High Voltage: EVs going vegan, BNEF busts some battery-making myths
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Each week our High Voltage column wraps up all the news driving ASX battery metals stocks with exposure to lithium, cobalt, graphite, manganese and vanadium.
The Nissan Leaf has became the first EV to crack 400,000 in sales.
Porsche says it’s going to boost production of its (probably super expensive) Taycan EV ahead of its launch later this year after receiving over 20,000 reservations.
Kia reckons European buyers are looking at lengthy delivery times as “demand clearly exceeds expectations and current battery production capacity”.
And the Geneva Motor Show was jammed full of EV models — not just prototypes, but the kind that people will be actually able to drive in the next few years.
Carmakers are also going vegan.
— Clean Coalition (@Clean_Coalition) March 7, 2019
Myth-busting battery manufacturing
Every year Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) releases a Battery Price Survey.
In 2018, this showed average battery pack prices falling 85 per cent from 2010 to 2018, reaching an average of $US176 ($250) per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
They get a lot of feedback from industry — some good, some bad.
Seeing through some of the ‘myths’ around battery production is key to successfully managing the EV transition, BNEF head of energy storage Logan Goldie-Scott says.
So here he is, clearing the air on a few of the big ones.
One: higher metals prices won’t make batteries unaffordable (to a point).
Two: there’s numerous examples of pack prices that are both lower and higher than the BNEF average – which is why it’s an average.
Three: companies midway through their own battery procurement process “often sigh with disbelief as they are unable to secure the prices we’ve disclosed,” Mr Goldie-Scott says.
“While unfortunate for them, they do not have the clout of a Volkswagen or Nissan when it comes to negotiations.”
Four: Historically, every time battery volume doubles BNEF observes an 18 per cent drop in average prices.
“Based on this observation, and our battery demand forecast, we expect the price of an average battery pack to be around $US94/kWh by 2024 and $US62/kWh by 2030,” Mr Goldie-Scott says.
Of the companies on our list, about 78 lost ground, 61 were ahead and 52 were steady this week.
Microcap explorer Ardiden (ASX:ADV) has boosted the size of its Seymour Lake lithium project resource by 400 per cent – and the share price went gangbusters.
Seymour Lake now contains defined resources of 4.8 million tonnes grading 1.25 per cent lithium oxide and 186 parts per million (ppm) tantalum.
The Canada-focused explorer and developer was up over 33 per cent to 0.4c for the week, paring some of the losses suffered over the past year.
Andromeda Metals (ASX:ADN) says dry processing – which is faster and lower cost – could be a goer for its Poochera halloysite-kaolin project in South Australia.
And investors loved it, sending the stock up 20 per cent to 0.6c for the week.
Kaolin is an aluminous clay used to make high purity alumina (HPA), which is in demand because it helps stop lithium-ion batteries from catching fire.
Andromeda wanted to find out whether dry processing would give it a fully processed product (less than 1 per cent quartz).
Results “exceeded expectations”, the company says.
Dry processing successfully removed virtually all of the quartz sand from the final product, with less than 1 per cent remaining.
Andromeda managing director James Marsh told Stockhead that wet processing was typically two to three times more expensive.
“It is not often possible to use a dry process for kaolin so this is an excellent outcome for us,” he says.
At the crappy end of the stick, cobalt explorer Celsius Resources (ASX:CLA) has decided to all but stop evaluation work on its Opuwo project in Namibia due to the languishing cobalt price, sending shares into freefall.
After closing on Friday at 4.7c, Celsius shares fell as low as 1.4c, a 70 per cent drop and their lowest point since the company re-listed on the ASX in late 2016.
They’ve since recovered slightly to 2.1c.
Celsius is keeping the lights on, however, saying the project has plenty of cobalt to be mined should prices improve, and that optimising metallurgical recoveries could also “significantly change the board’s view”.
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