In this episode of our CleanTech Talk podcast interview series, CleanTechnica CEO Zach Shahan sits down with Howard Klein, Founder and Partner at RK Equity, to talk about the lithium, nickel, and graphite markets in the United States, North America, and Canada. You can listen to the full conversation in the embedded player below. Below that embedded SoundCloud player is a brief summary of the topics covered, but tune into the podcast to follow the full discussion.
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Conversations around lithium demand and supply have been popular since Tesla’s 2020 Battery Day. Zach launches this episode with a discussion around how markets have changed since Battery Day and any notable trends Howard might see on the horizon. According to Howard, the demand for batteries and the buildout for batteries will be significant, and the need for raw materials to produce those batteries even more so. The demand side of battery development is showing that the world is moving toward EVs, he says.
Zach shifts the conversation toward policy, which Howard believes is a critical piece of the puzzle in meeting raw material demand for the increased demand in batteries. Howard notes that since President Biden’s win, there has been increased hope in the US becoming a leader in this field, in meeting lithium demand in particular. However, as Howard notes, policy focused on raw materials for batteries is complicated by different social and environmental challenges across the United States.
Zach and Howard also take time to talk about the private sector and a number of companies that have been working in the field. Zach is particularly curious about which companies will be needed in the space and who will be successful in the space over the next decade. Howard notes that he has seen the investment world in particular shift to focus more on this topic over the past several months, and the valuation of many of these companies has increased. However, he also mentions that there needs to be a significant investment increase in these raw materials markets in order to meet demand forecasted alongside projected numbers of EVs to be on the market by 2030, for example. Further, he notes that the valuations of other companies in the EV ecosystem, many of which joined US stock markets via SPACs, are much higher relative to revenue than than the valuations of notable mining companies, some of which he names.
Zach and Howard wrap up this episode by talking more about particular automakers and their ambitions while considering whether the limitation to EV penetration may be these raw materials in the decade to come. Howard discusses some of his observations around movement in the automaker world to more strongly consider these challenges. The two finish the podcast by asking what this means more broadly and the trends and challenges to expect moving forward.
To hear more on these topics, listen to the show!