Lithium supply: how much can the market digest?


Published on

Objective Capital's Rare Earths, Speciality & Strategic Metals
Investment Summit 2012
Ironmongers' Hall, City of London
13-14 March 2012
Speaker: Gerry Clarke, International Lithium Alliance

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Lithium supply: how much can the market digest?

  1. 1. RARE EARTHS, SPECIALITY& STRATEGIC METALSINVESTMENT SUMMIT Lithium supply: how much can the market digest? Gerry Clarke – International Lithium Alliance IRONMONGERS’ HALL, CITY OF LONDON TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY, 13-14 MARCH 2012
  2. 2. Lithium SupplyHow much will the market digest? Over what period of time? Gerry Clarke Independent Consultant Objective Capital Rare Earths, Speciality & Strategic Metals Investment Summit Ironmongers’ Hall, City of London 13-14 March 2012
  3. 3. Declaration & DisclaimerGerry Clarke is an independent industrial minerals consultant andcommentator . He has no investment or interest in any lithiumresources company.Information presented here is sourced by personal communicationwith individuals in the industry and from numerous publishedsources. Every care has been taken to ensure historical information isaccurate and representative whilst forward looking views, opinionsand forecasts expressed are made in good faith at the time ofpresentation and will necessarily change as time passes and theindustry evolves in response to changing conditions. No reliance maybe made on the content of this presentation whatsoever. Anyconsequent liabilities to any person or organisation are expresslydenied. Any such persons or organisations must undertake their ownfirst hand due diligence and acquire appropriate professional advicebefore undertaking any financial, corporate or administrative positionin the industry or liabilities thereto.
  4. 4. What’s going on?You’ve heard from Rockwood’s Chemetall Lithium – one of thefour major expanding producers with lithium industrypedigrees in the USA and Europe dating back to the 1920s.And you’ve heard from Li3 Energy – one of the aspiring newcompanies formed in late 2009 with a substantial newproject of merit in northern Chile, along with otherexploration stage projects, yet to catch up with near termprojects in Argentina, Australia and Canada. Will newextraction technology and strategic partnership with POSCOpropel the company to join the front runners?Given substantial expansion by the majors and the line up ofnew project capacity announcements, compared withforecast demand levels, it is easy to identify a truly alarmingpotential oversupply in the medium term that is probablyuntenable. I’ll take you through it and ask some pertinentquestions.
  5. 5. Aggregate Lithium Demand ForecastEstimated 2011 demand: 138,000 tonnes LCE* 2015 2020 Low High Low HighRange: 138,500 265,000 174,800 500,000Average: 191,472 279,945Average annual growth: 2011-2015: 9.70% 2015-2020: 9.24%Sources: Byron Capital, Chemetall Lithium, DundeeSecurities, FMC, General Motors, Metal Bulletin Research, PikeResearch, PW Harben Inc, Roskill InformationServices*, SignumBox, SQM, Talison Lithium, TRU Group, in variouspublications from 2010. *Lithium carbonate equivalent
  6. 6. Forecast Lithium Supply Capacity Lithium chemical supply capacity 2010: 137,800 tonnes LCE* Up to 2015 Add to 2020 Total by 2020Majors (Arg/Aus/Chile/US): 245,800 (4**) not expected 245,800Mineral conversion (Chinese): 52,500 (10) more potential 52,500(?)Brine expansion (China): 30,000 (4) 20,000e 50,000eNew brine (Arg/Bol): 31,000 (2) 80,000-110,000 (4) 111,000-141,000New hard rock (Aus/Can): 61,500 (3) 45,000 (2) 106,500Novel Geothermal (US): 16,000 (1) maybe more units 16,000Novel Oilfield (US): 20,000 (1) 20,000Novel Soft Rock (US/Serbia): 40,000 (2) 40,000eTotal 456,800 (25) 185,000-215,000 (33) 641,800-671,800Growth in supply from 2010: +232% +134%-156% +366%-388%NB: Accommodates sufficient slippage of time for projects to ramp up to announced capacity levels post commissioning dates by 2015 and 2020. Excludes Korea’s seawater project and minor but potentially larger future contributions from Brazil, Zimbabwe, & Portugal (*SQM **No. of entities: Four majors accounted for approximately 80% supply in 2010)
  7. 7. Galaxy: “World’s largest battery grade lithium carbonate at 17,000 tpa”Jiangsu, China using spodumene concentrate imported from Mount Forecast Lithium DemandCatlin, Western Australia. Battery manufacturing plant underconstruction adjacent to lithium carbonate plant. 2011 estimated demand: 138,000 tonnes LCE* 2015 2020 Low High Low HighRange: 138,500 265,000 174,800 500,000Average: 191,472 279,945Average growth: 2011 to 2015: 9.69% per annum 2015 to 2020: 9.24%Sources: Byron Capital, Chemetall Lithium, Metal Bulletin Research, PikeResearch, PW Harben Inc, Roskill Information Services*, Signumbox, TRUGroup, Talison Lithium, FMC, SQM, General Motors, Dundee Securities invarious publications from 2009 onwards. Averages take into account someanalysts’ low, medium and high scenarios.
  8. 8. Potential Supply Demand Gap to 2020Tonnes LCE units 2015 2020 Average forecast demand: 191,472 279,945 Average forecast capacity: 456,800 656,800 Potential oversupply (gap): 265,328 376,855 +138.6% +134.6% Capacity: An alarming 2.4/2.3 times average forecast demand! An implied average industry operating level of 42% Is such a gap feasible? If not, how will it be averted? Assuming technical success for the advancing projects; in the absence of unforeseen, substantial and sustained increased demand in the medium term; project slippages, minimum occupacity levels, and delays are likely with attendant financial and corporate restructuring risks for some.
  9. 9. Recognised World Lithium Resources Tonnes contained elemental lithium 39,372,000: Clarke (2009) 39,000,000: Ford/University of Michigan (2011) 39,890,000: Evans (2012) 34,000,000: USGS (2012) 13,000,000 Reserves NB: In aggregate the recognised resource figure will be higher Ford Motor Co/University of Michigan Forecast demand to 2100: 20,000,000 tonnes elemental lithium* requires 40,000,000 in situ resource assumes 50% mining & conversion losses Post 2020 all today’s recognised resources will be required!SUPPLY DEMAND GAP THROUGH 2020 APPEARS A MEDIUM TERM PROBLEM *20,000,000 tonnes lithium = 106,460,000 tonnes LCE (Li = 5.323 Li2CO3) Equivalent to 380 years demand at the 2020 forecast average demand of 279,945 tonnes LCE
  10. 10. Plus others 2015 to 2020 and beyond?ARGENTINA: International Lithium, Dajin Resources BRAZIL: CIF Mineracao, CBL CANADA: Critical Elements, Glen Eagle Resources, Rock Tech Lithium, Perilya Canada, Avalon CHILE: Li3 Energy, NX Uno, Salares Lithium, Pan American Lithium EUROPE: East Coast Minerals, Ultra Lithium, Keliber KOREA: POSCO/KIGAM/Govt seawater joint venture RUSSIA: ??????????????????????????? USA: Amerilithium, Lithium Corp, etc AND MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Some with multiple projects and some further out....................extending recognised global reserves and resources for lithium
  11. 11. Lithium Availability Wall Map 2011
  12. 12. Quotes & QuestionsFMC: “New players limited by unfavourable economics and development challenges”GALAXY: “The industry should stop complaining and start promoting the use of lithium and stimulate new markets” New projects: which might slip and/or fail? At what occupacity levels can new projects be sustained? How will project financing be affected by the medium term supply demand forecast imbalance ? How will strategic partners react to market forecasts? What will happen to prices? Will Chile’s mining law revision be game changing? How immune is lithium to competing technology: e.g. fuel cells? How certain is vehicle electrification anyway?
  13. 13. Thank you for your attention Gerry Clarke