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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

Lithium

Major lithium players meet in Arkansas to discuss state’s potential, industry climate

The low price of the battery metal has been a top concern in recent days, fuelling lay offs and hesitancy among investors

Major lithium players meet in Arkansas to discuss state's potential and industry climate
Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) Director Clint O'Neal promotes the state's industry at the Lithium Innovation Summit in Little Rock on Friday. Photo credit: AEDC

The first-ever Arkansas Lithium Innovation Summit kicked off in Little Rock on Thursday as the battery metal’s price has sunk to an alarmingly low level.

The sold-out event attracted over 650 people, including banking executives, policymakers and leaders from major industry influences like Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB) and Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM). Exxon announced plans to develop lithium wells in Arkansas last fall, the first of which will be completed by 2027.

The potential for direct lithium extraction to make Arkansas a top influence in the sector was one of the main topics. Representatives from Standard Lithium Ltd. (TSX-V: SLI) (NYSE American: SLI), which runs the Arkansas Smackover brine project, attended to discuss the importance of that resource — another key topic.

“The event aims to spotlight environmentally responsible practices and draw on the region’s energy and brine expertise to enhance the business landscape for commercial lithium production,” Standard Lithium said in a news release last week.

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence says the price of lithium has dropped by over 80 per cent in the past year, inspiring cost-cutting initiatives among companies like Albemarle and Piedmont Lithium (Nasdaq: PLL) (ASX: PLL). Piedmont just cut 27 per cent of its workforce while Albemarle recently agreed to spend about US$400 million less on its operations this year than in 2023.

Andrew Miller, Benchmark’s Chief Operations Officer, gave a keynote speech at the conference.

Arkansas Commerce Secretary Hugh McDonald said the state could supply up to 15 per cent of the world’s lithium once production accelerates. The multi-service company TETRA Technologies (NYSE: TTI) sponsored the event along with the other companies mentioned.

Read more: Lithium South near completion of production well and economic assessment at flagship operation

Read more: Lithium South and POSCO Holdings ink mutual development agreement

Albemarle remains optimistic despite lithium downturn

Although lithium is down at the moment, Albemarle’s chief executive Kent Masters is optimistic about the industry long-term.

“While the pricing environment has softened for the moment, we should not lose sight of the fact that we continue to see significant long-term growth in demand for limited supply,” Masters told analysts recently.

Renowned analyst and host of the Global Lithium Podcast Joe Lowry remains positive as well. He has acquired the nickname “Mr. Lithium.”

“I don’t think the sky is falling,” Lowry said in an interview with mining.com. “I’m perfectly comfortable with where things are, actually.”

In countries like Argentina, which is poised to become a top lithium supplier as well, the demand for the commodity is expected to skyrocket. Argentina’s business and consulting firm Aleph Energy recently predicted that the country’s annual lithium exports would increase by a whopping US$29 billion by 2040.

Albemarle is one of the major operators with multi-billion dollar projects in the country. Meanwhile, smaller companies like Lithium South Development Corporation (TSX-V: LIS) (OTCQB: LISMF) (Frankfurt: OGPQ) are developing large-scale brine resources there as well.

 

Lithium South Development Corporation is a sponsor of Mugglehead news coverage

 

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