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New Lithium Boom Town: Winnemucca, Nevada?


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Batteries and the new "lithium gold-rush"

"Lithium Americas admits there will be environmental impacts, but claims new mining technology will lead to less damage. The company plans to begin its operation next year, potentially creating a lithium boom town in nearby Winnemucca, Nevada."

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/batteries-and-the-new-lithium-gold-rush/

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What I think is going to happen is Tesla is going to corner the lithium market. They use so much of the stuff they pretty much drive the development. 

Like the article pointed out Ford is investing heavily. Pretty soon every vehicle they make will be electric. 

I bet Tesla invests in refining somewhere. I also bet it won't be in the USA.

They could make billions if they built a facility in Mexico that could handle domestic ore. It would benefit American corporations as well as give them a commanding role in litium production in the western hemisphere. 

Our lithium would be worth a lot more if we had domestic processing facilities. I just don't see that happening. But someone in Canada or Mexico is going to jump on that. It would make lithium mining in the Americas a reality. 

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10 hours ago, Bedrock Bob said:

What I think is going to happen is Tesla is going to corner the lithium market. They use so much of the stuff they pretty much drive the development. 

Like the article pointed out Ford is investing heavily. Pretty soon every vehicle they make will be electric. 

I bet Tesla invests in refining somewhere. I also bet it won't be in the USA.

They could make billions if they built a facility in Mexico that could handle domestic ore. It would benefit American corporations as well as give them a commanding role in litium production in the western hemisphere. 

Our lithium would be worth a lot more if we had domestic processing facilities. I just don't see that happening. But someone in Canada or Mexico is going to jump on that. It would make lithium mining in the Americas a reality. 

I wouldn't count on it. There's some promising research into electric batteries that uses common elements like silicon and others, not rare earths like lithium. So just like a lot of things, they could become obsolete in just a couple years or so. Time will tell.

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The Lithium market in The United States is more about politics and greed than anything to do with mining. There are several potential commercial deposits and a lot of talk but getting a mine or processing facility approved and funded has proven to be nearly impossible in the politics of the 21st century. I'm not faulting the owners of Lithium Americas but that story about beginning operations "next year" has been replayed for several years.

There is no cooperation from the US gov on the mining of Lithium. In fact the current administration withdrew from mining one of the largest Lithium deposits in the country - right after declaring the production of Lithium to be a priority. This particular Lithium deposit was under active development and I'm sure there will be millions if not billions in payouts to the mining companies who have been prevented from mining their hundreds of claims.

China is by far the largest consumer and producer of Lithium batteries. Electric vehicles account for about 19% of all new car sales in China. In the U.S. that figure is about 4%. Tesla current share of 11% of all the electric vehicles sold worldwide is dropping quickly. Despite soaring stock prices Tesla didn't make a profit (other than the sales of government emissions credits to other car makers) until July of this year.

Tesla doesn't mine or process lithium or manufacture lithium batteries. Tesla's battery supplier is Panasonic (Japan) for the American market. LG Chem (South Korea) and CATL (China) provide the batteries for foreign market Teslas. Panasonic has a large percentage of the Tesla Gigafactory space to operate their assembly operations for Tesla car batteries. That could change but with more than 10 years of contracts under their belt and at least five more already committed I doubt that will happen anytime soon. About 70% of all lithium batteries are manufactured in China with Japan and South Korea manufacturing the rest.

If you are looking to get in on the "Lithium Gold Rush!" you are pretty late to the game. The price of Lithium has been dropping for more than  a year. Most of the corporate Lithium plays have abandoned their U.S. mining claims and written off their losses. The Lithium play is very much a last decade thing in the mining industry.

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7 hours ago, Morlock said:

I wouldn't count on it. There's some promising research into electric batteries that uses common elements like silicon and others, not rare earths like lithium. So just like a lot of things, they could become obsolete in just a couple years or so. Time will tell.

FYI lithium isn't a rare earth element...

 

Sure technology will advance quickly. But right now there is a huge demand for processed lithium. It is what is being used TODAY. And there is one hell of a demand for it. Just ask any lithium processor.

It isn't scarce. And it does not take a rich deposit. Just an available one. We have plenty of lithium. It is just not marketable because we have no means to process it. 

It's like growing cotton. Cotton is an incredibly profitable crop if there is a cotton gin within 20 miles. If the gin is a thousand miles away nobody grows cotton.

Even if Levis are flying off the shelf. Even if we will be wearing polyester next year.

Tesla has great influence over the American lithium market because they are the number one domestic consumer. Whether they actually engage in lithium production or not is a moot point.

When Ford enters the stage you can bet there will be a need for lots of batteries. And until some other technology arises we will be using lithium batteries. 

For the foreseeable future lithium batteries are what electric vehicles will be designed to use. And manufacturers of electric vehicles will continue to drive the demand for lithium.

When there is enough demand someone will invest the money to process lithium. If they don't our money and our raw lithium will go to China. That is rapidly becoming a problem.

I'll bet a tiny nugget that automobile manufacturers will get the lithium batteries they need. And I'll bet another tiny nugget they finance the development of processing facilities on this continent within the next 5 years.

Just a hunch...

:inocent:

 

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Tesla is not "BIG" in the Lithium market. Of the 345,000 tons of Lithium produced in 2020 Tesla consumed less than 15,000 tons. That's only a little more than 4% of the worldwide market.

Lithium prices and demand took a really big dive over the last two years but since the green new deal  build back better talk over the last 5 months it's hit new record price highs. I wouldn't expect that speculation to persist because eventually the market will realize that supply still outstrips demand.  A lot of new supply has come online in the last year alone (none from the US) so any "investment" in Lithium at this point is really just speculation on a different future.

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