Electric car makers are striking long-term deals with big battery makers, shoring up confidence among tech metal miners.
Some recent deals between car makers and battery suppliers extend as far as 2025.
BMW has locked in contracts with Samsung for products due to be delivered in 2020, Infinity Lithium (ASX:PLH) director Humphrey Hale told the Paydirt Battery Minerals Conference in Perth on Wednesday.
“Those contracts last for three to five years, which has an implication that the chemistry for EVs [electric vehicles] is fairly well set and established up until 2025,” he said.
“So the huge investment that is required to build battery plants and set in place lithium mines, graphite mines, cobalt mines to produce that chemistry is here to stay for the foreseeable future.”
Infinity Lithium, which recently underwent an identity change from Plymouth Minerals, is ramping up its focus on Spanish lithium and divesting its potash projects.
Lithium has become a favoured commodity among Australian explorers, driven by demand from electric car makers which are expected to sell more than 500 million vehicles by 2040 — up from 2 million today.
Energy storage for vehicles is driving global demand for lithium carbonate, which is set to rise to at least 875,000 tonnes per annum by 2025, from 224,000 tonnes per annum in 2017.
“The prediction is that by 2025 we will see cost parity between the internal combustion engine and the battery vehicle with comparable performance, comparable refuelling time and comparable ranges,” Mr Hale said.
“So that’s the tipping point. We’re in a period of time where there’s a huge disruption to the car market.”
Infinity is working to bring its San Jose lithium-tin project in Spain into production.
“This demand uplift is equivalent to 40 San Joses by 2025,” Mr Hale noted. “So we need to get going. There’s a lot of work to do in eight years.”
Vehicle electrification with batteries has seen the automotive industry move from a “headline a year” to a “headline a day” in the car industry, Future Smart Strategies managing director Professor Ray Wills told the conference.
“Beyond the basics of all vehicles going electric, there are so many elements changing in the car industry — part of global mega trends in mobility and connectivity and autonomy and the internet of things,” Professor Wills said.
“From the point of view of minerals for the storage revolution, it is crucial that action is taken quickly so Australia takes a share of the many new jobs (skilled and semi-skilled) in this $2 trillion value chain – an opportunity that might just double Australia’s GDP from a single new industry sector,” he said.