Rare and critical metals are playing a crucial role in recent scientific advancements, especially in the environmental technologies and energy sectors. These advancements in today’s and tomorrow’s green technology are driving industrial countries like the United States to allocate significant funding for breakthroughs in alternative fuels for vehicles and alternative energy storage.
Furthermore, there is an increasing scientific consensus that we need to protect the environment from growing pollution, while frustrated drivers continue to bear the cost of emissions through surging gas prices. On these premises governments have been pushing policies which foster sustainable consumption and production efforts. These calls for action reinforce the belief that the clean energy sector is definitely here to stay. Spearheading the progression are two frontrunners: lithium and graphite. Both are key resources in developing higher range and lower cost electric vehicles, specifically in the application of lithium batteries.
Graphite is a key component in rechargeable lithium batteries, with China cutting back production and with the west’s supply replacement and much needed new supply not on stream Graphite’s price value is yet to level. By comparison, Lithium, which has already gone through one price surge, is seeing it’s demand prices firming, and with the rechargeable battery industry for EV’s and consumer electronics driving demand, forecasters believe lithium’s price could as much as double in value in the near future.
Lithium is the next step to reducing greenhouse gasses and supporting sustainable development – it is a vital component in many environmental technologies. It is the lightest of the metals and provides considerable savings due to its high energy density which is crucial for energy storage in mobility applications. Already the most widely used battery in portable electronics’ the lithium battery is also the choice of preference for plug-in hybrids, mainly for its chemical attribute allowing us to create the batteries with specific power and energy capacity without the so called memory effect – with every charging cycle the battery loses part of its capacity.
There is currently no substitute for lithium; hence it has to be either obtained through salar brines by way of evaporation or through mined hard rock.
Recognizing the advantages to being in the rare metal and rechargeable energy space several companies have been building up their rare metal resources, one such company being International Lithium Corp. (TSX.V – ILC).
International Lithium is a global lithium and rare metals exploration company with a portfolio of projects worldwide, particularly in lithium-rich Argentina, Ireland and Canada.
ILC was successfully launched into the market in 2011 through a spin-out from parent company TNR Gold Corp. With their previous experience, a strong management team as well as a balanced portfolio, ILC was able to secure Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd., a globally recognized lithium manufacturer as a key partner and investor.
Gangfeng recently increased its equity stake in ILC to 14.7% on a non-diluted basis. The company is a professional producer of lithium products which has developed a comprehensive product chain, including lithium metal and alloys, inorganic and organic lithium chemicals. It supplies a wide range of lithium products for primary and secondary lithium battery market, pharmaceutical and new material industries. Ganfeng recently announced US$75million in sales revenue in their 2011 annual report, representing a 34% increase over the previous year.
ILC’s overall approach is to build shareholder value through quality projects and strategic land positions; thus far they are off to a strong start and are rapidly accelerating operations. At present ILC has nine viable projects including operations within the world-renowned Lithium Belt in South America as well as highly prospective Mavis Lake, Ontario, and Blackstairs, Ireland.