Demand for battery materials including nickel, cobalt and lithium will grow in 2018, supported by a positive outlook for the cathode market on the increasing use of NEVs, according to Li Jianzhong, general manager of cathode specialist Beijing Easpring Material Technology.
Li told delegates at the inaugural Industrial Minerals and Metal Bulletin Battery Materials Conference in Shanghai, on April 18-19, that global shipment volumes of lithium-ion batteries were around 140GWh in 2017, up by 18% from 118GWh in 2016. Shipment volumes of cathode materials were around 310,000 tonnes in 2017, up by 26% from about 246,000 tonnes in 2016.
In 2017, the global lithium-ion battery industry consumed 56,800 tonnes of nickel, 62,800 tonnes of cobalt, 94,700 tonnes of lithium carbonate, and 18,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide, he said.
Demand for cathode materials will continue to increase, Li said, supported by the rapid development in new energy vehicles industries (NEVs) worldwide. Shipment volumes of cathodes for lithium-ion battery use are estimated to reach 360,000 tonnes in 2018, up by 19% year-on-year, and that global demand for cathode materials will rise to 530,000 tonnes in 2020.
The increasing need for cathodes will raise demand for nickel, cobalt and lithium. Demand for nickel is expected to reach 78,000 tonnes in 2018, up from 56,800 tonnes last year, and to reach 142,000 tonnes in 2020. Demand for cobalt is expected to increase by 8.8% to 68,000 tonnes in 2018, and to 85,000 tonnes in 2020.
Meanwhile, demand for lithium carbonate will rise to 107,000 tonnes in 2018, up from 94,700 tonnes in 2017, and to reach 137,000 tonnes in 2020. Demand for lithium hydroxide is expected to grow to 29,000 tonnes in 2018, and 69,000 tonnes in 2020.
Easpring specializes in research and development of cathode materials, and in their manufacture and sale. It is seeking more partnership agreements, Li said, to guarantee sustainable production in the near future.