Simon Moores, Analyst, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence with Lessons Learned from Lithium
Lithium has got good lessons for the other minerals because it’s a bit ahead of the curve in its use in batteries compared to graphite. Lithium back in 2004 had its major use in ceramics and glass, that was the old-school industry use. But then the smartphone took off around 2004 and they needed all these new batteries. And there was a surge in battery production, a surge in lithium, the price spiked because producers weren’t ready for it, and lithium went for a bit of a renaissance. Now, after that perfect storm of factors, batteries is the number one market. Graphite is not in that position yet, cobalt actually is in a similar position as lithium but graphite isn’t, but it’s coming that way. If the old tradition uses are stalling, the new uses our increasing at whatever rate, then you’ve got a supply challenge on your hands. The key question about all these industries is supply diversification. Can you rely on one country to supply the majority of your lithium or graphite or cobalt? What we look at is if there is any country that supplies 50% or above of one raw material, you’ve got a problem because if these industries grow significantly, which they will do over the next 10 years, but the supply of the minerals doesn’t change then that industry is going to be stifled and you’ve got a major problem on your hands.