May 17, 2020

Canada resource ministers gather amid recession for Energy and Mines Ministers' Conference

3 min
The waterfront in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
As a source for more than 60 minerals and metals, Canada is one of the leading mining regions in the world. This month the leaders of this region&mdash...

As a source for more than 60 minerals and metals, Canada is one of the leading mining regions in the world.  This month the leaders of this region—Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial energy and mines ministers—came together in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to discuss the state of the industry and plans for the future at the 72nd Annual Energy and Mine Ministers’ Conference (EMMC).

While Canada remains a leading mining force, it is not without its ups and downs. The current downturn of the Canadian minerals industry was a main topic of discussion during the conference, which released a brief aptly titled Weathering the Storm. The brief acknowledges the downturn head on and presents three topics for consideration, as mining executives and government officials work together to ride out economic difficulties and set the industry up for future success.

According to the brief, the three priority issues to address are:

  1. Improving the regulatory process and clarifying the duty to consult
  2. Addressing the costs of operating in remote and northern Canada
  3. Helping junior companies weather the economic downturn

These are critical issues, especially in an industry that is currently in flux—as the brief states, Canada’s mining industry is facing a barrage of issues including a declining trend in commodity prices, a 13.7 percent decrease in mining-related financing activity since 2007, and a volatile and unpredictable global economy. As David Ramsay—Northwest Territories Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment—explained to publication Northern Miner, while Canada is still a top global exploration destination it’s going to take a lot of work to keep smaller prospects afloat and keep interest and investments coming in:

"I think we really have to get as creative as we can if we're going to attract natural resource investment. In a time of downturn we have to be especially aggressive and get after it or else things will get pretty scary. For us the key areas include ongoing investment in our workforce and more infrastructure projects. […] It's really important we establish a concrete strategy to help out the junior industry and fuel exploration. The reality is that money is scarce in both mining and energy right now. It's a scary environment and we have to find a way to get money to junior mining companies so they can come in and find that needle in the haystack.”


Officials also discussed topics like community relationships, especially heavier involvement of First Nations communities with development projects moving forward, and an imperative to create “a more responsible” oil and gas industry. As the years progress, all of these issues will become more and more vital to keeping Canada’s top resource provider status alive. For more insight, check out the full event brief here.

[SOURCE: Northern Miner]

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May 7, 2021

Lithium producers bullish as EV revolution ramps demand

Electric Vehicles
3 min
Lithium producers are drawing optimism from rising prices for the electric vehicle battery metal

Rising demand for lithium is stoking prices for the electric vehicle battery metal, fueling long-delayed expansions that still may not produce adequate supplies that automakers need to meet aggressive production plans.


Growing industry optimism from higher lithium prices is a change from last year when funding for mines and processing plants dried up during the pandemic.

Albemarle Corp, Livent Corp and other producers are scrambling to make more lithium, but some analysts worry the recent price jump will not spur a big enough expansion to meet a planned wave of new EV models by mid-decade.

Since January, General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation Co, along with other automakers and battery parts manufacturers, have said they will spend billions of dollars on EV plants.

U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed spending $174bn to boost EV sales and infrastructure. The European Union has similar plans, part of a rush to catch up with global EV leader China.

Those moves have helped an index of lithium prices jump 59 percent since April 2020, according to data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a commodity pricing provider.

The rising demand “reflects what feels like a real and fundamental turning point in our industry,” said Paul Graves, chief executive of Livent Corp, which supplies Tesla Inc. On Monday, it said it would more than double its annual lithium production to 115,000 tonnes.

Graves warned, though, that “it will be a challenge for the lithium industry to produce sufficient qualified material in the near and medium term.”


Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium producer, aims to double its production capacity to 175,000 tonnes by the end of the year when two construction projects are complete. Albemarle's Q1 profit beat expectations thanks to rising lithium prices. Chile’s SQM, the No. 2 producer, said its goal to expand production of lithium carbonate by 71 percent to 120,000 tonnes should be complete by December.

Australia’s Orocobre is paying $1.4 billion for smaller rival Galaxy Resources, a strategy designed to boost scale and help it grow faster in regions closer to customers.

“The next few years are going to be critical in terms of whether there’s enough available lithium supply, and that’s why you’re starting to see commodity prices start to ramp,” said Chris Berry, an independent lithium industry consultant.

The price gains helped Albemarle and other major producers, including China’s Ganfeng Lithium Co and SQM, post big gains in first-quarter profit and boost forecasts for the year.

Even China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp, saddled with debt due to years of low lithium prices, signaled that recovering demand should help it swing to a profit this year.

Electric Vehicles

Forecasts call for demand for the white metals to surge from about 320,000 tonnes annually last year to more than 1 million tonnes annually by 2025, when many automakers plan to launch new EV fleets, according to Benchmark.

Still, demand is expected to outstrip supply in 2025 by more than 200,000 tonnes, so lithium prices may need to rise to encourage producers to build more mines. That could boost the prices consumers pay for EVs. “Companies across the lithium-ion supply chain are in the best position they’ve been in for the last 5 years,” said Pedro Palandrani of the Global X Lithium & Battery Technology ETF , which has doubled in value in the past year.

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