PALM BEACH, Florida, March 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
Marketnewsupdates.com News Commentary
Lithium-air technology is the next evolutionary step in the way we power our devices. This technology will allow for higher capacity batteries in smaller packages, reduce the overall material requirements and optimize both weight and cost of a final product. The lithium-air market looks set to provide a boost to a lithium industry where supply is already having difficulty keeping up with demand. Some of the companies that may benefit from this increased demand include Lundin Mining Corp. (TSX:LUN), Trevali Mining Corp. (TSX:TV), Supreme Metals Corp. (CSE:ABJ), International Battery Metals Ltd. (CSE:IBAT), and Wealth Minerals Ltd. (TSX-V:WML).
As the name suggests, lithium-air cells take oxygen from the air, which reacts with the lithium in the battery to generate electricity. Since these batteries are not restricted with the use of purified air streams like from an oxygen tank and can function on regular air alone, they can be made smaller and more efficient. Military applications alone are enough to make the market value of lithium explode. Lithium-air batteries are perfect for every type of single-use military applications, from ordinance guidance systems and torpedoes to UAVs and artillery fuses.
More practical applications includes cellphones and electric vehicles. For example, companies like Samsung Electronics are developing their own lithium-air battery that will allow electric vehicles to double their range, compared to traditional lithium-ion car batteries. Lithium-air batteries are highly promising technologies for cars and portable electronic devices because of their potential for delivering a high energy output relative to their weight.
Research on lithium-air technology is heating up to see who can create the better battery. Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and at Argonne National Laboratory has produced a lithium-air battery which can be charged and discharged at a record-breaking 750 times. This more environmentally sustainable battery means there will be less batteries in landfills. Similarly, researchers at MIT are also developing a lithium-air battery with only an 8% charging loss, which means a more efficient battery but also a quick-charging battery. In both cases, these batteries could store much more energy in a smaller package compared to current commercially available lithium-ion cells.
New Batteries + More Applications = More Demand For Lithium
Lithium-air technology could potentially spike demand for lithium and may create new opportunities for up and coming mining companies such as Wealth Minerals Ltd. (TSX.V:WML) to benefit from a lithium industry where supply continues to outpace demand.
Due to the versatility of lithium-air batteries, and the need for environmentally friendly power consumption solutions, more lithium will be required for more products than ever before. The amount of devices that can benefit from these new batteries extend to more than just electric vehicles and cell phones. Your children's toys and household appliances to military applications and city power grids will require lithium to function in the near future. The improvements afforded by the invention of lithium-air batteries is only set to increase the need for lithium.
Chile: Mining The Lithium That Will Power The World
According to a recent US Geological Survey, 40 million tons of lithium is mineable globally, 65 % of the most sought after lithium deposits are located in South America in countries such Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. Chile in particular remains one of the most mining friendly areas in the world.
This is the reason why junior mining companies such as Wealth Minerals will need to develop production opportunities like their securement of a land package covering over 75,000 hectares in the Salars in Chile. Wealth Minerals is part of a rush of junior mining companies claiming stakes in these regions, such as Salar de Atacama where 40% of global lithium production occurs.
Wealth Minerals' strong presence in Chile will allow them to capitalize on this surge in demand for lithium. The price of lithium carbonate has increased from $6,000 a ton in June 2015 to over $20,000 and ton by the end of 2017. Additionally, there are only a few suppliers of lithium globally with market power and in general there is room for new projects to feed into growing global demand. The ultimate winner in the future of the industry will be those companies that have the lowests costs and operations in stable jurisdictions. Chilean lithium is the lowest cost in the world due to the high grade of lithium resources mined there and Chile's fiscal and political stability allows projects to develop without external problems. This backdrop opens up many opportunities for junior mining companies, with the most notable being Wealth Minerals, one of the only pure play Chilean lithium mining companies.
Recent political shifts in Chile has made exporting lithium by companies such Wealth Minerals, faster and easier. Wealth Minerals recently announced in a press release that it has entered into an agreement with the fully state-owned National Mining Company of Chile ("ENAMI"), to form a strategic alliance to develop and commercialize the company's projects in the Salar de Atacama and Laguna Verde. The company has the potential to outpace the production of their next leading competitors, such as Albemarle and SQM, due to this major deal. Many investors are looking into recent political movements in Chile and how it can benefit the mining industry. Junior mining companies like Wealth Minerals are poised to take advantage of favorable mining regulations in the country.
Lundin Mining Corp. (TSX:LUN)
Lundin Mining is a diversified base metals company with operations in Chile, Portugal, Sweden, and the U.S., primarily producing copper, nickel, and zinc. In Chile, the company is currently producing copper from its Candelaria mine in Atacama Province. The Candelaria mine produced 147,086 tonnes last year, meeting its production guidance. In addition, Lundin Mining holds an indirect 24% equity stake in the Freeport Cobalt Oy business, which includes a cobalt refinery located in Kokkola, Finland.
Trevali Mining Corp. (TSX:TV)
Trevali is a zinc-focused base metals mining company currently operating the Santander mine in Peru and the Caribou mine in New Brunswick, Canada. It also has major stakes in the Rosh Pinah mine in Namibia and the Perkoa mine in Burkina Faso. Last year, the company's projects produced a combined 225.1 million pounds of zinc.
Supreme Metals Corp. (CSE:ABJ)
Supreme Metals is currently focused on energy metals in North America. In particular, the company is exploring for cobalt along with other metals at three projects located in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario respectively. Previously, it has also been working on three lithium brine properties in Nevada.
International Battery Metals Ltd. (CSE:IBAT)
International Battery Metals (IBAT) is currently focused on acquiring a low-cost lithium extraction technology. This technology could potentially extract and produce lithium chloride, lithium carbonate, and lithium hydroxide at costs similar to producers such as Albermarle, SQM, and FMC. The company intends to file patents for the technology in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. IBAT's unique extraction process is environmentally friendly, low cost, and has the potential to produce high-quality, commercial grade lithium at a much faster rate than the current industry standards.
The Sky's The Limit For Lithium-Air Technology
The development of lithium-air cell batteries and other lithium-based technologies will be the driving force for market growth and environmental sustainability initiatives in the future. These innovations will drive demand for lithium. The creation of profitable mining projects in lithium rich countries like Chile from companies such as Wealth Minerals with significant stakes in the region. Lithium supply and demand indicate that recently development are heavily in favor of junior mining firms like Wealth Minerals and that this imbalance could potentially stretch out investor interest in junior mining companies in Chile well into 2018 and beyond.
For more information on Wealth Minerals Ltd. (TSX.V:WML), please visit streetsignals.com for a free research report.
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