Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Peter Epstein: Simon Moores Of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Update On Lithium Market.


  


  Peter Epstein continues to pick up the best experts in lithium market space. After years at Industrial Minerals, Simon Moores has only recently launched his new Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, but has already become  the go-to industry insider for all latest markets trends and data for top world-wide business publications. 


Peter Epstein: Interview Of “Mr. Lithium,” Joe Lowry Of Global Lithium LLC.


    

  
  Peter Epstein presents to us the very interesting view from the independent insider into the very closed and tightly held lithium market. Tesla is making headlines and situation with SQM provides another evidence of the importance of secure lithium supply for the major players. Joe Lowry is raising alarm about the coming shortage in the lithium supply even before Tesla's Gigafactory will be coming on-line and I have been talking about it before, you can continue your research on the links below. Now we have another catalyst for the lithium industry in the making. Access to the capital is the most important for the junior miners working on building lithium supply chain. Ganfeng Lithium - one of the new top lithium producers from China is financing the development of J/V projects with International Lithium in Ireland and Argentina.


Elon Musk's Gigafactory Battery Plan Spurs Lithium Producers To Weigh New Plants.

 


  News about the potential shortage in battery grade lithium supply is travelling fast and now hitting the mainstream media.


Tesla Gigafactories: Is There Enough Lithium to Maintain the Growth of the Lithium-Ion Battery Market?




International Lithium Corp. Updates on Drilling Programs in Argentina and Ireland.

  
  We have great news today from our both J/V projects with Ganfeng Lithium! You already know about my personal vision for the lithium industry and our strategic partnership between International Lithium and Ganfeng Lithium from China. Now we have results coming in from our exploration and development programs.







Epstein Research:

Simon Moores Of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Update On Lithium Market.

The following Interview was conducted in the week ended June 26. I, Peter Epstein, CFA, MBA have no prior or existing relationship with Simon Moores or his company Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.
Benchmark’s goal is to become the world’s most trusted source of information in this space by offering:
  • Accurate market prices collected and set by us for the industry
  • Original, accurate supply and demand data
  • Impartial, independent, expert analysis
  • Forecasting of supply, demand and prices
Rather than simply reporting on what the industry is saying, we want to explain to the industry how we see developments from our independent, global perspective. Our in-house experts not only collect the data but also analyze and forecast for our global customer base.
Please provide readers with an overview of the supply side of the lithium market including possible risks to supply.
The lithium market is now in a period of short supply for both lithium carbonate and hydroxide. Leading producers – especially Chile and Argentina – have not increased capacity of either product over the past number of years while demand from lithium-ion batteries has been steadily increasing.
2015 is the pinch point for this and has now pushed the industry into a shortage.
The main risk is one of supply availability for the growing battery industry. With lithium-ion mega-factories under construction and planned to come on stream from 2017 onwards, new lithium capacity will be needed. But installing new capacity could take time, up to two years to be fully ramped up.
Most new lithium projects are publicly listed companies which can be problematic as funding fortunes are usually linked to the wider investment community. This means funding to get new capacity on stream is very hard to come by so lithium buyers have to turn to the major producers for new supply. This hasn’t come in the last three years so we now face a shortage.
The next logical question is, what are your thoughts on demand? Are there wild cards that could challenge the conventional wisdom that demand will come largely from EV and grid storage batteries?
There are some bright spots for demand outside of batteries including advanced light weight metals such as aluminum lithium alloys.
However, such is the expansion that is happening with lithium-ion batteries at the moment, we expect this market to continue to strengthen and dominate as the number one end use for lithium chemicals.
How important is the growing use of lithium for alloys such as lithium/aluminum for key components of airplanes, cars, etc?
Expanding on the above comment, I think aluminum lithium alloys will play a crucial role in transport. There is a great need to become more fuel and energy efficient and at the moment the most effective way is to make the materials lighter while not compromising on strength.
This is where I see a bright future for aluminium lithium alloys and plastics, especially for automotive, aeroplanes and aerospace. I also think new engineered materials like graphene will also play a key role in this advanced materials market.
How important on a global scale is lithium? Is it listed as a, “critical metal” in any countries? Is anyone stockpiling lithium?
Yes, for sure. The European Commission gave lithium a critical status as did the British Geological Survey in 2013.
Lithium carbonate can be stockpiled but from what we see at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence these stockpiles are low. Buyers have been consuming from the previous stockpiling phase just after 2009-2010 price spike.
Lithium hydroxide can’t be stored for very long so customers tend not to keep significant stocks as there is a risk of the product going past its use by date.
Regarding the lithium triangle of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia do you have any comments on the risk of disruption of supply due to politics or other factors?
Politics is a major factor in disrupting or helping lithium supply in all of these countries. A major reason why we are in a lithium shortage is because everything in Chile had been on hold in recent times because of the change of government. This included any potential expansion plans companies in Chile may have had and new exploration. Argentina has been more favorable in recent years which has resulted in the start up of Orocobre, the world’s newest lithium mine. Bolivia has used lithium as a political tool for years. It hosts the world’s largest deposit, the Salar de Uyuni but is one the world’s poorest countries. This promise of a new economy based on lithium is more powerful as a promise than reality so commercialization is yet to happen.
COMIBOL, the state owned company, has established a pilot plant on the site but little progress has been made.
How important is grade? In sectors such as graphite, grade is widely considered of paramount importance
Grade is important in most sectors. The higher the concentration of an element in the ground, generally the more you get for your money.
New extraction techniques – like we are seeing in lithium - can shake up this principal however. For example in the magnesia industry, sea water is a source. I think when you also look at what companies like Simbol Materials are trying to do with geothermal sources are also challenge the traditional ways of mining where grade is king.
What are the main differences between hard rock mining and sourcing lithium through brines? Does each approach end up with roughly the same ending product?
The principals are the same; trying to isolate the lithium. But the processing routes are very different.
In brine processing, lithium rich salt water is extracted from subsurface sources, mostly in South America. These then undergo months of evaporation in progressively smaller ponds to concentrate lithium in the solution. Once the liquid is around 6% it’s sent to a processing plant to be turned into the starting raw material lithium carbonate.
In hard rock processing, this is more familiar mining, crushing, grinding. At first, much like with brines, you need to get a concentrate. This is then processed through an acid leaching method to extract the lithium, which is then crystallised out to create the final lithium carbonate."

Los Azules Copper: McEwen Mining and TNR Gold - Copper Prices Could Turn Red Hot Thanks To Alternative Energy.

     


  Business Insider is making the blast of brilliant Frank Holmes article on copper and alternative energy catalyst. We are talking about it here for a while and now it is time for mainstream investors to have a look at the looming copper supply crunch. Los Azules copper project is very well positioned now to participate in this mega trend.


McEwen Mining And TNR Gold: Los Azules Copper - The Looming Copper Supply Crunch.



 Visual Capitalist provides brilliant infographic on copper supply problem. The catalyst for the market is coming with the huge boom in Solar Energy and roll out of electric cars. 


  With elections coming this fall in Argentina it is time to revisit the potential of Los Azules Copper. This giant copper project in Argentina is under management of McEwen Mining and TNR Gold holds 0.4% NSR and 1% on sale of the project. All three major candidates have announced their support for the mining industry in Argentina. According to Rob McEwen, this winter number of interested parties were visiting Los Azules. Project is for sale and it is only the question of time now when it happens. We are approaching the anniversary of Taca Taca sale by Lumina Copper, which Rob McEwen is using as the benchmark for Los Azules value. On the links below you can find more information about Los Azules and TNR Gold assets in this project. Please carefully read my legal disclaimer, all technical data provided by McEwen Mining is for information only, you should not be relying on it to make any investment decisions. "Qualified Person"  of TNR Gold as defined under NI 43-101 was not able to verify all these information. Read more.



  "Copper and Lithium become the strategic metals for the ongoing green revolution. Solar and Wind Energy and Electric Cars will drive the new demand for these metals. Solar Energy is growing very fast all over the world now. Energy Storage will be the next step to ignite this growth. This is the new focus of Elon Musk and his Gigafactory. He will introduce the home storage system based on the lithium batteries in the next few months. Copper will have its special place in this mass scale roll out of distributed energy generation systems with Wind and Solar Power. Integral part of this system - Energy Storage is getting popular now with Elon Musk Gigafactory and Warren Buffet with BYD making the headlines. These Trillion Dollar industries: Electric Cars and Energy Storage will drive the demand for Copper and Lithium in the future. Read more."

Business Insider:

Copper Prices Could Turn Red Hot Thanks To Alternative Energy.

Frank Holmes, U.S. Global Investors

"Here’s a bit of energizing news: In 2014, for the first time in four decades, the global economy grew along with energy demand without an increase in global carbon emissions.
That’s according to energy policy group REN21’s just-released Renewables 2015 Global Status Report, which attributes this stabilization to “increased penetration of renewable energy and to improvements in energy efficiency.”
What this means is that as the world’s population continues to grow, and as more people in developing and emerging countries gain access to electricity, the role alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal play should skyrocket. Between now and 2040, a massive $8 trillion will be spent globally on renewables, about two thirds of all energy spending, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Solar power alone is expected to draw $3.7 trillion.
copperUS Global Investors
This is good news indeed for copper, necessary for the conduction of electricity in all energy technologies, whether they be traditional or alternative. The use of some carbon-emitting fossil fuels—coal, for instance—will likely drop off over the years, but copper will remain an irreplaceable component in our ever-expanding energy needs.
Global copper consumption is poised to increase not just because electricity demand is growing. New energy technologies typically require more of the red metal than traditional sources. Each megawatt of wind power capacity, for instance, uses an average of 3.6 tonnes of copper. Electric trolleys, buses and subway cars use about 2,300 pounds of copper apiece. Where we’ll see the most significant growth, though, is in the production of hybrid and electric cars, which use two to three times more copper than internal combustion engines.
copper car enginesUS Global Investors
Leading the way in electric vehicle technologies, of course, is billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors, whose $5-billion Gigafactory is currently under construction in Reno, Nevada. When production begins on its lithium-ion batteries, it will consume biblical amounts of base metals and other raw materials—so much, in fact, that some analysts question whether world supply can meet demand. Besides needing a constant stream of lithium and nickel, the factory will consume a staggering 17 million tonnes of copper, 7,000 tonnes of cobalt (today, worldwide supply is 110,000 tonnes), 25,000 tonnes of lithium (about a fifth of worldwide supply), and 126,000 tonnes of raw graphite (a little over a third of global supply). To keep up with such demand, nine new graphite mines will reportedly need to be opened.
This should come as welcome news for industry-leading base metals mining companies Freeport-McMoRan, Rio Tinto, Lundin Mining and Glencore, the last one of which we own in our Global Resources Fund (PSPFX).

Airlines Stocks Could Climb as High as 50 Percent

As for the entire airline industry, a recent Barron’s article announces that within 12 months, shares of the nation’s top four carriers could rise as much as 50 percent. Among the changes that “have left the industry in the best financial shape in decades,” according to Barron’s, are “consolidation, cost cuts and fee hikes,” not to mention cheaper fuel. Automobiles aren’t the only types of transportation that are looking to renewables. The world’s first circumnavigation of the globe by an aircraft powered entirely by the sun is in its third month. The wings of Solar Impulse 2, whose span comes slightly under that of an Airbus A380, is covered by over 11,600 photovoltaic cells. Next year, Alaska Airlines plans to demonstrate a flight using only renewable jet fuel made from forest residues.

Manufacturing in China Declining, but Eurozone Could Pick Up the Slack

To be sure, copper and other base metals face some strong headwinds right now, not least of which is the strong U.S. dollar. As you can see, the red metal and the greenback have an inverse relationship.
$ impact on copperUS Global Investors
The Thomson Reuters GFMS Survey estimates that the incentive price for new copper production is $3.50 per pound, a level unseen since March 2013. Although global copper mine production increased around 1.5 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2015, we might see a copper supply deficit in the next 10 years.
Many base metals, copper especially, rely heavily on orders from China, the top purchaser of the red metal. The world’s second biggest economy accounts for 40 percent of all copper consumption, but this figure might be threatened the longer its manufacturing sector remains at lukewarm levels. Although the preliminary purchasing manager’s index (PMI) reading rose slightly in June to 49.6, it’s still below the important expansion threshold of 50.
china manufacturing indexUS Global Investors
About 60 percent of the copper China purchases goes toward the property sector, an area that’s finally starting to show signs of life after almost a year of falling prices.
A bright spot for copper demand, however, is the eurozone, whose own flash PMI hit a 49-month high of 54.1. The expansion was led by Germany and France, which saw output rising at its sharpest rate since August 2011.
eurozone pmiUS Global Investors

Copper Keeping It Cool for Billions Around the World

In the coming years, more and more people all over the globe will gain access to electricity, a growing percentage of which we will derive from renewable sources. In an interview with The Gold Report, my friend Gianni Kovacevic—whose 2014 book, My Electrician Drives a Porsche?, is an indispensable and entertaining resource on this topic—reminds us that by 2035, nearly two billion people will have an electricity bill for the first time.
Think about the impact that will have on all of our resources. Many of these people live close to the equator. When they begin to have more wealth, they live in more comfort. One of the first things they acquire is an air conditioning unit, or a refrigerator as they eat a protein-based diet. However, whether it’s a need or a want, the backbone of their future consumption footprint is energy, and, more specifically, electricity.
And along for the ride, whether in fossil-fuel power plants or wind turbines, will be copper.
Read the original article on U.S. Global Investors. Copyright 2015."


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Lithium Megafactories Supply Chain: Western Lithium And Lithium Americas Announce Merger.

     



  Headlines are full of news from China about new EV production facilities being built and lithium batteries megafactories are in the making all over the world. We are entering the mass market stage for electric cars with Tesla Model 3, GM Bolt and Nissan Leaf with increased range coming out. All these great news are coming when lithium supply is already under strain, SQM is in the deck of political game in Chile and junior miners are cut off the access to the capital. Western Lithium and Lithium Americas merger signifies the bottom for our sector, in my personal opinion. Weak companies will be gone unfortunately. Strong ones will break the old oligopoly. Now Western Lithium will have lithium brine project and combined company will have better chances to get enough capital to move projects further. It is the great news for all our sector, place is consolidating and better stories will earn investors' interest. Now you can appreciate one more time the importance of International Lithium strategic partnership with Ganfeng Lithium, who is financing the development of our J/V projects in Ireland and Argentina.


Peter Epstein: Interview Of “Mr. Lithium,” Joe Lowry Of Global Lithium LLC.




  Peter Epstein presents to us the very interesting view from the independent insider into the very closed and tightly held lithium market. Tesla is making headlines and situation with SQM provides another evidence of the importance of secure lithium supply for the major players. Joe Lowry is raising alarm about the coming shortage in the lithium supply even before Tesla's Gigafactory will be coming on-line and I have been talking about it before, you can continue your research on the links below. Now we have another catalyst for the lithium industry in the making. Access to the capital is the most important for the junior miners working on building lithium supply chain. Ganfeng Lithium - one of the new top lithium producers from China is financing the development of J/V projects with International Lithium in Ireland and Argentina.


Chile, Lithium And SQM: What To Expect From The Chilean Lithium Industry?




  What is really happening with SQM and lithium production in Chile now? Is it really the perfect storm and the very tight battery grade lithium supply will be under further strain from political battle around Atacama? Daniella Desormeux from signumBOX will be one of the best sources to explore the ongoing situation.


Security Of Lithium Supply: SQM Stock Still Down On News Chile Wants To Revoke Mining Leases.



  Here comes the perfect storm for the lithium supply chain. Politics, bribes and fight around the "hot assets" in Atacama are not the best ingredients for the hungry Chinese companies ramping up battery grade lithium supply for the coming Megafactories all over the world. Meanwhile Tesla Gigafactory is still relying on Panasonic to sort out all lithium supply issues. Price of battery grade lithium was going up even before these political games around SQM and now rain storms will add to the strains on production in Atacama. Now you can better appreciate why Chinese giant Ganfeng Lithium is financing and developing with International Lithium our J/V projects - security of Lithium supply is taking the central stage for the ongoing electric rEVolution.


Elon Musk's Gigafactory Battery Plan Spurs Lithium Producers To Weigh New Plants.

 


  News about the potential shortage in battery grade lithium supply is travelling fast and now hitting the mainstream media.


Tesla Gigafactories: Is There Enough Lithium to Maintain the Growth of the Lithium-Ion Battery Market?



Joe Lowry: Lithium Capacity Additions Will Be Short Of Demand.


"Joe Lowry is sounding the rising alert for all industry insiders about the coming shortage of lithium. Tesla is waiting for Panasonic to solve all the supply problems, but the growing demand is already pushing prices higher even before Gigafactory comes on-line! The ignition of mass market for electric cars and energy storage will come with lower lithium battery cost. Gigafactory promise us to bring the magic $100 per kWh. Supply of lithium will become crucial and its security will be even more important than its price.
  Our partner Ganfeng Lithium controls with other Chinese companies 75% capacity of battery grade lithium hydroxide now. We are moving into the new landscape for critical materials which are powering the green revolution. Stay tuned for the update from our lithium exploration programs on J/V projects in Ireland and Argentina."


Joe Lowry: What The Beginning Of Lithium Shortage Looks Like.  


  "Joe Lowry from @globallithium presents another evidence of growing constrains in the lithium supply chain. He knows International Lithium strategic partner Ganfeng Lithium very well and has covered its incredible growth in his previous articles, which you can find on this blog as well. Read more."

International Lithium Corp. Updates on Drilling Programs in Argentina and Ireland.

  
  We have great news today from our both J/V projects with Ganfeng Lithium! You already know about my personal vision for the lithium industry and our strategic partnership between International Lithium and Ganfeng Lithium from China. Now we have results coming in from our exploration and development programs.




Joe Lowry: The Opaque World of Lithium.

  


  Joe Lowry provides us with another great insight into the secretive world of lithium producers,  suppliers and buyers. Former lithium oligopoly is under the threat  and this landscape is changing forever now. Joe Lowry is the source to follow on his LinkedIn page and Twitter  @globallithiumYou can find more information on my links below as well and the situation with SQM proves him right one more time about the risks to the tight lithium supply chain even before Tesla Gigafactory is coming on-line.


Peter Epstein: Interview Of “Mr. Lithium,” Joe Lowry Of Global Lithium LLC.


    

  
  Peter Epstein presents to us the very interesting view from the independent insider into the very closed and tightly held lithium market. Tesla is making headlines and situation with SQM provides another evidence of the importance of secure lithium supply for the major players. Joe Lowry is raising alarm about the coming shortage in the lithium supply even before Tesla's Gigafactory will be coming on-line and I have been talking about it before, you can continue your research on the links below. Now we have another catalyst for the lithium industry in the making. Access to the capital is the most important for the junior miners working on building lithium supply chain. Ganfeng Lithium - one of the new top lithium producers from China is financing the development of J/V projects with International Lithium in Ireland and Argentina.


Chile, Lithium And SQM: What To Expect From The Chilean Lithium Industry?




  What is really happening with SQM and lithium production in Chile now? Is it really the perfect storm and the very tight battery grade lithium supply will be under further strain from political battle around Atacama? Daniella Desormeux from signumBOX will be one of the best sources to explore the ongoing situation.


Security Of Lithium Supply: SQM Stock Still Down On News Chile Wants To Revoke Mining Leases.



  Here comes the perfect storm for the lithium supply chain. Politics, bribes and fight around the "hot assets" in Atacama are not the best ingredients for the hungry Chinese companies ramping up battery grade lithium supply for the coming Megafactories all over the world. Meanwhile Tesla Gigafactory is still relying on Panasonic to sort out all lithium supply issues. Price of battery grade lithium was going up even before these political games around SQM and now rain storms will add to the strains on production in Atacama. Now you can better appreciate why Chinese giant Ganfeng Lithium is financing and developing with International Lithium our J/V projects - security of Lithium supply is taking the central stage for the ongoing electric rEVolution.


Elon Musk's Gigafactory Battery Plan Spurs Lithium Producers To Weigh New Plants.

 


  News about the potential shortage in battery grade lithium supply is travelling fast and now hitting the mainstream media.


Tesla Gigafactories: Is There Enough Lithium to Maintain the Growth of the Lithium-Ion Battery Market?



Joe Lowry: Lithium Capacity Additions Will Be Short Of Demand.


"Joe Lowry is sounding the rising alert for all industry insiders about the coming shortage of lithium. Tesla is waiting for Panasonic to solve all the supply problems, but the growing demand is already pushing prices higher even before Gigafactory comes on-line! The ignition of mass market for electric cars and energy storage will come with lower lithium battery cost. Gigafactory promise us to bring the magic $100 per kWh. Supply of lithium will become crucial and its security will be even more important than its price.
  Our partner Ganfeng Lithium controls with other Chinese companies 75% capacity of battery grade lithium hydroxide now. We are moving into the new landscape for critical materials which are powering the green revolution. Stay tuned for the update from our lithium exploration programs on J/V projects in Ireland and Argentina."


Joe Lowry: What The Beginning Of Lithium Shortage Looks Like.  


  "Joe Lowry from @globallithium presents another evidence of growing constrains in the lithium supply chain. He knows International Lithium strategic partner Ganfeng Lithium very well and has covered its incredible growth in his previous articles, which you can find on this blog as well. Read more."

International Lithium Corp. Updates on Drilling Programs in Argentina and Ireland.

  
  We have great news today from our both J/V projects with Ganfeng Lithium! You already know about my personal vision for the lithium industry and our strategic partnership between International Lithium and Ganfeng Lithium from China. Now we have results coming in from our exploration and development programs.



Joe Lowry:

The Opaque World of Lithium


"Interest in the lithium market continues to grow with the emerging Tesla story, growth of the ESS market and ubiquity of personal electronic devices driven by the power of the lithium ion.
Despite the fact that the vast majority of people living on the planet have a device utilizing a lithium battery; as a global market lithium is tiny when measured by any financial standard. Unlike other metals used in the production of lithium ion batteries such as nickel, cobalt and aluminum - lithium is not traded on the London Metals Exchange (LME) - the global trading and price formation venue for industrial metals. Lithium users have no systematic way to hedge or pay for price protection when they budget or plan production. Unlike the major metals, due to the small size of the global lithium market - pricing of lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide does not have the transparency that other metals have. 
The lithium market has a limited number of producers and most of them have an interdependent relationship with one or more competitors which creates additional concern about the "lithium club" in the minds of customers . For example: FMC sources carbonate from competitors, Albemarle has a spodumene JV with Tianqi and sources metal from competitors, SQM supplies lithium chloride brine to Ganfeng Lithium who supplies metal to members of the former “Big 3”, etc, etc. There is nothing particularly unusual about this aspect of the lithium market and certainly nothing sinister but it does create the feeling within the lithium customer base that the lithium industry is more collegial than other industries and has a higher rate of information flow between competitors than they would like to see.
During my years working as a marketing and sales executive for a major lithium producer, I heard complaints from large purchasers of lithium from Tokyo to Brussels to New York about the "clubby" and "secretive"  world of lithium suppliers. 
The facts do not support concerns about lithium suppliers working "hand in glove" on price. The average price of lithium carbonate in 2014 was lower than the average price in 2007 despite a steady growth in demand.  If the lithium suppliers are "working together" to manage price they clearly aren't very good at it. Like most products, supply and demand governs prices.  Until late last year lithium carbonate supply comfortably exceeded demand. Due to delayed expansions and project start-ups scheduled for 2014, demand is exceeding supply at least in the short term and prices are currently moving up. 
Despite the fact that the lithium industry is less open and transparent than other industries, it is hard to make the case that consumers have suffered in any way.
From my perspective many of the large lithium consumers have had unreasonable expectations when confronted with the need to source a critical raw material without an LME or other mechanism with which to justify the prices they paid to their management. Trying to bully lithium suppliers doesn't work very well.
When Nissan discovered the company I worked for had virtually 100% share of the lithium raw material  to their supply chain for the Nissan Leaf battery they summoned me to their offices to demand I guarantee fixed prices for several years during a time when prices for lithium hydroxide were increasing quarterly. The justification they gave for their request was: "Nissan management has ordered it". Really? 
The auto industry is legendary for bullying suppliers. I was a little shocked at such an unreasonable demand and replied that Nissan should be concerned about supply rather than price especially since no other lithium supplier was fully qualified to supply them at that time. I kept a straight face as several salarymen across the table tried to apply pressure by invoking the name of their company like a "buddhist chant". I pointed out that lithium raw materials are actually a very minor portion of the cost of a battery pack and that the cost of a Leaf battery would not change substantially if I doubled the price or gave them the lithium for free. Frustrated at my noncompliance with their request, the leader of the purchasing team, in a very non Japanese fashion, slammed his notebook shut, walked out of the room and went to the Starbucks conveniently located across from the meeting room. True story.

                     Lithium consumers often feel outmatched by suppliers
As for the "lithium club" concerns, it is logical for lithium producers to act in their own best interest by making deals with other producers to avoid capital expenditures or leverage a strong cost position in one product line via a trade or swap with another producer to improve their bottom line.
There is no compelling reason for the lithium producers to be more forthcoming with details of their business beyond the legal reporting requirements for public companies. Of course, from time to time lithium producers have benefited from the lack of  market transparency or reliable global price information. There have been occasions in the past where prices have varied by more than 30% for the same product being sold under similar conditions. In these cases, inefficient markets are the issue.  
Reviewing annual reports and 10Ks of the lithium producers does provide a limited amount of detail but will generally create more questions that can’t be answered without supplemental data that is not readily available.
Anyone seeking to learn more about the industry has a significant challenge. Companies like Roskill that regularly publish info about a wide range of products really don’t know the lithium business in the kind of details lithium consumers and potential investors want and need – the lithium market is too small to invest the resources to have in-depth knowledge yet their often outdated information is often used as a reference because they are a recognized name. A new company called Benchmark Minerals shows the most potential for providing current and accurate information about lithium and a few other related industries. Signum Box is also a credible source for information on supply and demand on a pay as you go basis.
Unfortunately, lithium consumers seeking information about pricing continue to have limited options. Even the details provided in the export statistics of producing countries and the import statistics of major consuming countries can leave the uninitiated scratching their heads due to the amount of transfer pricing included from major players, lack of clarity whether pricing is FOB or CIF, currency translation issues, etc. etc. General trends are fairly easy to spot but without a certain depth of industry knowledge drawing conclusions from an import/export data dump is risky business.
Unlike larger industries there is no lithium trade association or clearing house for lithium information. There are several dozen lithium ion battery shows around the world each year but the focus is not on the lithium market itself. Those interested in the details of the lithium market can always contact an “expert service” like GLG, Guidepoint or Coleman and hope the “expert” they are put in touch with can shine some light in the lithium darkness. There is one annual event focused on lithium but it seems to have declined in value over time.
Last week the 7th Annual Industrial Minerals Lithium Supply and Markets Conference was held in Shanghai. The first conference held in Santiago, Chile attracted the leadership of the major lithium producers who were both speakers and active participants. Over the past few years participation by the major lithium companies has declined. The event has become more of a platform where hopeful “Juniors” to try to attract attention to projects that seem perpetually lacking the funds to move forward. Despite all the buzz in the industry created by Tesla and others planning major lithium battery investments, in general the “Big 3” leadership tends to avoid the annual gathering. Again – what is in it for them?
Those seeking more insight into the lithium industry can only hope that the growing interest in the lithium market and the emergence of Benchmark Minerals, Signum Box and others that are more narrowly focused than large market information firms who simply repeat what lithium producers say without critical thinking and real analysis will help provide more accurate and current information."

Warren Buffett BYD Invests $800 Million To Build A Factory For Electric Trucks In Changsha.



  After conquering Electric Bus space Warren Buffett backed BYD is moving now in Electric Trucks with another serious investment into new production facility dedicated to pure EVs. BYD is among few companies in China building its own Megafactory to produce lithium batteries in mass volume, it will bring the costs down and allows them to roll out new lines of EVs. Delivery trucks will be the game changer for all heavily polluted Chinese megalopolises and further restrictions on the ICE powered trucks in the cities will be driving the demand for BYD EVs.


Lithium Race: Saab Owner To Build $400 Million Electric Car Factory In China.

  One more Chinese group has announced investment in electric cars. Largest auto-market in the world and "War on Pollution" with state-level incentives have already produced the largest Lithium Market in the world. Saab joins the EV club in China with Foxconn, BYD, SAIC, Guanzhou Auto, Chinese J/V with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and VW Group among many others. Lithium technology is making its way into the mass market for electric cars. With increased level of production for lithium batteries the costs will come down and we will have the dramatic increase of much cheaper EVs available to buy.  You can find more information about Chinese companies involved in EV production on my blog.


Lithium Race: China's Guangzhou Auto To Invest $322 M In Electric Car Factory.

  


  How to achieve the explosive growth like International Lithium's strategic partner Ganfeng Lithium? You need to have the largest auto-market in the world, "War on Pollution" and state-level support for the new strategic industry - electric cars. After Tesla Gigafactory, LG Chem, BYD, Foxconn, Boston Power and A123 are building their own Megafactories. New automakers, like Guanzhou Auto in China are moving now into electric space with announcements almost every month. International Lithium is building strategic supply chain for Ganfeng Lithium, our J/V in Ireland and Argentina are financed by Ganfeng and now we are receiving results.


International Lithium Corp. Updates on Drilling Programs in Argentina and Ireland.

"Mr. Kirill Klip, President, International Lithium Corp. comments, "We are highly encouraged by what we are learning about the thick brine aquifers at Mariana. We look forward to completing the pump test which will give us a sense of the potential productivity of wells in these aquifers and we are confident that our plan to acquire these key preliminary hydrological results prior to a mineral resource estimation is both an expeditious and cost effective approach toward an initial production assessment."

Gary Schellenberg, CEO and Executive Chairman, notes that "Success in the initial drilling program by intersecting pegmatites under cover confirms the exploration strategy and methods we are applying in the Avalonia project. This gives us confidence as we move ahead with plans to test both new and historical targets we are developing along the lithium belt."


International Lithium And Ganfeng Lithium: "The End Of The Lithium 'Big 3'.


  "Joe Lowry has published a very interesting article about the lithium market, major producers and rising Chinese powerhouses in lithium industry. You can find now more details on International Lithium strategic partner Ganfeng Lithium. Apple Electric iCar and Warren Buffet BYD move into energy storage to chase Elon Musk with his Tesla Gigafactory bring Lithium back onto the radar screens of investors now. Read more."





ChangshaChina:

BYD to build electric vehicles in Changsha


"BYD Auto will invest 5 billion yuan ($805.83 million) to build a factory for electric vehicles in Changsha.

The auto company reached an agreement with Yuhua district on May 18 to build the new factory for electric trucks and special vehicles as the second phase of Changsha BYD (Build Your Dreams). The project is expected to begin production by the end of the year.

Changsha’s top leader Yi Lianhong met with Wang Chuanfu, the head of BYD, and congratulated him on BYD’s achievements in Changsha. He said that BYD has stuck to a path of environmental protection and energy saving, and that the company has made positive explorations to the country’s economic development.

Yi further added that Changsha has become a new growth pole for China’s auto industry, with enhanced supporting capacity and an increasingly vigorous consumer market. He hoped the two sides could cooperate further on auto vehicles, new energy, and manufacturing.

Wang said that the launch of the electric truck project in Changsha makes the city the only BYD base that produces both passenger and commercial vehicles. BYD will build a new energy vehicle base in Changsha, exporting all over the world, he said.

Edited by Zhang Qiong, Andrew Ancheta
Source: Changsha Evening News"