Eye on Lithium: Could 2023 be the year demand dynamics replace the supply fixation?
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All your lithium news, February 7.
Automakers face several growing concerns in 2023, but S&P says this may be the year demand side considerations replace the current supply fixation as a worsening global economic outlook and fears of a recession drag EV sales down.
One concern is that recessionary fear and inflationary pressure may force a pivot to lower-tech batteries with cheaper cost structures, therefore compromising vehicle range.
Despite this, lithium prices continue to top the charts and S&P Global Commodity Insights reckons lithium chemical demand could surpass 1.5 million tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent in 2026 from 690,000 tonnes in 2022.
“Market tightness and delays in several projects may help maintain high lithium prices, which could incentivise miners to advance new projects to meet increased demand,” S&P adds.
Energy security concerns could also play a bigger role than just pure demand in determining whether more battery manufacturing projects and/or plants go ahead.
BritishVolt, which went into administration in mid-January has already picked up a potential rescuer with Australia’s Recharge Industries as the preferred bidder to acquire the majority of the business and assets.
While the deal still needs to be finalised, Recharge Industries beat three other offers to acquire the company.
BristishVolt, a UK start-up manufacturer of lithium ion batteries, planned to build a £3.8bln Gigafactory in Blyth, Northumberland to supply the next generation of UK-built electric vehicles before running out of money.
A total of only 34 companies finished in the green, another 47 fell flat and the remaining 56 tumbled into the red.
Shares in EVR surged after the company announced a $25m investment commitment from Sapphire Global Energy to further develop its battery minerals portfolio.
EVR owns a number of projects including the Shaw River lithium project in Western Australia’s Pilbara region and the Austrian Alps lithium projects in the Eastern Alps.
“The investment commitment is another major milestone that will enable us to grow significantly over the next 12 months,” EVR executive director Navin Sidhu says.
This lithium explorer is trading higher after intersecting a 30m brine aquifer at its Pocitos 7 project within Argentina’s Salta Province.
While the lithium content remains unknown – with brine samples taken for assaying and testing using Ekosolve direct lithium extraction technology — flow testing of the aquifer that was intersected from a depth of 370m achieved a pumping rate of more than 2,000 litres an hour using a 49mm pipe and a submersible pump.
This is a strong indicator that the aquifer is easily capable of delivering brine flow rates.
First pass field work at the Wickenburg project in Arizona, USA, has confirmed surface expressions of rare-element lithium-caesium-tantalum (LCT) pegmatites.
Widespread spodumene visually has been identified at the Dove target, with further mapping and sampling planned, as the company seeks additional spodumene mineralisation.
“The exploration team is excited to have uncovered positive indications on the first reconnaissance site visit since listing,” PAT executive director Matt Gauci says.
Ongoing mapping and sampling will now pave the way for a maiden drilling program.
Charger has signed a binding agreement with Lithium Australia Limited to buy its 30% minority interest in the Lake Johnston lithium joint venture.
The transaction increases the company’s interest to 100% of all mineral rights for the southerly Medcalf tenements as well as 100% of the lithium rights for the more northerly Johnston Lakes nickel tenements including the Mt Day LCT pegmatite field.
Assays have been received for the maiden surface geochemical sampling campaign at VSR’s Ti Tree project in WA’s Gascoyne region, confirming that the in-situ granitic intrusions across the entire project area are fertile for lithium (Li) mineralisation.
VSR says this is highly significant at such an early stage of the project’s evolution and has resulted in an expansion of the Volta corridor to 40km strike length and the identification of three priority drill targets.
Maiden assays have been returned at Morrison, the second target on the Root Project, as the company prepares for a mineral resource estimate later this quarter.
Results received at the first diamond hole include 10.6m at 1.25% Li2O from 54m, including 8m at 1.62% Li2O from 55m – the assays for 12 additional holes remain pending.
Drilling at McCombe, the most advanced prospect at Root, has demonstrated the deposit to be a simpler mineralised system consisting of one major pegmatite averaging 10m true thickness.
Results include 11.7m at 0.91% Li2O from 90.1m, 20.7m at 1.08% Li2O from 113m, and 20.8m at 0.83% Li2O from 156m.
Former Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) geologist Nigel Broomham will join reinvigorated Canadian lithium explorer BM8 as general manager of exploration.
At $14bn capped PLS, Broomham was responsible for exploration, resource development and production at the world-class Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum operation in WA.
He joins BM8 CEO and fellow PLS alumni Gerard O’Donovan, who was project manager on the concentrator at Pilgangoora and the subsequent Ngangaju plant, acquired from PLS’ collapsed neighbour Altura.
OM1 can earn up to 100% in the 540sqkm Lac des Montagnes project, which consists of three properties.
It’s a good neighbourhood, with Namaska Lithium’s (TSXV:NMX) world class Wabouchi lithium deposit (36.7Mt @ 1.16% Li2O) just ~38km away.
OM1 says over 40 pegmatite granites have been mapped within the project area. Seven of these have been identified as a “high priority” and highly prospective for spodumene hosted lithium deposits.
The explorer will pay the vendor up to $600,000 cash and 10.35m shares (worth ~ $2.5m at today’s prices) over a 36-month earn in period.