At its grand opening in 2016, the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada was heralded as an industrial achievement rivalling any of the modern era.
On the day of its ribbon cutting, the facility had the largest building footprint in the world and the capacity to more than double global lithium-ion battery production.
Since the factory was launched, similar sites have been built by Tesla in Buffalo and Shanghai, with plans for another Gigafactory in Europe announced in 2018.
Driven principally by the emerging electric vehicle market, lithium-ion battery cells also have applications in renewable technologies, consumer electronics and stationary storage.
New data published by Benchmark suggests that these megafactories that were once a novelty will soon become commonplace.
In 2016, global battery production totalled an estimated 120 GWh in equivalent output. Benchmark Minerals now estimates that by 2028 an astonishing 68 lithium-ion battery megafactories will see this output jump 1.45 TWh – a 1,108 per cent increase.
As the battery name makes clear, one of the minerals central to this battery boom is lithium. By 2028, lithium-ion batteries are estimated to be the power source to 95 per cent of the electric vehicle market and around half of the battery storage market.
According to Roskill Forecasting, lithium demand may grow in excess of 21 percent year on year between 2018 and 2025. With the automotive industry prepping for widespread electrification, many manufacturers are looking to secure high quality, long term lithium supplies.
AVZ Minerals (ASX:AVZ) is one emerging lithium company that looks set to benefit from the rapid expansion of the battery market.
The company’s 60% owned Manono project in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the largest undeveloped hard rock lithium resource in the world with a grade above 0.5% lithium oxide.
Independent research by Roskill confirmed AVZ’s Manono has the capability to produce in excess of 300ktpa lithium carbonate equivalent, enough to meet all lithium demand in 2019.
As outlined in the scoping study released in October last year, AVZ anticipates that an operation processing 2 million tonnes of ore a year at Manono would produce 440,000 tonnes of concentrate grading 5.8% lithium oxide.
Additional studies are looking at the economics of upgrading the processing rate to five million and 10 million tonnes per annum respectively, with results anticipated in the first half of 2019.
AVZ also sees scope for achieving a better concentrate grade than 5.8% from the high quality Manono ore.
If any company stands out as challenging the established Australian hard rock lithium miners and becoming a significant supplier to the world’s growing number of battery megafactories, it is hard to go past AVZ.
This content is produced by Star Investing in commercial partnership with AVZ Minerals. This content does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.
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