In a short series to kick off 2022, the Investor Insight team takes a look at some of the critical elements of the periodic table, how they affect our lives today and into tomorrow and what our clients are doing in this exciting space.
The high melting point and low weight and density of lithium have proven this metal crucial to the evolution of the modern battery. Currently, lithium can be found in rechargeable batteries across technologies, including mobile phones, digital cameras, electric vehicles and renewable energy storage.
This element is also used in several industrial applications as an alloying agent, in synthesizing organic compounds and as an additive for glasses and ceramics.
Similarly to the recent boost for hydrogen, the current push into renewable energies and a decarbonised future has seen demand for lithium boom over the last year.
Alongside the usage as a battery element in our modern technologies, the transition to personal and commercial electric vehicles and homes powered by renewable energy means that lithium batteries are needed now more than ever.
Geoscience Australia noted that government subsidies and legislation on fuel emissions had encouraged consumers to move towards hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicles as carmakers also shift from internal combustion engines.
Happily, Australia is home to world-class hard-rock, pegmatite-hosted lithium resources that are ready to meet the demand for this metal.
A great example of feeding into the surging demand is Core Lithium’s Finniss Project on the outskirts of Darwin in the Northern Territory, which plans to start production of lithium concentrate by Q4 2022 – an incredible achievement that will make Finniss is the newest lithium mine in Australia and the only new Australian producer slated for this year.
Oft forgotten is that Mineral Resources is one of the world’s leading lithium players, courtesy of its half-stake and operatorship in the Mt Marion project south of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and its 40% stake in the MARBL Lithium Joint Venture with Albemarle. MARBL holds the Wodgina lithium mine in the Pilbara – the first of three 250,000tpa spodumene processing lines is being readied for a restart – and the 50,000tpa Kemerton lithium hydroxide operation, near Bunbury, where commissioning is underway.