Mineral Companies Are Now Investing in Batteries

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Mineral companies are trying to make batteries, and it’s not exactly clear why. Lithium Australia is the latest company in the growing list of mineral extraction firms that are branching out into battery manufacturing.

They are partnering with the Very Small Particle Company (VSPC), which creates Nano scale metal oxides for lithium-iron-phosphate electric vehicle batteries. (Is your tongue twisted yet?) VSPC has spent almost two decades to develop the most advanced cathode production technology for the development of lithium-ion batteries.

This partnership will provide Lithium Australia’s technology base with the exposure it needs to the battery production clans. It also reaffirms their goal to become a “vertically integrated lithium producer.”

Currently they use a process called SiLeach that can extract lithium from silicates that are discarded by traditional extraction processes. They are also looking to develop lithium-ion battery recycling facilities, as well as looking at lithium extraction in the country, as well Germany and Mexico. Their decision to buy VSPC’s cathode power production assets is a crucial step toward securing their goals.

Trends with Mineral Companies:

And Lithium Australia is just one of many mineral companies that are moving in battery parts manufacturing.

Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithiu is one of the world’s leading lithium producers, and has been producing lithium-ion batteries through its subsidiary since 2007. Canada’s High Power Exploration (HPX) has a share in Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB).

Canadian lithium producer MGX Minerals also acquired another battery maker, ZincNyx Energy Solutions, which is looking to launch zinc-based products soon.

What This Means for Mineral Companies:

Mineral companies will benefit from the increased needs for battery in electric vehicle and stationary energy storage markets.

Producing their own batteries may place them in competition with their customers. There is a lot of potential revenue, and many of the manufacturing ventures are from companies that do not have much leverage in the mainstream battery industry. This means that there is less at stake for mining companies.

They choose to focus on specific components to give them an edge in the battery technology market. There are great potential profits for those who can break into the industry. Transparency Market Research estimated that the global lithium-ion battery market was $30 billion in 2015, and would raise to over $75 billion by 2024.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley expect global car sales rise by 50 per cent by 2050 to over than 130m units a year. They believe that electric vehicles will account for 47 per cent of that total amount.

The shortage of lithium has led to prices doubling since 2015. Lithium-ion batteries include other materials such as magnesium, manganese, and cobalt oxide – making this an ideal fit for mining companies.

Deep, Dark prices of The Energy Revolution:

Companies promise to incorporate non-threatening metals such as zinc and nickel. While this may seem only ecological in nature, it comes at the expense of exploitative practices on mine workers. We enjoy the benefits of technologies, but rarely acknowledge or accept how they are made.

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About Author

Nadia Zaidi

Nadia Zaidi is a freelance multimedia journalist whose work is featured in several print and digital publications. She previously developed and hosted a show on youth issues for community television, and produces short-documentaries for public outreach. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism from Ryerson University.

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