With EV metal demand showing no signs of slowing, the need for high-quality minerals such as lithium, cobalt, silver, graphite, and nickel will only increase. It’s why companies such as NioBay Metals Inc. (TSXV:NBY)(OTC:NBYCF), Albemarle Corp. (NYSE:ALB), Hecla Mining Company (NYSE:HL), Galaxy Resources Limited (OTC:GALXF), and Sociedad Quimica y Minera (NYSE:SQM) have seen so much attention from investors.
The world is also seeing bigger demand for niobium.
For one, with niobium enhancing the strength, toughness and formability of steel, it could see bigger demand with President Biden’s infrastructure plans. In fact, “Many of the country’s roads, bridges, airports, dams, levees and water systems are aging and in poor to mediocre condition. And they’re in need of a major federal investment to keep from getting worse and to withstand the harsh effects of a changing climate, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers,” as reported by NPR.
Two, niobium has an important role with electric vehicles. According to Niobium Canada, “Toshiba revealed in October last year that niobium-titanium used in lithium rechargeable batteries increases the driving capacity of electric vehicles to 320km on 6-minute, ultra-rapid recharge. According to the Japanese heavyweight, that is triple than what’s currently possible with lithium-ion batteries.”
To help meet niobium demand, NioBay Metals may be able to help
NioBay Metals Inc. (TSXV:NBY)(OTC:NBYCF) just announced the beginning of a series of hydrometallurgical process testing for the production of battery grade niobium at its James Bay Niobium project located on Moose Cree First Nation traditional territory, 42 km south of Moosonee, Ontario.
NioBay has identified a number of companies, including Toshiba (TSE:6502), QuantumScape (NYSE:QS), and other private companies, who are making use of niobium to develop revolutionary battery technologies. Niobium-based materials enable super-fast charging times (1 to 10 minutes or a charge rate of 60C to 6C), increased battery safety, long cycle life (+10,000 charge cycles) and improved Electric-Vehicle (EV) performance.
“Current EV technology is unable to compete with the performance, reliability and re-fueling times associated with Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Vehicles; with Niobium based technologies that is no longer the case. Niobium based batteries will charge cleaner, safer, and faster than ICE Vehicles. I’m delighted to be part of the green revolution, and projects that are the seed to the change.” Commented Company Chairman Serge Savard.
It is NioBay’s understanding that CBMM the world’s leading niobium producer, estimates that yearly niobium oxide demand, driven by growth in the battery market, will increase from 100 tonnes in 2020 to 45,000 tonnes by 2030. Notable figures in the world of chemistry, including Prof. John B. Goodenough, co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, support the use of Niobium in the next generation of battery technology.
“New niobium battery technology will completely change our perceptions of electric vehicles, but the benefits of niobium are not just limited to passenger EVs”. Said Claude Dufresne, President & CEO of NioBay Metals Inc.
NioBay believes that the role of niobium in future batteries will serve to complement its other advantages, including high heat resistance, strength, and weight reduction when combined with steel.
“When you combine all these advantages together, you have something special, and it is likely that we will soon see niobium batteries in commercial vehicles, Formula E racing cars, power tools, automated warehouse vehicles, and robotics. Even eVTOL flying cars are in the spot light, with niobium based technologies providing both the power and weight reduction necessary for electric aircraft to take off vertically.”
“The development of niobium battery technology is creating a great opportunity and we are well positioned to participate in its development. The test program on James Bay Niobium ore is only the beginning, and the program could well expand to our Crevier niobium and tantalum asset in Quebec. In addition, we will continue to spend the necessary resources to measure the potential of the 6-minute EV battery charge.”
The first series of tests will be performed by SGS Canada in Lakefield, Ontario, and first results are expected in 4 to 6 months.
Other related developments from around the markets include:
Albemarle Corporation announced that it has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.39 per share. The dividend, which has an annualized rate of $1.56, is payable April 1, 2021, to shareholders of record at the close of business as of March 12, 2021. This year marks Albemarle’s 27thconsecutive year raising its dividend.
Hecla Mining Company announced fourth quarter and full year 2020 financial and operating results. “The pandemic provided significant challenges to Hecla and the mining industry; however, due to our people and the jurisdictions we operate in, Hecla exceeded the high end of our pre-COVID silver guidance by 1.4 million ounces,” said Phillips S. Baker, Jr., President and CEO. “We saw modest disruptions in Quebec and Mexico; however, these did not materially impact our business. During the year we refinanced our long-term debt now due in 2028, and through solid free cash flow generation, added cash to the balance sheet, reduced our net debt, and increased dividends.”
Galaxy Resources Limited reported fiscal year 2020 results. “Galaxy experienced challenging market conditions throughout most of 2020 and posted a net loss after tax for the year of US$6.3 million, excluding mid-year inventory write down and impairments of US$25.0 million. Revenue in FY2020 was adversely impacted by the realised selling price for spodumene being 30% below FY2019 levels. Pleasingly, Mt Cattlin’s unit cash cost of production reduced in H2 despite an increase in the exchange rate. The cash used in operations of US$6.3 million was US$29.0 million lower than FY2019 due to stringent cost control and the moderated operational settings implemented at Mt Cattlin at the beginning of 2020,” said CEO Simon Hay.
Sociedad Quimica y Minera’s price target was recently raised from $30 to $70 with Deutshce Bank, which also upgraded the stock to a buy from a hold rating.
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