The world’s second-largest lithium producer Sociedad Química y Minera (SQM) said it expects the prices of battery materials to stay elevated into 2023, which may ease worries over a slowdown in China’s two-year buying spree. After more than quadrupling sales in Q3 2022 amid booming lithium prices, SQM expects ongoing optimism. The company forecasts global lithium demand to rise by at least 40% this year, fueled by rising electric vehicles (EV) sales in China. SQM estimates sales of EVs in China to exceed 6.5 million units, double last year’s amount. Lithium price has increased by over 1,200% since 2020 and more than tripled in the last year, driven by tight supplies for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers. Higher lithium prices paired with the white metals’ essential role in the global clean energy transition bodes well for lithium companies like FE Battery Metals (CSE:FE) (OTCQB:FEMFD), Lithium Americas (NYSE:LAC), American Battery Technology Co (OTCQB:ABML), Livent Corp. (NYSE:LTHM), and Piedmont Lithium (NASDAQ:PLL).
FE Battery Metals (CSE:FE) (OTCQB:FEMFD) is a Canadian mineral exploration company whose main goal is to acquire battery metal properties. Its goal is to find, buy, and explore mineral properties with a specific focus on hard rock Lithium projects in North America.
Since early 2021 FE Battery Metals has continued to produce promising results from exploration at its Augustus lithium project,which covers a large area of spodumene Lithium bearing pegmatites in one of the world’s best mining jurisdictions, Quebec. The property consists of a non-contiguous claim block of over 700 mining claims covering a total area of over 27,000 hectares surrounding the mining hub of Val d’Or. It has excellent infrastructure support with road network, railway, electricity, water, and trained manpower available locally
The Augustus Lithium property is located right next door to the North American Lithium Mine, which is slated for production in Q1 2023.
On November 22, FE Battery Metals announced the results of drill hole LC22-40 from the Phase 2 exploratory drill program at its Augustus Lithium property. At a depth of 189.6 meters (m), drill hole LC21-40 hit a lithium pegmatite. The main 4.5-meter-wide pegmatite zone averaged 1.49% lithium oxide (Li2O). The results also found anomalous values of other rare metals in the pegmatite zones, with average 184 parts per million (ppm) beryllium, 40 ppm cesium, 80 ppm niobium, 837 ppm rubidium, and 82 ppm tantalum.
Two weeks earlier, FE Battery Metals announced the results of drill hole LC22-39 at Augustus. At a depth of 188.7m, drill hole LC21-39 hit three lithium pegmatites. The main pegmatite zone was 7.3m wide and had an average lithium oxide content of 1.54%. (Li2O).
The drill program is based on historical and Phase 1 exploration data, as well as the results of FE Battery Metal‘s surface trenching and sampling program. Drilling was completed by Forage Hebert Inc. Drilling, which is based in Amos, Quebec. For this job, a B-20 drill rig is being used, which can make holes up to 1,000m deep. To date,over 8,000 meters of diamond drilling has been completed on the property.
Lithium Companies Expanding Operations and Teams
On November 14, Lithium Americas Corp. (NYSE:LAC) announced that it had used common share purchase warrants for Arena Minerals Inc. to buy 14,590,000 Arena Minerals common shares at an exercise price of C$0.25 per Arena Share for a total of US$2.7 million. Before the Warrant Exercise, Lithium Americas owned 66,226,146 Arena Shares and 21,428,571 Arena Warrants, which, on a non-diluted basis, was about 17.0% of Arena Minerals’ issued and outstanding share capital. After the Warrant Exercise, Lithium Americas owns 80,816,146 Arena Shares and 6,838,571 Arena Warrants. On a non-diluted basis, this is about 19.9% of the Arena Shares that have been issued and are still outstanding. The Company is buying Arena Shares to put money in the stock market.
Mitchell Dreier, former manager of Tesla’s Factory Infrastructure Design team, has joined American Battery Technology Co. (OTCQB:ABML). Dreier is joining the company with almost 15 years of experience in engineering and leading technical programs. He most recently led a team of engineers, designers, and project managers from different fields to design all of the infrastructure for Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. This helped important company programs like Cell Manufacturing, Semi, Megapack, and Powertrain move forward. Before joining Tesla, Dreier was in charge of a group of field engineers at Honeywell that designed and set up hydrogen technology systems for chemical plants all over the world. He also worked as a pilot plant operator at Virent Inc., where he helped with things like designing experiments and making changes to the plant so that drop-in, low-carbon biofuels could be made. Dreier will be in charge of American Battery Technology‘s rapidly growing engineering team. His job will be to turn the company’s innovative design ideas into systems that can be used on a commercial scale at all stages of design and construction.
On November 14, Livent Corporation (NYSE:LTHM) announced the first of several major expansions of its global operations. This included a big increase in lithium hydroxide production in Bessemer City, North Carolina, the birthplace of lithium-ion battery technology and an increasingly important supply hub for the growing electric vehicle (EV) industry. The company’s strong position in North America gives it a chance to take advantage of long-term growth opportunities and incentives from the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which encourages the use of lithium that is made or processed in North America. With the Bessemer City expansion, the site will be able to make 50% more lithium hydroxide. This will help meet the growing demand for materials made in the United States for EV batteries. Federal, state, and local government officials are happy that Livent’s new lithium hydroxide plant in Bessemer City is now done. In a letter, both North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and Senator Thom Tillis congratulated Livent.
On November 15, Piedmont Lithium (NASDAQ:PLL) said that Sayona Quebec, which is owned 75% by Sayona Mining and 25% by Piedmont, has signed an agreement with Jourdan Resources Inc. for a strategic acquisition and earn-in. The move will help Sayona Quebec’s North American Lithium project (NAL), which is right next to it. According to the agreement, Sayona Quebec will buy 20 Vallée claims outright. These claims will be added to the 19 claims that NAL already has on the property next door. Through a series of staged investments, Sayona Quebec can get a 51% stake in Vallée’s last 28 claims. Keith Phillips, the President and CEO of Piedmont, said that the new claims make the potential NAL operating area bigger right away. As early as Q3 2023, NAL could start sending out commercial shipments of spodumene concentrate. This would bring in money for Piedmont and allow it to sell more products through its offtake agreement. The company has an offtake agreement for the greater of 113,000 tonnes per year or 50% of its spodumene concentrate production at a maximum price of US$900 per metric tonne for the life of the mine.
FE Battery Metals announced in October a corporate restructuring that will result in the creation of a wholly-owned subsidiary for assets related to its current exploration properties in Ontario and Quebec. After the consolidation, each shareholder of FE Battery Metals is expected to receive one common share of the new Spinco for every share currently owned.
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