With the transition to renewable energy upon us, the need for critical minerals has never been so prevalent. One mineral is getting more attention than the others these days – lithium. Lithium holds unparalleled electrochemical potential and, if it is harnessed the right way, could lead us on a path to a newer, greener future.
But how exactly will it do that? Which applications is lithium used for?
Lithium holds the key
Lithium is one of the 31 critical minerals recognized by Canada, which will enable future green technologies to advance. The production of electric vehicles (EVs) will play a significant part in lowering the carbon footprint of every human worldwide. With more EVs readily available and a decrease in gas-powered cars, the shift will allow us to put fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and cut down on one of the most prominent effects of climate change.
Lithium is a key ingredient in the batteries that power EVs. What are batteries made of?
A battery is a collection of one or more cells. Each electrolyte-filled cell contains two electrodes, each with a current collector: the anode and cathode sit on opposite ends of the battery, with a
separator between them. The anode is the graphite. Lithium is added to graphite when charging and removed as the battery is used. Graphite anodes are used in nearly all Li-ion batteries.
As demand for these batteries is expected to surge in the medium term, so will the demand for lithium. In addition, lithium is traditionally used in several chemical and industrial applications, such as glass and ceramics production, lubricating grease and other uses, where it is an essential ingredient.
How much lithium is needed?
The amount of lithium required varies by application. If it is going into a smartphone, the lithium requirements can be less than a teaspoon. However, the requirements for EV batteries are much greater. According to Nature.com, amounts vary depending on the battery type and vehicle model, but a single car lithium-ion battery pack could contain around 7-8 kg of lithium. It is a relatively smaller component by weight than other minerals, but it is essential to the cathode used in the battery. There are no near-term substitutes for it. (Graphite, by the way, is the heaviest component at 125kg per battery.)
In a recent article published in the Financial Post, it was reported that six different major forecasts of lithium demand predicted on average a 20% annual growth in both the demand and the supply of lithium between 2021 and 2025.
By 2030, according to UBS, lithium will see an over 50% deficit in supply.
This begs the question, where is all this lithium coming from and where will the supply deficits originate from?
New Canadian Lithium
China has dominated the lithium sector in the recent past. It produces up to 80% of lithium worldwide, with Australia and much of South America (such as Chile and Argentina) also contributing to the worldwide output. This means that North American electric vehicles have to import their lithium from far and wide, which is not only costly in terms of freight and transportation charges, but now, with the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)’s new greenhouse gas (GHG) protocols that require companies to track “Scope 3” or indirect carbon emissions linked to the production of their goods, raw materials that travel long distances contribute significantly to the emission levels that must be accounted for. New sources of lithium that have been discovered closer to home and extracted in Canada can offer a new solution to both problems. Currently there are no lithium mines, lithium processing facilities, or lithium ion battery makers in Canada – but this is expected to rapidly change with Tesla, Lion Electric and StromVolt looking to establish a battery manufacturing presence in Quebec
Lomiko Metals is actively developing the Bourier lithium project, working with Critical Elements Lithium Corporation to earn its 70% stake as per an option agreement announced April 27, 2021. The Bourier project site is located near Nemaska Lithium and Critical Elements south-east of the Eeyou Istchee James Bay territory in Quebec, in Canada’s lithium triangle near the James Bay region of Quebec that has historically housed lithium deposits and mineralization trends.
Lomiko has a new vision and a new strategy in new energy. Lomiko represents a company with purpose: a people-first company where we can manifest a world of abundant renewable energy with Canadian and Quebec critical minerals for a solution in North America. Our goal is to create a new energy future in Canada where we will grow the critical minerals workforce, become a valued partner and neighbour with the communities in which we operate, and provide a secure and responsibly sourced supply of critical minerals.
For more information on Lomiko’s Bourier lithium project, visit lomiko.com