Fundamentos / Basics

“Litio, el cambio de paradigma energético”

Fundamentos

El litio se ha convertido en un mineral indispensable para el estilo de vida moderno, los vectores que determinan esta importancia son: Los vehículos eléctricos y los sistemas de almacenamiento de energía que traccionan la demanda creciente de este mineral. Esta relevancia ha llevado a que diferentes expertos lo consideren dentro de un grupo denominado los Commodities Tech.

El litio tiene el potencial de modificar drásticamente el mundo en el que vivimos para convertirlo en uno más sustentable. La producción, la movilidad y el consumo energético con la reducción la emisión de gases de efecto invernadero serán determinantes para el futuro de nuestras sociedades y en el cono sur de América tenemos la clave para que eso se vuelva realidad.

Es así que la actividad minera en los salares del NOA Argentino, en Chile y Bolivia es de una importancia tal que ha atraído a un número creciente de empresas exploradoras con composiciones organizacionales diversas. El litio genera desde el salar hasta la batería un elevado número de actores que se incorporan para dar valor agregado al mineral.

Chile es el segundo productor de litio a nivel mundial, Argentina es el tercero y el que más oportunidades de crecimiento tiene. Indudablemente el futuro energético se juega en Sudamérica.
Por qué participar

  • Para entender el rol central del litio en la transformación de la matriz energética y de la movilidad sustentable.
  • Para informarse de las tendencias del mercado de litio.
  • Para conocer los proyectos mineros de litio en Argentina, Chile, Bolivia.
  • Para conocer los últimos desarrollos en materia de extracción, procesamiento y sustentabilidad del proceso.
  • Para tener una clara visión de las oportunidades de crecimiento e inversión en el sector del litio.
  • Para hacer conocer su empresa y potenciar su networking.

 

Quienes Participan

  • Inversores
  • Empresarios de minería y energía
  • Empresarios proveedores
  • Representantes comerciales internacionales
  • Funcionarios
  • Investigadores y profesionales del sector
  • Representantes diplomáticos con sede en Argentina
  • Estudiantes
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Basics

The boom of Lithium

Lithium demand has grown rapidly over the past years thanks to the “China Factor” and the application of this metal to various technology solutions and the manufacturing of different products, including batteries, computers, smart phones, iPads and other electronic devices.

In addition, a large portion of the force in the demand lies in the so-called EVs (Electric Vehicles), where big actors such as Tesla, Foxconn, LG Chem, BYD, Boston Power are creating a phenomenon that is headed to break all industry standards: battery mega-factories. A Goldman Sachs Group report points out that lithium demand could triple by 2025 to 570,000 tons, as a result of its technological applications and electric cars.

 
Battery factory capacity evolution - Source: Orocobre Ltd.

 

One of the reasons pushing the surge in lithium carbonate price is the likelihood that future supply of this metal may be restricted on account of particular interests, including political, capital-related, technical and environmental, as well as the possibility that projects might be halted or decelerated until their final start up.

The frenzy about lithium carbonate has led to spot market agreements being signed in China for prices close to US$20,000 per ton. In 2015, the average price for long-term agreements was in the order of US$5,000/US$5,500 per ton, while at present, they have doubled to an average of US$10,500 per ton according to data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. This can be seen in the chart below.

Lithium carbonate price per ton (US$ FOB) – Source: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

 

 

Lithium supply evolution

The United States Geological Survey –USGS- has reported that lithium production grew in 2015 in response to the rise in the demand associated with different applications. Argentina was the country that recorded the largest interannual growth, adding 17% to the modest increases of other actors, including Australia and Chile. Global lithium production reached 32,500 tons over the last year, as compared with 31,000 tons in 2014, representing 5% growth.

Salt mines in the Andean region emerged as the main source for lithium carbonate production on account of their lower production costs as compared with lithium hosted in rocks (pegmatite). The strong lithium demand originating in China over the past years balanced supply composition: half of lithium world supply in 2015 was obtained from rock.

Access to lithium supply has turned into a priority for technology industries in USA and Asia. Accordingly, the creation of strategic alliances and joint ventures by technology and exploration companies is an already consolidated trend that ensures diversified and actual lithium supply to battery providers and vehicle manufacturers.


World lithium production in 2015 (measured in tons) – Source: USGS 

 

“Lithium, the change of paradigm in energy applications”

In December 2015, Argentina took a new politic-economic turn when Eng. Mauricio Macri took office as president of the nation. This brought about the comeback of economic predictability, the reestablishment legal stability, and the return to free-market economy. The new president set out two clear-cut objectives: reinserting the country as an actor in international trade thus bringing back investments, and transforming mining into one of the pillars of the nation’s development..

There is no question that this southern country of the American Continent has great potential that makes it a place worth visiting. With world-class gold, copper and silver deposits, as well as abundant lithium resources, it is a much sought-after mining investment destination.

Lithium, the white metal for a greener world

Argentina is the third world producer of lithium, with 40% global brine lithium produced in this country. Together with Chile and Bolivia, it makes up the so-called lithium triangle, which concentrates almost 80% of that mineral world resources.

Argentina is the country with the largest lithium investments. The NOA region –comprised of Salta, Jujuy and Catamarca– presents leading cases in the promotion of favorable conditions geared to attracting mining investments, with strong emphasis on lithium. All three provinces rank high in the Fraser report, owing to the combination of geological resources and favorable mining policies.

Five of the top world lithium producers are already working in Argentina: GanfengLithium, SQM, GalaxyLithium, Albemarle and FMC corp.  This is a sign of the promising future these companies envision for our country.

Twenty-seventeen is the year of lithium and Argentina is the stage where this development will take place as it is the place where the highest number of projects will reach production stage very soon.