According to recent studies, batteries will comprise 70% of the world’s demand for lithium, which represents an increase of 30% from 2015.
The growing acceptance of the battery will be a boon to the output of lithium, cobalt, and manganese. This growing trend is not limited to the demand for lithium, it is likely that the demand for other key elements in lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries will also increase in the coming years. Such a high rate of demand for these metals may vary as lithium-ion battery technology continues to be embraced in electric vehicles, electronics and energy storage, which will spark strong interest in metals markets.
Elements that are part of a battery:
All batteries have the same basic anatomy, they consist of two electrodes that hold opposite charges: a cathode (positive) and anode (negative) and for them to work they have a third component, the electrolyte .
This element is a chemical medium that allows the flow of electricity, investors in this sector have been attracted to this area since in lithium-ion batteries (Lio-ion), the electrolyte is made of lithium, while the anode It’s graphite.
Cobalt is the chemical element used in the cathodes in Li-ion batteries, which are used for most electronic devices from laptops to smartphones to power tools. The Internet, electrification and continuing trends in mobile technologies have been the key to the demand for cobalt as it is the only cathode component for lithium cobalt oxide batteries. In addition to that certain hybrid, electric, and electric cell vehicles use cobalt in their battery mix. 94% of cobalt is produced from nickel and copper.
Introduction of nickel and manganese in electric vehicle batteries:
Currently in the electric vehicle market, making an analysis of Li-ion technologies, we find that the most common batteries are those that incorporate manganese and nickel within their cathodes.
The introduction of manganese in batteries has several benefits over cobalt, greater safety, higher power and lower cost. These qualities have proven attractive to electric vehicle manufacturers, exclusively for use in electric powertrains.
Although high demand for nickel for battery manufacturing is expected, as the quantity required for batteries is so small (between 7 and 18 kilograms per battery) it is likely that they will remain a minor part of the nickel market.
Finally, it is worth mentioning something key and important for battery manufacturers, and it is the supply chain and the concentrations of reserves. Much of the lithium-ion battery material, except for nickel, is concentrated in just three countries that hold more than two-thirds of the world’s economically viable reserves.
Cobalt remains the weakest to production cuts. Half of the world’s cobalt reserves are concentrated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which, due to its political and economic instability, creates conflicts and interruptions in its supply.