LITHIUM 2021: EV transition and Li growth ‘real': panel

The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is real and here to stay, providing fundamental support to the burgeoning lithium industry, according to panelists speaking at Fastmarkets’ Lithium Supply & Markets conference 2021 in Las Vegas on Tuesday September 21.

“We’re talking about things in the present tense,” managing director at Traxys Projects Erez Ichilov said. Traxys Projects is an arm of Traxys Group. He was responding to a question about key differences between markets now versus the start of the lithium and EV boom around 2015 and 2016.

The increasing market share of EVs is driving this fundamental change, agreed Jennifer Fung, head strategist at Pala Investments. “Now that we’re at a 10% penetration rate [of EVs], it’s really clear that this is the direction in which consumers and the market are going.”

There are a number of “investment-grade” lithium projects now looking to get funded, said Ichilov, meaning that "[we’re] seeing this moment when we’re not talking about a supply chain that may or may not emerge,” but rather concrete steps being taken toward growing much-needed supply.

The strong demand means lithium prices should remain elevated for the next 12 months, according to Ernie Ortiz, president and managing director of Lithium Royalty Corp. The fourth quarter in particular is typically good for EV sales, meaning high prices should be especially well supported, Ortiz said.

Fastmarkets’ lithium hydroxide monohydrate 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price, cif China, Japan & Korea stood at $20-21 per kilogram on September 16. A year ago, it was $8.50-9.50 per kg.

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