WHY LITHIUM?

WHY LITHIUM?

Lithium is on the list of the 35 minerals considered critical to the economic and national security of the United States as first published by the U.S. Department of the Interior on May 18, 2018. In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy published a report titled “National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries 2021-2030” (henceforth, the “NBLB Report”) which was developed by the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries (“FCAB”), a collaboration by the U.S. Departments of Energy, Defense, Commerce, and State. According to the Report, one of the main goals of this U.S. government effort is to “secure U.S. access to raw materials for lithium batteries.” In the NBLB Report, Ms. Jennifer M. Granholm, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, states: “Lithium-based batteries power our daily lives from consumer electronics to national defense. They enable electrification of the transportation sector and provide stationary grid storage, critical to developing the clean-energy economy.”

The NBLB Report summarizes as follows the U.S. government’s views on the needs for lithium and the expected growth of the lithium battery market:

“A robust, secure, domestic industrial base for lithium-based batteries requires access to a reliable supply of raw, refined, and processed material inputs…”

“The worldwide lithium battery market is expected to grow by a factor of 5 to 10 in the next decade.”

Electric Vehicle Demand

The growth in electric vehicles (“EVs”) will provide the greatest needs for lithium-based batteries The NBLB Report states: “Bloomberg projects worldwide sales of 56 million passenger electric vehicles in 2040, of which 17% (about 9.6 million EVs) will be in the U.S. market.”

The growth in electric vehicles (“EVs”) will provide the greatest needs for lithium-based batteries The NBLB Report states: “Bloomberg projects worldwide sales of 56 million passenger electric vehicles in 2040, of which 17% (about 9.6 million EVs) will be in the U.S. market.”

The following graph shows the actual and estimated global annual sales of passenger EVs, including both Battery Electric Vehicles (“BEVs”) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (“PHEVs”).

In a February 2021 report, Canalys, a global technology market analyst firm, states that global sales of EVs in 2020 increased by 39% year on year to 3.1 million units. This compares with a sales decline of 14% of the total passenger car market in 2020. Canalys forecasts that the number of EVs sold will rise to 30 million in 2028 and EVs will represent nearly half of all passenger cars sold globally by 2030.

Bloomberg’s Long-Term Electric Vehicle Outlook 2021 report states: “The outlook for EV adoption is getting much brighter, due to a combination of more policy support, further improvements in battery density and cost, more charging infrastructure being built, and rising commitments from automakers. Passenger EV sales are set to increase sharply in the next few years, rising from 3.1 million in 2020 to 14 million in 2025. Globally, this represents around 16% of passenger vehicle sales in 2025, but some countries achieve much higher shares. In Germany, for example, EVs represent nearly 40% of total sales by 2025, while China – the world’s largest auto market – hits 25%.”

Grid Storage Demand

Regarding the lithium battery growth derived from grid storage demands, the NBLB Report states: “In addition to the EV market, grid storage uses of advanced batteries are also anticipated to grow, with Bloomberg projecting total global deployment to reach over 1,095 GW by 2040, growing substantially from 9 GW in 2018.;” and “Bloomberg forecasts 3.2 million EV sales in the U.S. for 2028, and over 200 GW of lithium-ion battery-based grid storage deployed globally by 2028. With an average EV battery capacity of 100 kWh, 320 GWh of domestic lithium-ion battery production capacity will be needed just to meet passenger EV demand. Benchmark Mineral Intelligence forecasts U.S. lithium-ion battery production capacity of 148 GWh by 2028 less than 50% of projected demand.”