- EV battery market set to triple to $67.7 billion by 2022
- Asian dominance in Li-ion batteries prompting pushback in Europe and North America
- Large battery manufacturing projects now underway by Tesla in North America and Northvolt in Europe
Asian dominance of lithium battery manufacture is causing concern. That disquiet became even more acute after Bosch announced in March 2018 that it had abandoned plans to make batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), highlighting the challenges faced by North American and European manufacturers as they seek to retain market share. The German industrial giant said that it would cost too much “to reach its target of creating 200 gigawatt-hours of manufacturing capacity a year,” output capacity estimated at around one-fifth of the EV and stationary storage markets by 2030. Reuters labelled the move “a blow to European politicians and car manufacturers who have called for companies to band together to create a regional battery cell producer to compete with Asian players such as Samsung and Panasonic.” Not everyone is throwing in the towel, however. There are plans afoot in Sweden to build what would be Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery factory. Major customers that close would certainly be good fortune for QMC Quantum Minerals Corp. (OTC: QMCQF) (TSX.V: QMC) (FSE: 3LQ). The junior exploration company is proposing to re-open the historic Irgon lithium mine located within the Cat Lake-Winnipeg River pegmatite field of Manitoba, Canada.
Asian hegemony of lithium battery manufacture is complete. The top five producers, who together claim 63 percent of the global market, are either Chinese, Japanese or South Korean. After Q1 2018 sales, Panasonic Sanyo of Japan remains top dog with a market share of 21.1 percent. Second is Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited of China with 14.4 percent, and LG Chem of South Korea is in third place with 10.6 percent. BYD Auto of China (11 percent) and South Korea’s Samsung (5.6 percent) grab the fourth and fifth spots, respectively (http://nnw.fm/4Z5Kp).
Yet, the global lithium-ion battery market is really only now developing and is projected to grow to $67.7 billion by 2022, three times its present size (http://nnw.fm/p36Gk). Naturally, much of this growth will be fueled by rising demand for EVs. In 2016, the automotive sector’s share in the lithium-ion battery market was at 25 percent. That figure will undoubtedly rise, since lithium-ion batteries can account for as much as 50 percent of the total cost of an EV.
It is developments in the EV market like this that prompted Bosch’s botched foray into lithium batteries (http://nnw.fm/k7BuY), but the Germans are not the only ones now licking their wounds. Earlier this year, Chicago grid equipment company S&C Electric announced that it was winding down its battery manufacturing line of business, and GE has also scrapped plans to launch its Durathon brand. Still, the Europeans seemed determined to hold the fort. In early May 2018, Swedish battery cell maker Northvolt announced that it would begin building Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery cell factory, a facility that will require a tremendous amount of lithium. Its CEO, former Tesla executive Peter Carlsson, has planned a project as big as Tesla’s Gigafactory in the Nevada desert. He is targeting an annual cell production equivalent to 32 gigawatt-hours by 2023 (http://nnw.fm/Mmm3O).
Those lithium supplies may come from QMC Quantum Minerals. The company is exploring for lithium at Cat Lake, where its property hosts several rare-element granitic pegmatite occurrences, including the Irgon Dike. The Irgon Lithium Mine Project, located immediately north of Cat Lake, Manitoba, is also home to several other pegmatite dikes rich in lithium (Li), with accompanying cesium (Cs), tantalum (Ta) and beryllium mineralization. The former owner of the property, the Lithium Corporation of Canada Limited, carried out substantial underground developmental work on the Irgon Dike, and the deposit is estimated to contain a historical resource of more than 1.2 million tons of spodumene-bearing pegmatite grading at 1.51 percent lithium oxide. Overall, the Irgon Property, which hosts the Irgon Dike occurrence and several other known pegmatite dikes, is comprised of 13 adjoining mineral claims covering 6,538 acres.
QMC’s portfolio also includes two volcanic massive sulphide (VMS) properties – the Rocky Lake and Rocky-Namew, known collectively as the Namew Lake District Project – which contain base metal-rich mineral deposits. These claims extend over approximately 23,000 hectares (~57,000 acres) in one of Canada’s most productive mining regions – the Flin Flon/Snow Lake VMS mining district of Northwestern Manitoba, Canada.
As Western producers struggle to stay in the lithium-ion battery game, junior explorers like QMC will begin to take on increasing supply and strategic importance, particularly if trade arrangements are affected by questions of national security.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.QMCMinerals.com
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