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Thailand’s Growing EV Market Sparks Hope for Lithium Producers

20 February 2024 15:43

As societies intensify their efforts towards adopting greener energy solutions and achieving decarbonisation, the electric vehicle (EV) market has experienced remarkable growth, showing no signs of slowing down. Bolstered by a range of decarbonisation initiatives, global EV sales surged throughout 2023.

According to Virta, 2.3 million EVs were sold in the first quarter of 2023, marking a significant 25% increase compared to Q1 of 2022. Presently, approximately 1 in every 250 cars on the road is electric, representing a global market share of around 2.2%.

Lithium, a crucial component in EV batteries, enjoyed a breakout year in 2021. However, despite the rapid expansion of EV demand, the spot price of lithium has recently retreated from its highs.

Projections suggest that by 2030, global demand for lithium will surpass 2.4 million metric tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent, marking a doubling of the forecast from 2025. This surge is attributed to the expanding demand and the strong growth of the EV battery market, expected to propel lithium consumption to an estimated 3.8 million tonnes by 2035.

Whilst the leading EV producing countries like China, Norway, and the US continue to drive momentum, the lithium surge of 2021 has also initiated growth in countries traditionally not in the spotlight for lithium production.

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Figure 1: Thailand’s EV Production. Source: KPMG

Thailand’s Burgeoning Lithium Market

The EV market in Thailand is on a steady growth trajectory, with projections indicating a substantial increase in revenue, expected to reach an impressive US$1,103.0 million this year.

Sales of EVs are also set to double as Chinese manufacturers gear up to roll out their first locally manufactured models, furthered through the government’s substantial $2.4 billion incentives package to stimulate consumer demand.

Thailand is rapidly emerging as a key player in the EV market, placing lithium explorers and producers in an optimal position in the region, banking on the hopes the EV market will resurrect the ongoing struggling lithium prices witnessed in 2023.

Matsa Resources Footprint in Southeast Asia

Matsa Resources (ASX:MAT) is an exploration and development company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, boasting a market capitalisation of $12.92 million.

The Company is dedicated to advancing its flagship Lake Carey Gold Project situated south of Laverton in Western Australia.

Impressively, Matsa has achieved a substantial gold resource of 886,000 ounces at this location, with forthcoming plans for expansion.

Additionally, the Company maintains international interests, particularly in Thailand, where it holds a substantial land package with promising prospects for lithium and base metals.

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Figure 2: Matsa Thailand Projects

Matsa stands as a prominent figure in the exploration sector, particularly in Southeast Asia, where it holds a substantial portfolio of Special Prospecting Licence Applications (SPLAs) in Thailand’s mineral-rich regions.

Its expansive land holdings cover approximately 1,160 square kilometres, primarily dedicated to lithium exploration within Thailand’s western granite belt, an area renowned for significant discoveries.

Throughout 2023, the Company made major advancements, particularly highlighted by the achievement reported in March. Yongxing Special Materials Co. Ltd, a key partner, successfully attained lithium recoveries exceeding 95% from samples extracted at Matsa’s Pink Panther and Rose Panther Projects, situated in the Jiangxi province of southern China.

This accomplishment served as a crucial validation of the economic potential inherent in Matsa’s Southeast Asian portfolio, marking a significant milestone for the Company’s strategic endeavours in the region.

The Phang Nga and Kanchanaburi lithium projects have shown significant promise, as evidenced by the outcomes of extensive sampling initiatives.

The discovery at the Rose Panther prospect in Phang Nga, revealing high-grade lithium targets with an average Li2O result surpassing 2% lithium oxide, highlights the potential for direct shipping ore production.

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Figure 3: Rock samples from Pink Panther (Kanchanaburi) where LIBS analyser testing confirmed 3.45% Li (7.4% Li2O) in lepidolite bearing pegmatites

MAT’s Australian Securities Exchange-listed share price has is currently trading at $0.027 (3.30pm UTC+ 8 hours).

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