Benchmark Minerals’ Simon Moores warns Senate US a ‘bystander’ in battery arms race

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence returned to the US Senate on 5 February 2019 for a second hearing on the supply chain for electric vehicle batteries and energy storage.

Simon Moores, Benchmark Minerals’ Managing Director, had been summoned by the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and provided testimony on the supply chains of key battery raw materials used in energy storage.

In his testimony Moores explained to the committee how the global lithium ion megafactory trend will affect raw material demand and questioned the USA’s current role in the supply chains, offering a warning that it was being outflanked by China.

The full committee hearing can be viewed here.

The excerpt below is taken from Moores’ opening testimony to the committee.

“We are in the midst of a global battery arms race, in which so far the US is a bystander. The advent of electric vehicles and energy storage has sparked a wave of battery megafactories that are being built around the world.

“Since my last testimony only 14 months ago we have gone from 17 lithium ion battery megafactories to 70. In gigawatt hour-terms we have gone from 289 GWh to 1,549 GWh, that’s the equivalent of 22 million pure electric vehicles worth of battery capacity in the pipeline.

“The scale and speed of this growth is unprecedented and it will have a profound impact on the raw materials that fuel these battery plants. The scale of investment will also drive the cost of lithium ion battery production down below $100 kWh this year. This adds extra impetus to this mega-trend of battery megafactories and the impact on the demand for critical battery raw materials of lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite, has been unprecedented.

“For example, in the next decade the demand for lithium [used in the battery industry] is set to go up 9-times, cobalt is set to go up 6-times, nickel is set to go up 5 times, and graphite anode is set to go up 9 times.

“The question is how much of this mineral to EV battery supply chain does the US control? The way I view the battery supply chain is in three main elements: you’ve got the mine where the minerals come from, you’ve got the chemical refining aspect which is absolutely key to using those chemicals or minerals in the batteries, and you’ve got the battery plants.

“For stage one, how much of that mined supply does the US control? For nickel it’s zero, for cobalt it’s zero, for graphite it’s zero, and for lithium it’s one percent.

“For the chemical stage, where the know how comes in for using these minerals in batteries, how much capacity does the US control? Nickel it’s zero percent, cobalt it’s zero percent, graphite it’s zero percent, and for lithium it’s 7%.

“The battery capacity stage, where they make the actual batteries, the consuming plants: in 2018 the US had 9%, that was mainly from the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada and by 2028 we’re only forecasting 10%. We’re forecasting a relative flatline as this industry grows.

“Incidentally, China is on track to have 65% of battery capacity by 2028. It already has 51% of lithium chemical capacity, 80% of cobalt chemical capacity, 100% per cent of graphite anode capacity and a third of nickel chemical capacity.

“Those that control these supply chains will hold the balance of industrial power for the 21st century auto and energy industries. And the question I have for this committee is what role does the US want to have in this global energy storage revolution? Because it starts with these supply chains.

“I would like to extend my appreciation to Senator Murkowski and the committee for holding hearings like this because they are vitally important to the industry and the supply chains.”

End.

About Benchmark Mineral Intelligence

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence is the world’s leading voice and most trusted provider of independent price assessments for the lithium ion battery and electric vehicle (EV) supply chain.

Benchmark is known globally for setting the lithium industry’s reference price which is relied upon to negotiate contracts between actors in the industry, including lithium extraction operators, to cathode manufacturers, battery cell producers and automotive OEMs.

Benchmark’s Lithium Price Assessments and analysis is also relied upon by the financial community to aid critical investments into the lithium ion supply chain.

The company also produces regular price assessments on cobalt chemicals and graphite anode and also assesses lithium on battery megafactory capacity build out.

The EV and battery cell supply chain is Benchmark’s sole focus and speciality.

Benchmark also provides forecasting and consultancy services that are relied upon by a wide range of customers from governments, electronics manufacturers, EV makers, battery cell producers, and lithium miners.

To complement its publishing activities, Benchmark has created the industry’s leading platform to discuss the subject – The Benchmark World Tour. Benchmark also hosts Benchmark Minerals Week consists of two main conference, Graphite & Anodes and Cathodes, and is the world’s meeting place to negotiate deals and network.

Benchmark’s price data, insight, and understanding of the subject is unrivalled and culminated in being summoned to the US Senate to testify in 2017. In addition, Benchmark has been invited to give guest lectures at the University of Oxford, Stanford University and advise the UK Government.

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One thought on “Benchmark Minerals’ Simon Moores warns Senate US a ‘bystander’ in battery arms race

  1. Simon for President, I would say. Very impressed by this clear and compact statement. I quess same more or less applies for Europe. It is game set and match for China, US and Europe have been sleeping too long, and still do, also in other industries and mostly raw materials.
    Remninby will take the world.

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