More


 

DEMAND

The lithium battery market is already worth over $4 billion annually, though this figure is mostly derived from its widespread use in portable electronic devices. However, the advent of green cars powered by batteries that use 20-60 pounds of lithium oxide is already creating a heightened demand for this new-age metal.
Most importantly, the business world is already sold on the benefits of this invaluable new energy source. Approximately two dozen models of eco-automobiles are expected to be on the market by 2012. Most of them will be plug-in hybrid vehicles that can cost effectively alternate between gasoline fuel and electrical power.

Consequently, demand for lithium powered vehicles is expected to increase as much as fivefold within the next 5-7 years, according to many industry analysts. And some estimates suggest that as many as 250 million electric cars will be driven by the year 2020 — the majority of which will be manufactured and driven in the emerging superpowers of China, India and Brazil.

 

SUPPLY

Most of the world’s lithium supplies come from three Latin American nations — Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. This is potentially problematic, That’s because there are various technical and geopolitical hurdles in these countries to ensuring the availability of a steady long term supply of lithium for the US battery manufacturing and automotive industries.
In fact, the assurance of a long term supply of lithium is also a major concern for all major auto manufacturers, not just in the US but in all of the world’s major markets. Notably, only about half a dozen countries worldwide, including China, account for all of the world’s lithium production. The US contributes as little as 3% to this output. Hence, Thomas Brachmann of Honda’s R&D division in Europe, where there are no lithium producers, says that his company “has big concerns regarding the supply of lithium.”

In North America, the Ford Motor Company has also been very vocal about securing long term lithium supplies, especially as the domestic auto industry does not want to replace a dependency on foreign oil with one on foreign lithium. “The industry needs to know where the lithium is going to come from. Are these countries friendly to the Western World?” says Charles Wu, a spokesperson for Ford Research. Even President Obama has expressed serious concerns about future lithium supplies. In a speech last summer he declared: “Switching Middle Eastern oil for foreign batteries is not an option.”

 

SOLUTION

There is pressure for the U.S. Government to find a” made in America” solution to the anticipated lithium surge in demand. At times this may seem a daunting challenge as the US is home to only one lithium producer - Chemetall Foote, which operates the Silver Peak mine in Nevada. That is why the company was just given a $28.4 million grant earlier this year by the US Department of Energy with the aim of doubling the mine’s production of lithium.
The focus of the U.S. Government is good news to the world’s handful of lithium miners and developers of new deposits. Yet, they will be pressed to their very limits in trying to satisfy a year-on-year exponential surge in demand for the world’s new battery of choice. One of the lithium exploration and development companies that is moving as fast as possible to capitalize on the burgeoning demand for lithium, particularly in the US, is Gryphon Resources.
The company’s President Allan Muller believes that a supply squeeze is on the horizon, and this 21st century metal will becomes an increasingly “strategic commodity” for the US industrial sector. This is why Gryphon wants to help ramp-up future lithium supplies in the US by developing America’s next prospective lithium mine in Arizona

“We’re looking to become only the second company in the US  and first in Arizona to supply the domestic market, which is obviously going to continue to be one of the major consumers of lithium in the future,” he says.

 

SUPPORT

The White House is championing the mass adoption of lithium-ion batteries as the most efficient way to electrify motorised vehicles. In 2009, alone, the US federal government granted over $25 billion in loans to automobile and battery makers. Such initiatives promise to help President Obama accomplish his well-publicised mandate to usher in one million electric vehicles in the US by 2015.
In addition the US Department of Energy is providing grants to lithium mining companies looking to increase the supply of American based production.

Similarly, the leaders of other major industrialised nations are also rallying around such political and economic imperatives with their own multi-billion dollar incentives. That’s because rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are lighter and cheaper than conventional rechargeable nickel batteries. Notably, they are also much more powerful and have at least twice the energy density, as well as a longer operating life and other key advantages.

 

Lithium Supply

In North America, the Ford Motor Company has also been very vocal about securing long term lithium supplies, especially as the domestic auto industry does not want to replace a dependency on foreign oil with one on foreign lithium. “The industry needs to know where the lithium is going to come from. Are these countries friendly to the Western World?” says Charles Wu, a spokesperson for Ford Research. Even President Obama has expressed serious concerns about future lithium supplies. In a speech last summer he declared: “Switching Middle Eastern oil for foreign batteries is not an option.”

 
 
Doneceget tellusnon eratacinia fermentum
Ut pharetra augue nec augue. Nam elit magna, hendrerit sit amet, tincidunt ac, viverra sed, nulla. Donec porta diam eu massa. Quisque diam lorem, interduapibus ac, scelerisque vitae, pedeonec. more