In the rush to advance the electric vehicle revolution, it appears China is taking an early lead in both adoption of EVs and securing the resources of lithium to power them.
Lithium producers and near term producers looking to immediately increase global lithium supplies include A.I.S. Resources Limited (TSX-V: AIS) (OTC: AISSF), Galaxy Resources (OTC: GALXF), Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE: SQM), and Lithium X Energy Corp. (TSX-V: LIX) (OTC: LIXXF).
Several major Chinese auto manufacturers are planning to increase their electric vehicle (EV) quotas dramatically in the next two years based on early success by EV makers there and the Chinese Government's demands to abandon petrol fuel engines.
Combined with greater use of lithium in power grid storage, the demand is creating kind of "arms" race style competition for global lithium. So far China is ahead.
Lithium junior poised to benefit
Other lithium companies that are poised to take-up the shortfall being fed by China's consumption include Galaxy Resources (OTC: GALXF), Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (NYSE: SQM), and Lithium X Energy Corp. (TSX-V: LIX.V) (OTCQX: LIXXF), all of which are in the process of expanding of their respective lithium resources to accommodate the major demand increase.
China is stepping on the pedal
China is already a leader in the adoption of electric vehicles, with more than 500,000 units being sold in the country in 2016.
Indeed, Chinese battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd is planning a US$1.97 billion IPO to drive its expansion and meet soaring demand for electric car batteries.
And BYD, the Chinese electric car and bus company part-owned by Warrant Buffett, has talked extensively with South American lithium producers to secure supplies of the key battery material.
China, the world's most active polluter has suffered for long due to toxic effluents and greenhouse emissions, hence is one of the countries at the forefront of adopting the Paris Agreement. But this process is lithium-intensive due to the millions of batteries required to power various processes particularly electric transportation.
China does not have substantial lithium mines within its own boundaries. Lithium resources tend to be located far away from the centers of industrial muscle in North America, Europe and Asia that utilise it in large quantities.
The main sources are brine pools in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, as well as rocks in Australia and Canada.
Chinese companies have been rushing to acquire concessions in these countries, aided by the diplomatic power and financial muscle of the Chinese government.
Companies such as Ganfeng Lithium and Tianqi Lithium have seen massive growth, with their turnovers more than doubling in 2016.
Ganfeng Lithium strengthened their position by purchasing 2 million equity shares from International Lithium, increasing its shareholding in the company to 18%.
More and more Lithium is needed
Although there are enough verified lithium resources to sustain a fully EV dependent world for hundreds of years, slow establishment of mining operations has meant that actual supply has lagged behind demand.
And now that the Tesla-led EV revolution has hit full gear, pressure on existing resources has grown by a considerable factor.
Entities that control these resources have gold (even that maybe an understatement) on their hands as the price of lithium keeps surging. China has been moving to do exactly that through government-sanctioned acquisition of supplies across the world.
If, as lithium consultant Sam Jaffe of Cairn ERA predicts, lithium-ion battery demand rises from 80 GWh this year to 750 GWh in 2026, it's likely that the world is going to need every bit of lithium production that can be brought online.
In total, the projected increase would account for a massive 10-fold leap in demand within 10 years.
Juniors seize the opportunity
Not to be left out of the competition, junior resource companies have grasped the seriousness of the demand for lithium and are moving to bring on supplies.
Canada is a major global lithium producer with significant additional potential, and is a mining jurisdiction as any in the world. The country has become well known for its many hard rock ore and petro-lithium brines, which include the Case Lake and South Leduc Brine properties each with significant exploration potential.
This is where Power Metals Corp has stakes in, along with six other hard rock and brine projects, all of which are strategically located in Canada's Ontario and Alberta provinces.
In all, Power Metals Corp has over a million acres of hard rock and brine exploration potential, with its flagship Case Lake property at 2,500 acre (a JV with MGM minerals) is well advanced with exploration activity with over 7,000m drilled so far.
Case Lake was sampled and returned Li ranging from 6.04-7.14% from samples taken on the surface. The current program focuses on exploring beneath these high grade areas.
Case Lake is on its way to becoming a first major discovery for Power Metals Corp. Power Metals Corp need to expend about $200,000 over 36 months (along with cash payments of $325,000) to earn 100% on Case Lake. The company is fast-tracking the exploration in a bid to make this happen in 2018 itself.
Power Metals Chairman is Johnathan More, who has over 20 years of experience in North American and European capital markets focused on natural resource industries. He had a history of achievement from his years with Canaccord Capital. He has been with the Company since 2008 and is actively applying his experience and contacts into the public company sector.
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