Molten Salt Batteries – Hot but not Flammable

When we first wrote for InvestorIntel on Molten Salt battery technology almost half a decade ago, the technology was already five years in the making, but it has now taken a further five years for it to get traction amongst end-users.

However, in this Third Wave of battery metals, Antimony (the prime component in Molten Salt batteries) has joined the ranks of battery metals and the hunt is on for that scarce commodity, the non-Chinese Antimony miner.

Antimony – Lighting a Fire under the Price

The price of this metal has taken off in recent times on a combination of global shortages caused by the Pandemic and the coup in Burma, long-term underinvestment, declining Chinese production, and the arrival of Molten Salt batteries in the commercial marketplace.

The effect was stunning, with Antimony breaking out of a multi-year malaise and becoming the hottest metal in the last six months (though tussling with Tin for that title).

Mass Storage Devices

The important consideration is that mass storage devices do not even need to be connected to the grid and thus can be in the middle of nowhere bridging the infrastructure gap (and cost) that weighs on emerging economies (and isolated mine sites).

And then there are liquid metal batteries using molten salts. The origin of using these salts for storing energy goes back to the Second World War.

Molten salt is a solid at standard temperature/pressure but enters the liquid phase under elevated temperatures. Liquid metal batteries can be stored indefinitely (over 50 years) yet provide full power in an instant when required. Once activated, they provide a burst of high power for a short period (a few tens of seconds to 60 minutes or more), with output ranging from watts to kilowatts. The high power is due to the high ionic conductivity of the molten salt, which is three orders of magnitude (or more) greater than that of the sulphuric acid in a Lead-acid car battery.

A team of researchers at MIT led by Professor Donald Sadoway worked on a liquid battery system that could enable renewable energy sources to compete with conventional power plants.

The research was put into a commercial venture, called Ambri, which was funded to the tune of $15M by Bill Gates, energy giant Total, the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency and Khosla Ventures (run by Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla).

What this means for antimony Demand

Each GWh of Ambri batteries requires less than 1% of current annual production of these (calcium and antimony) anode and cathode materials. This is the closest we have to divining how much Antimony that the Ambri product line might consume if it gains traction. Current antimony production is around 170,000 tonnes per annum, implying that a Gigawatt of Ambri cell utilizes 1.7 tonnes of Antimony.

Higher prices are rather a “chicken-and-egg” issue for the likes of Ambri. To be sure of adequate supplies of metal higher prices are needed (probably over $8,000 at least) and yet if they go too high then the viability of the economic equation is cast into doubt.

United States Antimony Corporation (NYSE American: UAMY) – Collateral Beneficiary?

As the main Antimony producer in North America (and we use the word “producer” very generously) this company was finding it hard to get two dimes to rub together in 2020. To add to the woes its long-term CEO (who was in his 80s) died.

The price of the stock started to rise slightly on the Antimony price rally but then…. in February of 2021 it announced an offtake deal with Ambri… then followed a massive financing ($14.3M) with Roth Capital Partners… the stock then soared and the rest is history. The fact that it doesn’t have a proper mine is a mere detail.

Despite all that such is the uplift that Antimony stocks can achieve in a market starved for options in this metal. The only other plays are the gold/silver miner, Mandalay Resources Corporation (TSX: MND | OTCQB: MNDJF) that has Antimony as a byproduct from its Costerfield mine, and Perpetua Resources Corp. (NASDAQ: PPTA | TSX: PPTA) (formerly called Midas Gold – that is controlled by the famed Paulson hedge fund group) but is not in production at its Stibnite Mine.

Conclusion

If Liquid Metal Batteries become the killer application in grid-linked storage (or non-grid linked) then it potentially lights a fire under Antimony demand and pricing.

To mix some metaphors, molten salt batteries have flown under the radar thus far but definitely have a place in the evolving battery universe and hopefully will take the Antimony market along for the ride.




Pilot Plant Project to Produce Battery Metals Yields Positive First Steps

Last week, Canada Silver Cobalt Works Inc. (TSXV: CCW | OTC: CCWOF) (“CCW”) announced that bench-scale test work has yielded positive results in producing a concentrate required for its Re-2Ox process.

In addition to owning a silver-cobalt exploration project, CCW also owns a proprietary hydrometallurgical process known as Re-2OX that can process mineral concentrates into cobalt sulphate, an important component for making Electric Vehicle (“EV”) batteries.

Re-2OX Process

The environmentally-friendly Re-2OX process, bypasses the smelting process, to produce a cobalt sulphate hexahydrate from feed material such as mineral ore, tailings or recycled batteries.

While the Re-2OX process recovers cobalt, manganese, nickel, silver and other metals, it can also remove toxic compounds. The recovered metals can be sold without smelting or further processing.

In 2018, the Company extracted an 82-kg sample of vein material from its Castle Mine in northern Ontario, Canada and sent it to SGS Laboratories in Lakefield, Ontario.

The vein material was processed into cobalt-rich gravity concentrates and then run through the Re-2OX process. The process produced EV battery-grade cobalt sulphate at 22.6% cobalt that exceeded the specifications required by battery manufacturers at that time.

The Re-2OX process recovered 99% of the cobalt, 81% of the nickel and 84% of the manganese from the concentrate and, importantly, removed 99% of the arsenic.

Canada Silver Cobalt Works - Re-2Ox Process

SOURCE:

Battery Metal Pilot Plant Underway

CCW is now working with SGS on a Pilot plant to scale up the Re-2OX process for the production of cobalt-nickel-rich gravity concentrates. The Company believes the process can be an economic method of producing, locally sourced, client-specific battery metals for the North American EV market.

The plan calls for the Pilot plant to be built and operated by SGS in Lakefield, Ontario and use silver-cobalt ore from the region including the Castle Mine property.

In May 2020, CCW released a maiden NI 43-101 mineral resource estimate for the Castle Mine project of 27,400 tonnes of material at an average silver grade of 8,582 g/t (250.2 oz/ton) for a total of 7.56 million Inferred ounces, and 2.54 million cobalt ounces at a grade of 3,260 g/t cobalt.

Frank Basa, CEO and Director commented, “The economics of harvesting both the base metals and silver, then adding value by processing it into premium EV battery metals will provide the Company with two solid income streams and we are excited for the future as the High-Grade and Technology Leader in Canada’s Silver Cobalt Heartland.”

Battery Recycling Using the Re-2Ox Process

Earlier this month, CCW announced that it has begun studies at SGS Canada to use the Re-2Ox process to extract minerals from old batteries. The Re-2Ox process is adaptable to recover rare earth metals from lithium-ion, nickel-hydride and nickel-cadmium batteries.

“We strongly considered this initiative a few years ago but initial research turned up a lack of feedstock at that time, but this has now changed. With feedstock currently available and coupled with the Re-2Ox process, the path is clear for the Company to develop what can be a robust and ever-increasing potential income stream by providing future tolling services for the treatment of used batteries,” remarked Frank Basa.

Acquiring EV Properties with the Potential for a Spin-out Battery Metals Company

Last month, CCW announced the acquisition of 39,200 hectares of EV properties in Quebec and Ontario.

The Company also reported that it was their intention to transfer the properties to another public company, in order to capitalize on the current EV market, and to dividend the shares to CCW’s existing shareholders.

Final Thoughts

CCW’s is focusing on becoming a producer of both silver, cobalt and other battery metals for the North American EV market. With its high-grade silver-cobalt mine and Re-2OX process, the Company is well positioned to become a Canadian leader in the production of silver, cobalt and other metals used in the EV industry.

CCW closed yesterday at C$0.46 with a market cap of C$56.0 million.




Chris Thompson with CBLT’s Peter Clausi on acquiring the Shatford Lake property for lithium

In a recent InvestorIntel interview, Chris Thompson speaks with Peter Clausi, President, CEO and Director of CBLT Inc. (TSXV: CBLT) about the acquisition of Shatford Lake, which the company has identified as highly prospective target for lithium.

In this InvestorIntel interview, which may also be viewed on YouTube (click here to subscribe to the InvestorIntel Channel), Peter went on to highlight the potential of the Shatford Lake property. “We are next door to the Tanco Mine,” he said. The Tanco Mine was formerly the world’s only producer of cesium and has also produced beryllium, tantalum, and lithium. He added, “According to an Australian Study it has 7.3 million tons of lithium at 2.79%.” CBLT will work with Jessica Daniel, P.Geo. to explore the property.

CBLT is focused on the battery metals space with a host of projects with cobalt, copper, nickel, zinc, gold, etc. Peter said, “We think we are well-positioned to benefit from the green revolution.” Peter also commented on how CBLT has been able to create value for its shareholders through its M&A activities.

To watch the full interview, click here

About CBLT Inc.

CBLT Inc. is a Canadian mineral exploration company with a proven leadership team, targeting cobalt and gold in reliable mining jurisdictions. CBLT is well-poised to deliver real value to its shareholders.

To learn more about CBLT Inc., click here

Disclaimer: CBLT Inc. is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.




Battery metals influencer Mitchell Smith on lithium-ion batteries, Tesla’s GigaFactory and GEMC

In a recent InvestorIntel interview, Peter Clausi speaks with Mitchell Smith, President, CEO and Director of Global Energy Metals Corp. (TSXV: GEMC | OTCQB: GBLEF) (‘GEMC’), about the acquisition of an 85% interest in the Lovelock Mine and Treasure Box Projects located on the doorstep of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery production plant, the Gigafactory One that Tesla Motors Ltd. and partner Panasonic Corp. have built in Nevada, USA.

In this InvestorIntel interview, which may also be viewed on YouTube (click here to subscribe to the InvestorIntel Channel), Mitchell started by saying that the COVID-19 pandemic “has highlighted the importance to regionalize supply and localization of new supply chain of critical minerals.” Mitchell, who was recently ranked as one of the top influencers in the battery minerals sector, continued by saying that the projects have very high grades of nickel, cobalt and copper deposit and have historically produced materials grading 14% cobalt and 12% nickel. He added, “because of fragmented ownership the projects were never explored using modern technique.”

To watch the full interview, click here

Global Energy Metals Corp.

Global Energy Metals is focused on offering investment exposure to the raw materials deemed critical for the growing rechargeable battery market, by building a diversified global portfolio of battery mineral assets including project stakes and sector specific equity positions. GEMC anticipates growing its business through the acquisition and development of battery mineral projects alongside key strategic partners. The Company holds 100% of the Millennium Cobalt Project and two neighbouring discovery stage exploration-stage cobalt assets in Mount Isa, Australia positioning it as a leading cobalt-copper explorer and developer in the famed mining district in Queensland, Australia. The Company has acquired 85% interest in two battery mineral projects, the Lovelock Cobalt Mine and Treasure Box Project. Additionally, the Company holds a 70% interest in the past-producing Werner Lake Cobalt Mine project in Ontario, Canada.

To learn more about Global Energy Metals Corp., click here

Disclaimer: Global Energy Metals Corp. is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.




Drolet Stock Note: Is Giga Metals the next take-over target of TESLA?

Mario Drolet, President of MI3 Communications Financières Inc. (MI3), released his Stock Notes on Giga Metals Corp. (TSXV: GIGA | OTCQB: HNCKF) for exclusive distribution on InvestorIntel. Highlights include:

  • Giga Metals focus on two of the key metals used in the batteries of electric vehicles: Nickel and Cobalt.
  • The company’s core asset is the Turnagain Project, located in northern British Columbia. It contains one of the largest undeveloped sulphide nickel and cobalt resources in the world.
  • Tesla is looking to have an interest in a Canadian mine to secure a supply of low-carbon nickel, according to a Reuters report. The battery electric vehicle maker is in talks with Canadian mining company Giga Metals to help develop a large mine to secure a source of environmentally friendly nickel.
  • Giga jump in volume… rumors of talks with TESLA.
  • Support: S2; $0.93    S1; $ 1.68
  • Resistance: R1; $2.05   R2; $2.25

About Giga Metals Corp.:

Giga Metals aims to be a premier supplier of the battery metals that will be needed as the world progresses to a future powered by clean energy. They are currently focused on two of the key metals used in the batteries of electric vehicles: Nickel and Cobalt. Their Turnagain Project is among the largest undeveloped nickel-cobalt sulphide deposits in the world in terms of total contained nickel. The NI 43-101 compliant resource contains 5.2 billion pounds of nickel and 312 million pounds of cobalt in the measured and indicated categories, plus a further 5.5 billion pounds of nickel and 327 million pounds of cobalt in the inferred resource category.

PLEASE DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE

Disclaimer: This MI3 Technical Note produced by MI³ Communications Financières is neither an offer to sell, nor the solicitation of an offer to buy any of the securities discussed therein. The information contained is prepared by MI3, emanating from sources deemed to be reliable. MI3 Communications Financières makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy, correctness or completeness of such information. MI³ Communications Financières accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss arising from the use of the information contained therein. Please take note that for compliance purposes, all directors, consultants or employees of MI3 Communications Financières are prohibited from trading the securities of the company and MI3 Communications Financières is a shareholder and do not intend to sell any shares during the distribution of this report.




Surprise! Electric Vehicle global sales continue to rise in spite of pandemic…

COVID-19 is causing huge disruptions to the global economy. Today I look at how COVID-19 (coronavirus) is impacting global electric vehicle (EV) sales and the EV metals supply chain. This includes a review of the EV metals: lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel, neodymium and praseodymium

Global electric vehicle (EV) sales

Somewhat surprisingly global electric car sales actually rose by 16% in February, compared to February 2019. The results were a mixed bag. China’s electric car sales plummeted 65% YoY and Europe sales boomed, rising a massive 111% YoY.

China usually makes up about 50% of global EV sales, and in February 2020 much of China was locked down due to coronavirus. This explains the dramatic fall in sales. Europe may follow to some degree in March EV sales, as coronavirus then moved to Europe during March, and China improved.

Also in March, we have seen a number of high profile EV manufacturers such as Tesla and Volkswagen close down some of their factories. This will impact March and April sales to some degree.

Tesla temporarily suspended production at Freemont and New York, but said superchargers, Nevada Gigafactory and their service centers would remain open. Tesla even started sourcing ventilators and donated hundreds of ventilators to California and New York City, as they began Model Y deliveries in the US.

My expectation is we will see weaker March EV sales from Europe, but stronger from China. As the coronavirus fades away (hopefully before mid 2020) we will see very strong EV sales by H2, 2020 and into 2021.

Tesla Model Y US deliveries began in March 2020 amid the coronavirus chaos

Impact on EV metals

The key EV metals (lithium, cobalt, graphite, nickel, and NdPr) have all been slightly but not severely impacted by COVID-19.

Demand

Demand has surprisingly remained solid helped by the strong February global electric car sales. Demand temporarily shifted in February towards Europe as China slowed. I expect this to reverse somewhat in March and April. Despite generally overall solid EV metals demand so far in 2020, many of the EV metals are still working off oversupply from 2019, which has led to lower prices for lithium, cobalt, and nickel in early 2020. Nickel has also been more impacted by the global slowdown, given its key demand is for stainless steel.

Supply

Whilst most mines have remained open there have been some logistical supply issues as well as some government shutdowns. For example Argentina temporarily closed its mining sector which temporarily impacted several lithium miners operating in Argentina. The ban has now been lifted for miners deemed as “essential”. Chile and Australia have remained open. The DRC has remained open, as has Namibia despite some cautions they may close.

With regards to logistics and processing, China’s supply chain has been only mildly impacted, as not all of China was shutdown.

EV subsidies

We began 2020 with new German subsidies as well as tougher emission targets in Europe and China. This has helped 2020 EV sales. In March we had two significant new announcements:

Note: The new Chinese 2 year subsidy extension news is still not widely known, and it will be a very significant boost to the Chinese EV sector.

Lithium-ion battery prices forecast by Bloomberg to fall to USD 100/kWh by 2023 making electric cars purchase price competitive to conventional cars by 2023

Source

Closing remarks

Despite the world currently being in or close to a recession, the EV sector has been doing surprisingly well. At least as far as EV sales and EV metals demand and supply. In terms of pricing, the EV metals are lower and the EV metal miners have also been heavily sold off.

Given that the share market has priced most EV metal miners very low, the EV trend remains strong, and EV subsidies have been extended or increased; I expect once the fear of coronavirus passes the EV and EV metals sector will rebound very strongly.

EV/Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) purchase price parity is just around the corner (2022-23). This means it will soon be the same price or cheaper to own an EV, with all the benefits of much lower running and service costs. Investors would be wise to take a second look at the sector before it booms again soon.




EV sales rebound in China, electric car makers rally on the no significant subsidy decrease in 2020

After a tough H2 2019 it now appears the EV slowdown is over. The US-China trade war Phase 1 deal agreed to in mid December 2019 appears to have been the catalyst for electric vehicle (EV) buyers to have confidence to buy EVs again.

China EV sales in December 2019 were about double November 2019

Chinese New Energy Vehicle (NEV) sales were recently reported to be 163,000 in December 2019, which is sharply up from November 2019 sales of 83,000. In fact, it is a 96% increase month on month.

Given the trade war Phase 1 deal was announced on December 13, 2019, it appears that the renewed confidence has helped December 2019 China NEV sales already.

China suggests no significant subsidy decreases in 2020

On January 11, 2020, Reuters reported: “China will not cut NEV subsidies in July 2020 – Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei said on Saturday.

A later Bloomberg report confirmed the news stating:

Electric car stocks jump as China signals lull in subsidy cuts….. In order to stabilize market expectations, and ensure the industry’s sustained development, subsidies on new-energy vehicles will stay relatively stable this year, and they won’t be scaled back significantly.”

Electric car makers rally on the no significant subsidy decrease in 2020 news

As a result of these two great pieces of news last weekend, EV related stocks have been rallying sharply. Chinese EV manufacturers rose 10% (limit up) in China yesterday following the news and are mostly rallying again today. BYD Co. (OTC: BYDDY | OTC: BYDDF), China’s number 1 EV seller in 2019 and global number 2, has rallied about 15% the past two trading sessions. Last month BYD Co announced a Netherlands order for 259 pure-electric BYD buses. This was Europe’s largest ever electric bus order. NIO Inc. (NIO) also rose 5.4% on the news.

BYD is leading the EV charge after a record e-bus sale in December 2019

Tesla’s stock passes US$ 500 a share for the first time

Tesla’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) stock price jumped 9.77% yesterday on the news with the stock hitting a new all time high of US$ 524.86, breaking through the US$ 500 mark for the first time. Tesla has just recently begun production and sales of Model 3 from its Shanghai factory. The hype has been so great that one buyer proposed to his girlfriend by giving her a Tesla Model 3. Naturally, she said ‘yes’ to the proposal. I am not sure if that was a yes to the Model 3 or to getting married?

A Tesla employee proposes during the delivery ceremony of their Model 3

EV metal miners also rally on the news

The EV related miners (lithium, cobalt, graphite & nickel) have also rallied strongly on the recent good news. Some such as Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX: GXY) and Syrah Resources Limited (ASX: SYR) are up over 50% in the past month after suffering large falls in 2018 and 2019. Across the board, the lithium miners surged this week on the China news. Lithium leaders such as Albemarle rose 5.2% yesterday, while SQM rose 8.7%. Even nickel giant Norilsk Nickel (OTC: NILSY) rose 3.8% on the news after already rising 94% in the past year helped by the palladium boom.

Closing remarks

A combination of recent events such as the US-China Phase 1 trade war deal, the December 2019 China EV sales rebound, and last weekend’s Chinese news that subsidies ‘will stay relatively stable this year’ have all conspired to restore confidence to the EV related market. This has led to a surge in EV related stock prices. But don’t worry in most cases the 2018 and 2019 EV metals downturn has meant many EV metal miners are still relatively cheap, especially given the EV boom decade has just begun.