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The price of upstream raw materials for lithium batteries has soared

The popularity of electric vehicles and influential lithium-ion battery markets has driven the demand for upstream raw materials to soar. However, due to time constraints on expansion and production release, upstream prices have skyrocketed since the beginning of this year. Under the goal of carbon neutrality, the battery energy storage market has a vast space. Are upstream resources sufficient? At the "Carbon Neutral Economy" Global Forum held by Tsinghua University on September 16, Meng Xiangfeng, the first secretary of the Ningde Times Party Committee, the world's largest power lithium-ion battery company, responded that the resource reserves are sufficient, and the price increase is due to the shortcomings. The time supply is tight.

Meng Xiangfeng analyzed that from the perspective of carbon neutrality, the industry predicts that the future demand for battery energy storage is about 1,400GW, which is 1,000 times the 1.5GW as of the end of last year market space is enormous. Since the area is so large, is there a guarantee for technical and resource reserves? He said that batteries are different from petroleum in terms of technology, and continuous technological innovations and breakthroughs have left batteries with significant room for improvement in performance, efficiency, and cost. "The unknowns about electrochemistry are far greater than what is known."

"Many metals such as lithium, nickel, and cobalt are used in lithium-ion batteries. Starting this year, everyone has generally worried that these resources are not enough and that foreign countries may control resources. This year (upstream) prices have indeed risen a lot, and lithium-related stocks The increase is also very large, and everyone still feels that these things are not enough." Meng Xiangfeng believes that from the actual situation, the reserves of lithium, cobalt, and nickel are sufficient to enable all vehicles in the world to be electrified. Except for new energy vehicles, upstream resources, The reserve is also enough to meet the demand for energy storage batteries. "The problem now is that the rapid development of material mining and extraction cannot keep up with the output. It is a short-term supply shortage, and the reserves of resources are sufficient."

He added that lithium-ion batteries or electrochemical energy storage would have performance degradation as an energy storage medium, but the resources are not entirely consumed. "What should I do if the performance of car batteries or energy storage batteries declines to the end of the life cycle? Now the recycling technology of lithium-ion batteries is mature." Ningde Times has formed a relatively complete battery recycling and echelon utilization and acquired it in 2014 Guangdong Bangpu Recycling Material Technology Co., Ltd., the largest lithium-ion battery recycling company in China. "Bangpu recycles scrap lithium-ion batteries from our factory and the market, and then makes them into materials, and then makes new batteries in the CATL era. This kind of recycling efficiency is very high, such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel. The metal recovery rate is above 90%, and cobalt and nickel can reach 98% and 99%. Therefore, when the resources have reached a certain stage, recycling can support the subsequent demand for new additions."

In addition to using battery recycling to make incremental resources, Meng Xiangfeng believes that the emergence of new electrochemical systems may reduce people's dependence on the metal mentioned above materials. "This year, we announced the sodium-ion battery. The resources used in the sodium-ion battery are not scarce. The most important resource is sodium, which has very rich reserves. The important issue now is to establish a raw material supply system. The technical principle is to open up the entire raw material. The production and processing technology has also been opened up, and it is important to increase the volume. Sodium-ion batteries will have a line of production next year, and they will also be used as an important technical route for energy storage in the future because it is safer and lower in cost."

Xin Guobin, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said in a video speech at the "Third World New Energy Vehicle Conference (WNEVC2021)" held in Haikou, Hainan on September 16, that the current cost of new energy vehicles in my country is still high. In addition, the powerful lithium-ion battery, a key component of electric cars, faces the pressure of guaranteeing mineral resources such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel and rising prices. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will work with relevant departments to speed up overall planning and improve guarantee capabilities.

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