The lithium price has fallen significantly from its recent highs, so is it time to speculate on lithium?
Gianni Kovacevic from LithiumBank joins us to talk about the state of the lithium market, what opportunities are there in the sector, and whether there's a new lithium exploration method that will be a game changer?
So the price of lithium has went from $80,000 to $20,0000. And people are wondering, are some of these projects even economic? Where's the demand? Has demand been eroded to the point where maybe lithium is not as interesting as people once thought? Or is it a time to speculate?
...Still the demand for lithium is going to go from the bottom left to the upper right of your screen. And if you're following these things, you'll be current. You'll get a barometer of it, and I think it's going to be (still for the next decade), it's going to be a good speculation.
Where are the future supplies of Lithium going to come from? How will big industry address the significant demand growth for lithium? It is not going to come from conventional operations.
Basically it's going to be the growth of electric vehicles, but your question directly was, "Where is the future of lithium going to come from?" Traditionally, lithium has come from those salars [underground brine reservoirs] that everyone has seen. Evaporation takes place over 12 and 18 months. That's South America, we're talking Chile, we're talking Argentina. It also comes from hard rock mining, which has your classic open pit footprint. It would look the same as a gold or copper operations and that would be spodumene or hard rock type of lithium.
But now there are many thousands of people working toward direct lithium extraction. This is where a company would go to a reservoir that has salty briny water. They would pump up. This would have lower concentrations of lithium. It would go through a chemical process and after one or two processes, it would end up as a high quality lithium product to go into the battery of the future.
...I believe there is going to be a propensity for companies to do direct lithium extraction. ...We are doing what the big companies are doing. ...Once it's really commercially viable with various different chemistries of various different brine deposits, why would you go to anyone else?