Mining companies have revealed that plans to make an EV battery that doesn’t contain lithium by China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (“CATL”) likely will not ease the demand for lithium as well as other battery metals. This is mainly because the battery will have a limited range, and competing battery technologies are expected to eat up lithium’s supply in the near future.
Earlier in June, CATL revealed that it would be developing a sodium ion alternative that wouldn’t contain cobalt, lithium or nickel. This battery will be heavier and less powerful in comparison with the lithium ion battery, which makes it less suitable for electric cars. Mining executives noted that CATL’s announcement boded well for metals demand and traditional EV battery designs.
However, estimates from the International Energy Agency (“IEA”) show that by the year 2030 the penetration of electric cars around the world will have increased to 145 million. As the industry grows, Li-ion batteries are projected to retain the dominant battery position, particularly in the transportation sector.
The CEO of Livent Corp, a company that mines lithium, stated that sodium ion batteries wouldn’t ease lithium’s demand, adding that instead, the metal’s demand would be constrained by supply. Livent Corp has contracts to supply lithium to BMW and Tesla Inc., among other auto manufacturers.
Projections from Adamas Intelligence show that the use of batteries containing sodium ion may grow to roughly 15% of the international market for batteries by the year 2035. However, this growth could result in the fall from grace of LFP batteries (lithium ion phosphate), which are used in large-battery assemblies or buses, instead of traditional Li-ion batteries.
The managing director of the minerals consultancy firm Ryan Castilloux added that sodium ion batteries weren’t a significant rival in the near future, from a lithium producer’s standpoint.
The biggest producer of lithium globally Albermarle Corp appears to agree with Castilloux, having stated recently that large utility-scale batteries can be the main use of the sodium ion battery, as only lithium could fuel widespread electric car adoption.
Despite the many alternatives for rare earths in the market, lithium is still regarded as the best metal for energy density in a battery. Roskill also projects lithium demand for purposes of manufacturing electric car batteries is expected to rise to more than two million tons by the year 2030, with the need for cobalt, which is also used to manufacture Li-ion batteries, doubling in the same period.
While the electric vehicle sector provides a significant market for a number of minerals, mining companies such as First Energy Metals Ltd. (CSE: FE) (OTCQB: FEMFF) likely have other markets in mind for their energy metals, with the EV sector demand being a welcome bonus.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to First Energy Metals Ltd. (CSE: FE) (OTCQB: FEMFF) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/FEMFF
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