Minerals and materials used in the construction of batteries are numerous but the core mineral required to have a battery is the batteries chemical are lithium, cobalt, tin, tantalum, cadmium, lead, and nickel (along with other rare earth elements).
For Lithium-ion batteries, the anode is typically made from graphite, with lithium intercalated into the graphite structure. The cathode is comprised of a lithium metal oxide, the exact composition of which varies depending upon the required characteristics of the cell. The most commonly used cathode materials are LiCoO2 (LCO – lithium-cobalt), LiMn2O4 (LMO – lithium-manganese), LiFePO4 (LFP – lithium-phosphate), and Li(NiMnCo)O2 (NMC – nickel manganese cobalt).
International Battery Metals after careful evaluation of a variety of minerals, technological advancement, supply-demand imbalance, and internal strengths is focused on tin, lithium, cobalt and tantalum. International Battery Metals will use its global relationships, industry expertise, and proven experience to establish and manage large-scale operations to achieve its mission.
Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable, and is stored in mineral oil. When cut open, it exhibits a metallic luster, but moist air corrodes it quickly to a dull silvery gray, then black tarnish. It never occurs freely in nature, but only in (usually ionic) compounds, such as pegmatitic minerals which were once the main source of lithium.
Lithium salts are extracted from water in mineral springs, brine pools, and brine deposits. Lithium is present in seawater, but commercially viable methods of extraction have yet to be developed. Another potential source of lithium is the leachates of geothermal wells, which are carried to the surface. Recovery of lithium has been demonstrated in the field; the lithium is separated by simple filtration. The process and environmental costs are primarily those of the already-operating well; net environmental impacts are thus positive.
Lithium and its compounds have several industrial applications, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lithium grease lubricants, flux additives for iron, steel and aluminum production, lithium batteries, and lithium-ion batteries. These uses consume more than three quarters of lithium production.
Late in the 20th century, lithium became an important component of battery electrolytes and electrodes, because of its high electrode potential. Because of its low atomic mass, it has a high charge- and power-to-weight ratio. A typical lithium-ion battery can generate approximately 3 volts per cell, compared with 2.1 volts for lead-acid or 1.5 volts for zinc-carbon cells. Lithium-ion batteries, which are rechargeable and have a high energy density, should not be confused with lithium batteries, which are disposable (primary) batteries with lithium or its compounds as the anode.Other rechargeable batteries that use lithium include the lithium-ion polymer battery, lithium iron phosphate battery, and the nanowire battery.
Market research analysts at Technavio have predicted that the global lithium market will grow steadily at a CAGR of almost 8% by 2020. The increasing demand for EV (electric vehicle) from China is considered to be one of the primary drivers for this market. Mainly driven by government subsidies, the EV market in China is expected to increase exponentially in the next four years. This, in turn, will lead to the rise in demand for lithium batteries. The government subsidy policy depends mainly on the battery capacity and EV efficiency. This increases the EV manufacturers’ focus to attain larger batteries from the lithium battery market to gain more benefits.
The growing demand-supply gap in the electricity sector has led to an increase in demand for lithium-ion batteries. Since lithium-ion batteries can store a considerable amount of power and be used to supply this stored power during peak hours, their demand from the electricity sector has increased in the recent years. According to this market study report, this demand for lithium-ion batteries in grid-connected storage is expected to be one of the major trends that will gain traction in this market during the forecast period.
According to research from Deutsch Bank, battery consumption worldwide is expected to increase 5x over the next 10 years, placing substantial pressure on the battery supply chain. The same report indicates that lithium demand will increase from 181kt Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE) in 2015 to 535kt LCE by 2025.
Tin is a chemical element with symbol Sn (for Latin: stannum) and atomic number 50. It is a post-transition metal in group 14 of the periodic table. It is obtained chiefly from the mineral cassiterite, which contains tin dioxide, SnO2. Tin is the 49th most abundant element. Nowadays most tin is mined in developing countries and production is dominated by two countries, China and Indonesia, which account for over 70% of global mine output. The other major producers are Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Australia, and Malaysia. The world’s economic resources of tin total approximately seven million tonnes, of which Australia has approximately 1.3%. Eastern Asian countries, including China (27%), Malaysia (15%), Thailand (12%) and Indonesia (10%) possess the majority of the world’s economic tin resources. Other countries with large tin resources include Brazil (16%), Bolivia (6%), Peru (4%) and Russia (4%).
In modern times, tin is used in many alloys, most notably tin/lead soft solders, which are typically 60% or more tin. Another large application for tin is corrosion-resistant tin plating of steel. Inorganic tin compounds are rather non-toxic. Because of its low toxicity, tin-plated metal was used for food packaging as tin cans, which are actually made mostly of steel or aluminum.
Tin forms several inter-metallic phases with lithium metal, making it an attractive material for battery applications. Large volumetric expansion of tin upon alloying with lithium and instability of the tin-organic electrolyte interface at low electrochemical potentials are the challenges being addressed for deployment in commercial cells. Tin inter-metallic compound with cobalt and carbon, has been implemented by Sony in its Nexelion cells released in late 2000’s.
The global tin market is estimated to value 378.38 thousand metric tons in 2016. The market is projected to reach 420.27 thousand metric tons by 2021, at an estimated CAGR of 2.12% during the forecast period 2016-2021. The global tin market has been experiencing a deficit for about six out of the past ten years. The consumption and production gaps in the market usually have been limited to approximately 4% of the total market. However, it has been anticipated by the world organizations that the global tin market may witness a YoY growth of about 1.7% in the coming years.