Eye on Lithium: Elon Musk says Tesla might have to get into mining because of ‘insane’ lithium prices
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All your ASX lithium news for Monday, April 11.
Elon Musk has tweeted that Tesla might have to actually get into lithium mining and refining because of sky high prices and a long lead time to production.
Price of lithium has gone to insane levels! Tesla might actually have to get into the mining & refining directly at scale, unless costs improve.
There is no shortage of the element itself, as lithium is almost everywhere on Earth, but pace of extraction/refinement is slow.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 8, 2022
Musk was responding to a tweet showing the price has increased around 1653% since 2012.
But it’s not the first time the EV giant has looked to mine its own lithium.
In 2020 Tesla secured its own rights to mine lithium in Nevada after a deal to buy a lithium miner fell through, but it was a clay deposit which is difficult to produce commercial quantities from.
It’s unclear what direction the EV giant will take or if more manufacturers will follow in Tesla’s footsteps.
Earlier this month Benchmark Minerals Intelligence boss Simon Moores flagged that EV makers need to get become miners if they want to secure supply and manufacture at scale.
“If OEMs don’t get a grip on this soon … raw materials prices will continue to go up,” he said.
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A total of 28 stocks were in the green today, with 21 flatlining and a whopping 62 in the red.
Lake has secured an offtake proposal with global motoring giant Ford with a non-binding MoU for approximately 25,000tpa of lithium from its Kachi project in Argentina.
It means all of Kachi’s planned 50,000tpa capacity will be covered by offtake proposals after the announcement last month of a 25,000tpa supply deal with Japan’s Hanwa Co., although negotiations are continuing with both parties as both are non binding MoU’s.
“Both Lake and Ford see this as an opportunity for a potential long-term agreement with the ability to scale up environmentally responsible production and participate in Lake’s other projects to ensure high-quality lithium products are available to Ford,” Lake managing director Steve Promnitz said.
“This MoU with Ford supports Lake’s strategy to be a key independent supplier into global lithium supply chains and ensure the security of supply to customers.”
The company has identified a pegmatite outcrop at its South Iron Cap East prospect, part of its flagship Forrestania project in WA.
“While it is still only early days in terms of our exploration efforts at South Iron Cap East and more broadly across the Forrestania Project this is an excellent outcome and continues to reinforce the company’s view that the Forrestania Project is highly prospective for discoveries of lithium, gold and nickel,” CEO Angus Thomson said.
The pegamatite was within a previously identified tantalum soil anomaly – and tantalum is a key exploration pathfinder element for lithium discoveries.
Plus, the prospect is in the Goldilocks exploration corridor and is only ~1km from significant lithium mineralisation intersected in drilling completed by Western Areas (ASX:WSA) at its South Iron Cap prospect.
Core has picked up the Shoobridge project, around 80kms from its Finnish project in the NT – subject to NT Ministerial consent.
Shoobridge contains historic pegmatite tin-tantalum surface workings which have not been tested for their lithium potential.
It also represents an opportunity for the company to increase its lithium resources.
“While we are firmly focussed on developing the Finniss Lithium Project, we are excited by projects such as Shoobridge that provide synergies and complementary lithium growth opportunities,” MD Stephen Biggins said.
“The expected increases in resources from this deal and our well-funded resource drill programs at Finniss this year should provide a strong platform for extending and expanding lithium production from the project as lithium prices continue to rise.”
Key conditions precedent for the formation of the JV between POSCO and Pilbara Minerals to construct and operate a 43ktpa LHM primary lithium hydroxide chemical processing facility (Conversion Facility) in Gwanyang, South Korea are now satisfied,
It’s part of the company’s goal to become a fully integrated lithium raw materials company, plus it provides exposure to the rapidly growing South Korean lithium chemicals market.
The total funding requirement for the JV is now expected to be approximately US$750-800M, around US$670-720M will be for the development of the facility.
PLS has now filed its foreign investment report with the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and received the necessary approval for its initial 18% investment in the JV Company, with a completion date of mid-April expected.
Detailed engineering underway and major civil and construction works are expected to commence in the June 2022 Quarter, with commissioning planned from late 2023.
In Feb, the company picked up the Taylor Lookout lithium-tantalum project in WA and today announced it had satisfied due diligence.
Plus, EFE identified numerous outcropping pegmatites during the site visit and has planned a 12 month work program with field work expected to begin in May.
Results received from the company’s latest two diamond drill holes at the Salinas Lithium Project have returned a peak of 2.0m at 3.07% Li2O.
The results have also confirmed the thickening of the logged pegmatites to the south.
And one drill hole confirmed the continuation of spodumene bearing pegmatites over a strike extent approaching one kilometre – which LRS says indicates a possible link of a mineralised system to the south target and could expand the strike considerably.
Planning for additional drill testing is being carried out to test this middle zone.
MinRex has identified large pegmatites hosting visible Spodumene and Lepidolite over the Tambourah North Project area in the East Pilbara.
Rock chip assays have confirmed lithium-tantalum mineralisation, including 2.56% lithium oxide, 1.59% lithium, 105 ppm caesium, 80 ppm tantalum, 40 ppm niobium, 100 ppm tin, 1,293 ppm rubidium.
“The high-grade lithium-tantalum-caesium-rubidium rock chip assay results indicates enrichment of fertile pegmatite field,” MD George Karageorge said.
“These rich spodumene stacked pegmatites have extensive width, strike and zonation which have all the hallmarks of a potential Pilgangoora Lithium Deposit.
“MinRex is currently working on the first RC drill program to test the extensive stacked pegmatites over its project areas with a view of signing a drilling contractor to undertake drilling over the projects imminently.”
The company anticipates drilling will commence in the second quarter of 2022.