Tuesday 17 May 2016 6:41 pm

Bacanora Minerals boss: 2020 will be a “magic” year for lithium

The boss of one of the world's biggest lithium mines has singled out 2020 as a "magical" year for the so-called "white petroleum".

Lithium forms a small but essentially irreplaceable component of rechargeable batteries. It's currently used in small-scale devices such as mobile phones, but could eventually revolutionise the car industry, as well as how we use the electricity grid.

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"I think 2020 is quite a magical year for the uptake of both electric vehicles and renewable energy. Anything that uses renewables, or electric vehicles, uses a lithium-based [energy] storage capacity," Peter Secker, chief executive of Bacanora, told City A.M.

"Lithium batteries used to be really expensive. They used to be a couple of thousand dollars per kilowatt hour. Now they're down to about $200 per kilowatt hour."

"By 2020 everyone is saying they'll be about $130 per kilowatt hour, which means a lithium battery is cost competitive with any other battery in the world. So in the next three to five years, you're going to see a large influx of lithium batteries into any application."

Bacanora, which has a dual listing on the Aim and TSX, intends to focus on the exploration and production of lithium carbonate, used to make lithium ion batteries. Its Sonora project in Mexico is one of the world's largest lithium resources, which they've been working on for the last six years.

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On potential pitfalls to the valuable commodity's widely anticipated boom, Secker warned that demand could one day outstrip supply.

"[One] risk to the market is that demand grows too quickly and price won't be able to match it. That would result in increased prices," he said.

"You're starting to see end users buying into assets just to make sure they have security of supply. Just think of big battery names — LG, Samsung, Panasoic, Hitachi, BYD — those are the guys that are big consumers of lithium into lithium batteries."

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