Energy Minerals > Research

"Electric Revolution driving lithium dreams and cobalt nightmares"

SP Angel analysts’ 2017 review of battery raw materials has produced a couple of warnings for market favourites, lithium and cobalt.

Staff reporter

Energy Minerals > Research

"Electric Revolution driving lithium dreams and cobalt nightmares"

SP Angel analysts’ 2017 review of battery raw materials has produced a couple of warnings for market favourites, lithium and cobalt.

Staff reporter

"Electric Revolution driving lithium dreams and cobalt nightmares"

SP Angel’s outlook for battery materials

Image: iStock.com/omada

In a note, the analysts said the electric revolution in vehicles and new energy-efficient technologies was generating demand for novel raw materials, driving exploration and development along the entire global supply chain.

However despite the consumption of lithium expected to swell three-fold over the next decade, SP Angel warned the number of new projects seeking finance for development could easily place the market in oversupply, with large, established producers able to manipulate output.

As for cobalt, concerns over supplies from the Democratic Republic of Congo was expected to increase the strain on transparent, responsible Australian and Canadian projects - however the rapidly rising high-grade premium pricing elevated the risk of substitution in next-generation lithium ion batteries.

The note had a more positive outlook for copper and nickel in light of the battery boom.

"Long-term supply concerns are driving tightening market conditions for copper as continued demand from power and construction are boosted by electro mobility," SP Angel said.

It believed the market hype for nickel in batteries was exaggerated with current consumption at only 3% but noted trends towards higher nickel ratio nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries would exacerbate consumption and said sustained investment in sulphide exploration and processing was required to maintain strong production.

The analysts found while government policies were encouraging the transition to electric vehicles, mass adoption would hinge on developing cheaper battery technologies with enhanced energy density.

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