Energy and commodities highlights: Metals and EVs, Africa’s downstream boom, Brazil’s sugar season

Metals are playing a starring role in the transition towards renewables and electric vehicles, and the past week saw plenty of activity in the sector. There were also positive indicators pointing to strong demand ahead for a number of products. In China, the announcement of a cut in subsidies for EVs signalled a further milestone in the industry’s development. Construction of Australia’s largest lithium processing plant began in Kemerton, Western Australia, with approval to produce up to 100,000mt/year of battery-grade lithium hydroxide. While research is ongoing to refine battery chemistry, there is no real alternative to lithium for batteries in the transport sector, making future supply crucial to the EV industry’s development. In terms of international trade flows, Japan and South Korea saw their imports of lithium carbonate and hydroxide soar in February. Japan’s imports of lithium hydroxide, for example, jumped 79% year on year to 2,687 mt. Chinese lithium imports declined, however. According to the Japan Mining Industry Association, development in transport and telecoms should bolster demand for base metals, which include nickel, copper and zinc, despite economic headwinds. “With the EV and 5G coming, demand fall is unlikely in the longer term,” said association chairman Naoki Ono on… continue reading

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