May 17, 2020

International Council on Mining & Metals sharpens focus on water stewardship

Dale Benton
2 min
International Council on Mining & Metals sharpens focus on water stewardship
The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), whose members include 23 of the worlds leading mining companies, announced new commitments on wat...

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), whose members include 23 of the world’s leading mining companies, announced new commitments on water stewardship to help tackle one of the biggest global challenges of the 21st century.
 
With more than 1.2 billion people living in areas of water scarcity and natural habitats under increasing threat, ICMM recognises that industry can play an important role in tackling this global issue.
 
ICMM member companies, which account for around a third of global mining activity, pledged action to support the responsible use of water with the launch of ICMM’s water stewardship position statement.
 
The position statement is binding on ICMM members and requires them to: apply strong and transparent water governance (including robust public reporting); manage water at operations effectively; and collaborate to achieve responsible and sustainable water use.
 
ICMM will continue to develop guidance and toolkits to support effective water stewardship which will be available to the wider mining industry as well as other industry sectors.
 
Tom Butler, ICMM’s CEO said: “Our members have shown real leadership in adopting a firm commitment to water stewardship. Society will not be able to meet the sustainable development challenges of the 21st century without improving the management and use of global water resources. As an industry we have a leading role to play in contributing practical solutions to water resource challenges.
 
“Water is vital for local communities, the natural environment and for businesses so leadership on water stewardship is required from all parts of society. We are pleased to be playing our part and we are happy to share our work with other sectors and the wider mining industry too.”
 
Stuart Orr, WWF International’s Practice Lead for Water said: “ICMM's continued push and progress on water stewardship is commendable. This isn't just raising the bar and expectations within the mining sector but across all business sectors. They would do well to follow.”

 

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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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