Friday, January 1, 2021

Lithium

 
Australia is the number one global lithium producer, underpinned by strong government support and a robust project pipeline. According to the USGS, Australia accounted for 54.4% of global lithium production in 2019, more than double the output of the world’s second-largest producer, Chile.

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Albemarle, owner of the only producing lithium mine in the US, Silver Peak, announced in January 2021 that it plans to double production capacity by 2025.


Open cut hard rock mining, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia 

Visitors inspect a brine pool at a Sociedad QuĂ­mica y Minera de Chile (SQM) lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat in the Atacama Desert, Chile.  (May 29, 2019)

The Thacker Pass lithium mine is host to the largest known lithium resource in the US.
Humboldt County in northern Nevada
Canadian Lithium Americas Corp. (LAC) owns the Thacker Pass lithium project 

US homegrown lithium developments well-positioned near Tesla battery factory


Livent: Focused on Lithium for the Next Generation of Batteries

Livent, which was spun out of FMC Corporation in 2018, is a Philadelphia-based company with a lithium history that dates back to the 1940s. Compared to the other large Western players, namely Albemarle and SQM, which own and operate some non-lithium businesses, Livent is a pure-play company focused only on lithium.

Livent operates one of the lowest-cost lithium mineral deposits in the world, the Salar del Hombre Muerto in Argentina. The company’s operations sit at the low end of the global cost curve to produce lithium carbonate. Yet, the company’s strategy is to focus on lithium hydroxide. As such, it is important to note that brine-based raw materials like these require a two-step process to get to lithium hydroxide: a conversion into lithium carbonate first and then a conversion into lithium hydroxide. This extra step adds costs, but the all-in cost structure for lithium hydroxide, which we estimate to be about $5,800, remains below today’s depressed lithium prices.

The growing prevalence of nickel-rich batteries, which require lithium hydroxide, supports Livent’s business strategy. The company estimates nickel-rich batteries should increase their market share from about 25% today to 75% by the end of the decade.



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