MAJOR MINOR: The lithium market is pushing full-steam ahead, but can traders still get on board?

There are few more frustrating things for a metal merchant than a train leaving the station without you on it. The lithium train is one of them.

No minor metal merchant will have been unaware of the slow burning of the lithium market over the last ten years. Following the VW diesel emissions crisis and the emergence of Tesla, that burn has become propulsive. But how to join the train? All minor elements have their unique properties. Lithium’s is its density – it is the least dense element in the periodic table (0.534g per cu centimetre compared with, say, rhenium at 21.02g per cu cm). It’s other difficulty is flammability. Both of these factors are where the problems start. In fact, so light is lithium in its metal form in relation to volume, that only 8 tonnes may be transported in a 20 foot container. It means transport costs are punitive. As regards to flammability, so great is lithium’s affinity for oxygen (a factor that is one of the positives in relation to batteries) that the goods...

Published

Anthony Lipmann

August 08, 2016

15:58 GMT

London