Blackstone Resources launches battery technology R&D program

Blackstone Resources AG has launched a research and development program focused on new battery technology, with the goal of developing small and flat batteries for the mobile phone and laptop markets, the company said.

A variety of metals will be tested for the technology, which would also have further applications across the broader batteries market.

The Baar, Switzerland-based mining and exploration company plans to deliver its own tech metals from its own resources and processing facilities.

It currently has strategic stakes in battery materials projects in Canada, Peru, Columbia, Norway and Mongolia, and it aims to grow its existing holdings in mineral deposits through further acquisitions of licenses in lithium, graphite, cobalt, molybdenum, copper, rare earths and gold.

Once fully operational, the company plans to either start its own production plants or partner with other battery manufacturers worldwide and receive a royalty stream.

Part of the research and development program will be dedicated to maximizing the efficiency of the production line. Blackstone Resources said it believes that automated production processes could save up to 70% of the actual manufacturing costs.

The company’s chief executive recently said that investors keen to tap into the electrification of the world’s transport networks should look upstream to the battery metals market instead of buying shares in automakers.

Fastmarkets MB’s price assessments of low- and high-grade cobalt - a key raw material used in the production of EV batteries - peaked at 10-year highs in April but slid for several months after May.

But prices started to rise at the end of August, with sellers successfully increasing their offers in response to an uptick in consumer demand alongside a more positive backdrop from China.

High-grade cobalt prices were assessed on Thursday September 28 as unchanged week over week at $33.60-34.50 per lb, in-warehouse. Low-grade cobalt prices were unchanged week over week at $33.50-34.25 per lb, in-warehouse.

Meanwhile, lithium prices soared to an average of $21,760 per tonne in 2017 from around $9,500 per tonne in the second half of 2015, based on Fastmarkets MB’s assessment of spot prices ex-works China. Prices have since eased amid an anticipated supply surplus while projects ramp up and new producers enter the market.

Fastmarkets MB’s spot price for battery-grade lithium carbonate was calculated at 78,000-82,000 yuan ($11,353-11,935) per tonne, ex-works China on September 27, down from 159,250 yuan per tonne at the start of the year.

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