Hello and welcome to the Energy & Policy.
Today I want to tell you about lithium. Why is lithium the new ‘white gold’? It is a crucial component in electric car batteries. Demand for lithium is rising globally, being used in rechargeable batteries for everyday technologies such as laptops and mobile phones, and clean energy technologies like electric cars and grid storage. As the demand for lithium-ion batteries continues to grow, global exploration for the commodity is also simultaneously increasing. This is why lithium is a white gold for the new energy system.
I have some political news about lithium.
Recent comments made by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about China using slave labor to mine lithium has provoked a fierce backlash from Beijing warning of consequences, whilst Ottawa claimed it is mulling the expulsion of Chinese diplomats. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau linked the production of lithium in China to “slave labor” as he discussed his own country’s efforts to ramp up production of the metal used in electric cars and other batteries. Canada has significant sources of lithium, Trudeau said, but China has made strategic choices over the decades that have made it by far the world’s largest producer. But the lithium produced in Canada is going to be more expensive. Because Canada doesn’t use slave labor, Trudeau said. Actually China is one of the biggest producers of lithium in the world, behind Australia and Chile.
Gabriel Boric, Chile’s president, wants to nationalize the lithium’s production in his country. Boric announced plans to create a state-owned company to produce lithium. The foreign companies will have to form joint ventures in which the state firm has a majority stake.
And I have some news about technologies.
Research project in Germany aims to improve the stability of lithium-ion battery.
So-called lithium-air batteries, also known as lithium-oxygen batteries, are candidates for the next generation of high-energy electricity storage devices. Tesla is also starting up a lithium research division in Nevada, with nicknamed ‘Lithium Lab”.
According to analytical company VYGON Consulting’s evaluation, the most prospective way of lithium mining in Russia is brine. The lithium resource base of the Russian Federation is mainly concentrated in the Lena-Tungus oil and gas province. There are also perspective lithium-bearing zones in the Ural-Volga region and in the North Caucasus.
According to research authors’ calculations, Russia has significant resources of brine lithium, equal to 108 million tons. This volume provides Russia with the first place in resources of all types of lithium among the world’s lithium-bearing countries. The investment period of projects for lithium production is comparable with projects in the oil and gas industry and amounts to more than 10 years. However, this period can be reduced to 5-7 years if the project is implemented at existing oil and gas fields with existing infrastructure. This makes Russian lithium competitive in the world market.
That’s all for this episode of the Energy & Policy.