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5E Advanced Materials Nearing Completion of First Phase


5E Advanced Materials Nearing Completion of First Phase

5E Advanced Materials, Inc. (“5E” or the “Company”), a boron and lithium company with U.S. government Critical Infrastructure designation for its 5E Boron Americas Complex, is pleased to provide an update on its path to becoming a globally significant producer of boron and lithium.

Initial Production of Boron from 5E Boron Americas Complex

Commissioning activities continue with plant and well-field construction substantially complete (see Figure 1 and 2).  The timeline for initial production of boric acid is currently subject to the receipt of a final approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) under the Company’s Underground Injection Control Permit (“UIC Permit”).


Figure 1 – 5E Boron Americas Complex, Initial Boron Facility
Figure 2 – 5E Boron Americas Complex Well-Field

On August 13, 2020 the EPA awarded the Company’s UIC (Underground Injection Control) Permit for extraction of boron and lithium.  The permit contained several conditions to be completed prior commencement of mining.

Various conditions included:

  1. Posting a bond
  2. Installing monitor wells and conduct monitoring
  3. Preparation of alert levels to be used during operations
  4. Installing the initial injection/recovery wells
  5. Conduct testing on both the monitoring wells and injection/recover wells
  6. And closing all historic wells within the mining area

Key required reports and documentation were submitted to EPA for their approval in CYQ4 2022.  The Company believes it is in full compliance with the terms of the permit. The EPA is currently reviewing these documents, and the company is responding to any questions. The Company expects to receive authorization to commence mining upon completion of EPA’s review.  Importantly, the well-field and processing plant is on target commence production once the authorization is received by the Company.

Significant Operations Milestone Achieved – No lost time in 2 years

5E Advanced Materials is pleased to report the achievement of a signification operational milestone, passing 2 years recording a no lost-time injury incidents from over 230,000 work hours. This result is the outcome of extremely hard and diligent work from not only a 5E perspective, but also our contractors.


Boosting Investments in Eco Battery Industry to Drive Global Bromine Market

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Iodine, Fluorine And Bromine – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights‘. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Rapidly expanding manufacturing of zinc-bromine batteries, strong eco-friendly competitors for lithium counterparts, is to stimulate the growth of the global bromine market. Compared to lithium analogues, zinc-bromine batteries are more cost-effective and less flammable because they can function at high temperatures. Developers and producers of zinc-bromine battery components are actively fundraising last year thanks to the high market potential. Gelion launched an IPO on the London Stock Exchange, while Neogen Chemicals’ stocks more than doubled in 2021.

Key Trends and Insights

Investors see opportunities in zinc-bromine battery manufacturing, which could drive an expansion in the global bromine market. Accumulators using a zinc-bromine gel have a competitive advantage over their lithium counterparts because of their lower production costs and initial investment to reach industrial capacity. They are less flammable and can be used at temperatures over +50’С, while at those temperatures, lithium batteries have a high risk of catching fire at those temperatures.

In 2021, developers and producers of zinc-bromine components successfully attracted investments thanks to growing interest in this new alternative source of storing energy. Gelion PLC, an Australian zinc-bromine gel developer, launched an IPO on the London Stock Exchange to expand its domestic capacity, create additional production facilities in India and become profitable by 2024. The share price for Neogen Chemicals Ltd, the largest Indian manufacturer of bromine-based and lithium-based compounds, doubled last year. The company’s financial results showed a growth in revenues to Rs. 113.2 crore in Q2 FY22, 38% larger than the same period of the previous year.

Global Imports of Iodine, Fluorine and Bromine

In 2020, approx. 163K tonnes of iodine, fluorine and bromine were imported worldwide, picking up by 6.8% on the previous year. In value terms, iodine, fluorine and bromine imports rose remarkably to $1.5B (IndexBox estimates).

China was the major importer of iodine, fluorine and bromine globally, with the volume of imports amounting to 60K tonnes, which was approx. 37% of global purchases. Belgium (25K tonnes) ranks second with a 15% share, followed by India (8.3%) and France (4.8%). The UK (5.1K tonnes), the U.S. (5.1K tonnes), Norway (3.4K tonnes), Saudi Arabia (2.8K tonnes) and Canada (2.6K tonnes) followed a long way behind the leaders.

In value terms, China ($415M), Belgium ($212M) and the U.S. ($147M) constituted the countries with the highest levels of purchases in 2020, together comprising 51% of global imports.

The average iodine, fluorine and bromine import price stood at $9,252 per tonne in 2020, increasing by 4.4% against the previous year. The most notable increase in prices was attained by the U.S., while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth during 2020.

Top Largest Suppliers of Iodine, Fluorine and Bromine

In 2020, Israel (62K tonnes) was the leading exporter of iodine, fluorine and bromine, committing 43% of total exports. It was distantly followed by Jordan (23K tonnes), Chile (20K tonnes), Belgium (14K tonnes), Japan (7.8K tonnes), the U.S. (7.5K tonnes) and India (6.9K tonnes), together comprising a 54% share of global supplies.

In value terms, Chile ($659M) remains the most significant supplier worldwide, comprising 44% of total exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Israel ($222M), with a 15% share of global supplies. It was followed by Belgium, with a 13% share.

Source: IndexBox Platform


Is There a Shortage of Lithium-Ion Batteries?

The wider availability of electric vehicles has played a major role in getting more people interested in them. However, analysts warn that a lack of lithium-ion batteries could stifle the surge in electric vehicle adoption.

Here’s a closer look at the matter and some details about the possible associated issues that could affect fleet owners.

Rising Electric Vehicle Usage Causes Elevated Materials Demand

The electric vehicle has experienced recent success that seems unlikely to wane. For example, a global electric vehicle report confirmed there were 2.1 million electric vehicles sold in 2019, which surpassed the previous year’s numbers by 6%.

However, the interest in those automobiles has been far more long-term. The report clarified that there were only 17,000 of them on the world’s roads in 2010. The total soared to 7.2 million by 2019.

Another section of the report goes into the materials required to make batteries for electric cars. The cars sold in 2019 required an estimated 65 kilotons of nickel, 22 kilotons of manganese, 19 kilotons of cobalt, and 17 kilotons of lithium.

However, the report estimates those amounts will rise substantially by 2030 due to ongoing interest in electric vehicles. More specifically, it could increase to at least 925 kilotons of class I nickel, 185 kilotons of lithium per year, 180 kilotons of cobalt, and 177 kilotons of manganese.

A Heavy Dependence on Imports

Most analysts agree that there is not an immediate shortage of lithium-ion batteries, but concerned parties should respond quickly to mitigate the possible effects. One reality is that many nations, including the United States, rely heavily on China to supply battery materials.

A February 2021 executive order from The White House involves looking at current supply chain risks in the United States, then exploring measures to tackle those issues. Batteries were not the only goods mentioned in the document, but the content specified examining concerns associated with critical metals.

Estimates suggest that China accounts for between 70% and 77% of the world’s rare earth elements. Moreover, that country owns most of the processing facilities, even if the source material comes from other places.

As recently as 2019, people became particularly concerned about those realities when tensions rose between the U.S. and China due to a trade war. Experts suggest that building more battery factories in the U.S. is an actionable strategy for lessening the nation’s need for Chinese exports.

That approach would also mean the batteries could travel shorter distances. Shipping the batteries from overseas requires the appropriate risk mitigation strategies, such as transporting them in explosion-proof refrigerated containers.

Domestic manufacturing makes sense, but it’s also not a quick strategy. Since the anticipated lithium-ion battery shortage hasn’t happened yet, there’s still time to figure out what to do when it does. Building factories will likely become part of a multipronged strategy.

Electric Vehicles Make Sense for Fleet Owners, Study Suggests

Outside of the threat of a battery shortage, other factors may cause commercial fleet owners to balk at the prospect of upgrading to all-electric models. However, a recent Berkeley Lab study illustrated some of the potential payoffs.

For example, researchers used current battery cost data and calculated that an electric long-haul truck gives a 13% per-mile decrease in ownership costs compared to the same kind of vehicle that uses diesel. The team also confirmed that electric fleet owners could achieve a net savings of $200,000 over a truck’s lifespan.

They confirmed that aspects like battery price drops and more aerodynamic designs for commercial trucks could slash the per-mile ownership costs by as much as 50% by 2030. The researchers believe that a significant shift from diesel to electric-powered fleets would cause a major reduction in greenhouse gas and particulate matter associated with the transportation sector.

A Battery Shortage Could Increase Buyer Costs

Electric commercial vehicles are still in the minority. It could take a while before that changes, but adoption rates should rise as more decision-makers see examples of successful electric commercial vehicle usage.

Analysts point out that electric vehicles could become about $1,500 more expensive if nickel prices eventually reach a historic high of $50,000 per tonne, though. That possibility could discourage fleet owners if they don’t take overall cost reductions into account.

Elsewhere, a 2019 study of American adults found that 60% cited high upfront costs as a negative aspect of electric vehicle purchase. Relatedly, 84% did not know whether their state offers incentives to offset those buying decisions. Promoting the availability of such programs could make electric vehicles more attractive.

Manufacturers Grapple With Assorted Supply Chain Challenges

Recent coverage also indicates that dealing with lithium-ion battery shortages could be more complicated than it first seems. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a lithium shortage, but rather a surplus. More specifically, Australia, which is among the top producers of lithium, has approximately double the number of mines now as in 2015.

However, certain places — such as the United States — have a lithium shortage compared to other nations. While the U.S. has small lithium deposits in California, they’re much smaller than those in South America and Australia.

A cobalt shortage is a more pressing concern, especially since most of it comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt is one of the most expensive components in an electric vehicle battery, and research suggests there’s not enough mining and processing capability to meet growing demands for it. This example shows that a cobalt shortage could relate more to the capacity required to reach the resource rather than the scarcity of the material itself.

A Dramatic Scaling of Resources

Celina Mikolajczak, vice president of battery technology at Panasonic Energy of North America, noted that lithium-ion battery technology features in numerous consumer devices. However, it’s not at the level required for electric vehicles.

She pointed out that whereas a laptop battery has a dozen cells, one for an electric vehicle has thousands. “How do you quickly scale an industry by 100 times?” she asked, before clarifying, “You need more raw materials, the skilled talent, and machines to extract the raw materials, the factories to process the raw materials into cell components, and then the factories to turn those components into cells.”

A related issue is that the parts required for a car with an internal combustion engine are not the same as those for an electric automobile. Electric vehicles have fewer parts, and the differences mean that a manufacturer could not swiftly pivot to making them after formerly producing autos with engines.

A strategy deployed by companies like BMW and Volkswagen is to invest in battery technology companies. Doing that could give them better access to emerging technologies compared to competitors that didn’t provide such support. That could prove crucial for business models concerning batteries made with more widely available resources. Tesla took another approach by entering long-term agreements with suppliers. Such arrangements allow better pricing.

A Complex Matter

A lithium-ion battery shortage could affect consumers and manufacturers alike, albeit in different ways. The main takeaway for the present is that it’s not a current crisis but a looming one. Plus, there’s no single, straightforward way to tackle it.

Thus, fleet owners who are interested in future electric vehicle investments should plan for the possibility of increasing their budgets to accommodate increased upfront costs. Relatedly, it’s wise for them to stay abreast of the manufacturers that have taken proactive steps to cope with a future battery shortage. Planning now should reduce the possible ramifications later.


Emily Newton is an industrial journalist. As Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, she regularly covers how technology is changing the industry.


Global Manufacturing Supply Chains in the Spotlight

Kevin Brundish, CEO of AMTE Power, commenting on how COVID-19 has highlighted a substantial problem in global manufacturing supply chains.

The need for strong, stable, onshore supply chains in the face of global disruption has never been more apparent. Political uncertainties, trade wars, and the pandemic have all highlighted an imbalance and over-reliance on the Far East, posing a particular threat to the effectiveness of manufacturing in Western countries, such as the U.K and the U.S. This is especially relevant as the unprecedented transition to vehicle electrification and renewable energy is gaining momentum – in order for countries worldwide to meet zero-emissions targets by 2050.

By 2040, over half of cars are projected to be powered by electricity[1], with the lithium-ion battery playing a key role as the most valuable component, and making up around a third of an electric vehicle’s cost. However, global demand for battery manufacture is outstripping supply, and the market is still reliant on a few large-scale, offshore manufacturers, creating uncertainty and risk. The pandemic has brought the nature of global supply chains into sharper focus, and has caused significant disruption – China, as a global hub for sourcing, dominated a staggering 70 percent of the battery market[2].

To counter these trends, disruptive, emerging areas of niche manufacturing – such as vehicle electrification and energy storage – now provide a vital moment for the U.K. to establish a more robust position on the global stage. British manufacturing firms such as AMTE Power are carrying forward the country’s heritage in best-in-class engineering capabilities that shine through in support of these niche markets. These are skills that are critical to the U.K.’s development of high-performance vehicles, and although onshore electric vehicle production (EV) remains in its infancy, there is vast opportunity for the country to seize. In the U.K. alone, the EV market is forecast to be worth £8.7 billion by 2030, with an estimated 980,000 vehicles being made a year[3].

Many new electric car models are due to be released in the next couple of years, giving consumers a greater choice and driving down premiums on price. This will consequently drive demand for lithium-ion cells, presenting a real opportunity to revitalize automotive industries. The Faraday Institute project the European demand for U.K.-produced batteries is set to skyrocket up to 200 GWh per year by 2040 – the equivalent of up to 13 gigafactories. In the absence of any onshore battery manufacturing facilities, British automotive jobs are predicted to be lost by 2040. In order to meet this demand and retain the country’s status as an international automotive leader, having a robust onshore supply chain is critical.

Aligning with the country’s Industrial Strategy, which outlines the government’s ambitions on EV and battery technologies, the U.K. should now be building out their own independent infrastructure for lithium-ion batteries. Through initiatives such as the Faraday Challenge, a springboard is being provided to invest in research and development for high-value areas of the EV supply chain, where the country has a comparative advantage. However, more support is needed from the U.K. government, to invest and provide incentives to support the transition to electrification, while prioritizing the creation of onshore plants, and supporting firms like AMTE’s own gigafactory plans. It is potentially dangerous, costly, and increases carbon footprints to import batteries from the Far East – the exact issue the global community is fighting against.

The quality of talent, research, and skilled labor in the West provides the perfect backdrop to develop a sustainable onshore EV ecosystem – British manufacturing companies in particular have a world-renowned history of excellence in niche automotive manufacturing. The shake-up of the global supply chain is bound to draw in investment, stimulating the economy and creating jobs whilst mitigating the risk of unpredictable external factors, such as COVID-19.