Lithium Podcast

The Best, The Worst, The First

Joe and Emily are back in Perth to catch up on the latest in WA.

The Global Lithium Podcast team sits down with repeat-guest Ken Brinsden and Dale Henderson from Pilbara Minerals.

The two begin with Dale’s origin story from New Zealand to lithium in Australia by way of the Middle East. Dale shares his experience starting up the Pilbara hard rock spodumene project, including the focus on accuracy. Ken weighs in on how a company declares to have reached commercial production, and how he views the potential for future vertical integration. Dale teaches Emily about the technical topic of fines separation by using analogies with common kitchen items as part of a broader discussion of how an ore extraction operation selects a processing strategy.

Ken shares the differences and similarities in working with Posco and Ganfeng as partners, and his view of the role of hydroxide and carbonate in the future. He also explains the impact of high profile project failures on raising capital and how Pilbara navigates these waters. Joe and Emily close as usual with some rapid fire questions, including book recommendations from Ken to Dale.

The Global Lithium Podcast supports Ken Brinsden’s participation in the Walk the Plank charity event to raise money for research for children’s brain cancer. Learn more and donate to Ken’s efforts here.

Disclaimer: A duck’s quack does echo. According to Mythbusters, when examined by an audio-expert, it was found that the echo was “swallowed” by the original quack, due to the very similar acoustic structure between the quack and the echo. Because of this, it may be difficult to tell where the quack ends and the echo begins.

E39: Men (Still) At Work: An Aussie and a Kiwi

 
 
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The podcast continues their global efforts as Joe records from Charlotte, North Carolina, and Emily records in Sichuan Province, China. Their internet connection played a little havoc with the sound quality, but, as usual, Elena Piech did an excellent job with the editing.

The two discuss Galaxy’s recent Sal de Vida announcement and the market reaction, Joe’s recent meeting with Livent’s CEO, and Emily’s meetings in China. The two also speak about the various levels of product quality in China and how that impacts the ongoing narrative on lithium prices.

E38: From Sichuan & Charlotte

 
 
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In a long-awaited episode, Joe and Emily sit down with Rodolfo Micone and Ines Ulla, the Secretary and Undersecretary of Mining of Catamarca Argentina.

The guests start with their origins stories and then discuss the challenges that Catamarca faces as a young player with a short history of mining. Secretary Micone shares common mistakes made by mining companies, and how to use the government as a valuable resource to understand communities and local needs. Joe asks the provincial authorities about the infrastructure challenges that are faced, and Rodolfo provides context that many of these investments and decisions rest in the hands of the federal government.

Rodolfo and Ines share how the aspects of politics, technical concerns, community relations, and promotion are inextricably linked.

One of Argentina’s big decisions in the future is to firmly articulate that they are a pro-mining country.

Joe shares an anecdote of a conversation with a coffee shop owner regarding the environmental reputation of mining, and Rodolfo doesn’t mince his words in explaining that mining is an engine of development and the mother of all industries – and that while being anti-mining may be a modern “badge of honor,” those with concerns are picking and choosing what information to listen to and living a comfy life with modern amenities like heat, water, and infrastructure that come from mining. He calls attention to the hypocrisy of people like this coffee shop owner who go out to rural sites near mines for a vacation and Instagram shot and return to their cozy lives a few days later.

Ines shares her 8 year experience in the Mining Authority, starting out as a technical assistant to her current role as the Under Secretary, and seeing the impact mining has had on communities located near mining projects, as well as frustrations with factors outside the province’s control that can delay and slow down development

In the live studio audience Carlos Arauz, a radio journalist from Catamarca, shares a story of finding Joe Lowry in the city after seeing his photos on twitter, highlighting the magic of social media.

E37: Straight Talk

 
 
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Never willing to let an opportunity slip by, Joe and Emily get an early start before a visit to Neo Lithium’s Tres Quebradas project in Argentina to squeeze in 15 minutes with Neo’s CFO Carlos Vicens.

In a nearly banter-free podcast, Carlos shares his origins story from Venezuela with the Global Podcast Team. The three discuss the history of the Tres Quebradas project, and delve into some of the project’s unique attributes, including the jurisdiction and the environmental cooperation the company and local government are working together to develop. Carlos gets into lithium, the mining authority and environmental authority of Catamarca, and how the team earned a reputation that inspired the Mining Authority to congratulate Neo for setting the example of how a mining company should work. Stick around for the rapid fire section to learn Carlos’ favorite cocktail.

E36: Lithium Wake Up Call

 
 
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Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a lithium analyst from a top investment bank looks like? The Global Lithium Podcast team has – so when we ran into Cormark Securities’ Mac Whale aka, “the best name in lithium” at 3000 meters above sea level en route to visit Neo Lithium’s 3Qs project in Argentina. Joe and Emily knew it would be a special podcast episode.

Emily wasted no time building an impromptu podcasting studio from the furnishing in her hotel room and getting down to business.

The three discuss the three main parts of an analyst’s job – visiting projects, writing reports, and participating in the sales process. Emily and Joe learn how Mac has structured strategies based on lithium fundamentals and the vagaries of the market. Mac gives Emily and Joe his opinion on the progress of Lithium Americas and Ganfeng’s Cauchari brine project as well as his initial take on Neo Lithium’s Tres Quebradas project in Catamarca, Argentina. Besides his overall view on each asset, Mac shares the criteria he considers to be green and red flags in evaluating projects.

Your podcast hosts also discuss Mac’s thoughts on market sentiment and when the current depressed cycle will change. The two conclude by probing Mac’s inner grunge musical tendencies.

E35: From the Belly of (Mac) Whale

 
 
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Joe and Emily reveal the Global Lithium Podcast version of “March Madness.” This episode keeps it short and snappy discussing several recent developments in the lithium space.

Despite high-nickel cathode hype, lithium hydroxide prices have fallen narrowing the premium versus lithium carbonate prices.

What does the disappearance of the lithium hydroxide premium mean for players who have predicated their strategy on a continued hydroxide price gap vs carbonate (looking at you, Livent)?

SQM’s new CEO may have wished he could “take a mulligan” on the first earnings call in the top job. His confusing commentary left investors scratching their heads about whether SQM would be building up a “Strategic stockpile” or simply having continued production issues.

Emily asks the question does SQM have the ability to lead “cartel adjacent” market behavior?

By blaming his price volatility on battery innovation rather than a sub-par product, Orocobre’s new CEO fumbled in the eyes of Joe and Emily.

The Advantage CEO David Sidoo made headlines in the “Varsity Blues” pay-to-play college admissions scandal.

In the EV space, Ford’s Chairman is mulling entrance to the lithium space, Volkswagen has announced 20 more EVs to be on the road by 2025, and Chinese battery maker CATL and Tesla have announced a deal, to prompting Joe to ask: “where is all the lithium coming from?

The two close on some news from Tianqi regarding their investment in the cathode business.

E34: March Madness

 
 
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This episode, “Time Travelers: The Future is Now” puts “global” in the Global Lithium Podcast. Joe is one day ahead; recording from Tokyo, the site of Battery Japan, on Saturday while Emily who is at the Colorado School of Mines for a Critical Materials meeting, has her feet firmly planted in Friday afternoon.

The podcast team catches up with each other as well as battery-expert Sam Jaffe of Cairn Energy to go over the latest in lithium news. They discuss the new demand forecast from Albemarle as well as SQM’s latest pricing and production information. They also review the status of the transition to high nickel cathodes and the implications on the raw material choice between carbonate and hydroxide.

Sam talks about the Chinese EV subsidy regime and how it impacts cathode decisions. Emily praises the mustache of Dr Dieter Zetsche of Daimler as well as his company’s new mobility JV with BMW. Joe calls FastMarket’s latest brine production numbers into question and revisits Morgan Stanley’s refusal to admit the error of their ways on their well worn oversupply ($8/kg carbonate price) narrative. The trio continues by chatting about Galaxy’s finally closed deal with Posco for Sal de Vida tenements and what happens next on the Salar del Hombre Muerto in Argentina.

The podcast closes with some “rapid fire” questions for Sam.

Episode 33 is brought to you by Zelandez — bringing actionable data to brine exploration companies faster. For more information please check out www.zelandez.com

E33: Time Travelers: The Future is Now

 
 
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In the first Global Lithium Podcast hat trick, Chris Berry is back for his third appearance—this time remotely. Joe is in North Carolina, Emily in Argentina, and Chris in New York. Together they take on the news that Nemaska is going to need CAD $375 million in additional financing, and what that is going to mean for the industry.

Chris shares his views on 2019, comparing the market to Winston Churchill and predicting falling spodumene prices as new Western Australian supply competes for currently limited conversion capacity in China.

Given that the much-hyped oversupply of lithium chemicals does not appear to be anywhere on the horizon, are automakers asleep at the wheel in what Joe describes as a “fool’s paradise?” He says the assumption is that lithium supply will magically appear without any action on automakers’ part. There three also discuss whether or not the US is willing to take the steps to take the lead in the battery space.

In light of the Livent (nee FMC) announcement that it will be exporting hydroxide produced in China, Emily takes advantage of the opportunity to pick Joe’s brain on hydroxide vs. carbonate pricing, and whether the headlong rush into hydroxide for high nickel cathodes is potentially overdone.

In case you, loyal listener, are wondering, Chris answers “rapid fire” questions and shares the story of a cheeseburger that brought him to tears.

We want to thank Zelandez for sponsoring this episode.

About our sponsor: Zelandez is made up of trusted experts in lithium brinefield exploration services. To learn more, visit their website or LinkedInPage.

E32: Hat Trick

 
 
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Joe and Emily kick off 2019 with a packed podcast agenda! They discuss the announced and then quickly denied Berkshire Hathaway deal for Salton Sea geothermal brine lithium production.

Their buddy Dan Blondal, CEO of Nano One calls in to discuss the recently announced Joint Development Argeement with cathode maker Pulead, and the market for LFP cathode.

The Pluspetrol buyout of Argentina’s LSC Lithium and valuation is another topic. They also touch on Fastmarkets prediction of a spot price of US $25,000/ton in 2025, and close out with the never ending Drama in the Atacama.

For more on what’s going on with geothermal brines in California, check out the links below:

https://efiling.energy.ca.gov/GetDocument.aspx?tn=225903
https://www.energy.ca.gov/geothermal/grda_workshops/

E31: California Dreamin’, Drama, and Dan

 
 
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Joe and Emily round out 2018 with a Christmas special, recorded partially in Santiago, Chile, and partially from North Carolina and Washington, D.C., respectively. In Chile, the two chat about some key takeaways from meeting Eduardo Bitran, and details surrounding the Albemarle—Mineral Resources deal. Two special guests drop by the studio: Alejandro Hess shares his views on lithium stocks, and Dr. Alonso Barros gives us some color on the situation with indigenous communities in the Atacama. Joe shares his thoughts on the failure of the wave of oversupply to materialize, and where he thinks the big banks have gone wrong in 2018. The two close with rapid fire questions about favorite podcast moments, new year resolutions, and Joe’s encounter with Bruce Springsteen (before he was a liberal).

E30: A Beautiful Day in the Lithium Neighborhood

 
 

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Due to the length and extremely high level of interest in Episode 27 “Man on a Mission” with Dr. Eduardo Bitran, it seemed that the Global Lithium Podcast’s server might have had issues keeping up with demand.

To ensure everyone gets to listen to the entire discussion without issue, E27 is being split into two parts. Each part is less than an hour in length, so this will facilitate easier downloading. E27 will remain on the website, but for those who have not listened yet it will probably simpler to download E28 “Man on a Mission, Part One” & E29 “Man on a Mission, Part Two.” Think of it as the Global Lithium Podcast’s “boxed set” gift to you. Thanks for your great support this year.

Stay warm,
Joe and Emily

E29: Man on a Mission, Part Two

 
 

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Due to the length and extremely high level of interest in Episode 27 “Man on a Mission” with Dr. Eduardo Bitran, it seemed that the Global Lithium Podcast’s server might have had issues keeping up with demand.

To ensure everyone gets to listen to the entire discussion without issue, E27 is being split into two parts. Each part is less than an hour in length, so this will facilitate easier downloading. E27 will remain on the website, but for those who have not listened yet it will probably simpler to download E28 “Man on a Mission, Part One” & E29 “Man on a Mission, Part Two.” Think of it as the Global Lithium Podcast’s “boxed set” gift to you. Thanks for your great support this year.

Stay warm,
Joe and Emily

E28: Man on a Mission, Part One

 
 

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In a move that will undoubtedly surprise many in the the lithium world, Joe Lowry and Eduardo Bitran sit down in Santiago to discuss the history of the “Drama in the Atacama.” Dr. Bitran shares his background – growing up in a small town in Northern Chile that led to a passion for public service and innovation. The discussion covers the history of CORFO and its relationship with SQM & Albemarle, background on how Chile’s royalty scheme for lithium was developed, and the royalty’s impact on the cost curve. Joe, Emily, and Dr. Bitran discuss the politics behind SQM and Julio Ponce, and Dr. Bitran’s views on Tianqi’s entrance into Chile. The three also review the current conflict between Chile and Albemarle over lithium pricing.

Dr. Bitran and Joe discover they agree on much more than they differ. There is even talk of a collaboration on a book and much more.

E27: Man on a Mission

 
 

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Joe and Emily catch up with the Lithium Americas leadership team in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On this episode, LAC’s new President/COO, Jon Evans, shares some of his past experiences, including as Joe’s boss at another lithium company and his thoughts on the lithium brain drain.

John Kanellitsas and Tom Hodgson share their insight on the recent change from SQM to Ganfeng as their JV partner in the Argentina Cauchari project.  We discuss their LAC’s philosophy on team building and cherry picking talent across the lithium world.

Some listeners may notice that this episode was shorter than normal. Tom Hodgson arrived in the studio after meeting the President of Argentina with partner, Ganfeng. Since some members of the team needed to catch a flight, studio time was limited.t.

As normal in season two, the episode closes with rapid fire questions. Joe and Emily learn how to make money off of stocks, what the various lights on airplanes mean, and they find out why John Kanellitsas wants to keep the lithium industry “weird.”

E26: Keep Lithium Weird

 
 

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Joe and Emily are back in Buenos Aires to record a special first anniversary episode of the Global Lithium Podcast!

Li Liangbin the Chairman of Ganfeng and Wang Xiaoshen, the Vice Chairman came to the studio to record episode 25 immediately after meeting with President Mauricio Macri to discuss the lithium market and their investments in Argentina.

Joe spent the prior two days with Messrs. Li and Wang visiting Ganfeng’s projects in Salta and Jujuy provinces. He also joined Ganfeng’s celebration with Lithium Americas at their jointly owned Minera Exar Cauchari project where the governor of Jujuy and the National Mining secretary joined in the ceremonial starting of the pump to fill the massive pond system that will likely result in Minera Exar becoming Argentina’s largest lithium producer.

This is the Global Lithium Podcast’s first bilingual episode – English and Chinese. The show has a growing audience in China and felt Mr. Li’s comments should be in his native tongue, as well as translated into English very capably by Wang Xiaoshen. The four cover Ganfeng’s early days, their rapid growth, their strategy to partner with all of the “Big 3” which ultimately led to Ganfeng becoming a major player. They then discuss why Mr. Li could never sell his “baby” and how the baby ultimately became the Yao Ming of lithium. As the episode progresses it becomes clear Joe has a lot of shared history with his friends from China.

Joe and Emily were honored that Ganfeng took time out of their whirlwind Argentina trip to spend time with them. Wang Xiaoshen gave Emily a bit of advice near the end of the episode—telling her she should spend more time in China. Time constraints limited the topics they were able to cover so Joe and Emily plan to have follow-up episode—in China.

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乔和艾米丽回到布宜诺斯艾利斯,录制全球锂电播客一周年特别节目。
赣锋锂业董事长李良彬和赣锋锂业副董事长王晓申在与阿根廷总统马克里会面后立即来到录音室录制第25集,讨论锂市场及其在阿根廷的投资。

前两天,李先生和王先生一起参观了赣锋在萨尔塔省和胡胡伊省的项目,还参加了与Lithium Americas 共同拥有的Minera Exar Cauchari项目的庆祝活动。Jujuy省长和国家矿业部长也参加了开工仪式,按下按钮向锂矿蒸发池注入第一批卤水。这个项目可能使Minera Exar成为阿根廷最大的锂生产商。

这是我们的第一部双语剧集 – 英文和中文。我们在中国的受众越来越多,我们认为李先生的评论应该用他的母语,并由王晓申先生翻译成英文。我们谈论了赣锋的早期发展,他们的快速增长,他们与所有“三巨头”合作的策略,最终赣锋成为主要参与者。我们讨论为什么李先生永远不会卖掉他的“孩子”以及这个小孩最终如何成长为锂行业中的姚明。随着本集的录制,乔与他的中国朋友也分享了很多他们过去的交集。

我们很荣幸赣锋从旋风般的阿根廷旅行中抽出时间与我们共度时光。王晓申在本集结束时给了Emily一些建议,告诉她应该在中国呆更多时间。时间限制了我们能够讨论的话题,所以我们计划不久后在中国再录制一集。

 

E25: (Not) Lost in Translation (没有)迷失在翻译中

 
 

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Content Warning: This episode will reveal spoilers to A Star Is Born, the Hollywood tearjerker featuring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

In a special edition of the Global Lithium Podcast, Joe and Emily catch up with Cailin Lowry to get updates on her short film The SocietyTM, which was crowdfunded by many members of the lithium community. Before speaking with Cailin, the Global Lithium Podcast team discuss developments in the Drama in the Atacama stemming from the approval of the sale of 23.8% of SQM to Chinese giant Tianqi. Emily and Joe give a shout out to Alejandro Hess for his great coverage of an opaque export market. After speaking with Cailin, Emily asks Joe a few rapid fire questions, including how Joe has learned from mistakes in the past and how he views the world, including how he has learned patience (sort of) and why listening to his wife and daughters makes sense.

E24: Cathodes, Cailin & Questions

 
 

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Joe and Emily are joined by Ken Brinsden, CEO of Pilbara Minerals. They reminisce with the “man from a land down under” about their trip to the Pilbara mine in early 2018, and how quickly the project was built and started producing. The two then learn about Ken’s connection to a US president! There is a discussion of the nitty gritty of offtake agreements, and the push in Australia to stop producing minerals and start producing chemicals. Stay tuned till the end of the podcast and hear some rapid fire questions that include Ken’s “chalk and cheese” moments, and learn a few things about the tremors underground mining can cause.

E23: A Man from a Land Down Under

 
 

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Joe and Emily catch up with Anthony Tse, managing director of Galaxy and newly christened (by Emily) “Messiah of Lithium,” in Newport Beach, California. Anthony shares his journey from growing up in London to his decision to reconnect with his cultural roots and move to China. We discuss the Galaxy’s dark days, and Anthony’s role in restructuring a company mired in debt and turning it into a major player in the industry. Anthony shares his views on where Galaxy is going to be in five years, and some dreams for the future.

E22: Lithium Culture Club

 
 

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In an exciting lead up to season two, Joe and Emily record a special “bridge” episode to cover the lithium industry news over the last month. First they talk about all of the Drama in the Atacama, from Albemarle’s ongoing legal dispute with Corfo and the nuclear agency, to SQM’s efforts to block Tianqi’s acquisition of company shares. They discuss Ganfeng’s IPO in Hong Kong and the spinoff of “Livent” or LTHM from FMC, and what the outcomes spell for the industry. With all the interest in price transparency, especially in light of the LME’s efforts to launch a lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide contract price, Emily peppers Joe with annoying questions regarding whether that can really happen. All in all, the Global Lithium Podcast team is caught up and ready for Season 2!

E21: Bridge Over Troubled Water

 
 

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