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Demand for EV Battery Supplies Strengthens the Lithium Market

Demand for EV Battery Supplies Strengthens the Lithium Market


NEW YORK: According to data provided by Technavio, the global lithium-ion battery market is expected to reach USD 81.65 billion by 2021, at a CAGR of over 11%. The increased usage of lithium is due to rising demand for batteries to power everyday portable consumer electronics and electric vehicles (EVs). Earlier this week Bloomberg reported that Volkswagen AG, the world’s largest carmaker, secured 20 billion euros ($25 billion) in battery supplies to reinforce its strong investment in EVs. The move is expected to put more pressure on Tesla Inc. as it copes with production issues for their mainstream Model 3.

According to the report Volkswagen plans to equip 16 factories to produce electric vehicles by the end of 2022, compared to three factories currently. Additionally, Volkswagen expects to manufacture 3 million cars a year by 2025, an ambitious goal that is backstopped by deals with battery suppliers such as Samsung, LG Chem Ltd. and Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. for in Europe and China. Millennial Lithium Corp. (OTC: MLNLF), Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB), Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE: SQM), Lithium Americas Corp. (NYSE: LAC), Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA)

A recent report published by Industrial Minerals is showing that the increasing popularity of EV’s has translated into a record demand for lithium. Chinese battery-grade lithium carbonate prices have risen since the lunar New Year to almost record highs. The spot price for battery-grade lithium carbonate (min 99.5% Li2CO3) increased to 150,000-160,000 yuan ($23,676-$25,254) per ton. China’s appetite for lithium is evident as more acquisitions of lithium producers continue to take place. Recently TSX.v listed Canadian company Lithium X Energy Corp completed a plan of arrangement with Nextview New Energy Lion Hong Kong Limited, according to which NextView has agreed to acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares and warrants of Lithium X for $2.61.

Millennial Lithium Corp. (OTCQB: MLNLF) is also listed on the TSX Venture Exchange and is developing a world class lithium project in Argentina. Earlier this week the company announced that it has closed its previously announced bought deal financing of 6,900,000 units at a price of C$3.50 per Unit for aggregate gross proceeds to Millennial of C$24,150,000. The Offering was conducted by a syndicate of underwriters co-led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. and Cantor Fitzgerald Canada Corporation as joint bookrunners, and including Cormark Securities Inc. and Sprott Private Wealth LP (collectively, the “Underwriters”). The Offering included 900,000 Units sold pursuant to the full exercise of the Underwriters’ over-allotment option.

The Company has concurrently closed its private placement of 2,206,671 units at a price of $3.50 per Private Placement Unit for proceeds of approximately C$7.7 million. Stand Virtue Limited (“Stand Virtue”), a subsidiary of GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Limited (“GCL”), a Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed company, purchased a total of 1,822,514 Private Placement Units and Lamtex Securities Limited, a subsidiary of Lamtex Holdings Ltd. (collectively, “Lamtex”), a Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed company, purchased a total of 134,157 Private Placement Units. Each of these subscribers is associated with Million Surge Holdings Limited (“Million Surge”), a major shareholder of the Company.

Upon completion of the Private Placement and the Bought Deal Offering, Million Surge, Stand Virtue and Lamtex hold collectively 13,956,671 common shares in the Company, which constitutes approximately 17% of Millennial’s issued share capital, and 978,335 Warrants.

Farhad Abasov, President and CEO of the Company, says that “Millennial is very excited about the successful completion of the Offering and the Private Placement. We welcome both new and existing institutional and retail investors. We are also quite pleased to see continuing support from GCL and support from Lamtex’s initial investment. This financing round significantly strengthens Millennial’s cash position and will allow us to proceed with two major technical programs at a full speed: REMSA ground exploration and development as well as a definitive feasibility study for the Pastos Grandes Project.”

Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB) is a leader in the production of lithium and lithium derivatives. Recently, the company has received approval from Chile’s Economic Development Agency(CORFO) for an increase in the company’s lithium quota to sustainably increase Albemarle’s lithium production in Chile to as much as 145,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) annually through 2043. As previously announced, this quota increase will be enabled by the company’s deployment of innovative technology to extract more lithium without the need for additional brine pumping at the Salar de Atacama. “We are pleased that, with this new quota, we have the opportunity to add additional capacity in the Atamaca in a highly efficient and sustainable manner,” said John Mitchell, Albemarle President of Lithium. “Albemarle’s new brine yield technology is a part of our already announced Wave 2 capacity expansions targeted for commissioning after 2021. We will continue to actively monitor the market and bring this capacity on, as needed, to meet the needs of our contracted customers.”

Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE: SQM) is committed to the development and sustainability of the lithium industry. On February 28, 2018, the company reported earnings for the twelve months ended December 31, 2017 of US$427.7 million (US$1.63 per ADR), an increase from US$278.3 million (US$1.06 per ADR). In January 2018, the company announced that it reached an agreement with CORFO to finish the arbitration processes that started in May 2014. The agreement included a one-time payment of approximately US$20 million that is reflected in the fourth quarter 2017 results. As part of the agreement, SQM is allowed to produce and sell up to 2.2 million MT of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) through 2030, albeit at higher lease payments to CORFO and other associated cost. The new payment structure will become effective, as of the moment the agreement is approved by regulatory authorities in Chile, which we expect to occur during March 2018.

Lithium Americas Corp. (NYSE: LAC), together with SQM, is developing Cauchari-Olaroz, located in the Province of Jujuy, Argentina, through its 50% interest in Minera Exar. In addition, Lithium Americas owns 100% of Lithium Nevada. On January 18, 2018, the company provided Cauchari-Olaroz Development and Lithium Nevada Development update. Cauchari-Olaroz continues to progress detailed engineering which, excluding the plant design, is 50% complete and scheduled to be completed this quarter followed by final plant design to be completed in the second quarter of 2018. Construction activities associated with earthworks, roads and well platforms are well underway. Lithium Americas continues to advance Lithium Nevada, a clay-based lithium resource in the McDermitt Caldera. The 2017 exploration drill program was completed on time and budget with assay results expected in the coming months. Planning for a further 2018 exploration drill program is underway and focused on mapping the extent of the deposit. Progress on the geology, mine plan, process engineering and permitting remain on track to complete a PFS on Lithium Nevada as planned.

Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) offers a full suite of energy products that incorporates solar, storage, and grid services, with the opening of the Gigafactory and the acquisition of SolarCity, Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy through increasingly affordable electric vehicles and renewable energy generation and storage. Tesla has seen enormous demand for our energy products and electric vehicles. With the acceleration of Tesla’s vehicle build plan to 500k cars by 2018, the Gigafactory timeline is also accelerated to prepare cells and packs ahead of vehicle production. By 2018, the company plans to produce 35 GWh of lithium-ion battery cells annually, nearly as much as the rest of the entire world’s battery production combined. The company will reduce the cost of lithium-ion batteries through economies of scale and innovative manufacturing, reduction of logistics inefficiency, optimization of co-located processes and reduced overhead.

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