Luisa Moreno on Charging the Future with Lithium and Graphite
May 12, 2014 — Tracy Weslosky, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher for InvestorIntel interviews Luisa Moreno, PhD, MEng, Sr. Metals and Mining Analyst for Euro Pacific Canada about the graphite and lithium market. Luisa says there is a strong forecast for lithium “associated in part with the potential demand for electric cars and increasing demand for hybrid vehicles as well…So if there is a 5-6% increase in demand for these vehicles, in the next five to seven years we should see significant increase in demand for battery grade lithium.” Tracy suggests that – as she and Jack Lifton have been saying recently – one of the catalysts is a new wave of environmentalism in China. Luisa says there are more local forces involved; she reminds us that President Obama had a target of about a million hybrid vehicles sold in 2015: “Obviously they’re not going to reach that target,” she says, “but it is a desirable target.” Such batteries, Luisa notes, are also needed to increase energy storage capacity.
Luisa says that in the US as well as Europe “there have been a number of policies to change people’s habits from using fossil fuels to more green vehicles.” Tracy asks Luisa to pick her ‘top five’ lithium plays. Luisa responds by promising three picks RBI Energy (TSX: RBI). Luisa says RBI is now in commissioning and reaching production stage, which they expect will begin toward the end of the year. RBI is running the Quebec Lithium Project located near Val d’Or, Quebec. “The other name that we like is Nemaska Lithium (‘Nemaska’, TSX: NMX), which, with its Whabouchi deposit has been very active; Luisa says they have “one of the highest grade nickel deposits in the world. Nemaska is less interested in the lithium carbonate market as it is in the market for lithium hydroxide, which is a higher value product. It can be sold at a price of more than USD$8,000 per ton compared to USD$6,000/ton for carbonate. Moreover, hydroxide lithium has been increasingly adopted in the manufacturing of batteries.
Luisa’s third pick is ‘Critical Elements (‘CRE’, TSXV: CRE). CRE has a lithium deposit in Quebec. Apart from battery grade lithium, CRE is getting ready to launch a potential tantalum byproduct from its spodumene deposit. Spodumene is commonly identified lithium-rich pegmatites along with other lithium minerals. Tantalum itself is a critical material and it is difficult to find. Tantalum is largely used to make electronic capacitors used to power mobile phones and laptops. Tantalum capacitors are preferred over other types because of their weight and fast response time. Moreover, it would be very desirable to identify tantalum – often found in risky areas of Africa and South America – in North America. Finally, Tracy also leads the discussion toward graphite, which is also needed to make the lithium-ion batteries that are used in electric cars. Luisa says that Euro Pacific is not covering any graphite companies now, officially; nevertheless, they have marketed Focus Graphite (Focus Graphite (‘Focus’, TSX.V: FMS | OTCQX: FCSMF | FSE: FKC), which has a relatively high grade deposit with good economics in Quebec.
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Tracy Weslosky is the Founder and CEO of InvestorIntel Corp., a company that publishes InvestorIntel.com. A leading e-news source for investors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders ... <Read more about Tracy Weslosky>