win Big

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 10:19 AM on Friday, September 1st, 2017

Sean Zubick wrote a great article on LinkedIn that concluded with the following powerful statement:

“No other PGM company has the torque New Age Metal has, and that is why the company is one of largest holdings in our portfolio.”

Considering the success of Sean and his Palisade Global Investments, that’s incredible 3rd party credibility for Harry Barr and his team. Harry has been incredible patient with his River Valley PGM Deposit and looks set to finally start reaping the rewards.

Here is the article. Take a few minutes and read this:


The platinum group metals are composed of six noble, precious metallic elements: iridium, osmium, palladium, platinum, ruthenium, and rhodium. In mining, the most valuable PGMs are platinum and palladium, and rhodium to a lesser degree. Intuitively, the metals are correlated in terms of price movement, and often time track other precious metals, especially gold.

While platinum and gold are correlated (0.85), platinum has historically traded higher than gold, averaging 50% more since 2000. The platinum to gold ratio is currently 0.75, with gold consistently trading higher since the beginning of 2015.

If we shorten the timeframe from 2000 to 2009, the average decreases. However, it still implies that current platinum prices are undervalued relative to gold:

Using the current gold price of $1,300/oz. and the average ratio since 2000, platinum should rebound from its current price of $990/oz. to $1,950. Using the 2009 average of 1.03 still means a significant rebound to $1,360/oz., or a gain of 40% from current levels.

The PGM industry is dominated by the major South African platinum producers, and the largest palladium producer in the world, the Russian-based Norilsk Nickel. Just these two regions account for almost 90% of the World’s platinum and palladium production.

What makes PGM investing even more precarious is that in addition to operating in risky jurisdictions, there are only a handful of public companies. If you filter this to junior companies with a resource, you are down to less than ten.


Current Price: C$0.07

Shares Outstanding: 68.4 million

Market Capitalization: C$4.8 million

Cash: ~C$2.6 million

New Age Metals is one of the few PGM companies that operates in a safe jurisdiction, but is also the cheapest on a per platinum ounce basis. According to our analysis and current market prices, New Age Metal’s River Valley PGM Project hosts a total resource of 3.4 million ounces platinum equivalent. This gives New Age Metals a valuation of C$0.74/oz. Compare this to the average of its comp group, C$40.00/oz.

With platinum poised to return to its median, and New Age Metals trading at a substantial discount to its peers, the optionality in this play is enormous.

New Age Metals is an out of favor companies that has fallen through the cracks because of the decline of platinum. However, the company has raised C$2.6 million and is now more than halfway done its 2017 drilling campaign, focusing on the Dana North (T3) and Pine zone.

In addition, an induced polarization (IP) geophysical survey and borehole geophysics has been completed. The first portion of the drill program was concentrated on follow-up drill testing of the 2015/2016 PGM mineralization at the Pine zone. Drilling will now focus on the geophysical interpretation from the recently completed IP survey.

Six holes were completed at the Pine zone, which is open along strike and at depth. The first batch of assays has been sent to the lab. Results are expected any day now.

The current exploration program will be used to establish the resource base for a preliminary economic assessment (PEA), which the company plans to complete before the end of 2018.

Prior to the current program, the River Valley PGM Project has seen 671 holes drill holes for 152,394 metres and $40 million in total spending. Shares from its last financing became free-trading on August 28, and the stock has sold off in anticipation. In fact, share prices are down more than 50% from its recent high. This bargain price is a nice entry for new investors, especially with an imminent fall commodity rally, and the strong and catalytic news flow on the horizon.

No other PGM company has the torque NAM has, and that is why the company is one of largest holdings in our portfolio.




New Age Metals Delineates 3rd Lithium Project To Drill Stage On Its Lithman West Project In Southeast Manitoba $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 9:54 AM on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

New age large

  • Project situated in the Winnipeg River-Cat Lake Pegmatite Field, west of the world-class Tanco Pegmatite
  • Numerous Lithium-bearing minerals known to exist in the region
  • Compilation work of historic assessment work reveals numerous untested rock and soil geochemical anomalies on the Lithman West Project
  • New Age Metals is looking for JV partners for its Lithium division.


Vancouver, Canada / May 16, 2017 – New Age Metals (“NAM”, the “Company”) (TSX.V: NAM; Frankfurt: P7J.F; OTCQX: PAWEF) is pleased to provide an exploration update on the Lithman West Project in Southeast Manitoba. The project is held under NAM’s 100% owned subsidiary, Lithium Canada Development Inc.

While compiling the historic geological data for the project areas, several untested geochemical targets were identified. None of the historic work has been verified with a NI-43-101, and therefore is considered non-compliant. The mineral claims were previously held by the Tantalum Mining Corporation of Canada (Tanco), which carried out rock and soil geochemistry in 1977 and between 1999 and 2007. Soil and rock samples were collected at 25 metre intervals on grid-lines 100 metres apart. Most of the historic work focused on the northern portion of the Lithman West Project area, with soil geochemistry completed over most of the project area. Soil samples were analyzed using the Enzyme Leach technique at Activation Laboratory. The lithogeochemistry targets are identified based on enrichment of Lithium, Rubidium and Cesium in host rocks. When pegmatites are emplaced, metasomatic fluids enrich the host country rocks in Lithium, Rubidium and Cesium. The metasomatic enrichment of the host rocks in the case of Lithium can occur up to 100 metres away from the pegmatites, whereas Rubidium and Cesium have smaller metasomatic aureoles. Using the three elements (Li+Rb+Cs) in conjunction and statistically determining background based on rock type, the identification of anomalous and highly anomalous rock types can be used to generate the lithogeochemical targets. This was Tanco’s procedure with regards to lithogeochemistry and all their historical exploration data are available in assessment files at the Manitoba Mines Branch.

All lithogeochemical anomalies (see Figure 1) appear to be oriented East-West, which is the general orientation of other lithium-bearing pegmatites in the Winnipeg River-Cat Lake

Pegmatite Field. Six Li+Rb+Cs lithogeochemical anomalies are recognized from compilation of historical assessment files on the Lithman West Project. Lithogeochemistry has only been carried out on the northern portion of the project area by previous explorers. Four of the lithogeochemical anomaly targets have been defined to be approximately 150 metres to 200 metres long and 25 metres to 50 metres wide. These targets appear not to have been drill tested. The two largest of the lithogeochemical anomalies is the Krista’s Pond Anomaly and Bernes Bay Anomaly (Figure 2). The Krista’s Pond Anomaly is tear-drop shaped and approximately 1200 metres long and 150 metres maximum width. This anomaly has not been drill tested, even though it appears to be a moderate to strong lithogeochemical target. The Bernes Bay anomaly on the project area is approximately 1000 metres long by 1500 metres wide. Previous work indicates that this anomaly extends eastward to the westernmost bay of Bernic Lake. This anomaly was considered to be a high priority target in 1977 and was tested with three shallow drill holes.

Click Image To View Full Size

Figure 1: Historic Rock (Li+Rb+Cs) Geochemical Anomalies – Lithman West Project

Seven soil Enzyme Leach anomalies have been defined from compilation of past Tanco exploration work (Figure 2). These anomalies are varying shapes and sizes. Areas where the soil and rock geochemistry overlap or nearly overlap are considered to be the highest priorities for follow-up drilling.

Click Image To View Full Size

Figure 2: Historic Soil (Enzyme Leach) Geochemical Anomalies – Lithman West Project

It is recommended that a diamond drill program be carried out in order to drill test the soil and rock geochemical anomalies (Figures 1 and 2). These are drill ready targets based on the historic geological exploration. In addition, it is recommended that follow-up geological work be carried out over the anomalies and that rock lithogeochemistry be completed on the southern portion of the project area.

The Company has five Lithium Pegmatite projects in the Winnipeg River-Cat Lake Pegmatite Field of Southeast Manitoba. This pegmatite field (Figure 3) is host to the world-class Tanco Pegmatite, a highly fractionated Lithium-Cesium-Tantalum (LCT)-type pegmatite, which has been mined at the Tanco Mine for Lithium-bearing minerals (Spodumene), Tantalum, Beryllium, Rubidium and Cesium since 1969. There are no current NI43-101 compliant reports, but academic reports suggest that the Tanco Pegmatite prior to the start of mining was approximately 1520 metres long, 1060 metres wide, and up to ~100 metres thick with a volume of ~21,850,000 m3 and a mass of ~57,430,000 tonnes.Numerous other lithium-bearing pegmatites exist within the pegmatite field.


Click Image To View Full Size

Figure 3: Approximate Outline of the Winnipeg River-Cat Lake Pegmatite Field

(Lithium Canada claim locations in green and the Tanco Mine Leases in red)

The Company has two other drill ready targets for lithium-bearing pegmatites in the Pegmatite Field (News Release Feb 22nd, 2017). To date, the Company has approximately 6,318 hectares (15,612 acres) of mineral claims, with Lithium Mineral Potential in the Winnipeg River-Cat Lake Pegmatite Field of southeast Manitoba. NAM is the largest mineral claim holder in the Pegmatite Field. As part of Company’s Prospector Generator Model, negotiations are currently ongoing with interested 3rd parties for possible Option/Joint Ventures and other Exploration Initiatives.


NAM’s flagship project is its 100% owned River Valley PGM Project (PFN Website – River Valley Project) in the Sudbury Mining District of northwest Ontario (60 kilometres due east of Sudbury, Ontario). Presently the River Valley Project has Measured + Indicated Resources of 91 million tonnes @ 0.58 g/t* Palladium, 0.22 g/t Platinum, 0.04 g/t Gold at a cut-off grade of 0.8 g/t for a PdEq of 2,463,000 ounces PGM plus Gold. River Valley PGM-Copper-Nickel sulphide mineralized zones remain open to expansion and is undergoing continued exploration.


The contents contained herein that relates to Exploration Results or Mineral Resources is based on information compiled, reviewed or prepared by Dr. Bill Stone, Principal Consulting Geoscientist for New Age Metals Inc. Dr. Stone is the Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101 and has reviewed and approved the technical content.

On behalf of the Board of Directors

“Harry Barr”

Harry G. Barr

Chairman and CEO

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward Looking Statements: This release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements may differ materially from actual future events or results and are based on current expectations or beliefs. For this purpose, statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. In addition, forward-looking statements include statements in which the Company uses words such as “continue”, “efforts”, “expect”, “believe”, “anticipate”, “confident”, “intend”, “strategy”, “plan”, “will”, “estimate”, “project”, “goal”, “target”, “prospects”, “optimistic” or similar expressions. These statements by their nature involve risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially depending on a variety of important factors, including, among others, the Company’s ability and continuation of efforts to timely and completely make available adequate current public information, additional or different regulatory and legal requirements and restrictions that may be imposed, and other factors as may be discussed in the documents filed by the Company on SEDAR (, including the most recent reports that identify important risk factors that could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake any obligation to review or confirm analysts’ expectations or estimates or to release publicly any revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. Investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.

VIDEO FEATURE: New Age Metals – 121 Mining Investment Cape Town 2017 $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 4:32 PM on Monday, February 13th, 2017

Tesla to begin lithium-ion battery production at US megafactory – bodes well for $ $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 10:39 AM on Thursday, January 5th, 2017
Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk jumps out of one of his electric vehicles. Picture: NEWZULU.
Image: Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk jumps out of one of his electric vehicles. Picture: NEWZULU.

Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors says it has started producing lithium-ion battery cells at its $5 billion factory in Nevada.

The company says it began making high-performance cells in December and production started overnight for cells used in Powerwall energy-storage products.

Tesla plans to start making batteries for its Model 3 sedans later this year.

The massive Gigafactory outside Sparks is coming online in phases, with a goal of full operation in 2018.

Officials say it could almost double the world’s production of lithium-ion batteries, making them more affordable as the company looks beyond the luxury niche market.

The electric carmaker says it has more than 850 full-time employees, plus more than 1700 construction workers.

Nevada has promised Tesla $1.3 billion in state tax incentives based on projections that it’ll employ 6500 people at full production.


Will $ $ $ supply the lithium needed to run the future’s electric cars?

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 4:46 PM on Friday, December 30th, 2016

A Tesla electric car at a charging station.

A Tesla electric car at a charging station.
  • 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.
  • 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.”

Unsurprisingly, as automakers gear up to sell more electric vehicles, prices for lithium have also risen.

“Owing to increased worldwide demand, spot lithium carbonate prices (in 2015) increased approximately 10% to 15% from those of 2014,” wrote the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in January of this year. So, which countries are crucial to lithium’s production – and who has the potential to control this market in the future? CNBC investigates.

The Chang Tang plateau in Tibet, China, is known for its lithium resources.

BSIP | UIG | Getty Images
The Chang Tang plateau in Tibet, China, is known for its lithium resources.


Analysts CNBC spoke to concurred that China was ahead of the game in terms of its lithium production.

China’s lithium reserves are an estimated 3.2 million metric tons, according to the USGS in January 2016, meaning that the superpower ranks among those with the largest domestic supply. Most resources are located in its Qinghai and Tibet regions.

Perhaps in response to how much the market has grown – and where it may progress to in coming years – the price of Chinese battery grade lithium is currently well over $20,000/tonne, compared to $7,000/tonne in mid-2015, according to mining analysis firm CRU.

“China has a stranglehold on lithium production,” Speirs said. “Well organised and professionally run mining companies” make this enterprise profitable, he added.

This is bolstered by the convenient fact that China is the world’s largest electric vehicle market. According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, sales of battery electric vehicles reached 258,000 units in the first ten months of 2016, increasing 102.5 percent year on year. In addition, the Chinese government has unveiled several incentives in recent years aimed at addressing the country’s environmental problems.

“In the future, we expect supply from China to increase significantly to meet the domestic demand,” CRU told CNBC via e-mail.

Lithium: powering your electric car?  

Latin America’s ‘lithium belt’

Argentina, Bolivia and Chile form a troika of lithium producers in Latin America, otherwise known as the “lithium belt” or “lithium triangle.” Could these countries spearhead a second commodity boom in the region?

“Latin American countries once produced lithium from ore, as with other metals, but can now do so from brine, which is cheaper,” Speirs explained. Contributing to the metal’s profitability, CRU added that for Latin America, “industrial-grade lithium carbonate contract prices increased by around 40% in 2016 due to strong demand growth and the ongoing supply deficit. Battery-grade lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide prices surged higher.”

But, structural problems could hamper this particular market from taking off.

The Salar de Atacama salt flats in Chile.

DEA | V. Giannella | De Agostini | Getty Images
The Salar de Atacama salt flats in Chile.

Chile, with its dry climate and lithium-rich Salar de Atacama salt flats, is an ideal production environment. The country is also popular with investors due to its free market economy. In addition, Reuters reported in November that Chilean firm SQM, one of the world’s largest lithium producers, saw 2016 third quarter profits more than quadruple due to rising lithium prices.

But, CRU told CNBC via e-mail that, “the [Chilean] industry is facing serious issues such as [the] imposition of production quota, on-going labour disputes [and] water shortage.”

Bolivia, though boasting 9 million metric tons in lithium resources, has suffered from a lack of exploration, infrastructure and technology, according to CRU. But, the Bolivian government is looking to establish a more foreign investment-friendly environment to encourage the growth of its lithium mining industry.

Unwinding Argentina’s formerly protectionist economy has been a key goal of President Mauricio Macri, which could foreground the country’s role in the lithium supply market. “Abolition of export duty on value-added products and capital controls have encouraged lithium players to consider Argentina for investment destination,” CRU told CNBC via e-mail.

The future benefits of lithium-ion batteries

The future benefits of lithium-ion batteries  


According to the USGC in January of this year, Australia’s estimated reserves sit at 1.5 million metric tons. By way of contextualizing this figure, CRU said that “in 2015, Australia was the largest producer of lithium and accounted for around 40% of global lithium supply.”

It added that lithium production capacity will increase, meaning that the country is expected to maintain its position as one of the largest lithium producers in the long term.

Location is key for Australia, as CRU explained that the country enjoys investment from “downstream players such as battery manufacturers in Asian countries.” Considering that lithium is not currently traded on any major commodities or futures exchanges, shoring up future supply is crucial.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.


INTERVIEW: Stria Lithium Discusses Revolutionary Lithium Extraction Method

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 4:07 PM on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014


Welcome to Beyond The Press Release a production of AGORACOM in which we take the time to speak with Small Cap Executives about recent company developments. With us today is Julien Davy, President and Chief Operating Officer of Stria Lithium. The company is aiming to become one of the lowest cost producers in the world for battery- grade technology lithium through partnerships, licensing and joint ventures  which are critical for high-technology green energy industries such as consumer electronics, energy storage and military.

Hub On AGORACOM / Corporate Website / Watch Interview Now!

Stria Validates Its Pontax Lithium Mineralization as Feedstock for a Novel, Low-Cost, Environmentally Sustainable Chlorination-based Pilot Plant Process

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 10:03 AM on Monday, October 20th, 2014

OTTAWA, ONTARIO–(Oct. 20, 2014) – Stria Lithium Inc. (TSX VENTURE:SRA) (“Stria” or the “Company”) is pleased to report the completion of a dense media separation study (“DMS”) demonstrating the mineralogical quality of spodumene mineralization from its wholly-owned Pontax Lithium Project in the James Bay Region of Northern Quebec.

The mineralization will be used to feed Stria’s pilot plant using novel technologies for purification purposes. Pilot plant operations are scheduled for early 2015.

In April 2014, Stria conducted a surface sampling program at its Pontax property to collect 100kg of spodumene mineralization. The aim of the program was to demonstrate the mineralization was amenable to conventional processing techniques and; to validate that spodumene concentrate could be used with conventional DMS or gravity separation techniques to feed the proposed pilot plant.

Mineralogical and metallurgical testing was undertaken by SGS Canada at their Lakefield, Ontario facilities. It included sample preparation, head sample analysis, mineralogical analysis, heavy liquid separation (“HLS”) tests and the grindability characterization. Upon completion of the gravity separation tests, dense media separation and magnetic separation were conducted to improve the grade and recovery of the spodumene.

SGS reported that conventional HLS processes indicated the Pontax mineralization can generate an initial spodumene concentrate recovery of 53.9% Li grading at 6.03% Li2O. With fine portions added, the total spodumene concentrate is capable of achieving 94.9% Li purity.

Work continues at SGS using a small parallel flotation circuit to upgrade the middlings and to improve overall recoveries and lithium purity. HLS testing also demonstrated it was possible to reject 61% of the original mass as mainly silicate gangue with a resulting Li loss of only 5.1% of that mass.

“We are very pleased with these metallurgical test results,” said Stria President and Chief Operating Officer Julien Davy. “They confirm our Pontax spodumene mineralization is a viable feedstock for a planned 2015 pilot plant.

“Our next milestone will be to demonstrate our proprietary technologies – as we designed them – are capable of producing high grade Li-metal, Li-carbonate or Li-hydroxide products with significant economies realized within a low chemical consumption environment,” said Mr. Davy.

“The greatest cost in producing lithium compounds and products are attached to processing and purification. Stria’s business model holds a ‘technology-first’ bias aimed at building a disruptive, competitive advantage into both our spodumene and brine operations,” Mr. Davy added.

About Stria Lithium Inc.

Stria Lithium (TSX VENTURE:SRA) owns the Pontax spodumene lithium property in Northern Quebec and the Willcox brine lithium property in southeastern Arizona. As announced in January 2014, Stria is developing proprietary, in-house processing technologies for both projects with the purpose of reducing processing costs on an environmentally sustainable basis.

Stria’s technologies, based on recovering lithium metal directly from mineralization and from brine liquids, will be more efficient, will require fewer controls, less chemistry and require less energy from compact facilities designed to enable easy automation.

Qualified Person: This news release has been reviewed and approved by Mr. Julien Davy, P.Geo., M.Sc., MBA, President and COO of Stria and a Qualified Person under NI 43-101 Guidelines.

Forward Looking Statement – Disclaimer

This news release may contain forward-looking statements, being statements which are not historical facts, and discussions of future plans and objectives. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove accurate. Such statements are necessarily based upon a number of estimates and assumptions that are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results and future events to differ materially from those anticipated or projected. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the Company’s expectations are in our documents filed from time to time with the TSX Venture Exchange and provincial securities regulators, most of which are available at

Stria Lithium Inc.
Mr. Julien Davy
President and COO

IPad Boom Strains Lithium Supplies After Prices Triple

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 5:20 PM on Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

IPad Boom Strains Lithium Supplies After Prices Triple

Investors from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to BlackRock Inc. are trying to make money from the exploding popularity of iPads and increasing sales of hybrid cars by investing in producers of lithium for batteries.

Prices for the conductive metal, the lightest in the periodic table, have tripled since 2000 in a market now worth $1 billion a year as uses expand in vehicles, ceramics, electronics and lubricants. Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), maker of the Prius electric-gasoline car, have few alternatives as they pursue higher performance and mobility, leading Dahlman Rose & Co. analysts to forecast lithium demand will double by 2020.

Talison Lithium Ltd. (TLH), whose shares had gained 22 percent in the month before today, together with Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA, Rockwood Holdings Inc. and FMC Corp. (FMC), account for almost 95 percent of world supply. Rio Tinto Group (RIO), the third- biggest mining company, may join the largest suppliers if it goes ahead with a mine in Serbia it says is capable of producing 20 percent of global output of the metal.

“There are some companies now that we think are attractive to get a hold of lithium exposure,” Evy Hambro, who manages about $13 billion in mining stocks for BlackRock in London, said in an interview. “We’ve got a small exposure today and we’re looking for some more,” he said without naming any companies.

Demand for lithium-ion rechargeable batteries out of Asia has helped prices climb threefold in the last 12 years, London- based Roskill Information Services Ltd. analyst Robert Baylis said. Global use doubled from 2000 to 2011 according to Roskill, which has recently consulted on six lithium projects.

Lithium Oligopoly

The advantage of lithium-ion over other battery types is that a typical cell can generate more electricity than competing cells such as lead-acid. There is about 1.7 grams (0.6 ounce) of lithium carbonate equivalent in a mobile phone, 2.1 grams in a smart phone and 20 grams in a tablet, according to Dahlman Rose.

There will be a “step change” in the global lithium industry in 2016 or 2017 when electric cars became more commonplace, Rockwood (ROC) Chief Executive Officer Seifollah Ghasemi said. Hybrid electric vehicles that are fitted with a lithium- ion battery contain about 1.3 kilograms (2.9 pounds) of the material, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have about 12.8 kilograms, while an electric vehicle uses about 19.2 kilograms.

The four-strong lithium “oligopoly has the capacity to significantly ramp supply higher, but it will take time and significant capital to accomplish,” Dahlman Rose analysts Anthony Young and Anthony Rizzuto said in a May 16th report. “There are a limited number of known high-grade resources that can be economically extracted and there has not been a new lithium mine constructed in the last 25 years.”

Biggest Producer

Global consumption may jump to 300,000 metric tons a year by 2020 from about 150,000 tons now, Dahlman Rose said June 7. Demand for lithium batteries has been growing at about 25 percent a year, outpacing the 4 percent to 5 percent overall gain in lithium, the firm said.

“Anywhere between a doubling and a tripling of demand in the next 10 years is absolutely our view,” Peter Oliver, CEO of Talison, the biggest producer, said in an interview. “Maybe a doubling is with minimal impact from electric vehicles, and if electric vehicles take off in a big way in the next 10 years it could be as much as tripling.”

Neil Gregson, manager of about $6.9 billion in natural resource assets at JPMorgan Asset Management, said in an interview in London he’s studying investing in the industry. “You can’t see any reason why that won’t be a high growth market for many, many years. It’s a very interesting area.”

Ponce, Kravis

Rio is researching the development of its Jadar lithium- boron operation at a time when other suppliers are expanding output to meet rising demand. Talison, the Perth-based company with a market share of about 32 percent, completed an expansion at its Greenbushes mine in Western Australia this month that has allowed it to double production capacity.

SQM, controlled by billionaire Julio Ponce, is the second- largest, followed by Rockwood, which is backed by Henry Kravis’s KKR & Co., and Philadelphia-based FMC. SQM stock has risen 2.1 percent this year, Rockwood 17 percent and FMC 20 percent. Talison rose as much as 12 percent today in Toronto, the biggest intraday gain in more than three months.

Chile, the second-biggest producing country behind Australia, last week said it will award 20-year concessions to exploit lithium brine in salt lakes. The plan allows developers to mine as much as 100,000 metric tons of the mineral over two decades, said Pablo Wagner, a government undersecretary.

Rio’s Jadar project is in pre-feasibility, which involves conducting studies to better understand the parameters of the deposit and any social and environmental impacts, the company said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Rio ‘Excited’

Lithium is “going to be so critical to that future world of electric vehicles and hybrids,” Tom Albanese, CEO of Rio Tinto, said April 19 in London. “We’ve got a lot of interest from Japanese companies, from Korean companies that actually want to be in the forefront of hybrid and lithium technologies, so I’m actually pretty excited about the project.”

Toyota’s Prius, a niche vehicle when it went on sale 15 years ago, jumped to the world’s third best-selling car line in the first quarter as U.S. demand and incentives in Japan turned the hybrid into a mainstream hit. In the quarter, sales soared to 247,230 cars. While most Priuses sold so far feature a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, the latest model plug-in hybrid contains a lithium-ion battery supplied by Panasonic Corp.

“It’s less than 1 percent of the market now,” Talison’s Oliver said of lithium’s use in batteries for electric vehicles. “We do tend to try and portray a fairly conservative view, but if some of these new technologies take off, it’s going to be a very exciting time for us.”

Tablet Computers

Since the start of Prius sales in Japan in 1997, Toyota has sold 4 million hybrid-electric vehicles worldwide, including 1.5 million in the U.S., the company said May 22.

The global market for tablet computers is growing faster than expected, with Apple’s iPad widening its lead as consumers’ top choice, market researcher International Data Corp. said June. 14. Worldwide shipments of tablets this year will be 107.4 million units, up from an earlier projection of 106.1 million, Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC said.

Worldwide shipments of tablets should reach 142.8 million next year and 222.1 million by 2016, according to IDC.

“One can claim that without lithium, the whole mobile technology would not have been possible,” Rockwood’s Ghasemi told a Deutsche Bank AG conference June 13. “You use the product every single day.”

Golden Goose

Battery-maker A123 Systems Inc. (AONE) rose 52 percent in New York trading on June 12 after saying it had developed an improved lithium-ion cell that can cut costs of rechargeable and hybrid vehicles. The new cells will be produced next year and can perform better in extreme heat and cold than competing packs, it said.

Expanding battery sales to automakers is seen as the “golden goose” for the lithium industry, according to Roskill, and has spurred new entrants such as Galaxy Resources Ltd. and underpinned expansions by existing producers. Lithium-ion batteries are the biggest application for the material, accounting for about 22 percent of use.

“This is an industry which is consumer led,” Iggy Tan, managing director of Australia’s Galaxy, which made the first sale of a lithium product last month, said in an interview from Perth. “Once it takes off it’s a bit like mobile phones, it’s exponential.”

Plug-in Sedans

A123 supplies batteries for General Motors Co. (GM)’s Spark electric car, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW 5 Series hybrid sedan, rechargeable and hybrid cars from China’s SAIC Motor Corp. (600104), buses made by Daimler AG and Volvo AB, and delivery trucks built by Smith Electric Vehicles Corp.

General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt was the best-selling rechargeable auto in the U.S. in May, topping the Prius and Nissan Motor Co.’s all-electric Leaf hatchback. Deliveries of the GM plug-in sedan more than tripled in the month.

Suppliers of lithium have benefited as some car-makers switch from older model nickel-cadmium batteries to lithium-ion.

“It’s really a new technology and it’s taken some time to take hold,” Jonathan Lee, a battery materials and technologies analyst at Byron Capital Markets in Toronto, said in an interview. “Everything is going to lithium-ion whether or not it was nickel-cadmium in the beginning or not.”

Rockwood on May 14 proposed a price increase of $1,000 a ton, or about 22 percent, for lithium salt sold to customers in the year starting July 1. It said the higher price would allow it to fund expansion of its mines. Talison’s Oliver said he raised prices 15 percent in the first half and expects to increase prices again in the second half.

Hockey Stick

SQM, based in Santiago, said May 30 that sales from its lithium unit rose 12 percent in the first quarter to $47.5 million after prices gained 16 percent. Prices for lithium peaked in 2007 before declining through to 2010, according to Roskill.

Galaxy, which sells to customers including Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. (8058), is positioning itself for what Tan describes as potential “hockey stick-shaped” growth in demand for lithium batteries. It has built a A$100 million ($102 million) lithium carbonate plant in China to better serve Asian customers and made the first sale from the operation last month.

Galaxy is seeking to complete an all-share takeover of Lithium One Inc. (LI) valuing it at about C$112 million ($110 million) to add the Sal de Vida project in Argentina.

“The outlook for lithium is very strong in light of some of the uncertainty of other metals such as copper and many of the industrial metals,” Byron Capital’s Lee said. “Lithium has grown roughly at 10 to 15 percent over the past two years on a per-annum basis. We’re having another strong year this year.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jesse Riseborough in London at


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