Cathodes 2017: Notes from the Floor

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The first Cathodes conference from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence just wrapped up in Newport Beach, California. Here’s a look at the highlights.

The first Cathodes conference from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence just wrapped up, and it was a busy event for the Investing News Network.

The team hit the floor hard to speak to companies and industry experts, and of course had the opportunity to take in some presentations. Held in Newport Beach, California from October 8 to 10, the conference examined the present and future of the cathode industry.

If you weren’t able to make it to Cathodes, don’t worry. We’ve put together a recap of the three-day event, and will be publishing interviews with some of the key speakers in the coming days. Scroll down to get a taste of what happened.

The conference began on Sunday (October 8) with a talk from guest of honor Dr. Stanley Whittingham, who was responsible for a fundamental development that enabled today’s lithium-ion batteries.

Monday (October 9) morning, attendees heard cathodes manufacturers speak about trends in the industry and what has been happening in China and North America. Speakers included: Prabhakar Patil, former CEO of LG Chem Power (KRX:051910); Yuan Gao, president and CEO of Pulead Technology Industry; and Michael Fetcenko, managing director at BASF Battery Materials (ETR:BAS).

Upstream companies took the stage for Monday’s second session. Anthony Tse, managing director at Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY), shared his lithium market outlook, while Guy Bourassa, president and CEO of Nemaska Lithium (TSX:NMX), discussed growing lithium hydroxide demand in North America.

The cobalt perspective was presented by Dan Carroll of Freeport Cobalt. Meanwhile, Frank Nikolic, senior marketing manager at Vale (NYSE:VALE) shared his thoughts on the nickel market.

In the afternoon, two workshops took place on what’s ahead for the lithium, cobalt and nickel markets. Panels featured experts and CEOs, including: Joe Lowry, president of Global Lithium; Andrew Miller, senior analyst at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence; Tim Johnston, president and CEO of Desert Lion Energy; Robin Goad, president and CEO of Fortune Minerals (TSX:FT); David Weight, president of the Cobalt Institute; and Oliver Nugent of the London Metal Exchange.

Day one wrapped up with a rapid session from companies developing new lithium, cobalt and nickel assets around the world. Speakers included execs from eCobalt Solutions (TSX:ECS), Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS), First Cobalt (TSX:FCC), American Manganese (TSXV:AMY), Pure Energy Minerals (TSXV:PE), Global Geoscience (ASX:GSC), Piedmont Lithium (ASX:PLL), Celsius Resources (ASX:CLA) and Battery Mineral Resources. There was also a chance to learn more about companies at the exhibit hall.

Day two kicked off on Tuesday (October 10) with two concurrent briefings, market analysis and technical, where different panels discussed key issues in the industry.

The following session examined cathode demand in detail from different perspectives. Sam Jaffe, president of Cairn Energy Research, shared his market outlook for lithium-ion battery demand, while Marc Fenigstein, CEO of Alta Motors, discussed the “overlooked” light duty vehicle space.

Naoki Matsumura, Senior Technologist (Battery), Intel Corp, talked about consumer electronics and AK Srouji, Principal Battery Scientist, Romeo Power discussed battery cell trends for EVs.

The last Cathodes session was about responsible sourcing, a key issue for all markets involved in the electric car revolution.

As mentioned, the Investing News Network team had the chance to talk to experts and CEOs over the course of the conference. Stay tuned for our audio interviews!