Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lithium: Happy Earth Day! Discovered any lithium yet? TNR.v, SQM, BYD, TTM, F, GM, GOOG, ESLR, AAPL, RIMM, WLC.v, CLQ.v, CNY.v, OIL, OIH, HUI, XAU,

Lithium reserves in stable locations are crucial for development of our Next Big Thing.

by Nathan Bomey Michigan Business Review
Wednesday April 22, 2009, 3:34 PM
I'm not about to go digging in my backyard for lithium reserves, but I wouldn't blame you if you're already searching.
It's not exactly the 1849 California Gold Rush, but landowners and nations flush with lithium reserves and neodymium reserves are poised to reap a financial windfall as the world pursues electric vehicles, wind turbines and other green technology.
Nathan Bomey covers technology, alternative energy, manufacturing and economic development for Michigan Business Review.Michigan is positioned to become a global leader in production of lithium-ion batteries for vehicles. Last week Johnson Controls, Dow Chemical, A123Systems and several other firms announced four new Michigan battery plants collectively worth $1.7 billion. Lithium is the key element required to make batteries for the electric vehicles of the future.
But the state is not exactly blessed with a wealth of lithium reserves, so don't expect too much from your digging expeditions. Bolivia, on the other hand, boasts the world's biggest war-chest of lithium reserves. (Most lithium is housed in the brine under salt flats.)
Nor is Michigan sitting on a huge pot of neodymium reserves. That's the "rare earth metal" used to develop permanent magnet generators, which are used, for example, in wind turbines. (A Michigan company called Danotek Motion Technologies, which got a $14.5 million influx in venture capital in November, is developing improved permanent magnet generator technology.)
As The Atlantic recently reported, neodymium reserves are in short supply, too. China, it so happens, has plenty. Figures.
As demand for lithium and neodymium fires up and wealth-seeking miners kick into high gear, the world risks environmental mishaps related to irresponsible mining practices.
The world's burgeoning alternative energy industry is crucial to the fight against climate change. But it's critical that we forecast potential environmental problems that may crop up as a direct result of our efforts to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Batteries and wind turbines are important cogs in the future energy picture, but we can't risk environmental disasters in our rush to get there.
Happy Earth Day. Dig responsibly."
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