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Lithium boss airs concern on future of battery industry

Fri, 08/19/2016 - 11:28 -- Paul Crompton
Lithium boss airs concern on future of battery industry

The boss of China’s second biggest lithium carbonate supplier has questioned if growth in lithium-ion battery production can be sustained by electric vehicles.

For the first time Wang Xiaoshen, executive vice president Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium (JGL), has expressed concern the growing electric vehicle market, which drives lithium-ion battery demand, is unable to continue sustainable growth, particularly in China.

He suggested China’s slow down in government subsidies as one reason EV take-up could slow down in an interview with the Australian Financial Review (AFR) newspaper.

He added there could be a time when lithium carbonate supply outstrips demand as bottlenecks in charging facilities and developing technology slowed the EV market.

Founded in 2000, JGL exports more than 20 lithium products to end users, including battery firm Panasonic.

In a drive to get five million EVs on their roads, the Chinese government has previously provided purchase subsidies and non-financial incentives, such as exclusions from workday driving restrictions in Beijing.

"There are many Chinese companies that have made an announcement they are going to invest in electrical vehicles and batteries but there are lots of challenges now," Wang told AFR.

"First is it is more expensive than the gasoline car, especially passenger cars. The commercial vehicles very much rely on government subsidies and government subsidies are going down.

"Also now there are lots of bottlenecks like charging facilities and the cost of the battery, so there are many barriers that need to be overcome in the coming years.”

Wang also suggested the continuing development of new technologies meant companies, including JGL, were reluctant to spend on today's technology as new batteries required less lithium.

JGL recently entered partnership with Australian companies Mineral Resources and Neometals to develop a hard rock lithium project in Mt Marion, Westarn Australia.