by Rob McCammon and Dana Donovick
Image by Cornish Lithium
I have an EV. Not flexing, but stating my point of view. Now, when I bought that car for my wife, we began to feel that sense that we had made a difference. Did we? Probably not as huge as we wanted, but that's not the point. There is a nobility to the EV move. As Simon Hackett found in a brilliant cartoon, 'What if this all a big hoax and we created a better world anyway?', we feel like we are part of a greater mission. (Simon showed integrity and even found that cartoon he got it from. I personally admire the fact that he found such a great line, and used it. Great phrases don't just appear out of thin air.)
This idea is something that ad people love. How many cars are associated with sex? I remember an ad as a kid that featured a scantly clad woman next to a semi. In full objective sense, that is a clear idiotic sequence. 'Oh a shiny truck... let me get that sexy outfit out and walk by it.' Funny thing it works.
In the coming decade we are going to hear that the Ford, GM, Mercedes and hell even the Dodge or Jeep that you are buying is going to roll over a better world because YOU the buyer found it in your generous heart (and wallet) to buy this Earth friendly car. This is not a psychic reading here; this is just an obvious pitch.
I hear you... 'what does this have to do with price of Lithium in China?' and such. I'll tell you. The companies that use lithium from Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) in their cars will tell you about it. They will also tell people that they did not require huge ponds of brine drying in the sun in South America. They did not have to dynamite large rocks out of the way. There wasn't massive clouds of dust behind immense pouring behind work trucks the size of houses.
If you were selling cars, and your competition got lithium from a gaping hole, wouldn't you point that out?
Subaru for example, uses dogs to point out their credentials. One set of their ads even talks about their plants and lack of landfill additions.
Does this mean no one will want the Lithium from ALB, SQM or LAC? No, we NEED A LOT of Lithium and the environmentally sourced DLE probably can't meet that. Also, the recycled Lithium really won't be a factor till late in the decade.
Meanwhile, companies like Standard Lithium will definitely benefit and later on. The recycling companies will also be darlings; looking at you American Battery Metals.
Is Lithium Mining Unfriendly?
Most is. However, mining in general is meant to make a hole in the earth and remove something from it. Saying there can't be mining is a non starter. WE HAVE TO HAVE THESE MATERIALS TO MAKE THE FUTURE WE ALL WANT. Open pit mining works very hard to reclaim the grounds they work. ALB for example, is constantly working in automation and other measures to mitigate their footprint.
People point to things that are being worked hard at being mitigated. Progress is hard and slow. My pointy finger comes though at people who see all mining as a Disney Villain's plot; realize that making it easier to extract these needed minerals in a cleaner and more environmentally friendly way is hard.
So what is friendly?
I already said it. Direct Lithium Extraction has so much going for it in this area. These are on already established brine operations, or if the technology works out, geothermal locations. The plant itself is about the size of half a grocery store. No huge ponds of evaporating brine that will be an environmental problem later on.
Also, as the first wave of EV's start to be retired, there will be a stream of reclaimed Lithium. This will augment the supply of lithium that is needed.
This is just a thought piece. This is how I think some things might unfold. What are your thoughts?
As always, thanks for reading. I hope this helps. Our goal at Charge Talk is to build understanding so you can understand what you are investing in. Any comments? Hit us up.
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This is not financial advice.