Batteries: Key takeaways from Roskill on the Road Shanghai and Tokyo

Over 200 attendees participated in Roskill ‘On the road…’ events in Shanghai and Tokyo on the 15th and 18th of October.

At the events, Roskill’s EV and battery supply chain analysis team shared their latest research findings on the market development of e-mobility as well as the market outlook for various key battery raw materials including lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, and rare earths. Other topics discussed in detail included the potential impact of changes to China’s New Energy Vehicle and raw material policies, as well as the economics of greenfield battery raw material projects.

Some of the key takeaways from the events are detailed below:

  • Automakers continue to face cost pressure, slow technology development and demand uncertainty with various parameters such as energy density, safety, reliability and fast charging capability needing constant re-evaluation amid the growing market.
  • Cathodes utilise the highest cost active materials in a lithium-ion battery and are now the highest cost cell component with the most challenging raw material supply. The shift to Ni-rich cathode is obvious from theoretical cost/performance but is proving difficult to achieve practically.
  • High performance applications are expected to have a preference for synthetic graphite anodes, especially in a scenario where overall cathode raw material costs decrease.
  • Consumption, production and prices of lithium have been trimmed on weaker than expected lithium demand growth.
  • Graphite demand will continue to be underpinned by slowly growing traditional steel-based industries with rapid growth for small and medium size flake in lithium-ion batteries, creating room for new capacity for both natural and synthetic graphite.
  • Demand for nickel in lithium-ion batteries is likely to grow at a faster rate than any other battery material, owing to the switch to high nickel NCM. This will, in turn, create greater market potential for nickel with nickel sulphate becoming the key area for growth.
  • Electric vehicles are set to reshape the NdFeB magnet (and, therefore, rare earth) market as full-battery EVs and LSEVs use more permanent magnets per motor than hybrid vehicles. Since rare earths are extracted together as a suite of materials (in varying propositions), a growing supply focussed on neodymium for use in NdFeB magnets will increase the surplus of some other rare earths, mainly lanthanum and cerium.
  • Owing to high economic value and growing concerns over virgin sources, cobalt is expected to be increasingly recycled from various secondary sources with battery waste representing the largest feedstock.

The next Roskill ‘On the road…’ event will take place at The Tower of London on 29th October 2019. Come join our analysts to discuss development of the lithium-ion battery market and key trends across the battery materials supply chains.

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This article was written by Ying Lu. Please get in touch below if you wish to discuss further:

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