May 17, 2020

Glencore CEO in 'No Hurry' to Sell Stake in Platinum Producer Lonmin; Talks between Vale Break Down

Glencore
Vale
Lonmin
Platinum mining
Admin
2 min
Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg
Swiss-based mining company Glencore PLC (LSE:GLEN) is in no hurry to sell its stake in South African platinum mining company Lonmin, the companys CEO sa...

Swiss-based mining company Glencore PLC (LSE:GLEN) is in no hurry to sell its stake in South African platinum mining company Lonmin, the company’s CEO said earlier this week.

"We're in no rush—there's no urgency," CEO Ivan Glasenberg said.

Glencore, the world’s largest commodities trader and fourth-largest mining company, acquired a 25 percent stake in Lonmin in 2013.

However, with falling platinum prices, the company’s CEO has been reported as saying the acquisition did not fit into its strategic plan, adding the company was not familiar with the platinum business.

The news sent shockwaves across the industry that Glencore could potentially be in the market of selling its 25 percent stake in the troubled platinum producing company.

"We'll watch the platinum price and at some stage in the future try to get out of our investment," Glasenberg said.

Lonmin has been hit hard by a wave of strikes in recent years, costing the company over $2 billion. Shares for the company have also fallen, dropping by a quarter this year.

Glencore was also reportedly in talks with Brazilian mining conglomerate Vale to combine their nickel assets in Canada in a deal that would have produced over $1 billion in annual cost savings. According to Reuters, however, the talks have broken off.

"Both sides more or less agreed on what the optimum structure of a combined Sudbury business would look like, but to enable that to be created, very difficult decisions needed to be taken, and the appetite or the ability to take those decisions was not there," a source with knowledge of the situation said.

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May 7, 2021

Lithium producers bullish as EV revolution ramps demand

Lithium
Electric Vehicles
Albemarle
SQM
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.

Lithium

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.”

Albermarle

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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