Joe Lowry (aka @globallithium on Twitter) and known as "Mr Lithium" is a 30 year industry veteran and founder of the advisory firm Global Lithium LLC. Joe hosts the original lithium podcast featuring high level guests from the lithium chemicals industry, battery, cathode, and related areas. The Global Lithium Podcast remains the 'go to' offering in this space and has been downloaded in over 130 countries.
Adam Panayi is the Managing Director of UK based EV and Battery consultancy Rho Motion. The key to understanding the future direction of the lithium industry is understanding the growth of EVs and batteries as well understanding the developments in cathode chemistry and solid state. Shout outs to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Simon Moores and Roger Atkins.
In a little less than an hour we cover:
How Rho Motion collects and parses data aka “how the forecast sausage is made”
GWH projections for 2025 and 2030 – the driver of lithium demand
The methodology of predicting Gigafactory utilization
Stated Gigafactory capacity vs effective capacity
EV penetration by region
ESS – taking what batteries it can get (for now)
Gigafactory start-up reject rates (the dirty little secret of battery producers)
Why after several EV “false starts” it is different this time
Cathode chemistry projections
Guests: Standard Lithium’s CEO, Robert Mintak and COO, Dr. Andy Robinson.
Managing a project and building a team remotely during Covid
Getting the process right: scale and quality data matters
The benefits of a building a new plant within a larger, established chemical operation
Seeking attention and support from the Biden administration
Timing of commercialization
Potential of lithium from the Smackover formation beyond El Dorado
The coming lithium supply mismatch with demand
The actions needed from OEMs and policymakers
After "rapid fire" I close the episode with comments/advice for the Biden administration on battery raw material supply chain policy
Alexi Zawadzki is the President of North American Operations for Lithium Americas (LAC). He is currently leading the effort to bring Thacker Pass into production by mid decade.
In this episode we discuss the resource (type and size), the current status of the project including pilot plant operations, LAC's commitment to sustainable project development, innovative mining and reclamation techniques, planned use of renewable energy and desire to minimize the impact to the environment.
Thacker Pass will be the first world class lithium resource to be brought online in the US in this century.
Jon Evans is one of the most effective and knowledgeable executives in the lithium world. He is also a great leader.
I have known Jon for well over a decade. First as my boss when I was running FMC Lithium’s Asia operations. When I left FMC and started Global Lithium, Jon was often a source of insightful advice. He remains a mentor to me despite being a Zodiac calendar younger than I am. Yes, you can still use a mentor in your 60s.
Among the topics we cover:
The status LAC’s projects in Argentina (Cauchari) and the US (Thacker Pass)
The positive aspects of Covid project delays
Why a US critical metals supply chain will develop despite many with a “not in my backyard” mindset
The high level of partnership interest in Thacker Pass and why Jon doesn’t want or need an offtake agreement
LAC’s strong balance sheet and the flexibility it brings
Building effective teams and how LAC hires
Global supply and demand
The developing “broader audience” for lithium
Why the industry will need to produce products beyond carbonate and hydroxide for the battery industry
Carlos Vicens is the CFO of Neo Lithium. We discuss the 3Qs project in Catamarca Province, Argentina.
Operating in Argentina
Unexpected “benefits” of Covid in moving the project forward
ESG – more than just the “E”
Their partnership with global battery leader CATL
Straight talk on product “cuts”
The top challenges bringing a lithium project into production
Setting the record straight on 3Qs logistics
Financing path forward
The is part 2 of my 100th episode with highlights from some of my favorite episodes and guests.
Jon Evans - Lithium Americas
Li Liangbin and Wang Xiaoshen - Ganfeng
Eduardo Bitran - CORFO
Ken Brinsden - Pilbara Minerals
Dr Yuan Gao - ex CEO of Pulead
Dan Blondal and Dr Stephen Campbell - Nano One
The Lowry family
Chris Berry, President of House Mountain Partners ( www.discoveryinvesting.com ), is one of the most highly regarded battery metals analysts in the space. He was also the first guest on the Global Lithium Podcast in November of 2017. It seemed natural to bring Chris back for episode 100 especially given the recent resurgence of interest in lithium and other battery metals as the global energy transition unfolds.
Known as "The Voice of Reason" Chris has a unique ability to speak plainly about complex topics. His insights regarding the increasing role of geopolitics in the development of battery supply chains makes this episode worth a listen.
Chris can be found on twitter @cberry1
Jed Dorsheimer is the Global Head of Sustainability Research at Canaccord Genuity, Co-founder and President of the Biophysical Economics Institute and host of the Hidden Joule Podcast. Jed is a leading commentator on: Sustainability/ESG, Allocation of Resources, Climate Change, and Systems Complexity.
Economic ROI (Energy Return on Energy Invested)
Basics of Thermodynamics
An example of something that “Tesla did Differently”
What does “Sustainability” really mean?
Does Nuclear Power get a bad rap?
An example of a well-intentioned German Policy Failure
The Current State of ESG and Life Cycle Analysis
ESG Funds – Clean & Green??
Considering “Negative Externalities”
Concentrated vs Diffused Energy Systems
Jed’s minimum EROI Criteria for Sustainability
Carlos Galli is an independent lithium consultant in Argentina. Carlos has worked on many brine projects both as a principal and a consultant. He learned from one of the best lithium minds in Argentina, his father Dr Daniel Galli. Topics covered in this episode include:
Covid’s ongoing impact in Argentina
Building a “lithium bridge” from the Argentine Puna to Europe for the EU battery supply chain
Some underappreciated benefits of brine assets
The “water dimension” in lithium projects and why it is often ignored or mischaracterized
Ponds vs Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE)
DLE’s potential to bring quality (if not cost) advantages
Why the Argentina President should stop hyping supply targets
Ranking the top five Argentina lithium projects
Value addition vs chasing the value chain
How many projects can coexist on Salar del Hombre Muerto?
Bolivia – Saudi Arabia without oil?
Alex Cheesemen (@ACheesey on Twitter) is an ex Australian military officer and a significant player in the Western Australia lithium industry. Alex had the unique “opportunity” to be one of the last people standing at Altura Mining. In this episode Alex will share what he learned in the process of helping bring a significant hard rock asset into production and then, due to the vagaries of lithium asset financing challenges and unfavorable market conditions, he was tasked with taking it through the receivership process. Alex has a great perspective on the WA lithium industry past, present, and future.
The timeframe for bringing projects into production
Pros and Cons of having a lean project team
DMS vs flotation
The financial struggles of junior mining companies
Learning how to connect Altura’s product with the conversion market in China
The receivership experience and how the WA mining community helped out
Thoughts on when currently shut in spodumene capacity will come back online
Mineral Resources and Albemarle aka “watching the elephants dance”
How much spodumene production can we expect from Australia in 2025 and 2030
How soon price will recover and to what level
China and Australia trade tensions
Why I may never be let back into WA
Plus “Rapid Fire”
Episode 94: Simon Hay
Simon Hay is the CEO of Galaxy Resources.
We review the status of production at Mt Cattlin and development plans for Sal de Vida and James Bay.
We discuss spodumene prices and why Galaxy will continue to sell at spot price in 2021.
Simon makes “no apology” for the new phased development strategy at Sal de Vida and discusses the conditions that need to be in place to move James Bay forward.
We discuss the pros and cons of having partners.
Project execution and teams.
The challenge of managing a project in Argentina from Perth during Covid.
Will Western Australia producers learn the lessons from the past 24 months when considering capacity restarts?
I ask Simon the best aspect of his job.
And, as always, Rapid Fire.
Seth Goldstein is one of the best lithium analysts – anywhere. He works for top rated investment research company Morningstar where in addition to his lithium work he also chairs their EV committee. Prior to joining Morningstar, Seth worked for Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
As part of his role with Morningstar Seth follows Albemarle, SQM and Livent; however, he is also well versed on other companies in the space, as well as the EV and cathode markets.
Seth’s analytical process
Analyzing the former “Big 3”
When will EVs achieve cost parity with ICE vehicles?
Barriers to EV adoption
EV penetration in 2025 and 2030
Why building recharging infrastructure is more important than subsidies
Carbonate vs hydroxide – the market split in 2030
Is the lithium industry as opaque as it seems?
Seth’s thoughts on the cost curve and future pricing
Albemarle’s changing price strategy
Will Tesla continue to lead in EVs?
Handicapping new lithium projects and expansions
Will the “Big 4” continue to dominate supply in 2030
LAC – the next major?
From my perspective this is a “top 10” episode.
Seth can be found on twitter @SethGMStar1
Morningstar, Inc. is a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The Company offers an extensive line of products and services for individual investors, financial advisors, asset managers, retirement plan providers and sponsors, and institutional investors in the debt and private capital markets. Morningstar provides data and research insights on a wide range of investment offerings, including managed investment products, publicly listed companies, private capital markets, debt securities, and real-time global market data. Morningstar also offers investment management services through its investment advisory subsidiaries, with approximately $215 billion in assets under advisement and management as of Sept. 30, 2020. The Company has operations in 29 countries. For more information, visit www.morningstar.com/company. Follow Morningstar on Twitter @MorningstarInc.
Neither I, nor Global Lithium LLC have received compensation in any form from Morningstar.
Episode 90: Sigma Lithium - Ana Cabral-Gardner & Calvyn Gardner
Sigma is developing a brownfield hard rock project in Brazil with a focus on “green mining” and ESG considerations.
The three main considerations in developing Sigma’s resource
Sigma’s competitive position vs Australian Hard Rock producers
Partnerships and Sigma’s plan for downstream lithium chemical participation
The “social license” challenges for mining projects based on recent events in Brazil
Why “green premiums” are not built into project financial estimates
Life Cycle Assessment audits
Lithium “hippies” plus rapid fire.
Episode 89: Livista Energy
This episode features Daniel Bloor, CEO, and Jose Hofer, Commercial Manager, of Livista Energy. You can follow them on Twitter @LivistaEnergy and on Linked In as well as their website: Livista.Energy
Livista plans to have the first large scale lithium conversion plant operating in Europe. In addition to discussing the project, we also cover:
Battery passports and traceability
The challenge of finding raw material supply
Will “ESG compliant” material receive price premiums?
Livista’s scope of ambition
Does Europe need a strategic lithium stockpile?
The future of lithium price
Episode 88: Minviro / Life Cycle Assessments
Robert Pell and Alex Grant from Minviro, pioneers in producing Life Cycle Assessments for the lithium industry, are my guests. Minviro is focused on the environmental portion of the emerging and increasingly significant field of ESG.
The development, importance and value of life cycle assessments
Properly quantifying results vs “tick the box” exercises
The need for 3rd party reviews
OEMs desire for ESG compliant material but unwillingness to invest in it
How seriously life cycle assessments are being taken by the industry
And for those of you that are Ayn Rand fans, after this episode you may be asking “Who is Sarah?” instead of “Who is John Galt?”
My favorite lithium event of the year is Panorama Minero's “Lithium South America”. I had the opportunity to keynote at this event in Salta in 2018 and Jujuy in 2019. This year at the virtual event I participated by doing a live Global Lithium Podcast with a great co-host, Carlos Galli, who conveyed the questions from the audience and added his own insightful commentary.
Why OEMs are not investing in lithium and when this will likely change
The bifurcated market in both quality and price
Covid’s impact on the lithium demand
The coming shortage of battery quality lithium
Tesla’s lithium failure
Why Argentina should “build a lithium bridge” to Europe
The Future of DLE
My ranking of the “Top Five” lithium players
Bolivia – the land of lithium dreams
In addition I make a few comments on the "divorce" of Livent and E3 Metals
Bob Morris is a battery metals expert who worked for industry heavyweights Umicore, INCO and Vale for many years before starting his own consulting company.
Few people have the depth of the battery supply chain experience that Bob has. Although we dealt with many of the same customers and both spent time as expats in China and Japan, we never crossed paths until we were introduced recently by Dan Blondal, CEO of Nano One.
In this episode Bob shares the basics of industry dynamics for both nickel and cobalt. We discuss why expectations for the growth of high nickel cathode were unrealistic - noting that demand estimates from industry pundits without significant experience often are. We also review why cobalt is likely to have a place in the battery world for a very long time despite the desire of many to minimize use of the metal.
As the development of 811 NMC continues to fall short of expectations, we examine the reasons why 532 and 622 NMC are still viable. We move on to the resurgence of LFP and the ramifications that may have for lithium supply.
Bob provides his thoughts on Tesla’s Battery Day, range anxiety, and why every cathode will continue to have a place in the market for the foreseeable future.
We close by discussing the future of recycling and why Northvolt’s 2030 ambitions for using recycled battery materials are unrealistic.
Emilie Bodoin is the founder and CEO of Pure Lithium a start-up focused on changing the way lithium metal is made and greatly enhancing the quality vs the current state of the art. The original patent for rechargeable lithium batteries goes back to the 1970s and was based on using lithium metal. Technical/safety issues forced a compromise to the current lithium ion design using metal oxides rather than lithium metal.
If Emilie has her way, the next generation of rechargeable lithium batteries will utilize lithium metal and be much more powerful than what we have today. As with all start-ups, risks abound.
I like Emilie’s focus and determination. If you are interested in the future of lithium batteries and lithium raw materials this episode is for you.
The day I met Emilie in New York in early 2019 I also met Paul Graves the CEO of Livent and former podcast guest. At the end of the episode I will discuss Livent’s recently announced plan to be involved in resurrecting the largest value destroying fiasco in lithium history – Nemaska Lithium and why I like the idea.
Last week Altura went into receivership. A day later Pilbara had a conditional deal to purchase their neighbor. Lithium drama has moved, at least temporarily, from the Atacama to the Pilbara. I hope the acquisition happens and ultimately leads to Pilbara vertically integrating via partnerships in Europe and possibly Korea.
In Argentina last week, the government of Salta announced it would allow exportation of lithium brine to have the value addition take place in another country. I think this is a short sighted decision unless it is somehow limited to a brief period of time. I explain the logic behind my thinking.
Last week at the Fastmarkets Lithium Conference the question was asked – does Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) matter? I explain my thoughts on that topic. I also say why I think the conference needs a “makeover” to remain relevant and challenge my buddy Simon Moores who organized the first edition of the conference when he worked for the Fastmarkets (then called Industrial Minerals) to come up with a new and improved conference for the coming “Golden Age” of lithium.
SQM advised me last week what I “have to do” in order for them to be on the podcast….
In episode 83 I have a conversation with a skilled interviewer who talks to me about my three decade “journey” in the lithium world.
Current lithium “state of play”
False lithium narratives
The EU battery build out and need for interdependence in lithium supply
Why do some contemplating EU conversion projects feel carbonate, rather than spodumene, is the best route to battery quality hydroxide?
Why the lithium industry continues to be so misunderstood
Barriers to investment
Is Elon Musk “worth his salt” with respect to lithium?
The future of the cost curve
Why I will never catch up with my daughter’s presence on social media
What is my favorite “type” of lithium?
Why the next lithium shortage will last for years?
The problem with feasibility studies
Why partners matter
Shout outs to Jon Evans, Dr. Tom Benson and Chris Reed
Why I like LAC and hope Standard Lithium succeeds
Episode 82 features Marco Romero, CEO of Euro Manganese. We discuss the manganese market especially as it relates to lithium batteries and then take a deep dive into the company’s project in the Czech Republic.
In a separate segment of this podcast you will also hear my candid thoughts on Piedmont Lithium’s supply contract with Tesla and SQM’s recent ESG announcement and 2020 sales/production guidance.
The Euro Manganese Project entails re-processing a significant manganese deposit hosted in historic mine tailings, strategically located in the heart of Europe, approximately 90km east of Prague. EMN's goal is to become a leading, competitive and environmentally superior supplier of Ultra-High-Purity Manganese Products, serving both the lithium-ion battery industry, as well as producers of specialty steel and aluminum alloys.
This is a two part episode. The first 20 minutes is episode 81 "Elon Musk: 40 Shades of Battery Grade" a Q&A with questions that resulted from my recent appearance on TC's Chartcast - episode 46. I discussed lithium industry basics with an audience more familiar with EVs than lithum chemicals. I got a few dozen questions after that episode and answer several of them here. Afterwards, I include episode 80 with my comments on Tesla's Battery Day. This episode was originally posted on my website: globallithium.net but so the Anchor catalog is complete I am including it here.
This episode features Vivas Kumar of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence for a second appearance. Vivas has been involved in the battery space since 2017 beginning as the “lithium guy” at Tesla before joining Benchmark.
We cover a wide variety of topics of the day and then focus the conversation on what is going on in the "soon to be very significant” Indian market.
Listen all the way to “rapid fire” and you will find out why Vivas doesn’t want his mother listening to this episode.
Chris Reed, the CEO of Neometals (ASX: NMT), is my guest on episode 78. Chris was the mastermind behind the development of the Mt Marion mine. He wisely brought in two heavyweight partners - Ganfeng and Mineral Resources to ensure guaranteed offtake and timely construction / start-up. Mt Marion is the cornerstone of Ganfeng’s hard rock supply and the first strategic lithium asset in production for Mineral Resources. Chris timed Neometals’ very profitable exit from the project well and retained pro-rata future offtake rights.
One of the most forward thinking minds in the lithium world, Chris plans to lead Neometals into the broader battery metals market via “urban mining” – recycling lithium batteries to supply high quality cobalt, nickel and lithium while helping the battery industry greatly lower their carbon footprint.
We discuss the current oversupply of spodumene concentrate and where pricing needs to be for newly minted Western Australia mines to survive and then expand to meet the massive growth in lithium demand. Chris and I agree a tight lithium chemicals market and price spike are coming based on the lack of investment in new hard rock and brine capacity in recent years.
We examine the two main process categories of recycling and how Neometals will again utilize world class partners to move quickly along the development curve. Chris deconstructs the economics of recycling and where battery metals from urban mining will fit on the various cost curves.
The episode concludes by looking at Neometals plans for a lithium hydroxide plant in India with a strategic partner and then move to “rapid fire”.
Along the way I add to my vocabulary of Aussie sayings with at least three new ones. The first person that can guess them and leaves me a note on globallithium.net/contact gets a Global Lithium hat.
Chris and Neometals COO, Mike Tamlin were the guests on episode 3 “Wizards of Oz” which is still second most popular episode of all 77 prior podcasts based on downloads. As always - thanks to our sponsor Zelandez
Episode 77 of the Global Lithium Podcast: “Gradually then Suddenly”: is a conversation with Roger Atkins.
Roger Atkins of electricvehiclesoutlook.com is one of the top EV voices on the planet with 30 years of auto industry experience.
This conversation is not really about lithium, it is more about the demand drivers of lithium’s future. Anyone interested in batteries, electric mobility, energy storage or the future will benefit from this podcast.
We discuss why OEMs really aren’t as motivated to transition to e-mobility as they like to “advertise”, why Tesla has an almost insurmountable lead in battery and EV technology and move on to the rivalry between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and how the world will benefit from their growing competition. We ponder if Musk and Bezos are the new generation of “Robber Barons” with social media generated halos.
Elon Musk’s admiration for Henry Ford is another topic. We wonder aloud if Elon would benefit from sharing ideas with Henry’s great grandson the current executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company.
Roger explains why simple EV penetration metrics are essentially a meaningless form of what he calls “numerical alliteration”.
We break down the e-mobility world by different types of vehicles and discuss how regional differences impact the development of the market. Some market segments are past the mass adoption “tipping point”, others are not.
Along the way you will hear thoughts about the major battery chemistries and their relative merits. Roger asks me if I think ESS will be a bigger market than e-mobility, the answer may surprise you.
The above, much more and rapid fire.
Alison Dai is the Commercial Director of Chengdu Chemphys, a specialty producer of high purity lithium chemicals. Although less well known than Chinese major producers Ganfeng and Tianqi, Chemphys was active selling high quality lithium chemicals to the difficult to penetrate Japanese and Korean markets long before their larger rivals.
Alison was born in China, raised in Western Australia and left an investment banking career with JP Morgan Chase to return to Chengdu and become involved in the family lithium business.
We discuss the current state of the lithium market and ponder when the the oversupply situation will turn to shortage. I ask Alison about Chemphys plans for both expansion and utilizing partnerships to grow in the international market.
We explore the rise of lithium reprocessors, the challenge of upgrading industrial quality lithium to battery quality and opportunities for Chemphys to help brine producers implement direct lithium extraction.
Alison gives her thoughts on the rise of high nickel cathodes and the recent resurgence of LFP cathode.
And, of course, we close with rapid fire.
My guest for Episode 75 is Gene Morgan the CEO of brine field services provider Zelandez. Gene has an interesting story that starts in New Zealand, moves to oil fields in various parts of the world before an invitation to Bolivia led to both meeting his wife and, ultimately, a career change to lithium.
We discuss the various services Zelandez provides to lithium explorers, developers and producers. Gene has a unique window on the lithium space interacting with a wide array of current and future producers.
Having started my career with an oil exploration and production company I have long believed that the lithium industry has a lot to learn from the much larger and technologically advanced oil business.
If you want to know more about the future of brine production in South America, then this is episode is for you.
The name Zelandez should be familiar to you since they have been a loyal sponsor of the Global Lithium Podcast since the early days.
Episode 74 “Forged in the Fire” features Ken Brinsden the CEO of Pilbara Minerals. Ken is one of my favorite all time guests. He is articulate and forthright in an industry known for opacity.
We cover several topics in 40 minutes including: Pilbara’s recent refinancing, their improved lithium recoveries to the world class level, how Pilbara is dealing with the current challenging market conditions and preparing for the inevitable upturn.
Ken gives his thoughts on the ability of the industry to respond to the anticipated steep growth in lithium demand in the coming decade and the opportunities a global lithium ion battery build out represent for the company.
I ask Ken to comment on Pilbara’s partnership strategy, corporate culture and the growing importance of ESG considerations to those seeking to finance lithium projects.
Ken’s office in Perth is about as far away from my home base in Charlotte as you can be. The normally reliable Zoom connection was stressed a few times but the majority of the episode is fine from a sound perspective.
Thanks to our sponsor - Zelandez
This episode features Pavel Galchenko of Halmek Lithium. Most investors and many analysts following the lithium industry can’t name a Russian producer; however, Pavel is well known by major lithium companies because of the many industry partnerships Halmek has had for distribution, toll production and providing an outlet for low quality lithium carbonate that Halmek has learned to convert into high quality lithium hydroxide.
Pavel and his partners at Halmek have made step by step progress from distributing FMC Lithium (Livent) product and US DOE stockpile hydroxide to building their own plant producing industrial grade hydroxide from sourced carbonate to now making battery quality and high purity hydroxide for local and international markets. At some point in time Halmek has also partnered with SQM, Albemarle and Toyota Tsusho/Orocobre.
We discuss the history of the Russian lithium market, the difficulties producing high quality hydroxide and the many challenges entering the lithium battery supply chain.
Pavel can be found on Twitter @PYasev.
This episode was brought to you by Zelandez.
Episode 72 features Dave Buckley one of the few people on the planet to have extensive (more than two decades) experience processing brine and hard rock into carbonate and hydroxide for two major lithium companies followed by half a decade of consulting experience with projects around the world. In addition, Dave also has cathode processing experience.
We cover brine and hard rock processing challenges, issues with expansions in the Atacama, recovery rates, the challenge of producing a higher percentage of battery quality material, DLE, the need for developing lithium talent, hydroxide shelf life and why the “direct” hard rock route to hydroxide is a misnomer.
Dave and I grew both grew up in Western New York and although we didn’t meet until 1992 share a common bond in optimistically suffering through decades of football futility in Buffalo. Dave can be found on Linked In but keeps a very low social media profile.
This is a Q & A episode in two parts. The first part is an abbreviated version of my ‘Ask Me Anything” call with Daniel Graham, a podcast listener from Queenstown, New Zealand. We discuss why I still believe lithium is the best investment among battery raw materials, Tesla, range anxiety, the market for newly designed LFP batteries, lithium metal, ponder if DLE’s potential will be realized or if the industry will have to rely on existing technology for the foreseeable future. I give my thoughts on lithium projects on both sides of the Andes, the importance of project teams and I respond to a “personal question”.
In Part II, I answer the question of why even major producers struggle making high percentages of battery quality material. I define the lithium “last mile” problem and answer specific questions about SQM and Standard Lithium. Finally, I discuss why the growth of LFP won’t make life easier for producers as far as quality is concerned.
The podcast can be found on the Global Lithium website: www.globallithium.net, Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcast and other major podcast outlets. To ask a question, leave a comment or to submit your name for the next "Ask Me Anything" drawing, please go to www.globallithium.net/contact
My guests are Nano One's CEO, Dan Blondal and CTO, Dr. Stephen Campbell.
We discuss Nano One's recent announcement of a potential game changing process for manufacturing 811 NMC. We cover the resurgence of LFP and developments by BYD and CATL that could enable LFP to compete with high nickel cathodes in EVs. We do a deep dive into cathode technology and debunk some commonly held misconceptions.
Nano One's new cathode materials aim to make rechargeable lithium batteries safer and longer lasting. Their process technology can add value to any type of cathode and enables the use of lithium carbonate as the feedstock for high nickel cathodes.
After listening you will understand much more about cathodes and why producing 811 NMC has been such a challenge. You will also understand why the lithium chemicals market is likely to be balanced between carbonate and hydroxide well into the future despite all the forecasts to the contrary.
This is a Q&A episode that is the result of an “Ask Me Anything” Zoom call with a very well prepared and insightful podcast listener.
I am asked how meaningful tracking Gigafactories is when projecting demand. We talk about the continued progress at Tesla and ponder whether “big money” that has recently shown interest in lithium will jump in or “pass”. I am asked if the quality issues at Orocobre “can be fixed?” and what I think about Piedmont.
We move to the Atacama: is water really an issue? We discuss SQM’s continued disappointing performance and briefly wonder aloud if the new management at ALB will bring change.
I am asked if investing in LAC long term is my “best idea”?
What is discussed is very similar to what I do on an expert call.
Thanks to our sponsor Zelandez
Mac Whale is back for another discussion of the lithium world, how he looks at markets, the impact of Covid 19 and how that has changed his analysis of future EV/lithium demand. Mac discusses lack of investment in new lithium projects and how that will likely result in a future run-up in prices that may exceed the price spike of 2015-2016.
I close the episode with my thoughts on why there was a very noticeable increase in the price of many lithium stocks in the last week and caution lithium investors not to fall into the trap of short term thinking. I also do a shout out to my daughter Cailin who shares a birthday (June 5th) with the late Breonna Taylor and was inspired to raise more than $10,000 in her memory to promote social change via BLM charities .
Recorded as part of Benchmark's #EVFest, this was the first live edition of the podcast that is now being released as three separate podcast episodes. The first installment is with Robert Mintak, the CEO of Standard Lithium and Andy Robinson the COO. We discuss their unique lithium project which leverages the brine output and infrastructure of the bromine operation of their partner Lanxess. A pilot operation with unique technology has recently started operating bringing a chance for the small town of El Dorado, Arkansas to have a significant position in the "new energy" economy on the one hundred year anniversary of the first major oil strike in that part of Arkansas which ultimately helped create the wealth of the Hunt family of oil, silver and Super Bowl fame. Listen and enjoy.
Dr. Rene LeBlanc is my guest for Episode 65. Rene is a PhD Chemical Engineer with extensive experience in the lithium/battery space. After a decade with Livent/FMC Lithium, Dr. LeBlanc moved on to Tesla where one of his responsibilities was evaluating potential lithium suppliers on a global basis. After a couple years at Tesla, Rene moved back to the lithium world where he now serves as Chief Technical Officer of Lithium Americas. In his current role, Rene brings his technical acumen to bear on LAC’s two world class lithium projects – Cauchari in Argentina and Thacker Pass in Nevada.
I worked with Rene for several years. I consider Rene the world’s foremost technical expert in the production of lithium hydroxide as well as one of the most knowledgeable people on planet with respect to resource development whether it be brine, hard rock or sedimentary assets.
We discuss the key criteria for lithium resource evaluation, quality metrics, qualification protocols for suppliers, reprocessing, the trade-offs of using various cathodes, future demand expectations for carbonate and hydroxide and more.
It is my privilege to count some of the world’s greatest experts in lithium, cathode and battery as personal friends. Rene is certainly in that group.
The is a special double episode with one of the best minds in the lithium/cathode/battery arena – Dr Yuan Gao. I have been proud to call Yuan my friend for nearly a quarter of a century. In today’s episode we discuss new safety regulations for the China EV market that will take effect in January. The new rules will likely have an impact on cathode/battery pack choices in China – perhaps for several years. You will learn the details. The new content is about 30 minutes – as a bonus I have included episode 43 which was recorded in Santiago, Chile in June, 2019. Even if you listened last year, you will likely learn something new listening again. For new listeners, I absolutely recommend E43. I edited out first few minutes so it begins with questions rather than the lengthy intro.
Thanks to our sponsor Zelandez. If you enjoy the podcast please subscribe via you favorite podcast provider.
In part 2 of my discussion with Jose Hofer we cover several topics including: ongoing quality issues in the lithium world that are dealt with by sending material to re-processors. How does the need for another link in the supply chain impact qualification by cathode and battery makers?
We move on to the current status of the (slower than anticipated) rise of NMC cathode and what the 2025 demand balance between carbonate and hydroxide is likely to be. We ponder how improved LFP implementation technologies developed by BYD and CATL will impact the use of this low cost cathode in mid market EVs.
We consider the topic of ESG (environmental, social & government) issues and discuss VW's recent visit to the Atacama – was “industrial tourism” or something much more serious that the lithium industry needs to deal with?
Next we ponder the question if DLE (direct lithium extraction) will ever become mainstream after more the 15 years of seeking commercialization. We reject the notion that Livent’s process at Hombre Muerto is DLE which some have posited of late in an attempt claim DLE is already commercial.
We end with some rapid fire questions.
Benchmark's Jose Hofer is my guest for part one of a two part episode. Jose is a mining engineer educated in both Chile and the US. He has a great breadth of experience for someone so young. Prior to Benchmark, Jose was with "Big 4" lithium producer SQM. In part one we focus on the impact of the Corona Virus on lithium demand, supply and price which, of course, can't be meaningfully discussed without addressing the current global economic situation. In part two we get into a detailed discussion of industry quality issues, the rise of lithium re-processors and much more. The podcast is brought to you by brine field services company Zelandez.
In today's episode we hear how people from Australia to the US & Canada to Bolivia and the UK are coping with the global "lockdown" or "shelter in place" orders. Some names like Chris Berry aka "the voice of reason" and Alexi Zawadzki aka "the biggest feet in lithium" are well known to Global Lithium Podcast listeners. Other names such as Gene Morgan (Zelandez), Big Ben Ash (Benchmark), Alex Rubin (Bisley & Co) and Stu Crow (Lake Resources) a little less so.
The second half of the podcast is more traditional. I do two brief interviews. The first with my daughter, Erin and her husband Joe. They live in New York, the epicenter of the virus in the US and are making the best of it. Due to a bandwidth issue and Zoom freezing for a few seconds there is a brief bit of "dead air". The second interview is with my younger daughter Cailin who lives Los Angeles. Cailin is holding up well - working from her small apartment. I ask my daughters the same rapid fire question. The answers are strangely similar. The podcast closes with a brief and positive message from my former driver and current friend Philip Wu. According to Philip, the situation in Shanghai is quite normal now. Philip's advice to us is stay inside and wait it out.
This episode features five guests - each gives his unique perspective regarding how the Corona Virus is impacting where they live. We hear from podcast newcomer Alex Cheeseman of Altura Mining and four podcast veterans - Benchmark's Simon Moores, Mac Whale from Cormark, Daniel Jimenez and David Guerrero aka "the Last Samurai of Brine". In addition to the guest's commentary I provide some thoughts on the market and why I think those projecting large supply increases over the next 24 months have it wrong. In addition to this podcast I was also on the S&P Global Platts Battery Metals podcast which you can find here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/battery-metals-podcast/id1418058093
Much of the western world is still in the early days of dealing with the "Corona Virus Storm". China and Korea have shown us the storm will pass but it takes proper response and time to effectively deal with global outbreak. It is still too early to accurately predict the impact on the lithium, battery and EV markets but I share some thoughts on possible outcomes. I also give my thoughts on what I believe is a false narrative regarding China dominating the lithium, battery & EV markets.
I am repeating one of the top episodes from season one of the Global Lithium Podcast. Benchmark Mineral Intelligence's Simon Moores and Andy Miller are the guests. We cover the "Rise of Benchmark" discussing their place in the industry providing price insights and commentary critical to various battery industry stakeholders. You will learn about various types of lithium contracts, offtake agreements vs supply agreements and what makes an agreement "bankable". We learn why the deeply ingrained concept of "spot" price is a misnomer. We discuss the different contracting philosophies of various industry players and how lithium, the Atacama and James Bond are connected. Before all that I also speak to recent price activity and some industry misinformation. And, yes, you will actually hear me say spot price in my comments when I should have said short term price.... mea culpa.
Dean Frankel from Solid State Battery developer Solid Power is back for a longer complement to the short part I we recorded a few weeks ago.
We review what makes a battery solid state, discuss Solid Power's plans to bring a much higher energy density battery to market. We get into the battery components and the lithium intensity of various cell designs. Along with lithium intensity we discuss the lithium chemical raw material supply implications to accommodate a meaningful entry of solid state batteries into the EV market.
We review the options for getting lithium metal into a solid state battery and potential routes to the lithium sulfide which Solid Power will also require.
Along the way we discuss the recent news stories that both BYD and Tesla have plans to implement a new LFP battery design to capture share in the EV market that were previously thought to require nickel cathodes. In addition to the LFP stories we discuss Dean's thoughts on GM's recent announcement about their NMCA plans.
The podcast ends with one of the more interesting rapid fire answers I have had.
Recorded on 2/29 in Tokyo. I discuss the recent LFP buzz after people learned that both BYD and Tesla plan to use a newly designed LFP battery which will have much higher energy density. I also discuss the impact of the Coronavirus on the lithium world, supply chains, etc. My early 2020 demand forecast will have to be redone based on the impact of the virus. I am celebrating the 20th anniversary of moving my family to Japan today and talk a little bit about that.
Episode 11 was recorded in Salta, Argentina in June 2018 as one of two "Father's Day" episodes.
One of my all time favorite episodes, my guests are lithium experts: Dr Daniel Galli, his son Carlos Galli and the "Last Samurai of Brine" David Guerrero. They do a great job of simplifying some of the complexities of producing lithium chemicals from brine. I do a short intro discussing what I feel are the key takeaways from this episode.
I also tell "speed listeners" how far to skip ahead if they prefer not to listen to the "intro banter" of the old podcast format. In any case - listeners will come away with a better understanding of brine chemistry and what REALLY makes Battery Quality lithium chemicals.
I am off to Battery Japan next week. Expect a podcast from the "Land of the Rising Sun".
In preparation for a planned March podcast recording with Solid Power's Dean Frankel, we decided to test the quality of recording on Zoom's video conferencing platform. What was planned as a combination "sound check" and the recording of a trailer (another first for this podcast) morphed into Part One of a two part discussion.
We find out how Dean came to work at Solid Power. We learn what defines "solid state" and the potential for better safety performance along with increased energy density. We move on to Solid Power's thinking regarding both their target market and the roadmap to commercialization. Next we delve into ongoing development challenges and finally touch on the lithium raw material implications in a solid state battery world. During rapid fire, you will hear from Solid Power newbie Will McKenna.
"Part Two" will be recorded in March.
In this episode we discuss the recent announcement by Lithium Americas regarding a transaction with their partner Ganfeng Lithium. The agreement will result in benefits to both parties. Guests Mac Whale of Cormark and LAC CEO Jon Evans will give their perspective on the deal.
Note: Mac misspeaks on the project valuation implied by the 1% of the project Ganfeng is purchasing. (1% at $16 million = a valuation of $1.6 billion).
I also discuss the recent run-up in Tesla stock and caution lithium investors not to get too excited about the likely short term impact Tesla's performance has had on certain lithium stocks. I wish Luke Kissam, CEO of Albemarle, "Godspeed" in dealing with his recently disclosed health issue. I also briefly discuss the coronavirus and potential impacts it may have on 2020 in the lithium world.
One of my objectives in starting the Global Lithium Podcast was to use it as a tool to learn from the best minds in the industry. After recording over 50 episodes, a great deal of valuable knowledge has been disseminated by my guests. Beginning this week I will, on a bi-weekly basis, repost some of the best episodes and provide commentary on what I feel the major "take aways" are. Although the lithiumpodcast.com website is still available, eventually all the episodes with guests will appear on this platform with updates and additional comments. Although I personally know many of my guests well, I learn something new each time I listen and I believe your experience will be the same. I appreciate that listening to podcasts a second time isn't for everyone which is why "Archive" episodes will be stated upfront.
The Ganfeng "Not Lost in Translation" episode is one of the best not so much for the technical information revealed but more it is a "rags to riches" story about how initially one man's vision and later a "dynamic duo" can change an industry by defying conventional wisdom. I learn from Li Liangbin and Wang Xiaoshen each time we meet. It has been a privilege to watch my two friends have great success and to have been in a small way part of that success.
On this episode we cover everything from the twitter hype over the recent rains in the Argentina Pune and what impact it may have on production to the steadily dropping spodumene prices impacting WA producers to the EV limiting battery shortage claimed by Daimler. I am asked what a new constitution would do to lithium production in Chile and what impact the new virus in China may have on a recovery in lithium prices. Finally I respond to the often asked question of "why aren't there more women guests on the podcast?" My apologies that I didn't have time to answer every question. I am trying to keep Q&A episodes in the 25 minute range.
This episode is a result of a chance meeting in Buenos Aires after seeing a tweet by James Ellsmoor aka the Digital Nomad. James has been on my list of potential podcast guests for several months so it seemed fate intervened to make this episode happen. James is an advocate for sustainability and renewables projects in rural areas and remote islands around the world. A millennial that has started several ventures but never had a "real job" is an interesting departure from my typical podcast guest.
James can be found on twitter: @jellsmoor and on Linked In and Facebook.
This is another episode that was enabled by being able to quickly respond to the opportunity via use of my Iphone to record.
In addition to speaking with James, I briefly discuss the situation in Argentina, Bolivia's new "Lithium Czar", Drama in the Atacama and the recent run-up in the stock price of junior lithium stocks.
Please note that after initial publication of this episode I inserted an "errata clip" to correct the fact that that I misspoke about Argentina's opponent in the 1986 world cup final - it was West Germany not England. The "hand of God" goal by Diego Maradona was actually in the quarterfinal final match vs England. Lesson: never listen to an American talking about futbol.
Trivia: The picture of the Global Lithium hat was taken one year ago today in a fjord in northern Norway near Tromso.
The Global Lithium Podcast adapts the format for the "Lithium Decade". One host, with co-hosts from time to time, same focus on high quality guests on the long version and answering your questions on Q&A episodes. For now, Anchor will be the podcast home but we will remain available on Apple, Spotify and other major platforms. This episode was recorded in Reno, Nevada. My guests are Dr. Rene LeBlanc, CTO of Lithium Americas and Alexi Zawadzki, President of Lithium Nevada. We discuss recent developments at the Cauchari and Thacker Pass Projects before delving into other areas. I ask and Rene explains why it is a misnomer to say "it is too difficult to make battery grade carbonate at altitude". We both worked for FMC Lithium (now Livent) in a day when Hombre Muerto produced an excellent battery quality product above 4,000 meters in Catamarca Province Argentina. I provide some comments on Livent's recent earnings guidance and make some brief comments on pricing and other pertinent topics. We have a cameo appearance by long time friend of the podcast Randall Burns of LAC while I ride across Reno in his EV and am chastised by Alexi for not owning a Tesla yet. Things get loud during the "five guys in a bar segment" when Alexi asks a broader group if you could go back an be alive for any one day in history - what would it be? This episode was recorded on my IPhone - please keep that in mind as you listen. I did not travel with a mic or recording software but didn't want to miss the opportunity to record the first long form episode of the new decade.
On this episode of the podcast I have two great guests- Daniel Jimenez, Managing Director of iLi Markets and former VP at SQM plus Jingwen Sun of Minmetals Securities who give their thoughts on the market in 2020. I say 2020 a couple of times when I meant to say 2019 towards the end of the podcast but likely context will bail me out...
This episode goes a little long (30 min) as I also give my thoughts on each of the "Big 4" Lithium Producers as we move into the "Decade of Lithium". I also respond to the question: “what is the status of the Global Lithium Podcast?”.
Mac Whale is my guest. He gives his thoughts on stocks in 2020. I talk about why I believe there is one more step down in price before the bottom, Nemaska seeks protection from creditors, why I sold Livent, 2020 contract prices and SQM's recent behavior in China.
This has been a tough year for the lithium market. I would love to tell you 2020 is going to be much better but I think we will have to wait for 2021 for a significant positive change. Why? You have to listen to find out.
This episode features Vivas Kumar of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. Vivas was previously with Tesla. We discuss e-mobility, the "Manhattan Project" like effort the US needs to catch up in the "battery arms race", millennial attitudes towards mining and much more.
Jose Hofer is a rare breed in the lithium world. He has experience working for a major producer (SQM) and now the freedom to leverage his knowledge as a senior analyst at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. I have known Jose since shortly after he entered the lithium world. One of his first mentors at SQM was Daniel Jimenez, a past guest of both the Global Lithium Podcast and this podcast. Jose also known as "titanium fingers" based on his guitar prowess is someone I believe you will be hearing from for a long time.
The first Global Lithium Podcast guest makes his initial appearance on Global Lithium Q&A. Chris Berry of House Mountain Partners answers my question and then I answer two listener questions. Run time: ~18 minutes
I spent the past week in Japan and China meeting leading cathode and battery producers. I give you my "take aways" on the transition to high nickel cathode, price and quality. I also make comments on the SQM earnings call and Galaxy's recent Sal de Vida announcement.
Joe and Emily are joined in Los Angeles by the newly minted “geek squad,” the label intended as the ultimate compliment to four technical experts. All are veterans of the podcast.
We are guided through the lithium value chain from the ground to lithium chemicals to cathode and ultimately the battery. Dr. Tom Benson of Lithium Americas shares how lithium is formed inside the earth, and how the fact that lithium “Can’t Be Tamed” is what makes it so practical for batteries. Dr. Yuan Gao of Pulead and now a Lithium Americas Board Member takes us through extracting lithium from raw materials and making cathodes. Dr. Gao, or the “Lithium OG”, explains the concept of excess lithium and why it matters even more in a high nickel world. Dr. Dr. Rene LeBlanc of Lithium Americas explains how the process to separate lithium can be the reverse of how it's formed, and shares how the physical separation process for the sedimentary material at Thacker Pass is like the process for extracting gold.. Dan Blondal of Nano One explains the different purposes served by cobalt, as a stabilizer of layered nickel structure or active material in LCO batteries.
We give a shout out to the Real Clear Politics discussion of Minerals: The Overlooked Foundations of our Future, where Emily was a panelist and felt like she knew the cool kids when Alexi Zawadski and Thacker Pass were name dropped by Carl Cannon, Executive Editor & Washington Bureau Chief of RealClearPolitics, as a carbon-neutral project.
Our guests close with what they experience as most misunderstood lithium myths, and as always we end with rapid fire questions.
This episode reviews some highlights from Cathodes 2019 and my feedback to listeners on their criticism of the podcast. One gaffe is when I say spodumene carbonate instead of spodumene concentrate but most of you would understand what I meant anyway.
More on the social unrest situation in Chile. In this episode we hear from Alonso Barros, an attorney and Cambridge PhD. Alonso is involved in many things, among them serving as an advisor to various Indigenous Groups in Chile. Dr. Barros knows the details of the situation between various stakeholders in the world's largest lithium brine producing region well.
This is a special episode of Global Lithium Q&A with guests former SQM Commercial VP Daniel Jimenez and Alejandro Hess. Both gentlemen are from Chile and provide local insights to the current situation of social unrest along with the potential short and long term impacts on the lithium industry.
It has been a busy week for announcements in the lithium world. I cover the topics in the title and answer a couple rapid fire questions.
If you have been blocked by me on Twitter there is probably a good reason but feel free to voice message me via Anchor and tell me why I shouldn't have blocked you in the first place.
A large number of questions came in after episode 1: I answer four of them including: the hydroxide shelf life issue, "are we at a market bottom?" , the value of Fastmarkets' pricing product, and my take on Russia pursuing a lithium project in Chile. Of course there is a rapid fire question.