Eye on Lithium: Analysts say EV’s are still hot for growth; Albermarle and Ford think so too
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All your lithium news, Tuesday, May 23.
Electric vehicles are the flavour of the day, with a couple of big announcements by major car makers and materials providers hitting the market.
US lithium giant Albemarle has inked a deal with Ford Motor Company to supply lithium hydroxide (LiOH) to the carmaker in a five-year deal.
Albemarle will supply 100,000t of LiOH that will go into about 3 million Ford EV batteries.
It is unknown if the refined lithium will come from Australia, however we do know the producer has committed to doubling capacity at its Kemerton plant in WA.
“With the growing demand for EVs in the United States, our customers are seeking to regionalise their supply chain for greater security, sustainability and lower costs,” Albemarle’s energy storage president Eric Norris noted.
In addition to the lithium hydroxide supply, Albemarle and Ford will explore collaborations to develop a closed-loop solution for lithium-ion battery recycling.
This is in line with Albemarle’s announced commitment that will only supply lithium hydroxide sourced from mines that have been accredited through an audit based on the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), a standard developed by NGOs, affected local communities and workers, among others.
Meanwhile, oil and gas major ExxonMobil just bought a chunk of land in lithium-rich Arkansas for US$100 million.
It acquired the 120,000 acre Smackover formation project from US explorer Galvanic Energy, which is purported to contain 4 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent.
ExxonMobil has long touted diversifying its portfolio to expose it to rapidly growing markets such as lithium and other battery metals, however its main focus will remain on hydrocarbons.
You’d think Exxon would have released its own statement to the market about its shift into battery material production, yet so far it has declined to comment on the purchase.
New research from Thematica says that the notion of fading EV sales fails to capture the complete picture, as it reckons what may appear as fading demand is actually established seasonal patterns observed year-on-year (YoY).
They prefer to assess demand based on previous corresponding quarterly periods, such as impressive January to April sales of 776,631 EV’s indicating a YoY growth rate of 94.3% compared to the same period last year.
They estimate 14.7 million EV units will be sold this year, compared to 10.8m units in 2022.
29 lithium stocks rose on the ASX today, the biggest winners on news, while 54 did not change and 66 fell, or fell further.
Many a drill will be active at FBM’s projects next month, in both North America and Western Australia.
The lithium explorer is targeting extensions into thick lithium claystone at its Nevada project in the US, and at the same time conducting further metallurgical work at Kangaroo Hills.
Extensions at Nevada were first brought to light at the Western Flats region of the project area, when back in April the team intercepted major hits in a maiden drilling program.
Of note, hole WF23-011 struck 109.7m @ 766 parts per million (ppm) Li from 135.6m depth to end of hole and 44.2m @ 570ppm Li from 169.2m at hole WF23-006.
The 3,000m Phase 2 RC drilling will extend those holes, and, based on regional mapping observations, the company’s geos believe there’s high potential for shallow mineralisation to extent south and west to its Lone Mountain prospect.
On top of this, between two and four RC drill holes will test the regional Heller prospect for Li claystone potential too.
FBM has now expanded its project area at Nevada with an additional 36 new claims contiguous to Western Flats and Lone Mountain.
Its share price has more than doubled since the start of April.
OCN is pushing forward with its Brazilian Solonopole lithium project, announcing a 3,000m scout drilling program to test near-surface deposits.
RC drilling will focus on the Bom Jesus de Baixo pegmatite where spodumene mineralisation has been identified.
Back in Australia, the explorer completed spectral surveyance at its Napperby project in the NT, confirming mapped pegmatite outcrops and found several new major pegmatite dykes previously unknown.
Oceana plans to follow up with infill drilling at both its Brazilian and Northern Territory deposits.
PNN has released an initial JORC 2012 mineral resource for its Incahuasi lithium-brine lake at the Salta lithium project in Argentina.
The maiden resource estimate has Incahausi containing 249,308t of LCE @ 198mg per litre – more than doubling Salta’s total JORC mineral resource to 488,308t LCE.
Salta contains five salt lakes across seven mining leases that cover a total project region of 147.07km2.
“The maiden JORC Mineral Resource at Incahuasi is a significant milestone for Power as we seek to become a leading lithium brine developer in Argentina,” PNN MD Mena Habib commented.
It is an excellent result in both size and quality, that ‘adds value’ and positions Power with several development and corporate options.
The resource was based on strong, consistent technical results and is a significant addition to our lithium resource inventory at the Salta Project.
PNN said it’s moving ahead with further resource upgrade work at the project.
“Drilling is ongoing at the Rincon salar, with the results to be included in a further upgrade of the Salta mineral resource,” Habib said.
The company is also proving up a maiden JORC resource at its Laguna Verde project, so stay tuned for updates on that one.