Market Overview

Global Push for Electric Vehicles are Rapidly Growing the Lithium Market


Global Push for Electric Vehicles are Rapidly Growing the Lithium Market News Commentary

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, July 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

According to the data compiled by TechSci Research, the global lithium-ion battery market is projected to grow at a CAGR of more than 17% during the forecast period of 2016 to 2021. The growing demand for the batteries is attributable to the increased production of portable and stationary energy storage, environmental concerns as well as the growing number of solar and wind projects. Lithium-ion batteries are becoming more attractive to manufacturers due to their high energy density and rechargeability. The batteries are also environmentally efficient, as opposed to other forms of batteries that are usually disposed of after their use. Currently, the demand is driven by the consumer electronics market, but with the rise in electric vehicles, the market is projected to see major growth. MGX Minerals Inc. (OTC:MGXMF), Lithium Americas Corp. (NYSE:LAC), FMC Corporation (NYSE:FMC), Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE:SQM), Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB)

Electric vehicles, powered by lithium-ion batteries, are becoming one of the fastest growing clean energy markets around the globe. In 2015, nearly 95% of the hybrid electric vehicles globally ran on lithium-ion batteries. Some manufacturers still use lead-acid batteries, but due to the larger energy density in lithium-ion batteries, lead-acid batteries are beginning to become obsolete. Now, national governments are urging automotive manufacturers to begin transitioning their production line to electric vehicles from traditional diesel vehicles. Many auto companies have pledged to begin putting in place production lines that are solely dedicated to electric vehicles for a cleaner environment, which will naturally set demand growing for lithium-ion batteries. "We are at the transition between lead-acid batteries, the tried-and-true technology used for decades, and lithium-ion's promise of higher density, improved resiliency, and longer cycle life," said Joe O'Connor, Senior Application Engineer at Mercedes-Benz Energy according to Medium.

MGX Minerals Inc. (OTC:MGXMF) is also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker (CSE:XMG). Yesterday, the Company announced that, "it has entered into an Option Agreement (the "Agreement") with A.I.S. Resources (TSX.V: AIS) to acquire an 80% interest in the Salinitas lithium brine mining tenements ("Salinitas" or the "Project") located in the lithium triangle of Argentina, Salar de Salinas Grandes, Province of Salta. The 4,308-hectare contiguous land package resides in the Puna region of northwest Argentina near the border of Chile, an area renowned for its lithium and potassium rich brine resources.

The surface elevation of the Salinas Grandes Salar is approximately 3,400 meters above sea level. The Salar forms a composite closed basin with internal drainage, where discharge occurs by evaporation. Water inflow into the Salar is produced by precipitation, superficial and groundwater incursions. MGX plans to conduct a Transient Electromagnetic Method (TEM) geophysical study along with trenching, which will be followed by a drill program along the edge of the Salar, to test for shallow, near-surface brines and determine locations with anomalous concentrations of lithium.

To secure the Option Agreement, MGX has agreed to pay USD 250,000 on or before July 31st, 2018. The Company can acquire an undivided 80% in the Project at any time during the Agreement by making payments totaling USD 3.2 Million. MGX has also agreed to incur total expenditures of at least USD 1.2 Million prior to May 31st, 2020.

Rapid Lithium Brine Extraction Technology: MGX has developed a rapid lithium extraction technology eliminating or greatly reducing the physical footprint and investment in large, multi-phase, lake-sized, lined evaporation ponds, as well as enhancing the quality of extraction and recovery across a complex range of brines as compared with traditional solar evaporation. This technology is applicable to petrolithium (oil and gas wastewater), natural brine, and other brine sources such as lithium-rich mine and industrial plant wastewater. The technology was recently chosen as the winner of the Base and Specialty Metals Industry Leadership Award at the 2018 S&P Global Platts Global Metals Awards, held in London in May (see press release dated May 18, 2018)."

Lithium Americas Corp. (NYSE:LAC) is developing the Cauchari-Olaroz lithium project, located in Jujuy, Argentina, through its 50% interest in Minera Exar. The Company recently provided the results of a Preliminary Feasibility Study for the Thacker Pass lithium project in Humboldt County, Nevada. The PFS, prepared and approved by WorleyParsons Canada Inc., demonstrates a design capacity of 60,000 tons per annum ("tpa") of battery-grade lithium carbonate with an initial production capacity of 30,000 tpa and increasing to 60,000 tpa. The PFS supports a proven and probable reserve estimate of 179.4 Million tons of ore with an average grade of 3,283 parts per Million lithium ("ppm Li") containing 3.1 Million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent. "Thacker Pass is an important complement to our Cauchari-Olaroz lithium joint venture currently under construction in Jujuy, Argentina. The PFS reflects the substantial synergies and value realized from leveraging the talent and operating expertise of our largest shareholder, Ganfeng Lithium," commented Tom Hodgson, CEO of Lithium Americas.

FMC Corporation (NYSE:FMC) serves the global agricultural, industrial and consumer markets with innovative solutions, applications and quality products. FMC employs approximately 7,000 people throughout the world and operates its businesses in two segments: FMC Agricultural Solutions and FMC Lithium. The Company recently announced that Sara Ponessa has been appointed general counsel for FMC Lithium, effective June 1, 2018. She will report to Paul Graves, who previously was announced as CEO of the new Lithium business upon its planned IPO in October. Sara Ponessa brings nearly 20 years of experience in corporate law, including mergers and acquisitions, licensing, compliance, and legal requirements associated with commercial operations and business development. Ponessa was most recently senior business counsel for FMC Lithium.

Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE:SQM) SQM´s business strategy is to be a global company, with people committed to excellence, dedicated to the extraction of minerals and selectively integrated in the production and sale of products for the industries essential for human development (e.g. food, health, technology). In late May, the Company held a conference call to discuss the first quarter 2018 results, which were published on May 23rd, 2018. "Over the past two years, we have been selling more lithium than our nameplate capacity pressuring our production and logistics, thus reducing inventories. As a result of this, we reported lower sales volumes of lithium during the first quarter. These lower sales volumes will not impact our 2018 expectations of approximately 55,000 MT, about 10% higher than amounts reported last year. The price pressure in the lithium market is a result of growing demand, which is expected to reach almost 260,000 MT this year, a 20% increase over last year. Given this, and long-term lithium expectations, we announced plans to increase our lithium production in Chile from 48,000 MT/year (our current capacity) to 180,000 MT/year."

Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB) is a global specialty chemicals company with leading positions in lithium, bromine and refining catalysts. Earlier this year, the Company announced that as expected, it has received approval from Chile'sEconomic Development Agency (CORFO) for an increase in the company's lithium quota to sustainably increase Albemarle's lithium production in Chile to as much as 145,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) annually through 2043. As previously announced, this quota increase will be enabled by the company's deployment of innovative technology to extract more lithium without the need for additional brine pumping at the Salar de Atacama. Albemarle's new brine yield technology coupled with the terms of this CORFO quota increase will result in similar cost and margin structure to what Albemarle has with its current production processes.

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