In 2023 the MMTA celebrates its 50th anniversary
Happy New Year!
Dear MMTA members,
We would like to start this 2023 issue of by wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year.
We join our members in East Asia in welcoming in the Lunar New Year of the Rabbit, an animal known for its peaceful, moderate and wise demeanour. After a turbulent few years, we would all want to see these qualities in our world in 2023.
MMTA celebrates its 50th year
This year marks the 50th anniversary since the formation of the Minor Metals Trade Association (MMTA) in 1973. We are working to make this year extra special, and look forward to welcoming you at our events, starting with an anniversary reception at the MMTA International Minor Metals Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA on 24 April.
We hope to see many of you there. You can still take advantage today (31 January) of the £950 MMTA member early bird rate, when registering at https://metalevents.com/events/mmtas-international-minor-metals-conference . From tomorrow and until 28 February, the last discounted rates of £1100 for MMTA members and £1300 for non-members will apply.
Our programme will dive deep into market developments in minor metals and superalloys, with a focus on focus on end-use sectors in aerospace, automotive, electronics and energy transition. . You will have the opportunity to learn how governments are shaping policy and potential impacts on supply chains and industry developments in critical metals.
The 2023 has started with the reopening of China to business and travel as strict national lockdown and quarantine measures have been lifted. While the physical impact is yet to be seen, there has already been a pick up in market sentiment, prompting fresh trade activity and price volatility in minor metals.
With COVID-19 infections still high, and new variants emerging, there are still some travel restrictions, including between China and South Korea, and rule in some countries, including the US, for negative pre-travel testing for arrivals from China. As the WHO advises, ventilation and masks in public places help curb virus spread. Take good care and stay safe, as you plan your international travel to the many networking events in 2023 .
For the love of lithium
Lithium continues to be the rockstar of the minor metals. Long gone are the days when it was mainly associated with aluiminium alloys or ailments (yes, we are that old!) ̶̶ it is now all about battery chemicals for everything from consumer electronics through electric vehicles to industrial energy storage.
Lithium battery production is set to rise five-fold, by the end of this decade, fuelled by almost $300bn of investment since 2019 ̶̶ according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, who really live up to their name. If you want to know about battery chemicals, wherever you are in the world, Benchmark’s Battery Gigafactory Tour is coming your way (visit Member Benefits for your exclusive MMTA member rate). And with our member Fastmarkets’ Asian Battery Materials 2023 Conference coming up in Singapore I May, you have no shortage of opportunities to learn about lithium this year, We will also bring you more on lithium in the 2023 Crucible issues.
Leading lithium producer Albemarle Corp is riding the crest of this wave, as it projects lithium demand rising to 3.7m tonnes by the end of this decade, creating a deficit of some 800kt lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). It has announced plans to almost triple production to 500-600kt LCE by 2030 from 200kt in 2022, with investments in hard rock mining and brine extraction alike, as well as refining and R&D in lithium chemicals for automotive batteries and energy storage.
Albemarle has committed to expanding its Kemerton operation in Australia, Meishan and Qinzhou refineries in China, brine extraction at Magnolia, Arkanas, USA and Antfallo in Argentina. It is set to announce locations for its new Mega-Plex refineries targeted for start up in 2025-2027 in the US and in the EU. It is seeking feedstock for the latter (potentially through acquisitions), while the former will process ore from Kings Mountain in North Carolina. Also in Charlotte, NC, where the MMTA conference is headed this year, Albemarle has just purchased a site for its new technology park , dedicated to developing technologies for energy storage.
Meanwhile Canada, which has moved to block major Chinese companies from its lithium resources, has just approved a new lithium mine to be run by Canada-based Galaxy Lithium.
Resource and technology nationalism remains a theme in 2023 as EU preparers its own Net Zero Industry Act in response to the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act in the US. We plan to keep you updated on regulatory developments this year.