World Demand for Lithium Growing Rapidly as Energy Storage Needs Skyrocket
Today’s world is moving at a faster pace than ever, and China’s recent announcement that it is setting a deadline for automakers to end sales of fossil-fueled vehicles and shift to electric vehicles is fueling much of the race. China isn’t alone in seeking a seismic change from its dependence on the internal combustion engine and its contribution to greenhouse gases and climate change. Several other countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and France, have made similar statements that voice a desire to move toward using vehicles powered by alternative fuels such as lithium-ion batteries (http://nnw.fm/qeU4H). For companies like MGX Minerals, Inc. (CSE: XMG) (OTC: MGXMF) (FKT: 1MG) (MGXMF Profile), Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA), Sociedad Quimica y Minera S.A. (NYSE: SQM), Nemaska Lithium, Inc. (TSX: NMX) (OTC: NMKEF) and Albemarle Corp. (NYSE: ALB), this global drive to utilize cleaner, more renewable technology means investing in the “white gold” of lithium.
As the world’s largest car market, China’s decision to require one out of every five cars sold in that country to run on alternative fuel by 2025 is forcing automakers to step up production of electric cars or risk being left behind with the proverbial empty bag. According to an article in the New York Times, China buys more General Motors-branded cars than Americans do. In fact, even for Tesla, which makes luxury electric sedans, China has become the company’s second-largest market (http://nnw.fm/3QboO). Other major markets for lithium – including glass, ceramics, lubricating grease and metallurgy – are also expected to post moderate gains as lithium continues to be needed in these segments of the economy.
Producers of processed lithium – the key element for batteries used in electric vehicles and modern consumer devices such as cell phones and laptop computers – are keen to provide enough lithium to satisfy even the most demanding customer. Global forecasts for electronic vehicle sales are expected to reach more than 3 million units by 2021 and just over 14 million units in 2025, according to analysts at global financial firm UBS (http://nnw.fm/Non1L). Accordingly, the demand for lithium is strong, Grand View Research stated in a recent report, noting that the global lithium-ion battery market is projected to soar to $93.1 billion by 2025. Current market forces mean lithium investments and projects in the pipeline need to ramp up quickly to serve the world’s aggressive appetite for this cleaner energy source.
MGX Minerals (CSE: XMG.CN) (OTCQB: MGXMF) (FKT: 1MG) , which controls a significant interest in lithium, magnesium and silicon assets that offer streamlined development timelines and low capital expenditures, is directly in line to grow with the booming EV market. MGX Minerals and its engineering partner, PurLucid Treatment Solutions, have developed a patent-pending, low-energy design process to extract valuable minerals like lithium from the abundant, highly mineralized brine wastewater produced each year by oil and gas companies. This proprietary, petrolithium process rapidly concentrates lithium and other minerals from lithium-bearing brine in hours, compared to traditional solar evaporation, which takes 18-24 months and requires hundreds of acres of land.
As announced earlier this week (http://nnw.fm/rO5xN), MGX and PurLucid took another step toward commercialization of their rapid lithium extraction system with the removal of “very high levels of magnesium” at the PurLucid facility in Calgary, Alberta. The pre-treatment removed all of the 76,000 mg/L of magnesium from lithium brine bulk samples, reducing the post-treatment concentration to less than 1 mg/L.
“The recent optimization focused on addressing complex brines with very high magnesium levels as well as extraction to a common marketable form of magnesium compound. … The ratio of magnesium to lithium has long been a major issue in traditional lithium brine extraction and high magnesium has often been prohibitive in the traditional extraction of lithium from brine using solar evaporation / conventional processing as well as selective lithium extraction technologies due to the similarity of molecular properties of lithium and magnesium ions. … The extraction technology continues to rely on previously developed low energy, low cost nanofiltration and is currently covered under patent and patent pending applications,” MGX Minerals stated in the press release.
As MGX Minerals continues to develop its advanced water purification technology, the company is also solving the problem of what to do with the 800 billion gallons of wastewater created annually as petroleum is extracted from the earth. The company’s petrolithium process eliminates the need to inject this contaminated wastewater back into the ground, preventing drinking water contamination and possible earthquakes. Instead, as MGX Minerals recovers concentrated lithium and other valuable minerals from the unavoidable wastewater, it leaves a remarkable product behind – clean water. The recent addition of several key oil and gas mining and technology industry veterans to the company’s management team continues to solidify MGX’s aggressive plan to fuel tomorrow’s energy economy today.
For Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), a sustainable energy company that produces electric vehicles, solar panels and solar roofs, the lithium-ion battery is an essential component of its business strategy and one the company isn’t leaving to chance (http://nnw.fm/J235c). Tesla’s $5 billion Nevada gigafactory began mass producing lithium-ion battery cells to use in powering the company’s electric vehicles earlier this year. The company aims to build 500,000 electric vehicles by 2018, and CEO Elon Musk has announced his intention to build several more gigafactories to meet the company’s established need for a stable supply of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Morgan Stanley analysts predict that by 2050, over 80 percent of 132 million new auto sales will be electric vehicles (http://nnw.fm/Ar1s0).
One of the world’s top lithium producers, Chile’s Sociedad Quimica Y Minera (NYSE: SQM) plans to expand its lithium carbonate capacity to 63,000 metric tons (compared to the 45,000 tons currently produced per year). The specialty chemical company has significant operations in lithium, iodine (for X-ray contrast media) and specialty potassium fertilizers. Chinese private equity firm GSR Capital is reportedly exploring buying a substantial stake in SQM, which would line up with China’s attempts to secure a continuous supply of this vital raw material (http://nnw.fm/3HkiL).