Survey: Mines in Latin America most likely to increase spending
Timetric’s Mining Intelligence Center (MIC) surveyed 630 mine managers to outline their planned changes in expenditure on site for the next 12 months, compared to the prior year, with respondents asked to choose from ‘significant increase’, ‘slight increase’, ‘stay the same’, ‘slight reduction’ or ‘significant reduction’.
The survey found that 16 percent of respondents in Latin American cited ‘significant increase’ in their spending for the coming year, with only 10 percent in Africa, nine percent in Asia, four percent in Europe and Australia, and three percent in North America.
Results from the survey were analyzed with the number of operating mines in each region undergoing expansion. MIC found that Latin America had the second-highest share of operating mines currently in expansion with 15 percent, compared with Africa (13 percent), Asia (seven percent) and North America (two percent).
“Latin America has a higher share of mines planning substantial increases in their spending within the next 12 months than any other region, and with the final decisions regarding equipment purchases being mainly decided at the mine site level, OEMs and their resellers need to ensure they are close to the customer to benefit from these additional investments,” said Nez Guevara, Senior Mining Analyst at Timetric’s MIC.
The survey is based on Timetric’s report -- Purchasing Trends and Intentions for Mining Equipment, Parts and Consumables in Latin America, 2015. Over 51 percent of survey respondents were decision-makers currently working operating mines.
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Earlier this month, Timetric released its ‘Winning and Retaining Business in the Mining Equipment Sector in Latin America 2015’ report, which surveyed 100 key decision-makers at mines throughout Chile, Peru and Brazil, and found the majority of respondents were unhappy with their OEMs.
“Timetric’s research demonstrates the current mindset of mining companies in Latin America and the importance placed on minimizing costs throughout the business,” said Guevara.
“This includes costs associated with the maintenance and servicing of heavy mining equipment. Mining companies have outlined their dissatisfaction with these costs and have indicated plans to switch OEMs within the next five years.”
British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars
The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change.
It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.
British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad.
Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe
After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company.
“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”
Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector.
Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial.
Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production
“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”
The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction.
Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably.
“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.
“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”
Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK.
“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”
Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.