Tripling of lithium demand forecast a sign of the times, says Brinsden

24th November 2017
Resources Rising Stars

The decision by respected independent commodity forecaster Roskill to triple their base case demand forecast for lithium through to 2026 reflects the scale of the transformation unfolding in the sector, according to Pilbara Minerals (ASX: PLS) chief executive Ken Brinsden.

Addressing a packed Annual General Meeting yesterday, Brinsden compared Roskills forecast last year that lithium demand would increase to 328,000t of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) by 2026, to its updated outlook this year that tips demand to soar (base case) to 1,009,000t of LCE by the middle of next decade. 

Brinsden told shareholders that the scale-up of the electric vehicle industry in China was unprecedented, with the country opting for a “hybridisation” model that would slash the cost of plug-in hybrid vehicles and accelerate the transition to full EV’s.

Describing EV’s as essentially “software on wheels” with a fraction of the moving parts of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, Brinsden said the switch to mass production and falling cost of lithium-ion batteries would ensure the take-up would be far quicker than anticipated.

He also tipped the renewable energy storage sector to be a “sleeper” for lithium demand, with the superior economics of lithium-ion batteries likely to trump alternatives.

In an upbeat presentation, Brinsden also gave shareholders a comprehensive update on construction progress at the company’s Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in the Pilbara.

He said the project was a hive of activity, with more than 200 people currently on site as construction ramps up and the total workforce set to hit 500 by early next year.

Brinsden said the company was on track to begin commissioning at Pilgangoora in the second quarter of next year, with first shipments slated to begin by quarter-end.

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