2019 was another interesting year for lithium. Here we run through our five most popular lithium news stories.
Lithium had another interesting year, with declining prices and supply chains under the spotlight as the energy revolution continues to unfold.
Developments in the lithium space continued to attract investor attention, with many wondering when prices will reach the bottom and what experts expect in the coming years.
Scroll on to see the five lithium news stories that received the most attention from our audience in 2019. If you missed them when they were first published, we suggest you take a read now.
To meet the demand expected from the battery space, the lithium industry will need US$30 billion invested in upstream capacity, according to Reg Spencer of Canaccord Genuity.
“To put that number into context, the lithium market last year was worth US$4 billion,” he said at a conference in Melbourne. “(To reach US$30 billion) the industry is going to need significant investment from equity markets, from industry participants, to make sure that supply is there when it is needed.”
For Spencer, who is bullish on the long-term future of battery metals, the current market conditions have only exacerbated this underinvestment.
Speaking about the energy storage revolution at this year’s Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention, Simon Moores of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence saiddelays are a given because of the scaling up needed in raw materials supply chains.
But what is the biggest solution to these delays? Investment.
“Nowhere near enough of these lithium companies, or even from the cobalt perspective in the US, but lithium especially … are getting funded,” Moores said. “It’s almost like big investors have had their chance and they’ve turned it down. I can’t work out why you would turn down the biggest trend we will face in the 21st century, which is energy storage.”
The Nemaska news speaks to the difficulties all companies — both developers and established majors — have in bringing new supply into the market, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence Head of Price Assessment Andrew Miller told the Investing News Network (INN) at the time.
“The process of bringing new lithium resources to market is difficult at both a raw material and chemical conversion level,” Miller added. “(The market has) seen this in recent expansion efforts from the likes of SQM (NYSE:SQM) and Albemarle (NYSE:ALB), so it’s likely development-stage companies will run into similar delays.”
If there’s one thing the lithium space seems to agree on, it’s that demand for the metal will rise significantly over the next decade as electric vehicle (EV) uptake continues. However, whether demand for lithium hydroxide will overtake demand for lithium carbonate is an ongoing debate.
The main reason experts anticipate a potential increase in demand for lithium hydroxide is the push toward cathodes with higher nickel content, namely NCM 811 cathodes, which include eight parts nickel, one part cobalt and one part manganese. These cathodes have a higher density, a longer lifespan and provide a better driving range when used in EVs.
Yet despite speculation that this type of cathode would enjoy quick mass adoption, most analysts agree the reality is a bit different — the transition to NCM 811 is taking longer than expected, with costs and safety being the main challenges. Read the article to learn what they had to say.
To get more insight on what’s been happening in the lithium sector, INN caught up with Howard Klein, founder of RK Equity, publisher of the Lithium-ion Bull newsletter and host of the Lithium-ion Rocks! podcast, at this year’s PDAC convention in Toronto.
Speaking about the main trends he had seen so far in the space this year, Klein highlighted the demand forecasts from majors, including Albemarle, Livent (NYSE:LTHM) and SQM.
“Demand forecasts are going up,” he said. “They are all at about 1 million tonnes estimates by 2025.”
Which lithium news stories caught your attention this year? Let us know in the comments section.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: Nemaska Lithium is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.
The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.