On February 1, Bloomberg reported that: "Electric buses will take over half the world fleet by 2025. The number of electric buses will triple within seven years, and virtually all of them will be in China. Nearly half of the municipal buses on the road worldwide will be electric within seven years, with China expected to dominate the global market as it aims to cut urban pollution and support domestic manufacturers. The total number of electric buses in service is forecast to more than triple, from 386,000 last year to about 1.2 million in 2025, equal to about 47 percent of the worldwide city bus fleet.
MNCs locking up supplies
But 5 days ago, the financial times reported that global carmakers from Volkswagen to even Tesla are attempting to lock in supplies of raw materials that are needed to increase production of lithium ion batteries, which will power this electric car revolution.
Volkswagen and Tesla's moves highlight the consensus that the EV supply and demand ramp up is real, and that there is a problem of "proper long-term contracts", for supply of lithium, according to Simon Moores, London-based Benchmark Minerals Intelligence.
Companies are concerned about supply chains for these materials that drive innovation. MS apparently isn't. For lithium, the issue is that near-term supply may not be able to meet explosive demand out to 2025. Although lithium’s relative abundance around the world suggests that medium- and long-term demand will be met, the challenges of bringing Li production up to speed is the issue here.
No new supply coming anytime soon
Research in new substitute technologies largely remains in the labs with little sign of a full commercialisation on the horizon, or are merely an enhancements and not replacements. Hydrogen fuel cells for instance, first invented in the 1830s, have long been seen as the most viable alternative to lithium batteries. Yet the technology has been held back by high material costs since the 1990s heyday of hydrogen development. The company has since been sold quietly with little to no value for the shareholders
Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecoms research at Deloitte said that he does not expect change any time soon.
"Over the next five years, lithium-ions are likely to remain the basis of almost all batteries used in smartphones. At present there appears to be no battery technologies on the horizon that have evolved sufficiently to be tested and factored into supply chains that could replace lithium-ions."
Even Cobalt can be substituted out, using some combination of nickel, aluminium and manganese.
So now is the time for would-be miners to jump on unexploited lithium deposits. The best way we feel to secure a foothold in lithium now is to think outside of the box and look for companies, Power Metals Corp including, who keep one foot in the proven hunting grounds (Abitibi greenstone belt).
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