The Asia Miner

JUL-SEP 2019

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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the asia miner • volume 16 • issue 3 37 AROUND THE REGION Chinese authoriঞes have announced the discovery of new large deposits of lithium ore in the wilderness of China's southwestern Yunnan province. Preliminary esঞmates supplied by geologists with the Chinese Academy of Sciences have put the size of the new discovery at no less than five million metric tonnes. The new deposits in a basin in Yunnan would have the potenঞal to shed China's reliance on imported ore and accelerate Beijing's electric vehicle (EV) drive. The report noted that exploraঞons in Yunnan found around 340,000 tonnes of carbonate lithium ore in a two to 16-metre bed within an area of 7.2 square kilometres. Addiঞonally, ciঞng a government report, the South China Morning Post reported that "a 15-year marathon research project led by the Academy ulঞmately bore fruit with a cost- effecঞve technique to extract lithium from other minerals using a complicated electronic membrane filtering process". Even though China enjoys large lithium reserves, most of them lie beneath salt lake beds in the wilderness of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Fragile ecosystems on the highland dubbed 'the roof of the world', along with the region's lack of supporঞng infrastructure, have forced Chinese firms to take ঞme to mine the metal, unঞl this recent breakthrough. The metal that also fuels the world's drive to green transportaঞon is extracted from brine, but experts say separaঞng it from other elements present in the salts is costly. The new process has further widened the markup enjoyed by Chinese suppliers, at a ঞme when prices of lithium for export range from US$12,000 to US$20,000 per metric tonne. The new technique – already being adopted by several suppliers including state-owned Qinghai Lithium Industries – is expected to boost China's annual output of lithium, and at the same ঞme see a surge in EV manufacturing to meet the Chinese Government's push to roll out approximately two million units powered by lithium by 2020. As lithium-ion baeries conঞnue their reign as the top baeries for EVs, latest data from the US Geological Survey shows that the world's top lithium producers are scouring their lands and mines to cash in on the rising demand – worldwide lithium supply rose roughly 23 per cent from 2017 to 2018, coming in at 85,000 tonnes. China – already home to some of the world's largest baery manufacturers and also the largest importer of lithium, as shown by data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence – is spending billions of dollars on purchasing mines in other lithium-rich naঞons such as Argenঞna and Australia, prompঞng the accusaঞon that Beijing is hoarding its domesঞc sources while trying to control the global supply. The latest such asset acquirer was Tianqi Lithium, based in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu, which paid US$4.1 billion in May 2018 for a 24 per cent stake in Chile's Sociedad Química y Minera, the world's second-biggest producer of lithium. The current ঞt-for-tat between China and US, however, may serve as an irritaঞon to China's meteoric rise to world dominance in the lithium sphere, with importers and traders, especially in the US, turning to recycling used baery cells to avoid becoming too reliant on China. China's surge in lithium production boosts Beijing's EV drive China's new lithium discovery a plus for Beijing's EC drive 中国锂产量的激增提振了北京的电动汽车动力 于500万吨。 云南盆地的新矿藏的发现将有可能使中国拜托对进口铁矿石的依 约34万吨的碳酸盐岩锂矿。 此外,《南华早报》援引了一份政府报告称,"中科院领导的一项 历时15年的马拉松式研究项目取得了最终成果,该项目采用了一种 中提取锂"。 上该地区缺乏配套基础设施,已近迫使中国企业花了长时间去开采 稀土,这道最近才有了新的突破。 提取的,但专家也表示了,将锂与盐中存在的其他元素分离开来的 成本非常高。 扩大了中国供应商的涨价空间。新的技术已经被几个供应商包括国 有青海锂产业采用——预计将提高中国的年产锂量,同时也激增了 电动车的制造。这一举动响应了中国政府推出的将在2020年生产出 大约200万台锂电池政策。 据显示, 全球最大的锂生产商正在挖掘自己的土地和矿山以填补他 们日益增长的需求。2017年至2018年,全球锂供应增长了约23%, 了8.5万吨。 中国已经拥有了一些世界上最大的锂电池制造商和进口国。但据资 料显示,中国正斥资数十亿美元从阿根廷和澳大利亚等其他锂资源 丰富的国家购买锂矿。这引发了外界的指责: 中国政府在试图控制 全球锂供应的同时,却在囤积国内资源。 最新的此类资产收购者是总部位于四川省会成都的天齐锂业(Tian- qi Lithium)。该公司于2018年5月斥资41亿美元收购了全球第二大 锂生产商智利社会矿业公司(Sociedad Quimica y Minera) 24%的 股份。 然而,在当前中美之间针锋相对的局面,随着进口和贸易商(尤其 会迅速崛起成为全球锂金属领域的主导力量。

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