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Move Aside Lithium – Vanadium Is The New Super-Metal


Date: Oct 11, 2018

Vanadium mining

The lithium ride was a great one. Cobalt, too. All they needed was their Elon Musk moment, which came in the form of the Nevada battery gigafactory. The next Elon Musk moment won’t be about lithium at all—or even cobalt. It will be for an element that takes everything electric to its revolutionary finish line: Vanadium.

The one moment that will change everything … and that moment may be near.

Vanadium is lithium on steroids—wildly bigger and the only way forward from here. We may have already reached the peak of our electric revolution through batteries with lithium.

We need bigger batteries, preferably the size of a football field—or 20.

That’s vanadium—Element 23. The answer to our issue of scale.

“It’s no longer a technological maybe,” says Matt Rhoades, president and CEO of United Battery Metals, a Colorado vanadium explorer sitting on one of the few known sources of the next big battery metal in the entire United States.

Rhoades should know … his company is behind the discovery that hopes to put America definitively on the vanadium map. UBM’s Wray Mesa Project in Colorado has a mineral resource base estimate indicating resource of around 2.7 million pounds of vanadium—not to mention all the uranium they already know is there for additional upside.

“Vanadium is here, and lithium is scared because the $13-billion energy storage market has already found its new poster boy,” Rhoades told Oilprice.com.

The Moment of Truth

Indeed, Rhoades is an expert at timing.

The worldwide battle for vanadium is ramping up …

The Chinese have already had their Elon Musk moment …

The U.S. has none …

And vanadium was the best-performing battery metal last year, beating out even lithium and cobalt.

The truth is that it’s been a long road for vanadium to not only break into the energy storage market, but to actually become the future of the energy storage market.

The next ‘moment’ will be when someone in the U.S.—always one step behind the Chinese—announces plans for an American vanadium battery gigafactory. Anyone who hasn’t gotten in before that moment will be nursing their lithium hangover.

China is already building the world’s largest vanadium flow battery (VFB) gigafactory in Dalian, with the massively powerful (200MW/800MWh) batteries to be manufactured by Rongke Power.

Source: Electrek

It covers an area bigger than 20 soccer fields.

And thanks to the Chinese, vanadium was the best-performing battery metal last year.

(Click to enlarge)

Source: Bloomberg

And this year is the kicker. In just the past month, ferro vanadium prices have soared 33%. A month ago, ferro vanadium prices were at $79 per kilogram. Now we’re looking at $105 per kilogram.

(Click to enlarge)

Vanadium pentoxide flake is following the same speedy upward mobility:

(Click to enlarge)

And it’s vanadium pentoxide that is the main ingredient in vanadium redox flow batteries used for grid energy storage.

For a junior minor like UBM with a market cap of just over $10 million—that potential 2.7 million pounds of vanadium begins to sound like strategy at its best and brightest.

Why Vanadium Changes Everything

But let’s back up a bit …

If you were just getting the hang of lithium and cobalt in the battery mix, vanadium might sound complicated—but it’s not.

It’s as simple as size. This is where we get to scale up because when it comes to energy storage, bigger is better. In fact, bigger is the only way forward in this game.

This is possible because vanadium flow batteries store their energy in tanks. The fluid (electrolyte) that transfers charges inside a battery flows from one tank through the system and back again, making a closed circuit. They can charge and discharge simultaneously.

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