The Asia Miner

JUN 2018

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

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Page 36 of 51

the asia miner • volume 15 • issue 2 35 FEATURE: Lithium Ken Brinsden, Managing Director & CEO of Pilbara Minerals believes that the main factor driving lithium demand is the global transformaƟon in how we consume and distribute energy, as well as how we source our energy. "Lithium-ion baƩeries are becoming increasingly an important co-commitment to each of those objecƟves," said Mr Brinsden. In Q1, China conƟnued to be a key player in the EV space. With the Chinese government pushing for all-electric baƩery cars and plug-in hybrids to account for at least one-fiŌh of its vehicle sales by 2025, as cited by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, China already produces 55% of LIBs globally, and its share is forecast to grow to 65%. "China was well ahead of other naƟons in the race to develop lithium-ion baƩery technology and the push to mass-produce electric vehicles," said Mr Brinsden. The AssociaƟon of Mining and ExploraƟon Companies (AMEC) sees Australia in a remarkable posiƟon in the lithium space to benefit from local advantages. The naƟon is now responsible for mining the majority of the world's lithium as well as all of the minerals necessary to domesƟcally manufacture baƩeries. But, the AssociaƟon warns that Australia has a window of roughly two years before the global market has locked down just where baƩery components and baƩeries will be sourced, manufactured and by whom. NOT ALL BA TTERIES POINT TO EVs Australia's power woes have been hiƫng the headlines steadfastly and recurrently since several major power outages, especially those experienced in 2016 in the State of South Australia, became planted firmly on the political agenda. Elon Musk and Tesla provided South Australia and Premier Jay Weatherill with an answer: the Tesla Powerpack – a massive lithium ion battery located in Jamestown. The Tesla Powerpack connects to a wind farm operated by French energy firm Neoen and is expected to hold enough power for thousands of homes during periods of excess demand that could result in blackouts. The South Australian government did not stop there. Just this year, the government backed the British billionaire Sanjeev Gupta with a AU$10 million loan to build an even bigger battery at Port Augusta. The State of Victoria appears to be following suit. MinterEllison, a legal and consulting firm, has confirmed that Victoria's Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has launched Energy Storing Initiative (ESI) – a funding program that will deliver two large-scale battery storage projects for grid constrained areas in Western Victoria. One of the batteries – yes, another Tesla 25MW/50MWh – will be integrated with the Gannawarra Solar Farm. The second baƩery, a 30MW/30MWh system will connect directly to a vital grid intersecƟon at a substaƟon at Warrenheip, near Ballarat. "This is a first of its kind project in Victoria, with many unique challenges and opportuniƟes for our team and the Department," said MinterEllison partner Kylie Diwell. AUSTRALIA AT THE FOREFRONT IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN Australia appears to be at the forefront of the potenƟal AU$2 trillion value chain in the new baƩery mineral sector, which corrals other commodiƟes like cobalt, graphite, nickel and rare earths, by being able to offer internaƟonal baƩery and EV car manufacturers certainty of supply, low sovereign risk, high quality ore, sustainable volumes and breakthrough baƩery mineral processing technologies. Bill Repard, ExecuƟve Chairman of the Paydirt Conference, says that Australia, and predominantly Western Australia, already "supply more than 60% of the world's lithium and that is an own goal going begging in terms of value-adding a processing stream to it". WESTERN AUSTRALIA Minerals CommodiƟes Limited Business Development Manager, Daniel HasƟngs, believes that Western Australia is well placed to enƟce baƩery manufacturing infrastructure, with the State expected to be the only jurisdicƟon in Australia to produce all raw materials for LIB producƟon. A posiƟon supported by the Western Australia Government Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Bill Johnston. In an interview with Small Caps, Mr Johnston echoed the view that development in lithium and baƩery technologies was a "real opportunity for Western Australia, not just in mining but also in downstream processing". "The reason that Western Australia's mining sector is so successful is because it's about the applied applicaƟon of technology, it's about being at the forefront of innovaƟon. The future success of the industry will be about conƟnuing to apply technology. "Western Australia has effectively all the minerals that are needed to create a baƩery and we have investments in processing here in Western Australia, which will give us the opportunity to build a world-class baƩery minerals sector," said Mr Johnston. Midas Engineering Group Director/Principal ConsulƟng Engineer, Damian Connelly predicts the baƩery minerals demand to potenƟally surpass Western Australia's 1990s gold boom. "The market and financial insƟtuƟons are underesƟmaƟng the huge disrupƟve change and the speed of change occurring in the technology of the baƩery market. "The very demanding technical specificaƟons for baƩery minerals will limit the suitability of some ores. "Demand is currently exceeding supply and current expansions will sƟll lag behind for a number of years to come," Mr Connelly said. LITHIUM SPACE IN AUSTRALIA Along with the increase in demand for lithium, prices for the refined product have risen and logistics efficiencies have been sought. Australian producers have "Australia [is] in a remarkable position in the lithium space to benefit from local advantages"

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