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Lithium – Challenges and Opportunities Underscore Need for Domestic Resource Policy Overhaul

In an interview with InvestingNews.com, Simon Moores, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence’s managing director and a member of the ARPN panel of experts, discusses challenges relating to Lithium – one of the key materials underpinning EV battery technology.

Moores says that big challenges still lie in bringing new supply to the market, but the situation is not “straightforward, it’s not just about getting the spodumene up and running, it’s about that conversion capacity and what’s actually real.”

As for opportunities, he says that automakers are realizing the challenges and are beginning to pay closer attention to Lithium:

“We are coming into a new era where the auto companies know that you have to –well, someone’s have to going to pay for the supply chain to scale and most are trying to work that out, they know that now, I think, they have to have some kind of input somewhere, but that’s the raw material or the cathode or the batteries. We think it’s going to lie with the raw materials, the two key ones, which are lithium and cobalt in our eyes and I think that’s the biggest opportunity that the lithium space faces right now.”

The U.S. – once the largest Lithium producer in the world – today lags far behind Chile, Australia and other nations in terms of production — but automakers, realizing the challenges, are beginning to turn back to the United States as a potential source of supply.

As we previously outlined:

“While challenges will remain, as ‘some of the deposits will require as-yet untested technology for extraction,’ experts, including our friends at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, believe that at least one or two U.S.-based projects could enter production in the next four to five years.

Much will depend on the domestic policy environment, where changes are on the horizon. If U.S. policy-makers and other stakeholders make good on their recently-found commitment to comprehensive resource policy reform, the United States could once more become the mineral resource power house it once was – and Lithium could be on the forefront of this development.

This will mean, however, that Washington, DC will have to do more than pay lip service.  An opportunity to improve the outdated and duplicative permitting process was just squandered when lawmakers on Capitol Hill struck the House-passed Amodei amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.  With reports offering reform solutions due from various government agencies, it remains to be seen whether policy makers are ready to actually tackle the challenges or merely kick the can down the road again.