The lithium market has been on a serious bull run for the last year, and the world's second-largest lithium producer sees that momentum continuing into 2023.
Sociedad Química y Minera (SQM) predicts that battery material prices will remain high into next year, which could alleviate concerns that China's two-year buying spree will come to an end. After more than quadrupling sales in Q3 2022 amid increasing lithium prices, SQM expects ongoing optimism in the lithium space and sees global lithium demand rising by at least 40% this year.
Rising lithium prices are clearly working in favor of SQM, with the company posting a ten-fold increase in Q3 net profit. SQM reported a $1.1 billion net profit for the three months ending September. Quarterly revenue increased more than fourfold year on year to $2.95 billion, with lithium revenues increasing more than twelvefold.
According to CEO Ricardo Ramos Rodriguez, the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) market is rapidly expanding, which is driving up demand for lithium, a key ingredient in EV batteries. Since 2020, the price of lithium has increased by more than 1,200%, and it has more than tripled in the last year.
Tight supplies for EV manufacturers, one of China's few bright spots in the country's struggling economy, have caused the extraordinary rise, but there may now be cracks in near-term consumption.
Even though the EV market and its supply chain are on track for long-term growth, China's rate of growth is slowing. Subsidies for electric vehicles (EVs) that have helped them grow quickly over the last ten years are set to end next month, even though there has been talk that they might be extended.
At the same time, lithium demand is higher than ever. And although global lithium production is expected to increase by 21% in 2021, global lithium consumption is expected to increase by 33%. This gap will only widen as the West moves away from China's lithium supplies, which is prompting calls for at least $42 billion in lithium investment over the next six years to meet 2030's forecasted demand of 2.4 million tonnes per year.
Among the regions with the potential to fill the gap is Canada (particularly Québec and Ontario). The nation is already positioning itself to be a major player in the global lithium stage, with large hard rock spodumene deposits and brine-based lithium resources in place.
Interest in the region is good news for mining companies with projects in Canada, like FE Battery Metals (CSE:FE) (OTCQB:FEMFD), a junior lithium exploration company that has prime land with great infrastructure in a mining-friendly jurisdiction of Quebec.
Since early 2021, FE Battery Metals has acquired a significant number of mining claims surrounding Val d'Or, Québec. This land includes several old discoveries as well as new lithium prospects found during current exploration. The Company’s flagship property, the Augustus lithium property covers a large area of spodumene Lithium bearing pegmatites in one of the world’s best mining jurisdictions, Quebec. The property is comprised of a non-contiguous claim block consisting of over 700 mining claims covering a total area of over 27,000 hectares. The Augustus Lithium Property sits right next door to the North American Lithium Mine, a mine that is slated for production in Q1 2023.
Since acquiring the property, FE Battery Metals has continued to produce promising results from Phase 1 and Phase 2 drill programs at its Augustus lithium project and plans to continue its exploration efforts in the future.
First Energy Metals Drills 1.49% Lithium Oxide Across 4.5 Meters at Augustus Lithium Property
FE Battery Metals just announced the results of drill hole LC22-40 from the Phase 2 exploratory drilling program at its Augustus Lithium property in Quebec. Drill hole LC21-40 encountered a lithium pegmatite at a depth of 189.6 meters (m). The main 4.5-meter-wide pegmatite zone contained 1.49% lithium oxide on average (Li2O).
Two weeks earlier, FE Battery Metals announced the results of drill hole LC22-39 at Augustus. At a depth of 188.7m, drill hole LC21-39 hit three lithium pegmatites. The main pegmatite zone was 7.3m wide and had an average lithium oxide content of 1.54%. (Li2O).
The drill program is based on data from the past and Phase 1 exploration, as well as results from FE Battery Metals’ surface trenching and sampling. The drill is run by Forage Hebert Inc. Drilling, which is based in Amos, Quebec. For this job, a B-20 drill rig is being used, which can dig holes up to 1,000m deep. They are building a core shack in the village of St-Dominique du Rosaire, which is about 50 kilometers from the Property. It will be used to log drill cores, prepare samples, and store them. So far, more than 7,500m of core drilling has been done in 42 holes on the Property. At the core shack, the drill core is logged and samples are taken with a rock saw. For quality control and quality assurance (QA/QC), field duplicates, standards, and blanks are added at set times.
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