Lithium Is Important Part For Electric Vehicle Battery
Author: Source: Datetime: 2018-06-23 12:49:43
Lithium does not naturally occur in nature. Instead, it is present in various mineral salts and requires chemical treatment to form industrially demanded lithium compounds and chemicals. Many lithium compounds are used in the industry, but lithium carbonate is the most common form of lithium and accounts for more than half of the total demand. The lithium industry generally represents the production of lithium and transactions in lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) units.
If electric vehicles that rely entirely or partially on electricity stored in batteries as an energy source revolutionize road transport in many expected ways, the demand for metals will increase exponentially. China will be at the forefront.
China is already the world's largest electric vehicle market, accounting for nearly half of global sales last year. It is expected that this trend will continue, thanks to the government's policy of promoting the development and adoption of electric vehicles. This will require a significant increase in lithium carbonate and more and more lithium hydroxide (another lithium compound), which is the preferred basis for the next generation of lithium battery technology.
According to statistics from the China Non-Ferrous Metals Industry Association (CNMIA), China accounted for more than half of the world's total production last year, with a production of 123,000 tons of LCE. Of these, 83,000 tons are lithium carbonate and the balance is other compounds such as lithium hydroxide, lithium chloride and metallic lithium.
China relies heavily on imported raw materials, and many Chinese producers use concentrated spodumene in the form of minerals imported mainly from Australia to produce products that include lithium carbonate. According to reports, the cost of producing a ton of lithium carbonate by some Chinese manufacturers using imported spodumene is high, and it is reported that the price per ton exceeds 10,000 US dollars. In contrast, producers of lithium carbonate, such as Chile, may cost less than $2,500 per ton.
Lithium battery demand has been strong over the past few years, and high-cost Chinese producers using imported spodumene have set marginal prices. According to customs data, this has been reflected in the average price of imported lithium carbonate, which has more than doubled in the past one and a half years. The price of battery-grade materials is even higher. Standard & Poor's global Platts evaluated battery-grade lithium carbonate CIF in North Asia at the beginning of June at US$17,250/t.
With demand continuing to exceed the high levels of supply and prices, imports remained strong in the first quarter of this year, rising 13% over the same period in 2017.
In order to ensure future supply, Chinese companies have therefore been looking overseas. China Tianqi Lithium controls 51% of Talison Lithium, the world's largest producer of spodumene, most of which is destined for China. In May, Tianqi Lithium also acquired 24% of the world’s lowest cost lithium producer Chile SQM. This should support the continued import of lithium carbonate to China, even if some of Australia's new lithium battery projects go live.
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