Li-Ion Batteries Grow in Importance as Governments Adopt Green Regulations

Li-Ion Batteries Grow in Importance as Governments Adopt Green Regulations News Commentary

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Feb. 28, 2019

NEW YORK, Feb. 28, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The shift from diesel-powered vehicles to fully electric and more environmentally efficient vehicles is already taking place. Recent consumer trends in the automotive industry have shown that many electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are already seeing increased sales. Other large automotive players in the industry are also transitioning from their current portfolio of gas-powered vehicles into a more fully electric production line. The abundance of EVs is partly attributable to the growing concerns regarding the environment as well as government initiatives imposing the transition. EVs are predominately powered by lithium-ion batteries, which are a lightweight and high-energy density solution. They provide the highest energy density per weight and are commonly used in phones, computers, as well as hybrid automobiles. According to data compiled by Grand View Research, the global lithium-ion battery market is expected to reach USD 93.1 Billion by 2025, while registering a robust CAGR of 17% as well. The EV market is expected to be a major driver for the overall lithium-ion battery, as well as the battery's growing adoption in portable consumer electronics and grid storage systems is expected to accelerate the market. MGX Minerals Inc. (OTC: MGXMF) (CSE: XMG), FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC), Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE: HMC), Livent Corporation (NYSE: LTHM), Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F)

Various nations have already moved to adopt clean environmental legislation, which would ban the use of gas-powered vehicles. Several European nations, such as Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, have already implemented regulations which are expected to take in place in the coming years. Despite the global movement, the Asia Pacific region is expected to continue its domination of the market. In 2016, the region accounted for 48.3% of the global share, primarily led India and China. The two countries are expected to see the amount of EVs rise due to the implementation of these progressive government policies. "As automakers ramp up production for evermore EVs, demand on the power grid from EVs will grow exponentially. According to best estimates, growth in EV adoption could drive a 300-fold increase in electricity consumption by 2040, compared to 2016. The current grid will need to evolve significantly to accommodate that growth, driving a blitz of new innovation in wind and solar power, which will ultimately shift global reliance on coal toward clean energy alternatives," according to a Thomson Reuters research report.

MGX Minerals Inc. (OTCQB: MGXMF) (CSE: XMG) is also listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker (CSE: XMG). Earlier this week the company announced that, "its collaborative research partnership with the University of British Columbia ("UBC") has completed a comprehensive baseline assessment of metallurgical silicon originating from each of the Company's three silicon projects in southeastern British Columbia. MGX and UBC are working together to develop next-generation Li-ion batteries capable of quadrupling energy density from current 100 Wh/kg up to 400 Wh/kg for use in long-range electric vehicles and grid storage.

With the Phase One assessment completed, Phase two of the collaborative is now underway and will focus on developing a scalable process to upgrade metallurgical silicon originating from MGX's projects to battery-grade silicon anode. The developed silicon anode will serve as a viable replacement over the present graphite anode and enable higher-energy-density lithium-ion batteries for numerous applications, including electric vehicles, grid storage, telecommunication, wireless sensors and more.

About the Research Initiative: The objective of the MGX/UBC research consortium is to develop a low-cost and scalable method that will fabricate a silicon-based anode to improve the energy density of Li-ion batteries. The two-year research program seeks to focus on 1) fabricating nanostructured silicon using low-cost metallurgical silicon as a feedstock and 2) compositing nanostructured silicon with commercial graphite to develop a high-performance silicon anode. The initial goal of the research is to replace the graphite anode with silicon and complete a hybrid in the short-term which will not require industry retooling. The ultimate goal is to enable next-generation Li-ion batteries capable of quadrupling energy density from current 100 Wh/kg up to 400 Wh/kg for use in long-range electric vehicles and grid storage.

Dr. Jian Liu, Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering at UBC Okanagan, is leading a research group focused on advanced materials for energy storage. Dr. Liu was previously the technical lead for development of surface coating materials by atomic and molecular layer deposition, and their applications in surface and interface engineering on the anode and cathode of Li-ion batteries and beyond, at Western University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

MGX Silicon Projects: MGX operates three silicon projects in southeastern British Columbia- Koot, Wonah and Gibraltar. A one-ton sample of quartzite from the Company's Gibraltar project was recently shipped to the independent lab Dorfner Anzaplan ("Dorfner") in Germany for mineralogical analyses. Dorfner conducted X-ray diffraction analysis, chemical analyses through X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, grain size distribution, mineral processing analysis, automated optical sorting and thermal stability testing. Results indicated that the material, after comminution and classification fraction, is of high initial purity (99.5 wt.-%), making the fraction chemically suitable as medium quality feedstock material for metallurgical-grade silicon production.

About MGX Minerals Inc: MGX Minerals is a diversified Canadian resource and technology company with interests in global advanced material, energy and water assets."

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FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC) provides solutions to growers around the world with a portfolio of proprietary crop protection products and a robust pipeline fueled by innovative discovery and development capabilities in crop protection, plant health and professional pest and turf maintenance solutions. FMC Corporation recently reported fourth quarter and full-year 2018 results. For the fourth quarter, FMC reported revenue of approximately USD 1.2 Billion, an increase of 24% year-over-year. On a GAAP basis, the Company reported earnings of USD 0.24 per diluted share in the fourth quarter, or USD 32 Million, which includes a USD 106 Million non-cash charge to adjust reserves for environmental liabilities as a result of active negotiations for a settlement. This compares to GAAP earnings of USD 3.94 per diluted share, or USD 530 Million, in the fourth quarter of 2017, which included a USD 727 Million gain, net of tax, from the November 2017 sale of FMC Health and Nutrition, partially offset by a provisional income tax charge of USD 316 Million related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. FMC Lithium, known as Livent Corporation following its October IPO, reported fourth quarter segment revenue of USD 120 Million, an increase of 6% versus the prior-year quarter. Segment EBITDA came in slightly above the midpoint of guidance at USD 46 Million in the quarter. Pierre Brondeau, FMC Chief Executive Officer and Chairman said: "FMC delivered another very strong quarter. In Agricultural Solutions, we grew sales 23 percent on a pro forma basis, excluding an estimated 5 percent headwind from foreign currencies. This was significantly above the market and our key competitors, as we continue to capitalize on the strength of our broad portfolio and capture new sales synergies. In Lithium, we had another strong operating quarter, and we are set to complete the spinoff of Livent Corporation on March 1, 2019."

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) offers a full line of reliable, fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive vehicles with advanced safety technologies sold through more than 1,000 independent U.S. Honda dealers. Honda's subsidiary, Honda Research Institute USA, Inc., an advanced research center that provides innovative solutions to complex problems, recently announced it has collaborated with researchers at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to develop a new battery chemistry that enables the use of materials with higher energy density and a more favorable environmental footprint than current battery technologies. The joint study reports that the research team has opened new doors in the development of high energy-density batteries capable of meeting rapidly growing energy storage needs by overcoming the current temperature limitations of fluoride-based battery (FIB) technology and by demonstrating the room-temperature operation of fluoride-ion based energy cells. "Fluoride-ion batteries offer a promising new battery chemistry with up to ten times more energy density than currently available Lithium batteries," said Dr. Christopher Brooks, Chief Scientist, Honda Research Institute, and a co-author of the paper. "Unlike Li-ion batteries, FIBs do not pose a safety risk due to overheating, and obtaining the source materials for FIBs creates considerably less environmental impact than the extraction process for lithium and cobalt."

Livent Corporation (NYSE: LTHM), for more than six decades, has partnered with its customers to safely and sustainably use lithium to power the world. Livent Corporation recently reported fourth quarter and full-year 2018 results. For the year, Livent reported revenue of USD 443 Million, an increase of 27% compared to 2017. On a GAAP basis, the Company reported full-year net income of USD 126 Million, compared to USD 42 Million in 2017. Full-year Adjusted EBITDA was USD 183 Million, an increase of 45% compared to 2017. Consistent with its strategy, Livent is focused on strengthening its partnerships with the largest and fastest growing lithium hydroxide customers globally. Paul Graves, President and Chief Executive Officer of Livent Corporation said, "We delivered revenue and Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter of 2018 in-line with our prior expectations. Looking ahead to 2019, we expect revenue growth in the high teens percentage, driven largely by higher volumes and a stable pricing environment. The results of our year-end negotiations with customers outside of China for 2019 were in-line with our expectations," added Graves. "The majority of these customers committed to prices in-line with or higher than 2018. However, as has been widely noted, Chinese economic conditions weakened very late in 2018 and our lithium hydroxide customers in China were unwilling to make firm commitments for price and volume at levels that were acceptable to us. Therefore, Livent elected to increase its volume commitments to customers outside of China, particularly in South Korea and Japan, and as a result we expect our volumes in China to remain flat."

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. Committed to supporting human rights and environmental protection while helping infuse more transparency into global mineral supply chains, Ford Motor Company, Huayou Cobalt, IBM (NYSE: IBM), LG Chem and RCS Global announced plans to use blockchain technology to trace and validate ethically sourced minerals. The group, which includes participants at each major stage of the supply chain from mine to end-user, will begin with a pilot focused on cobalt and explore the creation of an open, industrywide blockchain platform that could ultimately be used to trace and validate a range of minerals used in consumer products. Cobalt is in high demand for its use in lithium-ion batteries, which power a wide range of products such as laptops, mobile devices and electric vehicles. According to a report from Morgan Stanley, by 2026, demand is expected to multiply eightfold, especially for its use in electric vehicles and consumer devices. The typical electric car battery requires up to 20 pounds of cobalt and a standard laptop requires around one ounce of the mineral. The blockchain pilot is already underway and seeks to demonstrate how materials in the supply chain are responsibly produced, traded and processed. For this pilot based on a simulated sourcing scenario, Cobalt produced at Huayou's industrial mine site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be traced through the supply chain as it travels from mine and smelter to LG Chem's cathode plant and battery plant in South Korea, and finally into a Ford plant in the United States. An immutable audit trail will be created on the blockchain, which will include corresponding data to provide evidence of the cobalt production from mine to end manufacturer.

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