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AMG: lithium met de laagste kostprijs

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In early afternoon trade the Orocobre Limited (ASX: ORE) share price is the biggest mover on the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO).

At the time of writing the lithium miner’s shares are up over 10% to $3.73.

Why have its shares rocketed higher?

This morning Orocobre reported a full-year net profit after tax of US$19.4 million.

This included an US$8.1 million impairment of its Borax Argentina business and also a gain on the sales of assets of US$14.8 million.

Despite the asset sale boosting its result, I believe it was still an impressive turnaround from the US$22 million loss it made in FY 2016.

During FY 2017 the company produced 11,862 tonnes of lithium carbonate and sold 12,296 tonnes at an average price received of US$9,763 per tonne. This led to total sales revenue of US$120 million.

Pleasingly, the miner is one of the lowest cost producers in the world and currently enjoys a gross operating margin of 62% with lithium production costs at US$3,710 per tonne.

Should costs continue to remain this low and lithium demand keep prices high, then Orocobre could be in a great position to profit in FY 2018.

Especially with management targeting production of 14,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate this year. That will be an 18% increase in production on FY 2017.

Though it is worth remembering that Orocobre was forced to downgrade its production guidance multiple times in FY 2017, so there’s no guarantee that it will deliver on its plans.

Should you invest?

While my preference in the industry remains Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX: GXY), closely followed by Kidman Resources Ltd (ASX: KDR), I do believe that if lithium demand forecasts are accurate then all three will prove to be great investments.

However, as with all resources shares, an investment in these companies is high risk and should be done with caution.
Uit de bovengenoemde presentatie gaat men er van uit dat de base case bestaat uit een gemiddelde opbrengst van concentraat van $600 per mt. De integrale kostprijs (FOB) bedraagt $ 206 per MT Bij 90.000 MT bedraagt de netto winstbijdrage dan $ 35,4 miljoen $ 1,32 per aandeel. De huidige marktprijs van 6,5% concentraat bedraagt bij Galaxy resources momenteel $ 900. In 2016 ging nog uit van een prijs in de periode t/m 2020 tussen de $525 en $550. Het lijkt er dus op dat dit scenario achterhaald is. AGM heeft toch gecommuniceerd dat men minimaal $ 800 pet mt gaat ontvangen?? Scheelt een slok op een borrel.
Het duurt ongeveer 7 jaar voordat een nieuwe mijn operationeel is. Er wordt derhalve verwacht dat er in de 7 jaar vanaf nu een vorm van krapte gaat optreden.

Dit is al weer een heel ander geluid dan een jaar geleden geventileerd werd: zou dat de $200 prijsverhoging van concentraat verklaren?
Hier een bevestiging van de uitdagingen die verbonden zijn met de winning van lithium uit zowel zout als steen. Bij winning uit zout is men bovendien afhankelijk van het weer, de landeigenaren en overheidsinterventies (vergunningen). Kritische succesfactoren zijn kennis, relaties en financieringsmogelijkheden. Ook hier wordt een ontwikkeltermijn van 7 jaar genoemd. Heeft AMG haar techniek op orde? Dit zal een belangrijke trigger worden voor de koers.


Tom3 schreef op 10 september 2017 10:10:

Hier een bevestiging van de uitdagingen die verbonden zijn met de winning van lithium uit zowel zout als steen. Bij winning uit zout is men bovendien afhankelijk van het weer, de landeigenaren en overheidsinterventies (vergunningen). Kritische succesfactoren zijn kennis, relaties en financieringsmogelijkheden. Ook hier wordt een ontwikkeltermijn van 7 jaar genoemd. Heeft AMG haar techniek op orde? Dit zal een belangrijke trigger worden voor de koers.

“Lithium production isn’t easy,” Juan Esteban Fuentes, CRU Group’s head of South America, said in an interview in Santiago. “It requires high technical and chemical knowledge. Clearly there will be more disruptions, to the extent that there are miners entering the market that have never extracted lithium and do not have that technical knowledge.”

Rising demand for lithium used in a new breed of lightweight, rechargeable batteries caught producers of the mineral off guard. Tesla’s gigafactory in Nevada aims to manufacture about 500,000 car batteries a year by 2018. The soft, silver-white metal is also used in cell phones.

Prices of lithium carbonate, the primary base-chemical produced by the industry, more than doubled in the five years to 2016, according to UBS Group AG. The material advanced about 5 percent to average $14,250 a ton in July from June, according to Benchmark Mineral.

With demand expected to keep rising as electric cars gain a bigger share of the global auto fleet, Argentina and Chile are attracting interest from mining companies because it costs about $2,000 to $3,800 a ton to extract lithium from brine, compared with $4,000 to $6,000 a ton in Australia, where lithium is mined from rock.

Still, most projects are expected to struggle to get off the ground.

Of the 39 lithium ventures tracked by CRU, only four have firm commitments, and all of those are in China, adding about 24,000 tons of annual supply. Another 10 projects representing 400,000 tons are rated “probable” -- in Canada, Chile, China, Mexico, Argentina and Australia -- but probably only about 30 percent will make it into production, CRU said.

Onderstaande discussie geeft een inkijkje in de (majeure) risico`s verbonden aan battery grade LCE produktie. Als dit zo leest moet AMG zich maar beperken tot concentraat.

ALTA 2017 Lithium Processing panel discussion

Posted by John on 11th September 2017

Alan Taylor, Metallurgical Consultant/Managing Director, ALTA Metallurgical Services, reports on the panel discussion was held Friday, May 26, immediately following the Lithium Processing Forum during the Uranium-REE-Li Sessions at ALTA 2017 in Perth, Australia. The Panel Chair was Mike Dry (MD) of Arithmetek (Canada). Panel participants were Adrian Griffin (AG), Lithium Australia (Australia); William Pickard (WP), Curtin University (Australia); Grant Harman (GH), Lithium Consultants (Australia); Jaco Bester (JB), Dow Water and Process Solutions (Netherlands); and Chris Griffith (CG), ANSTO Minerals (Australia)

MD opened the discussion by inviting comments on lithium processing operating costs. He said he has seen numbers higher than the ones included in his conference paper which he estimated from published reports adjusted to 2016 US$.

GH responded by commented on the estimated opex of around $1,900/t lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) given in MD’s paper for the Couchari-Olaroz project in Argentina. He noted that Orocobre recently published a figure of $3,600/t based on a production of 12,000 t/y for the Olaroz operation, while the Deutsche Bank’s Global Cost Curve (included in his and AG’s conference papers) indicates an opex of about $4,200/t. He concluded that these higher figures do not support MD’s estimated figure for Couchari-Olaroz.

Editor’s notes: MD’s paper states that the Couchari-Olaroz project targets the production of 20,000 t/y of lithium carbonate by the treatment of brine from wells by solar evaporation, with an estimated opex of $1,978/t. Olaroz is an existing operation adjacent to the Couchari-Olaroz project.

GH referred to a query by CG on the definition of battery grade, as being one of the most important topics to discuss in the panel. He advised that lithium carbonate content is not determined by direct analysis. Rather, the procedure is to analyze for other components and impurities, then subtract from 100%. The two largest components, in his experience, are moisture at about 0.12% and LOI (loss on ignition) at around 0.2%, for a typical combined content of about 0.3%. Also, if the process includes bicarbonatation, this increases the combined figure. So, when someone says they produce an EV (electric vehicle) grade of 99.99, they must not be taking account LOI and moisture, and the question arises as to what else they have not accounted for, which makes the grade figure meaningless. In fact, users typically run their own an analysis to assess offered products against their in-house specification.

CG agreed that product grade is only meaningful when there is a target specification to compare against.

AG added that most end users and some producers do publish specifications, but unfortunately they all tend to vary, highlighting one of the problems in dealing with a commodity which doesn’t have a terminal market. Ultimately the supplier has to produce something that potential customers are willing prepared to buy.

MD raised the issue, based on previous industry experience with manganese dioxide, that users may not be willing to commit to buying until they are able to test actual product from a commercial plant.

GH responded that for one project he is involved with, no profit has been allowed for the sale of lithium carbonate for the first year for the reason raised by MD. This represents the lead time required to be confident of meeting the required specification at a normal production rate.

CG said that problems with batteries, such as catching fire or not holding the charge, can damage the credibility of battery producers, which leads to them to be being “hard-nosed” with potential product suppliers.

GH added that grade consistency is sometimes more important than the actual level of impurities in achieving market acceptance. Variations can have serious ramifications for the battery producer.

Goutam Das (GD), CSIRO (Australia), from the floor, said that, based on from laboratory experience in achieving battery grade material for a client, while the impurities play an important role, the determining characteristics for acceptance is the number of cycles that can achieved. In response to a query by MD on ability to replicate this in a commercial operation and be accepted by the buyer, GD said that laboratory tests show what impurity levels can be tolerated while achieving the required cycles, setting the target for an acceptable commercial product.

MD asked whether there are any alternatives which could surpass lithium for batteries?

AG responded that two important characteristics to consider in assessing a battery technology are weight and energy density. For some applications, there will be substitutes. For example, some of the redox flow batteries are good technologies, though, at the moment, drawbacks include higher cost per unit of storage, larger volume, and heavier weight. One of the things very few people take into account is that vanadium redox batteries only return about 70% of the power input. In comparison, a lithium-ion battery theoretically returns 100%, which reduces to 92% when fitted with a management system (without a management system the battery will go permanently flat on discharge, or will catch on fire during charging). Lithium on this basis will be hard to surpass.

GH added that Lithium is the best material for cars and mobile devices, due to its lightness, and is likely to remain the best choice for a long time. For static storage, where mass is less of a concern, other technologies will probably be gain acceptance.

MD asked for views on the cause of Samsung batteries catching fire.

GH said that he had heard it was due to fitting too large a battery into too small a space, and not allowing for expansion when it heats up during operation – perhaps due to rushing to the market too quickly without understanding all the aspects.

CG said he had heard that the problem was due to internal shorting, a view that was supported by MD.

Summary of Key Points:

Deutsche Bank’s Global Cost Curve is a publicly available guide to lithium processing operating costs
There is no meaningful standard battery grade specification, and published figures from users and suppliers vary
Grade consistency is sometimes more important than the actual level of impurities in achieving market acceptance, as variations can have serious ramifications for the battery producer
Users will typically run their own an analysis to assess offered products against their in-house specification
The time required to reliably achieve the required product specification can significantly affect the profit
Lithium battery technology has significant advantages in lightness and low power loss. It is the best available technology for cars and mobile devices, while alternative technologies may applicable for static storage where mass is less of a concern.
ALTA acknowledges the efforts of the volunteer from Murdoch University, Rorie Gilligan, for providing notes on the discussion.

Lithium Processing is again the featured the topic for the ALTA 2018 U-REE-Li Forum and Panel, which will be held 19-26 May in Perth, Australia.

Het geruststellende is natuurlijk wel dat (volgens het Alta pannel) dat de Vanadium redox accu voor auto`s en consumentenartikelen geen partij is voor de lithium-ion batterij/accu aangezien de vanadium accu slechts 70% van de energie input terug geeft waar dit bij de lithium-ion accu in principe 100% is. De Samsung problemen worden toegeschreven aan slechte engineering.
Miljardeninvestering VW in batterijauto’s
Gisteren, 23:09

Autoproducent Volkswagen investeert €20 miljard om in 2030 al zijn modellen in een elektrische variant te koop te hebben.

Daarnaast investeert Volkswagen €50 miljard in de technische ontwikkeling van energiezuiniger accu's die een groot bereik garanderen.

Dat maakt topman Matthias Mueller maandag bekend, een omslag ten opzichte van investeringen in dieselauto's waar VW jaren om bekend stond.

Van Volkswagen werden door bondskanselier Merkel na de affaire met sjoemelsoftware concrete stappen gevraagd om de vernieuwing in batterijauto’s te versnellen.

Volkswagen stelde maandag al vol in concurrentie te zijn met de volledig elektrische auto’s van Tesla, maar vooral die voor de middenklasse.
Personally, I believe the best way to profit from the electric vehicle revolution is not by investing in EV makers, but by selling EV makers the materials they must all consume in huge quantities for decades in the future.

The average electric vehicle with a 65 kwh battery pack will require over 100 pounds of copper, 20 pounds of cobalt and 100 pounds of lithium carbonate.

Remember how I mentioned Volkswagen wants to make electric versions of all 300 of its models. Below is a chart which shows the quantity of metals demanded by Volkswagen to go 100% electric, relative to the current annual production. These numbers are not exact. There is going to be variance depending on battery type, however the numbers are staggering enough as is.

The supply chain for electric vehicle inputs is already strained. China’s policy change is only going to strain it further. This is a good thing for paid members of Katusa Research, who are acting as EV material suppliers. Under supplied markets mean high prices and big profits for companies that can supply product to the market.

The price of cobalt, a crucial material in the Lithium-Ion battery has soared from $12 per pound to over $25 per pound in 18 months. Below is a chart of this EV-driven bull market.

The world’s largest lithium producer, Albemarle, said on a recent conference call that it is sold out of lithium for the next five years. The spot price for battery grade lithium has rocketed from $3.60 per pound to over $10 per pound since April 2015.

And of course, you probably know my thoughts on copper. The EV boom is very bullish for copper demand. Years from now, the world is going to want a lot more copper… but the industry simply can’t supply it at $3 per pound. Copper prices will need to be much higher than they are now. You can read by research on this situation here and here.

It’s estimated that nearly 1 million new EVs will be sold globally in 2017. Early this year, the respected Bloomberg New Energy Finance team estimated that there will be 8 million electric vehicles sold annually by 2030, and 65 million sold annually by 2040. I believe the huge news from China and Volkswagen could lead to these targets being hit sooner than expected.

The virtuous self-reinforcing cycle is coming… and it’s very good for EV market suppliers. Invest accordingly.

Regards, Marin
Orocobre - A Potential Takeover Target In The Lithium Space
Sep. 21, 2017 2:54 PM ET|
About: Orocobre Ltd. (OROCF), Includes: ALB, AVLIF, FMC, SQM, TLTHF, TYHOY

Livio Filice
Long-term horizon, Growth, momentum, Deep Value

Low commodity prices have spurred activity in resources which support new technologies and applications.

The lithium mining industry has consolidated and the oligopoly has only seen one new company enter the production regime.

Orocobre has successfully brought on its Argentine lithium brine project into production; only company to bring meaningful capacity to the market in 40 years.

Asian technology and cash rich resource companies could be eyeing an entrance to the highly profitable lithium industry.

Orocobre – A Potential Takeover Target in the Lithium Space

With energy and mineral prices at rock bottom, there has been very little interest for investments in the exploration and mining industry. Low commodity prices have led to poor project economics and deterred capital investment in expanding production capacity at existing facilities. The end result is that many exploration companies have had to consolidate with other venture companies, close their doors or sell off their once prided assets.

However, there has been at least one bright spot in the commodity market driven by new technology demand – lithium. Lithium mining companies have been on fire in the past year while each major lithium producer has seen their stock price double. In addition to stock price appreciation over the past years, there has been a slew of acquisition activity in the space by large chemical companies looking to enter the lithium production industry. The primary targets have been companies who are actively in the mining stage. In addition to the acquisitions, Australia based Orocobre (OTC:OTCPK:OROCF)is the only company in the world which has successfully brought on new meaningful “greenfield” capacity . A perfect storm is brewing as battery grade lithium carbonate remains in tight supply while global automotive markers have begun a massive ramp-up in electric vehicle production. With such strong macro-level activity on both the supply and demand side and the first round of industry consolidation completed, it is fair to project that the next round of acquisitions will begin to occur in the years ahead. Orocobre stands as one of the only pure play lithium mining companies who is backed by a strong project partner, Toyota Tsusho Corp. (OTCMKTS:OTC:TYHOY) and a road map to quickly accelerate shareholder value. Orocobre remains a strong buy for investors looking for a lithium pure play with a time horizon of 2-5years.
Olaroz Lithium Project Commences Commercial Operation

In December 2014, Orocobre announced the official opening ceremony of the Olaroz Lithium Project, which is now amongst one of the few operating lithium brines in the world. The Olaroz Project is based in the Puna region of northern Argentina. Orocobre's project partner Toyota Tsusho (OTC:TYHOY) has the exclusive off-take arrangements for all the lithium carbonate produced at the Olaroz Project. It is expected that Toyota Tsusho will sell the carbonate to either Toyota to expand its electric and hybrid vehicles and other Asian battery manufacturers. It is commonly know that most of the low cost and accessible lithium deposits are located in South America while the vast majority of lithium ion battery production takes place in Asia. This leads to a clear need for Asian technology companies to acquire a secure long-term supply of lithium to ensure they can scale their businesses. Lithium is not a rare commodity, but feasible deposits are rare and scattered across politically unstable areas of the world.

Based on the recently reported financial results, the Olaroz project is already delivering strong earnings and cash flow. The company continues to work towards achieving nameplate production capacity of 17,000t LCE. Cash flow is being used to repay project debt and to expand the overall production capacity at Olaroz. The project has a sustainable long life, with the Feasibility Study considering 40 years production with only 15% resource extracted.

Positioned as a Potential Takeover

In my opinion, it is unlikely that Toyota Tsusho will acquire Orocobre as Toyota Tsusho already has full access to the off-take rights for the lithium carbonate generated at Olaroz. Toyota Tsusho is probably most interested in a secure source of high-quality battery grade lithium carbonate to ensure supply is available for Toyota’s lithium battery and electric vehicle ramp-up. For the large part, trading houses are generally not interested in production of goods but are rather focused on business making and financing.

With all of the major players within the lithium oligopoly heavily investing to expand their own projects it is highly unlikely that they will spent a billion plus to acquire Orocobre. It could prove to be more cost effective to expand their current resources as lithium salt ponds can be expanded with incremental investments within a few years.

As lithium demand continues to propel in the next years and flurries of industry activities will ensure heighten tension around the Olaroz project, an industry jewel. Although neither Olaroz nor Orocobre are for sale, it is expected that the Chinese are looking for new high-quality, low cost lithium carbonate supply to feed a number of new battery plants presently under construction. Also, with commodities prices suppressed and expected to remain low for the foreseeable future, another opportunity could be for one of the many cash rich mining companies to pay a premium for the either Olaroz or Orocobre. One area of debate is if Olaroz will be expanded under its current ownership structure or if a white horse arrives in the next two years ahead of Toyota’s electric vehicle ramp-up.
De lithium ETF is ook een leuke graadmeter. De prijs van een lithium batterij is gehalveerd in een paar jaar, dit orgt voor nieuwe vraag.

" Since the Xinhua newspaper reported Sept. 11 that China may start to wind down production and sales of cars using fossil fuel, investors have poured $143M into LIT, and this Tuesday alone saw nearly $50M in inflows for the now $651M fund - an "extremely rare" display of interest in an ETF, especially one so narrowly focused, says Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA."
Al in 2014 hebben Toyota, Samsung en anderen strategische overnames/investeringen gedaan teneinde een betrouwbare aanvoer van lithium te krijgen. Volkswagen en GM lopen wat dat betreft nogal achter. Ik verwacht nog een inhaalslag.
Bij Bloomberg gaat men uit van een tipping point rond 2025, 4 jaar later als in de visie van Tony Seba. De analyse bevestigt wel de richting en de immense gevolgen. Leerzame materie:

The Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast says adoption of emission-free vehicles will happen more quickly than previously estimated because the cost of building cars is falling so fast.
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