Governments implement electric vehicle guidelines, demand for ‘cleaner energy solutions’ grows
Growing environmental concerns have prompted governments and automotive manufacturers to shift to EVs as a way to combat negative environmental impacts. For instance, the U.S. government offers EV owners a federal tax credit for taking the step towards helping the environment.
Moreover, the European Union has implemented regulations in order to limit the amount of diesel-powered vehicles on the road and eventually plans to transition to a fully electric system.
A report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) also confirmed that the emission released from EVs are approximately 17% to 30% less than the emissions from petrol and diesel vehicles. The EEA says that EVs are much better for local air quality control due to their zero exhaust emissions at street levels.
In addition, EVs are more environmentally efficient because they run on battery packs like lithium-ion battery packs, which are most commonly used within EVs. Lithium-ion batteries are widely adopted because of their high energy density, ability to recharge and environmental efficiency. The growing adoption of lithium-ion batteries for EVs is now causing the lithium market to accelerate rapidly.
Furthermore, lithium ion batteries are also being heavily used within the consumer electronics markets for products such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. The battery segment of the lithium market is expected to be the largest application segment in terms of both volume and revenue.
And, according to data compiled by Mordor Intelligence, the global lithium market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.33% during the forecast period from 2018 to 2023. Neo Lithium Corp. (OTC: NTTHF) (TSX-V: NLC), FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC), Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE: SQM), Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE: HMC), Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F)
Currently, the consumer portable electronic market accounts for the majority of the lithium market share. However, the increasing demand for EVs is causing a shift.
Now, the EV market is expected to become the primary growth driver for the lithium market.
Many automakers worldwide have pledged to manufacture and deploy more EVs in light of the growing environmental concerns. Some have even pledged to completely reshape their portfolios to solely EVs.
Recent consumer trends in the automotive industry have shown that many EV manufacturers are already seeing increased sales.
“The past year has been marked by a flurry of announcements from major auto makers about their plans for the EV market. Should these plans fructify, it represents a mouthwatering potential of 400 models and estimated global sales of 25 million by 2025. Adopting a common standard for EV charging, leveraging incentives and subsidies and deepening collaboration between car manufacturers and suppliers to promote technology development and economies of scale will provide a platform on which the global EV market can build its future.”
— Sarwant Singh, senior partner and head of automotive transportation practice as Frost & Sullivan
Neo Lithium Corp. (OTCQX: NTTHF) (TSX-V: NLC) is also listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker (TSX-V: NLC). Yesterday, the Company announced breaking news that, “the submission of the Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) for its wholly-owned Tres Quebradas lithium brine project (“3Q Project”) in Catamarca Province, Argentina.
The EIA presented to Catamarca Environmental and Mining Authorities was prepared by GT Ingenieria SA (Argentina), a company specialized in environmental studies with deep experience in the mining and industrial sectors. The EIA included work with local professionals from University of Catamarca, Tucuman and Mendoza as well as the IHLLA Research center in Buenos Aires, specialized in Hydrogeology. The EIA includes a hydrological model that allows the authorities to understand the impact of exploitation in brine water table in the salar, and surrounding lithium brine lakes. The EIA was prepared following the lineaments of the pre-feasibility report announced on March 21, 2019, which outlined the production of 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year.
The Company obtained its initial environmental permit (DIA in Spanish) in 2016, which was subsequently renewed in 2018 and approved in 2019 for exploration, geophysics, drilling, pond, and camp construction. That renewal allowed the development of further infill drilling for the final feasibility study, production wells, monitoring wells and further drilling in the high-grade zone (currently ongoing). The Company is also running a fully operational lithium carbonate pilot plant in Fiambalá.
In October 2018, the Company completed and presented to the environmental authorities the environmental baseline study (“EBS”), with two years of data for flora, fauna, social studies, water studies, air studies, soil studies, archeology, limnology and complete overview of the environmental issues of the region. The EBS included an analysis of the Ramsar site (wetlands environmental awareness zone) and the measures taken to assure that there will be no adverse impact on flora or fauna in the area. The EBS confirms that significant nesting grounds are only found well outside of the proposed mining and operations area of influence. The hydrological models also demonstrate that the proposed mining operations would have no influence on areas to the south, where limited nesting grounds are found. The EBS showed that the 3Q Project can be developed with minimal impact in the ecosystems and identified areas outside the tenements that are environmentally sensitive, proposing to the authorities a special treatment of those sectors.
‘This is a very important milestone that de-risks the 3Q Project and demonstrate our commitment to the environment and the people of the Catamarca Province’, said Waldo Perez, President and CEO of Neo Lithium. ‘We expect prompt treatment of or our EIA submission since we are now in the final stages of making the 3Q Project a reality to the Province and our shareholders as we continue or pathway and progress towards our development and production objectives.’
The Company has also been working extensively on its social community program for three years with a full-time team of five professionals at its offices in Fiambalá. The team carried on the 2018 program that included:
- A total of 16 training courses for the community so far (including bakery, ceramics, health, pastry, mechanics, safety, leather works among others) that were attended by over 600 people
- More than 15 presentations of the project in schools, municipality, local, service providers and training courses attended by approximate 800 people
- Over 100 Visits of the local community to the 3Q Project
- Over 250 written consultations answered in the Fiambala office
- Sponsorship in sports, arts and religious affairs
- Over 70% local employment
- Priority to local service providers and suppliers
- Strong support on the project based on local survey in town
Neo Lithium continues to adhere to international standards of social responsibility practices. As the 3Q Project is in the final stages of exploration and development, the Company expects to reach the construction and production stage in the foreseeable future, its approach contains elements of both “e3 Plus – a Framework for Responsible Exploration” of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada and of “Towards Sustainable Mining” of the Mining Association of Canada. In addition, it includes a sociology component based on the Ph. D. studies of Dr. Jan Boon.
Dr. Boon was a member of the CSR Committee of the PDAC and was involved in the development of e3 Plus. His sociology Ph. D. thesis dealt with social responsibility in mineral exploration. Dr. Boon is providing guidance together with Lic. Pablo Lumerman, an expert in dialogue and a member of the “Plataforma de Diálogo de la República Argentina and of the Grupo de Diálogo Latinoamericano.” Employees are participating in capacity building exercises and have taken part in a survey aimed at establishing a sociological baseline.
About Neo Lithium Corp: Neo Lithium Corp. has quickly become a prominent new name in lithium brine exploration by virtue of its high quality 3Q Project and experienced team. Already well capitalized, Neo Lithium is rapidly advancing its recently discovered 3Q Project – a unique high-grade lithium brine lake and salar complex in Latin America’s “Lithium Triangle.”
The 3Q Project is located in the Province of Catamarca, the largest lithium producing area in Argentina. The project covers approximately 35,000 ha and the salar complex within this area is approximately 16,000 ha.
The technical team that has discovered the 3Q Project characterized this unique salar complex as one of the most experienced in lithium salars. For example, this team discovered and led the technical work, including resource definition and full feasibility study, that established the Cauchari lithium salar as one of the largest lithium brine resources in the world.
Additional information regarding Neo Lithium Corp. is available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com under the Company’s profile and at its website at www.neolithium.ca, including various pictures of ongoing work at the project.”
FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC) provides solutions to growers around the world with a portfolio of proprietary crop protection products and a robust pipeline fueled by innovative discovery and development capabilities in crop protection, plant health and professional pest and turf maintenance solutions. FMC Corporation recently reported fourth quarter and full-year 2018 results. For the fourth quarter, FMC reported revenue of approximately USD 1.2 Billion, an increase of 24% year-over-year. On a GAAP basis, the Company reported earnings of USD 0.24 per diluted share in the fourth quarter, or USD 32 Million, which includes a USD 106 Million non-cash charge to adjust reserves for environmental liabilities as a result of active negotiations for a settlement. This compares to GAAP earnings of USD 3.94 per diluted share, or USD 530 Million, in the fourth quarter of 2017, which included a USD 727 Million gain, net of tax, from the November 2017 sale of FMC Health and Nutrition, partially offset by a provisional income tax charge of USD 316 Million related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. FMC Lithium, known as Livent Corporation following its October IPO, reported fourth quarter segment revenue of USD 120 Million, an increase of 6% versus the prior-year quarter. Segment EBITDA came in slightly above the midpoint of guidance at USD 46 Millionin the quarter. Pierre Brondeau, FMC Chief Executive Officer and Chairman said: “FMC delivered another very strong quarter. In Agricultural Solutions, we grew sales 23 percent on a pro forma basis, excluding an estimated 5 percent headwind from foreign currencies. This was significantly above the market and our key competitors, as we continue to capitalize on the strength of our broad portfolio and capture new sales synergies. In Lithium, we had another strong operating quarter, and we are set to complete the spinoff of Livent Corporation on March 1, 2019.”
Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE: SQM) is a company with worldwide presence in industries essential for human development, through five lines of business: vegetable nutrition of specialties, lithium and derivatives, iodine and derivatives, industrial chemicals and potassium. Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. has recently disclosed information about the lithium carbonate expansion in Antofagasta in Chile. In May 2018, the company announced an ambitious strategic lithium expansion plan in Chile. This expansion is to be done in three phases, the first was to expand production from 48,000 to 70,000 MT, in 2018. The second is to increase production from 70,000 to 120,000 MT, to be completed in 2019, and the third phase is to add an additional 60,000 MT of capacity to its operations, reaching a total of 180,000MT by 2021. The execution of the first phase of this expansion plan considered a complete overhaul of the current lithium carbonate plant by changing and upgrading key components and implementing state of the art technology. These changes will not only allow for an increase in capacity, but also ensure the highest quality battery grade products. The completion and ramp-up of the plant has taken approximately five weeks more than anticipated mainly due to the calibration and fine tuning of some of the new components. During this period, the plant produced approximately 4,000 MT less battery grade product than originally anticipated. Patricio de Solminihac, Chief Executive Officer of SQM commented: “It has been an ambitious project that in a short timeframe considers technical and operational challenges allowing us to not only increase our sales volumes, but also meet the lithium quality standards required by our customers.” He continued: “We knew that overhauling and ramping up the plant at this moment would be challenging; we have very low inventories, the demand growth is strong, and our customers are requiring complex technical specifications. We didn’t want to wait to move forward with these plans, as these conditions were not expected to change in the near future. We have built the most cutting edge lithium carbonate plant in the world, with the lowest investment, totaling less than US$4,000 per ton of additional capacity.”
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) offers a full line of reliable, fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive vehicles with advanced safety technologies sold through more than 1,000 independent U.S. Honda dealers. Honda’s subsidiary, Honda Research Institute USA, Inc., an advanced research center that provides innovative solutions to complex problems, recently announced that it had collaborated with researchers at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to develop a new battery chemistry that enables the use of materials with higher energy density and a more favorable environmental footprint than current battery technologies. The joint study reports that the research team has opened new doors in the development of high energy-density batteries capable of meeting rapidly growing energy storage needs by overcoming the current temperature limitations of fluoride-based battery (FIB) technology and by demonstrating the room-temperature operation of fluoride-ion based energy cells. “Fluoride-ion batteries offer a promising new battery chemistry with up to ten times more energy density than currently available Lithium batteries,” said Dr. Christopher Brooks, Chief Scientist, Honda Research Institute, and a co-author of the paper. “Unlike Li-ion batteries, FIBs do not pose a safety risk due to overheating, and obtaining the source materials for FIBs creates considerably less environmental impact than the extraction process for lithium and cobalt.”
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. Committed to supporting human rights and environmental protection while helping infuse more transparency into global mineral supply chains, Ford Motor Company, Huayou Cobalt, IBM (NYSE: IBM), LG Chem and RCS Global announced plans to use blockchain technology to trace and validate ethically sourced minerals. The group, which includes participants at each major stage of the supply chain from mine to end-user, will begin with a pilot focused on cobalt and explore the creation of an open, industrywide blockchain platform that could ultimately be used to trace and validate a range of minerals used in consumer products. Cobalt is in high demand for its use in lithium-ion batteries, which power a wide range of products such as laptops, mobile devices and electric vehicles. According to a report from Morgan Stanley, by 2026, demand is expected to multiply eightfold, especially for its use in electric vehicles and consumer devices. The typical electric car battery requires up to 20 pounds of cobalt and a standard laptop requires around one ounce of the mineral. The blockchain pilot is already underway and seeks to demonstrate how materials in the supply chain are responsibly produced, traded and processed. For this pilot based on a simulated sourcing scenario, Cobalt produced at Huayou’s industrial mine site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be traced through the supply chain as it travels from mine and smelter to LG Chem’s cathode plant and battery plant in South Korea, and finally into a Ford plant in the United States. An immutable audit trail will be created on the blockchain, which will include corresponding data to provide evidence of the cobalt production from mine to end manufacturer.
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