Global Geoscience (ASX:GSC) is an Australian-based mineral explorer and developer focused on its 100%-owned Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project in Nevada, U.S.A.
Within the last year, Global Geoscience’s board has seen the addition of three highly credentialed executives: James Calaway, former chairman of Orocobre, Alan Davies, former CEO of Rio Tinto Energy and Minerals and John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil.
Additions such as these are usually a sign of big things to come, and Global Geoscience is working on a major pre-feasibility study to explore the development of Rhyolite Ridge into a strategic, long-life and low-cost source of lithium and boron.
If Global Geoscience can begin producing lithium, it should have no trouble finding customers. Lithium is a key ingredient in batteries, including those found in smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles (EVs).
According to a report by Bloomberg, production of EVs is expected to increase more than thirtyfold by 2030 and China – the world’s largest car market – has announced that it is planning a ban on the sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
Although China has not yet set a date for the ban, France and the U.K. have already announced that they plan to phase out ICE vehicles by 2040, with similar targets announced in other major auto markets such as the U.S. India, Germany and Japan.
“I think it’s only going to have a very positive effect on the lithium market,” Rowe said. “It’s also a sign of the direction the global automotive industry is moving in. The phasing out of ICE vehicles will obviously add to the increase in demand and interest in lithium mining projects. Perhaps the Chinese government is pursuing it more aggressively due to its country’s own environmental issues.”
As noted in Bloomberg’s analysis, the world is simply going to need more lithium. By 2030, the four main companies currently dominating lithium production will have to supply enough for the equivalent of 35 Tesla Gigafactory plants. According to Tesla, when that facility – also located in Nevada – is completed, it will produce enough batteries to equip half a million Tesla cars annually. So does Rowe think there is enough lithium to power the world?
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“I think there is certainly enough lithium,” he said. “It’s not going to be quick and easy to deliver it though. So that’ll be the continued challenge that the industry faces – delivering new production. Lithium deposits are typically not quick to put into production, so there will always be a lag as we’re getting going through this phase of rapidly increasing demand.”
In addition to lithium, Global Geoscience is hoping to begin production of boron. Although boron is a lesser-known commodity, it has a wide variety of applications in glass, ceramics, semiconductors and agriculture.
“The boron market is compelling because of the supply and demand, and the potential for imbalance there,” Rowe said. “The boron market is essentially controlled by two groups: Rio Tinto and the Turkish government. Eighty percent of the world’s boron comes from these two producers, and yet the biggest consumers are China, the United States, Japan and South Korea.”
Rowe is gearing up for the busy times ahead for Global Geoscience. “In the next few weeks we’re going to be releasing an upgraded resource statement and announcing some more results from our metallurgical testwork and the processing flow sheet that we are using to produce the lithium and boron products,” Rowe said. “And all of that work will feed into the pre-feasibility study that we are currently working on.”