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E-car-battery manufacturer : Lithium from Bolivia, independent from China

Good contacts, persistence, and special Knowledge have made Wolfgang dirt out of the way to the largest salt lake in the world and its Lithiumsole. After three years of preparation, the baden-württemberg scientists and entrepreneurs in mid-December in Berlin, was able to celebrate a joint venture, whose importance for the German industry is enormous: Lithium is one of the most important raw materials of the battery and in order for the electric mobility. With the Bolivian state company YLB the dirt wants to win-company ACISA Lithium from the Salar de Uyuni.

Lithium from the salt lake

300 million euros will be invested in a plant to produce by 2022, up to 40 000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide. This amount would be enough for 800 000 car batteries. That's a lot, but in the factories of the Volkswagen group in 2025, approximately 2.5 million electric cars to be built. Therefore, more plants are also in Bolivia in the next decade, probably. Alone in the Salar de Uyuni, there are around ten million tons of Lithium.

The global demand for battery capacity is expected to increase dramatically From 70 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2015 to 250 GWh in 2020 and 535 in 2025. So far, the battery cells are produced by a handful of Asian companies that want to build their capacity in solid: BYD and CATL from China, to build on the domestic market, but also in the vicinity of Erfurt (CATL) the new factories. In Poland and Hungary, Samsung, SKI, as well as LG Chem in manufacturing plants, invest in Sweden, a consortium called the North, the volt is already working on a factory in Germany, the policy offers a billion in promotion and in France, a group of around Total/JUICE could take a cell production in attack. The economic politicians of the EU to force the issue and promise a lot of Funding.

cobalt comes mainly from the Congo

But what is the key of electro-mobility, i.e. Lithium, cobalt and Nickel raw materials?

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Lithium order-there are plenty in the Salar de Atacama in Chile, Australia and Bolivia. Cobalt comes mainly from the Congo, Nickel, increasingly, from Russia, but also from Scandinavia. In particular, the availability of cobalt is, as the share of the world market in the Congo-derived cobalt is expected to rise from 60 to 80 per cent in the mid 2020s year. A strategic dependence from the Congo, where China has the Hand on the cobalt promotion or further processing (see diagram), should be avoided. Here Professor dirt comes with his Bolivian-German Joint-Venture into the game.

The new company at the Salar de Uyuni wins, especially lithium hydroxide (LHM), which will displace dirt’ assessment of today's vast lithium carbonate with the time. Reason performance are always stronger cathodes with a high Nickel content. This, in turn, can only be made with HIM. "In addition, these cathodes are lower in cost, because of the scarce and expensive cobalt is replaced to a considerable extent, due to plenty of available Nickel," in the dirt-company ACISA.

The cathode changes

similarly, Ingo Al Barazi from the German raw materials Agency (DERA) argues Siyamend. "The cathode mechanism is crucial for the total cobalt demand," says the geologist, the DERA was set up in 2010 at the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and raw materials. Possibly in the foreseeable Trend has been away from the cobalt also influence on the stock market: "The price of a ton of cobalt has halved in the past few months, almost," says Al Barazi. Although demand will rise: from the current level of 117 000 to 225 000 tonnes in 2026.

in 2017, was the geologist in the Congo. A good four-fifths of the cobalt is recovered in a "normal industrial complex", international mining corporations. A fifth is split between the more or less legal, mining with pick and shovel, will often tolerated by the authorities. Up to 200 000 people work in its estimate and in shabby conditions in this small-scale mining. Children – Amnesty, and African resources Watch again to the use of tens of thousands of children – has not Al Barazi seen in the visited mines. However, that all the families of the extraction of Cobalt devote, it is undisputed and understandable, such as Al-Barazi, calculates that A ton of ore contains two per cent cobalt. In the case of a cobalt price of 50 000 dollars as in the year 2016 a good 500 Dollar stay so hang on. However, this price level is over.

processing, China is the front

Noteworthy is the dominance of Chinese companies in the further processing of the cobalt, the refined sugar production (see graphic). Except for the Finnish Freeport Cobalt, with a share of 15 per cent, of the Belgian Umicore (three per cent) and the Russian BASF - partner Nornickel (two percent) of the world market in the hands of the Chinese. "We must have therefore, in principle, of fear," says the commodity market experts, Al-Barazi. The Chinese had a self-interest in stable relationships. And if it have given to Fears, be gone now from the market as on the price development of Rare earths in the past years was read.

BASF relies on Nickel

And the cobalt substitution. By 2020 Al Barazi expected that an increasing proportion of batteries with a cathode material at a ratio of 8:1:1 – 80 percent Nickel and ten per cent manganese, and cobalt. Today, the most common batteries have a ratio of 5:3:2 – the proportion of manganese and cobalt would be cut in half – if the value of the technology.

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BASF sets. The world's largest chemical company wants to invest billions in the production of a cathode material and the Nickel for this, mainly from Russia. In order to generate the necessary funds, sold by BASF this year, its Oil and Gas subsidiary Wintershall/DEA. A new commodity replaces an old one.

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