SHANGHAI, Aug 3 (SMM) - A weekly update on the trending stories from the New Energy sector.
1. Mining giant Rio Tinto announced that it has approved an investment of $2.4 billion in the Jadar lithium borate project in Serbia, and the relevant investment is pending approval by the local government. Rio Tinto Group said that the Jadar project will produce battery-grade lithium carbonate, which is also a key material for the large-scale production of batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage equipment. The capacity of this project will keep Rio Tinto the largest lithium supplier in Europe at least in the following 15 years. In addition to lithium, the project will also produce borate, which can be used to produce solar panels and wind turbines.
SMM understood that the project will commence production in 2026 and reach its maximum capacity in 2029. Output is estimated at 58,000 mt of lithium carbonate, 160,000 mt of boric acid and 255,000 mt of sodium sulphate per year, making Rio Tinto global top 10 lithium suppliers. The potential obstacle is that the Serbian government has promised voters that it will hold a referendum on the project. Although agreeing with the project's role in stimulating the economy, Serbia is reluctant to be just an exporter of raw materials, and hopes to manufacture lithium batteries and even electric vehicles locally.
2. Dr. Zeng Yuqun, Chairman of CATL, issued the company’s first generation of sodium-ion batteries at its first online press conference on July 29. The innovative lithium-sodium hybrid battery pack also debuted at the press conference. As another milestone achievement in the industrialisation of innovative technologies of CATL, sodium-ion batteries will provide new solutions for clean energy and electrification of transportation, and promote the early realisation of the "carbon neutrality” goal.
SMM understood that the first-generation sodium-ion battery released by CATL has amazing performance. Its energy density has reached 160 Wh/Kg, the highest level in the world and far exceeding the world average of 110-140 Wh/Kg. The energy density of lithium iron phosphate batteries is also excellent in other aspects. Under normal temperature environment, it takes only 15 minutes to fully charge 80% of the overall battery capacity, and discharge efficiency stands at 90% below 20°C. Both performances are better than lithium iron phosphate batteries. If sodium-ion batteries can reduce cost in the subsequent industrialisation process, it will have a significant impact on the energy storage market dominated by lithium iron phosphate and the current share of the two-wheeled vehicle market.
3. Xinwangda issued an announcement on July 28 that Xinwangda Electric Vehicle Battery Co., Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company, in combination with Geely Automobile Group Co., Ltd. (Geely Group) and Zhejiang Jirun Automobile Co., Ltd. ("Zhejiang Jirun"), jointly established a joint venture - Shandong Jili Xinwangda Power Battery Co., Ltd. (Shandong Jili Xinwangda”or "joint venture company", provisional name). Its capacity includes production line of batteries, modules and battery packs, mainly focusing on supporting the production of HEV (including 48V) power battery packs to meet the demand from Zhejiang Jirun, Geely Group and its affiliated parties for motive HEV battery products.
The stake of Jirun Automobile, Xinwangda and Geely Automobile stands at 41.50%, 30% and 28.50%, respectively. After the joint venture realises mass production, battery capacity of the first phase will not be less than 600,000 sets of HEV (including 48V) power battery packs. The second phase of the new production line will increase its peak annual capacity to 800,000 sets of (including 48V) battery packs. The current businesses of Xinwangda include 3C consumer batteries, smart hardware and motive batteries. Compared to its traditional pillar 3C consumer battery, its power battery’s revenue is still low. The cooperation with Geely Automobile will help Xinwangda to expand its motive battery product business scale, and secure high-quality customers.