Battery Minerals trends: Lithium leads Twitter mentions in November 2020

GlobalData 15 December 2020 (Last Updated December 16th, 2020 09:03)

Mining Technology lists the top five terms tweeted on Battery Minerals in November 2020, based on data from GlobalData’s Influencer Platform.

Battery Minerals trends: Lithium leads Twitter mentions in November 2020
Credit: Fishman64, Shutterstock.com

Mining Technology lists the top five terms tweeted on Battery Minerals in November 2020, based on data from GlobalData’s Influencer Platform. The top tweeted terms are the trending industry discussions happening on Twitter by key individuals (influencers) as tracked by the platform.

1. Lithium – 88 mentions

Three major firms planning to tap Europe’s lithium-ion battery market, Covid-19 adversely affecting Australian lithium firms and plans to develop a lithium process facility in Canada were some popular topics discussed in November. According to an article shared by Mitchell Smith, a battery minerals enthusiast, Panasonic has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Norwegian energy major Equinor and aluminium smelter company Hydro to assess the possibility of building a battery plant in Norway. The three companies will jointly evaluate the prospects in the lithium-ion battery market in Europe apart from exploring the prospect of developing an integrated battery value chain, the article highlighted.

Further, Resource Investing, a news provider on resource market, shared an article about the impact of Covid-19 pandemic induced lithium price slump on the global lithium market. Many lithium companies globally were badly hit by the pandemic, the latest being Western Australia-focused Altura Mining. The company was delisted in August, while neighbouring spodumene producer Pilbara Minerals signed a conditional agreement for acquiring Altura for $175m. Despite the Australian lithium market being hit by the pandemic, the country continues to be a key player in the global battery minerals supply chain, the article noted.

Lithium also trended in discussions shared by Dirk Harbecke, a battery and lithium expert, about Canadian exploration companies Avalon Advanced Materials and Rock Tech Lithium’s collaboration for developing a lithium battery material process plant in the Ontario province. The facility is being designed to source lithium mineral concentrates from Separation Rapids lithium project and Georgia Lake lithium project and other lithium mines in the region. The process facility is being developed with the idea of producing lithium sulphate, a precursor for lithium-ion batteries, the article highlighted.

2. Electric Vehicles – 58 mentions

European Union’s (EU) plans to rely on indigenous electric vehicle (EV) batteries, Volkswagen plans to invest in EVs and Swedish truck manufacturer’s plans to build battery assembly plant were some widely discussed topics last month. Rodney Hooper, an EV battery metals researcher, shared an article about EU becoming self-sustainable vis-à-vis EV batteries within the next five years. The EU is capable of producing sufficient batteries to power its automotive industry by 2025 without depending on imported cells. A total of 15 large-scale battery cell factories are currently being constructed across Europe, which will be capable of producing enough cells to power roughly six million EVs, the article highlighted.

MacroMuscle, a battery metals trader, further, shared an article about Volkswagen investing $88.4bn for developing EVs and hybrid vehicles over the next half decade. The German company plans to spend roughly $42bn and $13bn on new battery EVs and hybrid powertrains, while an additional $32bn will be spent on development of new technologies and digitalisation. Volkswagen in planning to release around 70 all-electric models and 60 hybrids into the market by the end of decade, with the intent of aligning with the climate goals laid out in the Paris Agreement, the article noted.

Other discussions surrounding EVs included Sweden-based truck maker Scania’s plan to invest $116m over the next few years in a battery assembly plant near Stockholm, according to an article shared by Ernest Scheyder, a Reuters correspondent. The Swedish battery maker Northvolt will supply cells, which will be used to assemble battery modules and packs at the plant. The construction on the facility will start early next year and the operations will commence in 2023, the article highlighted.

3. Battery Metal – 54 mentions

JordProxa delivering crystallisation plants to battery metal producers, Finland providing economic stimulus to the battery sector and a copper and cobalt plant undergoing Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP) assessment were popularly discussed in November 2020. According to an article shared by International Mining, a mining and minerals publication, Australian mining firm JordProxa supplied two crystallisation plants and evaporator to lithium company Albermarle in Australia, and nickel, cobalt and ammonium crystallisation plants to Finnish firm Terrafame. JordProxa consolidated its position in the battery chemical market by fulfilling these orders, the article highlighted.

Further, Paul Robinson, a global metals and mining expert, shared an article about environmental activists expressing concern about Finland’s government pledging $353m for the expansion of battery industry. The country currently has seven new excavations sites and other commercial projects in developmental stages and is seeking to form a battery cluster. Despite the environmentalists’ objections, battery industry leaders are claiming that their projects are within the stipulated environmental guidelines, the article noted.

Battery metal was also discussed in an article shared by Mining Review Africa, a news provider on African mining industry, about Eurasian Resources Group-owned copper and cobalt plant, Metalkol RTR, undergoing RMAP assessment. The RMAP is part of the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI), which is aimed at enabling companies make informed decisions with regards to responsibly sourced battery minerals in their supply chains. The risk-based approach employed in the assessment evaluates smelters’ company-level management processes for obtaining responsible minerals, the article highlighted.

4. Nickel – 38 mentions

The best way to enhance performance of nickel-based batteries and manganese competing with lithium and cobalt in the battery market were some widely discussed topics during the month. According to an article shared by mining.com, a portal on global mining and metal industry, University of Warwick in UK conducted a new research to find the best way to improve performance of nickel-based batteries. The research concluded that the ideal way to enhance the performance of batteries is by ensuring that high nickel-based battery cathodes are stored and processed in the driest conditions possible. The high-Ni cathode materials become reactive and unstable when exposed to humid conditions, hence the storage conditions play a pivotal role in terms of performance efficiency, the article highlighted.

Another discussion related to nickel was shared by Mitchell Smith about manganese giving competition to lithium and cobalt in the battery and the larger EV market. The metal is predominantly used in the steel industry but is slowly gaining prominence in the battery market as the demand and consumption of battery metals is projected to grow exponentially over the next ten years. In the previous five years, as cobalt and nickel prices surged by 120% and 77% respectively, manganese registered a 42% growth, the article highlighted.

5. Cobalt – 32 mentions

Cobalt supply deal between First Cobalt and Glencore, automaker seeking to improve cobalt mining conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mercedes Benz reducing cobalt content in batteries were some popular topics discussed in November. According to an article shared by The Northern Miner, a mining news provider, Toronto-based First Cobalt altered its previous agreement with global miner Glencore and ratified a long-term feed purchase agreement. First Cobalt will secure feed for its Ontario refinery, which will help the company obtain market-based returns through its operations and reinforce its position in the cobalt market. The company is also planning to close a supply deal with Glencore, subject to mutual consent, to simultaneously procure extra feedstock from various miners, the article highlighted.

Further, Mining Review Africa, shared an article about Volkswagen striving to create a better cobalt mining environment and living conditions for people in DRC. The automaker became an integral part of the Cobalt for Development pilot project, which seeks to diminish risks posed by artisanal mining to the ecosystem and citizens. DRC is a huge market for Volkswagen since it is home to 70% of the planet’s cobalt resources, the article noted.

Another discussion surrounding cobalt was shared by Mining News, a mining and exploration news portal, about Mercedes-Benz deciding to source cobalt and lithium exclusively produced at authorised mining sites as part of its sustainability initiative. The German carmaker already minimised the cobalt content in the future generations of its battery cells to below 10% and wants to do away with cobalt by leveraging post-lithium-ion technologies with new material structures. The company took this decision with the intent of safeguarding environment and human rights, the article highlighted.