Lithium story is getting out into mass media now: from article in industry magazines and on the news tape of Reuters and Bloomberg. Mining journal has an article last week The Global Lithium Rush mentioning International Lithium and Rodinia Lithium among most active lithium developers from Canada.
"We have a very interesting development in lithium based storage space: this is the technology advance in action about which we are talking about on this blog. It is a new company for us and these claims are very substantial and need to be verified, but in any case it is where the future is going in Lithium ion technology. New batteries will come with more power, more specific energy, density and more capacity - it will open new markets and volume will drive prices down allowing our mass market for EV. In this particular case, scalability is a very interesting approach. It is very encouraging fact, that marine industry with its inherently very hash conditions and very high demand for power can rely on lithium based systems as well.
"Presently, lithium ion technology is poised to take over and dominate a new marketplace as its values and abilities become evident and the return of investment models become feasible to commercial operators today."
Lithium-powered batteries will dominate the electric cars industry within the next 5-10 years due to the metal's high-energy density and as auto makers strive to meet CO2 emissions standards, Liberum Capital said on Tuesday.
Lithium batteries are already used in mobile phones, digital cameras and laptop PCs.
But the recession-hit auto industry is now exploring new ways to mass-produce electric vehicles, with lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride vehicles leading the way.
"Often the discussion is about what comes after lithium," Adam Collins, analyst at Liberum Capital told Reuters at a roundtable event in London. "For the foreseeable future -- five or ten years -- it's lithium and lithium compounds."
Collins said most car makers would choose batteries using lithium -- a silvery-white metal -- with nickel and cobalt elements -- known for small size and big power surge.
Contract prices for lithium carbonate are currently at between $3-$5 a lb, Collins said.
Liberum forecasts that current market demand for lithium carbonate, used as a battery material, is in balance at 30 million pounds per year.
Global lithium carbonate supply was about 100,000 tonnes in 2008, up 2,000 tonnes from 2007, while consumption was a little higher at 105,000 tonnes -- up 2 percent year-on-year.
Demand for lithium in batteries had been increasing by more than 20 percent annually in recent years but like most metal demand, was hit by the global economic downturn, Roskill Information Services said earlier this year.
Bolivia, a poor but resource-rich country, has about 50 percent of the world's lithium deposits at about 5.4 million tonnes.
The country has a huge lithium deposit at the Uyuni salt lake, but state-run mining company Comibol may struggle to exploit it lacking know-how and capital.
"There is a lot of supply coming on-stream," said Collins. "In particular Bolivia. America will do more."
He added that other notable producing countries included Chile, Peru and Argentina.
Collins also dismissed other analysts' concerns about the high costs of mass producing lithium batteries for the auto industry, and worries about the heat generated.
"I've heard the argument that you've got this fire-inducing object very close to the passenger," he said. "First of all, a lot of them are going to be mid-battery vehicles, so they are not going to be the source of any collision.
"There is (also) going to be very developed cooling system -- much more than you can get in a computer."
(Editing by Sue Thomas)"