Eye on Lithium: China’s looking to lock in supplies
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All your ASX lithium news for Monday, March 7.
The competition for lithium supplies is poised to become even more interesting with the heads of China’s largest battery manufacturers calling on the government to strengthen the country’s supply chain.
Tianqi Lithium chairman Jiang Weiping told China’s annual parliamentary session that extraction of lithium resources in the southwestern Sichuan province – home to the country’s richest and most accessible deposits – should be expedited.
Meanwhile, Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL) Chairman Zeng Yuqun called on China to accelerate the exploration and development of lithium resources, encourage independent scientific and technological research, and improve the level of resource recycling.
Accelerating domestic production to secure supplies seems sensible when you consider that China currently relies on imports for three quarters of its lithium.
If successful, this might well reduce this reliance on imports and potentially reduce competition.
But that is not to say China is entirely abandoning external sources of lithium, as highlighted by CATL’s own (losing) bid for Canada’s Millennial Lithium Corp.
Nor is China the only country scrambling for lithium.
The US continues to import the battery metal at record rates with S&P Global flagging imports hit a quarterly record of 103,889 metric tons in the final three months of 2021, up 137% from the same period the previous year.
This strong demand has fuelled a dramatic increase in spot lithium carbonate prices, which rose to $US63,900 in February, that’s up more than 450% on the same time the previous year.
Just 14 stocks were in the green today, with 29 flatlining and 50 in the red.
News from ASX lithium plays was a little sparse today due to the public holiday in Western Australia, but even so, several companies had updates out.
The company is extending its footprint in the Catamarca region in Argentina with its decision to exercise its option to acquire Carolina Lithium.
This will give Xantippe rights to all the shares in Arlupo SA, the holder of the rights to four tenements comprising the Carachi Pampa lithium project.
Carachi Pampa covers 12,400 hectares of ground hosting a paleo salar lithium brine that is suitable for direct lithium exchange processing.
Highlighting its prospectivity, Lake Resources’ (ASX:LKE) neighbouring Kachi project has a JORC resource of 4.4 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent after studying an area of 17,000 hectares with 14 wells.
Flynn has been granted seven exploration licences in Western Australia’s Marda-Diemals greenstone belt that are prospective for gold and lithium mineralisation.
While Marda-Diemals contains known gold and iron deposits, it is underexplored for lithium compared to other belts.
The company will kick start operations with reconnaissance mapping, sampling and geophysics programs.
It is also applying for another seven tenements associated with both the Forrestania and Lake Johnston greenstone belts southeast of Southern Cross.
These belts are the subject of intense lithium exploration due to the discovery of Mt Holland and the known lithium occurrences at Mt. Day, Medcalf and Lake Percy.
Mineralogical test work on a composite sample produced during drilling at Arcadia’s projects in Namibia has identified the Bitterwasser clay mineral as Montmorillonite, similarly to that found in Nevada lithium clays.
This is hugely positive for the company as clays with similar mineralogical composition have shown to be amendable to economic extraction.
Further testing is now underway on the lithium clays to test whether a lithium-rich concentrate can be produced by separating coarser gangue material from the finer lithium-rich clays.
Success is likely to increase the lithium grade of the material to be leached.