The EV market has sent lithium companies soaring as projected demand has gone over the top in the last quarter. Another innovation in fast charging battery technology could only mean good things for lithium battery life.

New Super Fast Charging Lithium Battery Unveiled Upping the Stakes for Li-on Market

Contributed by | USA News Group

The electric vehicle market seems poised for another wave of expansion as battery technology improves to efficiency levels never seen before, thanks to innovations being unveiled by the likes of Toshiba.

The EV market has sent lithium companies soaring as projected demand has gone over the top in the last quarter. Another innovation in fast charging battery technology could only mean good things for lithium battery life.

Lithium companies are grappling to keep up with the increased demand including FMC (NYSE: FMC), Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB), Orocobre Ltd. (OTC: OROCF) and QMC Quantum Minerals (TSXV: QMC) (OTC: QMCQF).

Dubbed the "new gasoline" for its ability to power EVs and other energy hungry devices, lithium is getting all the attention right now, but this also raises questions about producers' ability to keep up with the staggering growth.

Based the recent breakthroughs, it appears that lithium producers are going to have to up their efforts including Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB), a leader in the space, FMC (NYSE: FMC), a large lithium producer in South America, as well as Nemaska Lithium Inc., the Canadian lithium company with fast growing interests in the James Bay, Quebecregion.

Lithium resources are found in salars or salt brine resources in South AmericaAustralia, and China, as well as hard-rock mineral resources in Canada.

Emerging Canadian lithium miner QMC Quantum Minerals (TSXV: QMC) (OTC: QMCQF), has already launched two separate hard rock projects in Manitoba's established lithium areas and is seeing early results from its efforts.

 

FAST CHARGE LI-ION COULD BE VERY BIG 

Toshiba recently unveiled a li-ion battery which they claim charges fully in just six minutes, delivering a 200-mile range on a full charge.

This is a big leap from Tesla's current configuration which takes up to an hour to charge fully.

Toshiba's next generation SCiB lithium ion battery replaces the conventional lithium titanium oxide anode with a titanium niobium oxide anode. The new battery maintains the longevity of the previous older configuration, promising a life cycle of 14 years, assuming a full charge and discharge cycle per day.

The new technology will be feeding an already accelerating EV market that is led by Tesla and a host of European and Asian carmakers.

Tesla has taken the EV industry by the scruff of its neck, multiplying not only car production, but also interest in EVs, a wave that other electric car manufacturers have been keen to ride. In the next few years it is expected that Tesla will have put over a million EVs on the road, while European giants Volvo and Volkswagen have made commitments to turn to electric vehicles as their main products in the near future.

In China, the world's largest car market, the EV revolution has well and truly hit top gear, with nearly 500,000 EVs being sold last year alone.

Governments around the world have also been pushing for the EV revolution, with bans on petroleum and diesel cars coming into effect as part of the Paris Climate Agreement to cut emissions.

According to Global X research, global revenue from lithium-ion battery sales is anticipated to post a compound annual growth rate of 43.1% in reaching a projected $36.5 billion by 2020.

 

BETTER BATTERIES MEAN MORE DEMAND 

This expected upturn in EV adoption has implications on the value of battery metals, in particular lithium.

The world's annual EV production is expected to balloon from 1 million today to over 25 million by 2030, which means that the world will need a lot more batteries. Currently there are constraints on lithium mining, which has kept supply relatively low despite an abundance of ore resources.

Despite the solid lithium resources in South America and Australia, new battery technology and demand make it apparent that new mining resources will be a necessity to fill the coming demand for lithium worldwide.

Analysts warn that better battery technology and improvements like Toshiba's will not solve an expected shortfall in lithium.

 

FOR QMC QUANTUM MINERALS LOCATION IS KEY 

Canadian miner QMC Quantum Minerals has been assembling mineral interests since 2010, but made the move into lithium with the acquisition of its Cat Lake Lithium Property (formerly known as the Irgon Mine) in 2016.

The company has been moving ahead of the curve on lithium production and has laid their claim to a former lithium mine site in mining friendly Manitoba.

Cat Lake is located just 20km from the world class Tanco Mine Property, previously North America's largest and sole producer of spodumene (Li), tantalite (Ta) and pollucite (Cs) rare minerals.

Between 1953-1954 the Lithium Corporation of Canada Limited drilled 25 holes into the Cat Lake property's Irgon Dike and reported a historical resource estimate of 1.2 million tonnes (metric) grading 1.51% Li20 over a strike length of 365 meters and to a depth of 213 meters.

QMC's geological team believes the historical drill result is accurate and so is quickly pursuing a drilling program and preparing to update this historical resource to industry's (NI 43-101) standards, making the results current.

The geological team just reported samples with greater than 2% Lithium within the Irgon Lithium Mine Property, and sent 104 new samples for processing.

 

BATTERY POWER SUPERCYCLE 

Lithium mining is capital intensive and mining companies are reluctant to put in capital based on expectations alone. As such, the lithium supply is not expected to meet demand until the price rises to a level that miners feel justifies colossal capital outlays.

This is an economic phenomenon that has been witnessed with many commodities, very recently with copper. These commodity supercycles begin with an underestimation of a commodity's demand, which initially keeps the price low. The delayed mining capacity expansion causes a large spike in the price of the commodity, which entices mining companies to set expand mining operations.

A similar spike seems to be in the offing with lithium, which could see a big need for EV production met. Investment in lithium is therefore a very attractive bet at the moment.

And new technologies that could overcome former barriers, such as fast charging cells, can only mean a faster adoption of what appears to be an inevitable switch to EVs using lithium and similar technologies.

 

POTENTIAL COMPARABLES 

FMC (NYSE: FMC)

FMC Corp. is a Philadelphia-based chemical company which is swiftly ramping up its lithium production. Last year, FMC said it was planning to triple lithium hydroxide production capacity by 2019. The first phase of the plan has already started. FMC management also said that it was not ruling out the possibility to spin-off FMC's lithium segment as a separate publicly owned company. BofAMerrill Lynch recently upgraded FMC stock to "Buy" from "Underperform," increasing the price target to $103.00 from $66.

 

Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB)

Albemarle Corporation is a global developer, manufacturer and marketer of highly-engineered specialty chemicals. The Company operates through three segments: Lithium and Advanced Materials, Bromine Specialties and Refining Solutions. Lithium and Advanced Materials segment consist of two product categories: Lithium and Performance Catalyst Solutions. The bromine and bromine-based business includes products used in fire safety solutions and other specialty chemicals applications. The Company serves various end markets, including petroleum refining, consumer electronics, energy storage, construction, automotive, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, crop protection, food safety and custom chemistry services. As of December 31, 2016, the Company and its joint ventures operated 31 production and research and development (R&D) facilities, as well as a number of administrative and sales offices, around the world.

 

Orocobre Ltd. (OTC: OROCF)

Orocobre Limited operates primarily in Argentina in the mining industry. The Company engages in the production ramp up of its Olaroz Lithium Facility and the operation of Borax Argentina S.A. (Borax Argentina). Its segments include Corporate, the Olaroz project, South American Salars and Borax Argentina. Its primary focus is on exploration for and development of lithium, potash and salar mineral deposits. The Company's assets also include boron mines and processing facilities of Borax Argentina and a portfolio of brine exploration projects. Its Olaroz Lithium Facility is located in the Puna region of Jujuy Province in northern Argentina, over 230 kilometers northwest of the capital city of Jujuy.

 

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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