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The growth in demand for lithium is largely attributed to the progress made over the course of recent years in the field of battery technology. Tech companies have invested heavily in the development of stronger, more reliable as well as cleaner energy sources. As a result the lithium-ion batteries sector started to attract attention. According to research report by MarketsandMarkets, the lithium-ion battery (LIB) market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.6%, between 2016 and 2022 to be valued at USD 68.97 billion by 2022. The key driving factors for the growth of the lithium-ion battery market have increased in demand for electric vehicle, strict government mandates on fuel economy and demand for smart devices and other consumer electronics. Scientific Metals Corp., eCobalt Solutions, Inc., Katanga Mining Ltd., Panasonic Corporation, Tesla Motors, Inc.
Lithium Cobalt Oxide is used for handheld electronics, such as smartphones, tablets cameras and other LIB based products. According to the research report, Lithium Cobalt Oxide battery is expected to hold a major share of the market by 2022. The growing use of consumer electronics has resulted in the greater demand for energy-efficient batteries. Cobalt Oxide based lithium batteries offer high energy density, making cobalt a crucial mineral for powering the devices we have grown accustomed to. In recent years, the electric vehicle market increased the demand for cobalt production.
Scientific Metals Corp. on March 27th announced that it has entered into an agreement with Earl Waite and Sons, Mining Contractors, to rehabilitate the adits and underground workings located on the Iron Creek cobalt project (the 'Property') in Lemhi County, Idaho, USA. The Company plans to commence work when weather permits.
The Property is located 15 miles southeast of eCobalt's Idaho cobalt project in the most prolific trend of cobalt mineralization in the United States, the Idaho Cobalt Belt. The Property covers 1,800 acres in 90 lode mining claims. The central portion of the Property consists of 7 patented lode mining claims (private ground) covering 137 acres and the known historic estimates.
The Company plans to take full benefit of the advanced stage of exploration at Iron Creek as a result of significant work completed by previous workers, who include Noranda Exploration Inc., Cominco and Hanna Mining. All work will be conducted on the patented lode mining claims which cover the previously identified historic estimates (see the Company's news release dated September 7, 2016). The Company's focus of working on the patented claims significantly accelerates the permitting process for exploration programs, and gaining access to the cobalt mineralization in existing workings is expected to allow the project to advance during 2017 to a point that would normally take several years.
Scientific Metals Corp. President, Wayne Tisdale, said in a statement, "We look forward to confirming and expanding upon the historical work at Iron Creek. With cobalt currently reaching new 52 week highs along with mounting demand for a safe, secure and ethical supply of cobalt, we feel it is the opportune time to aggressively explore our flagship Iron Creek cobalt project. With the Trump administration's emphasis on providing raw materials for electric batteries sourced in the USA, there will be an ever-increasing emphasis on developing projects such as the Iron Creek cobalt project. We expect that companies such as Tesla, GM, Apple and others will be forced to disclose the ethical shortcomings in their supply chain and source safe, secure and home-grown materials for their phone, car and home batteries."
eCobalt Solutions, Inc. (OTCQB: ECSIF) recently announced that it has closed a C$17.25 million bought deal led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. The proceeds from the financing will be used to advance the ICP. "Additional interest in the project from potential offtake clients and senior debt lenders have been increasing as the Feasibility Study progresses towards completion," commented Paul Farquharson, President & CEO of eCobalt. He continued, "The strong forecasted near and long term demand for cobalt is driven primarily by the rechargeable battery and EV markets - this demand was not there in the past. In addition, the majority of cobalt is being mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a by-product of copper mining operations, and from nickel mining operations elsewhere. The ICP, a very unique project for manufacturers who are seeking a fully integrated cobalt sulfate product produced safely and responsibly in an environmentally conscious manner in the United States."
Katanga Mining Ltd. (OTC: KATFF) operates a large-scale copper-cobalt project with substantial high-grade mineral reserves and integrated metallurgical operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Katanga holds a 75% stake in two joint ventures with Gécamines, a state-owned mining company in the DRC. The company's single-site operation, which comprises brownfield assets and new facilities under construction, will have one of the lowest unit production costs in the world, net of by-product credits.
Panasonic Corporation and Tesla Motors, Inc. are cooperating on the production of lithium batteries in the large-scale battery manufacturing plant in the United States, known as the Gigafactory. The Gigafactory will produce cells, modules and packs for Tesla's electric vehicles and for the stationary storage market. According to a blog by the Tesla Team from January 4, 2017, "With the Gigafactory online and ramping up production, our cost of battery cells will significantly decline due to increasing automation and process design to enhance yield, lowered capital investment per Wh of production, the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing processes under one roof, and economies of scale. By bringing down the cost of batteries, we can make our products available to more and more people, allowing us to make the biggest possible impact on transitioning the world to sustainable energy."
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