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Where is the next lithium frontier? It could be near your back yard.

The world’s annual premier mineral exploration and mining convention, the Prospectors &…
The post Where is the next lithium frontier? It could…



The world’s annual premier mineral exploration and mining convention, the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) is just around the corner and this year, the focus on gold will be met by investor attention focused on the potential of the lithium market.

The ‘green revolution’ and post-pandemic re-focus on reducing emissions and overall ESG has had a significant impact on the automotive industry with the electric car popularity growing through the roof. Due to increasing demand, there has been growing interest in international lithium projects in recent years that has seen the largest-known reserves significantly increase, as exploration activities accelerate.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), excluding U.S. production, worldwide lithium production in 2022 increased by 21 per-cent to approximately 130,000 tons from 107,000 tons in 2021, in response to strong demand from the lithium-ion battery market and increased prices of lithium. The global consumption of lithium is increasing and in 2022 was estimated to be 134,000 tons, a 41 per-cent increase from 95,000 tons in 2021.

Prices for lithium carbonate, a refined form of the material used in EV batteries, recently hit a record high from its lows this past autumn season. Its price currently sits at C$93,413.25 per tonne. China leads world production of batteries used in electric vehicles and consumer electronics.

A soft, silver-white metal, lithium is found within the alkali metal group on the periodic table and occurs in nature in compounds due to its high reactivity. Lithium compounds are produced in many forms including lithium carbonate (Li2CO3), lithium oxide (Li2O), and lithium hydroxide (LiOH).

It is a key element in renewable energy development, mainly for its role in rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries. The actual and anticipated use in Li-ion batteries as the chemical energy accumulator that will power electronic devices, electric vehicles, and larger-scale battery storage. Lithium is projected to be the main battery metal utilized as we move forward as an electric society.

Lithium is mainly sourced from hard rock mines such as in Australia, or brine reservoirs under dried lake beds, found in Chile and Argentina but it is found in many other regions who are getting more attention now with the recent boom.

The U.S. has been the forefront of lithium usage over the last few years, but the E.U. could have been potentially overlooked as the ramp up to become an electrified continent in the coming years. There are not many companies listed on Canadian exchanges that can offer investors with the opportunity of investing in the E.U.’s zero emissions goals.

In the coming years, manufacturing trends are expected to accelerate, and analysts expect global demand could more than double by next year. Which business are out there creating long-term capital growth, getting boots on the ground spinning drills?

Here are a few interesting companies from around the globe that are doing just that.

Canada – There are several operators working to develop projects from traditional hard rock mining as well as some unconventional sources such as oilfield brines and industrial wastewaters.

Projects are mostly situated in Ontario, Québec, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan and range from early exploration to advanced stage.

In early 2018, the North American Lithium mine in Québec reached commercial production and shipped spodumene concentrate to refineries in China for processing into lithium carbonate. It is owned by Sayona Québec, a subsidiary of Sayona Mining Ltd. (ASX:SYA), and Piedmont Lithium Inc. (ASX:PLL).

Rock Tech Lithium Inc. (TSXV:RCK) is a cleantech company assembling a closed-loop system to produce lithium hydroxide for electric vehicle batteries.

U.S.A.- Home to the world’s fourth-largest lithium reserves (measured at 6.8 million tonnes according to the USGS), commercial-scale production in the U.S. was from one continental brine operation in Nevada, as well as the brine-sourced waste tailings of a Utah-based magnesium producer. Most of the country’s lithium consumption is supplied by imports from Argentina and Chile.

Lithium Americas Corp. (TSX:LAC) is advancing lithium projects in Argentina and the United States to production. The company has two brine resources located in northwestern Argentina and a clay resource in Nevada, U.S. While the company has no current lithium production, the first Argentina resource, Cauchari-Olaroz, will enter production in early 2023.

Australia – Though it only ranks fifth on the list of largest overall reserves at 6.3 million tonnes, Australia has been the world’s biggest lithium producer in recent years, with five mines accounting for nearly half of total forecasted lithium production in 2020.

Mine output from the country clocks in at 42,000 tonnes in the year – compared to Chile, which produced 18,000 tonnes. Australia’s mine reserves of lithium are second-only to Chile, totalling 2.8 million tonnes. Lithium exports from Australia in 2019 totalled nearly US$1.6 billion, with most headed to China.

Allkem Ltd. (ASX:AKE) (formerly Orocobre Ltd.) is an industrial chemical and mineral exploration company. It explores and develops lithium, potash, and salar mineral deposits. Most of the company’s revenue comes from the Olaroz Lithium Facility, which achieved record production of 4,253 tonnes of lithium carbonate in 2022. This is up 17 per cent from the previous year.

Olaroz Stage 2 reached 96 per cent completion, pre-commissioning and commissioning activities are underway, with full commissioning activities expected to commence later in Q1 2023 and first production is planned for Q2.

Chile – Part of the “lithium triangle”. Chile accounts for nine million tonnes of lithium reserves and has developed a prolific mining industry, boasting the world’s largest mine reserves, totalling 8.6 million tonnes. Chile is also the world’s second-highest lithium producer, with a national output reaching 18,000 tonnes. The recipe for its success is favourable conditions for evaporation compared to Bolivia and Argentina’s more humid regions, as well as fewer brine impurities and better South Pacific Ocean export access.

A key resource for the country is the Salar de Atacama salt flats, where many of the world’s top lithium-mining companies have set up operations, including Albemarle Corp. (NYSE: ALB) and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE:SQM).

Meanwhile, Lithium Chile Inc. (TSXV:LITH) is growing a lithium property portfolio of 844 sq. km. covering 11 salars and two laguna complexes in Chile and 233 sq. km. in Argentina. The company also owns five gold, silver and copper properties covering 213 sq. km.

Ireland – Hidden deep within the Blackstairs mountain region, Ireland has been unearthing a lithium mineral deposit that was discovered back in the 1970’s. Around this time to the country’s southeast region, a discovery was made of what appeared to be spodumene, one of the world’s main sources of lithium. Mapping defined numerous spodumene pegmatite occurrences in and around the margin of the Leinster Granite, the largest Caledonian batholith in the British Isles with an exposed area of 1,500 sq. km. As for other companies operating in the region, a joint venture between Gangfeng and International Lithium Corp. is operating its Avalonia asset which encompasses a 50km-long pegmatite belt adjacent to the company’s NW Leinster project.

Global Battery Metals Ltd. (TSXV:GBML) is a mineral exploration company with a focus on metals that make up and support the rapid evolution of battery power.

Source: Global Battery Metals Ltd.

Investment corner:

After jumping 442.8 per cent in 2021, lithium prices were up another 72.5 per cent by the end of 2022, as EV sales continue to climb around the world.

Keeping pace with the push toward renewable energy and electric transportation, the demand for lithium has driven up its value. Increased demand means that all deposits are becoming economically worthwhile to extract. This is one natural resource that looks to remain in demand for years to come. Mining investors who have “wish listed” lithium opportunities for their portfolios would be wise to deepen their due diligence sooner than later, and what better place to start than making connections at the PDAC convention next month?

To find out more, visit and you can read the Preliminary Program here. PDAC runs from March 5 to 8 2023 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and The Market Herald will be there live from the floor to bring investors updates on the shows highlights daily.

The post Where is the next lithium frontier? It could be near your back yard. appeared first on The Market Herald.

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COVID-19 lockdowns linked to less accurate recollection of event timing

Participants in a survey study made a relatively high number of errors when asked to recollect the timing of major events that took place in 2021, providing…



Participants in a survey study made a relatively high number of errors when asked to recollect the timing of major events that took place in 2021, providing new insights into how COVID-19 lockdowns impacted perception of time. Daria Pawlak and Arash Sahraie of the University of Aberdeen, UK, present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on May 31, 2023.

Credit: Arianna Sahraie Photography, CC-BY 4.0 (

Participants in a survey study made a relatively high number of errors when asked to recollect the timing of major events that took place in 2021, providing new insights into how COVID-19 lockdowns impacted perception of time. Daria Pawlak and Arash Sahraie of the University of Aberdeen, UK, present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on May 31, 2023.

Remembering when past events occurred becomes more difficult as more time passes. In addition, people’s activities and emotions can influence their perception of the passage of time. The social isolation resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns significantly impacted people’s activities and emotions, and prior research has shown that the pandemic triggered distortions in people’s perception of time.

Inspired by that earlier research and clinical reports that patients have become less able to report accurate timelines of their medical conditions, Pawlak and Sahraie set out to deepen understanding of the pandemic’s impact on time perception.

In May 2022, the researchers conducted an online survey in which they asked 277 participants to give the year in which several notable recent events occurred, such as when Brexit was finalized or when Meghan Markle joined the British royal family. Participants also completed standard evaluations for factors related to mental health, including levels of boredom, depression, and resilience.

As expected, participants’ recollection of events that occurred further in the past was less accurate. However, their perception of the timing of events that occurred in 2021—one year prior to the survey—was just an inaccurate as for events that occurred three to four years earlier. In other words, many participants had difficulty recalling the timing of events coinciding with COVID-19 lockdowns.

Additionally, participants who made more errors in event timing were also more likely to show greater levels of depression, anxiety, and physical mental demands during the pandemic, but had less resilience. Boredom was not significantly associated with timeline accuracy.

These findings are similar to those previously reported for prison inmates. The authors suggest that accurate recollection of event timing requires “anchoring” life events, such as birthday celebrations and vacations, which were lacking during COVID-19 lockdowns.

The authors add: “Our paper reports on altered timescapes during the pandemic. In a landscape, if features are not clearly discernible, it is harder to place objects/yourself in relation to other features. Restrictions imposed during the pandemic have impoverished our timescape, affecting the perception of event timelines. We can recall that events happened, we just don’t remember when.


In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS ONE:

Citation: Pawlak DA, Sahraie A (2023) Lost time: Perception of events timeline affected by the COVID pandemic. PLoS ONE 18(5): e0278250.

Author Countries: UK

Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this work.

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Hyro secures $20M for its AI-powered, healthcare-focused conversational platform

Israel Krush and Rom Cohen first met in an AI course at Cornell Tech, where they bonded over a shared desire to apply AI voice technologies to the healthcare…



Israel Krush and Rom Cohen first met in an AI course at Cornell Tech, where they bonded over a shared desire to apply AI voice technologies to the healthcare sector. Specifically, they sought to automate the routine messages and calls that often lead to administrative burnout, like calls about scheduling, prescription refills and searching through physician directories.

Several years after graduating, Krush and Cohen productized their ideas with Hyro, which uses AI to facilitate text and voice conversations across the web, call centers and apps between healthcare organizations and their clients. Hyro today announced that it raised $20 million in a Series B round led by Liberty Mutual, Macquarie Capital and Black Opal, bringing the startup’s total raised to $35 million.

Krush says that the new cash will be put toward expanding Hyro’s go-to-market teams and R&D.

“When we searched for a domain that would benefit from transforming these technologies most, we discovered and validated that healthcare, with staffing shortages and antiquated processes, had the greatest need and pain points, and have continued to focus on this particular vertical,” Krush told TechCrunch in an email interview.

To Krush’s point, the healthcare industry faces a major staffing shortfall, exacerbated by the logistical complications that arose during the pandemic. In a recent interview with Keona Health, Halee Fischer-Wright, CEO of Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), said that MGMA’s heard that 88% of medical practices have had difficulties recruiting front-of-office staff over the last year. By another estimates, the healthcare field has lost 20% of its workforce.

Hyro doesn’t attempt to replace staffers. But it does inject automation into the equation. The platform is essentially a drop-in replacement for traditional IVR systems, handling calls and texts automatically using conversational AI.

Hyro can answer common questions and handle tasks like booking or rescheduling an appointment, providing engagement and conversion metrics on the backend as it does so.

Plenty of platforms do — or at least claim to. See RedRoute, a voice-based conversational AI startup that delivers an “Alexa-like” customer service experience over the phone. Elsewhere, there’s Omilia, which provides a conversational solution that works on all platforms (e.g. phone, web chat, social networks, SMS and more) and integrates with existing customer support systems.

But Krush claims that Hyro is differentiated. For one, he says, it offers an AI-powered search feature that scrapes up-to-date information from a customer’s website — ostensibly preventing wrong answers to questions (a notorious problem with text-generating AI). Hyro also boasts “smart routing,” which enables it to “intelligently” decide whether to complete a task automatically, send a link to self-serve via SMS or route a request to the right department.

A bot created using Hyro’s development tools. Image Credits: Hyro

“Our AI assistants have been used by tens of millions of patients, automating conversations on various channels,” Krush said. “Hyro creates a feedback loop by identifying missing knowledge gaps, basically mimicking the operations of a call center agent. It also shows within a conversation exactly how the AI assistant deduced the correct response to a patient or customer query, meaning that if incorrect answers were given, an enterprise can understand exactly which piece of content or dataset is labeled incorrectly and fix accordingly.”

Of course, no technology’s perfect, and Hyro’s likely isn’t an exception to the rule. But the startup’s sales pitch was enough to win over dozens of healthcare networks, providers and hospitals as clients, including Weill Cornell Medicine. Annual recurring revenue has doubled since Hyro went to market in 2019, Krush claims.

Hyro’s future plans entail expanding to industries adjacent to healthcare, including real estate and the public sector, as well as rounding out the platform with more customization options, business optimization recommendations and “variety” in the AI skills that Hyro supports.

“The pandemic expedited digital transformation for healthcare and made the problems we’re solving very clear and obvious (e.g. the spike in calls surrounding information, access to testing, etc.),” Krush said. “We were one of the first to offer a COVID-19 virtual assistant that deployed in under 48 hours based on trusted information from the health system and trusted resources such as the CDC and World Health Organization …. Hyro is well funded, with good growth and momentum, and we’ve always managed a responsible budget, so we’re actually looking to expand and gather more market share while competitors are slowing down.”

Hyro secures $20M for its AI-powered, healthcare-focused conversational platform by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

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How to hone your leadership skills, and what your company can do to help

In the rapidly changing, ambiguous and unpredictable world of work, future leaders must be able to learn fast.




Leadership potential. GaudiLab/Shutterstock

The UK labour market has finally started to see a fall in vacancies following a post-COVID spike in open positions. But there are still more than a million job vacancies, which are “damaging the economy by preventing firms from fulfilling order books and taking on new work”, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.

A recent survey by this business lobby group found four-fifths of firms can’t recruit the people they need. Companies often look outside for external candidates to fill senior roles, but this overlooks current employees who may have the potential to move up within an organisation – even if they do not know it yet.

Overlooking employees often happens when management plays it safe, rather than risking giving “one of their own” an important new assignment. The resulting untapped employee potential can leave people feeling underused and frustrated. You need to be given opportunities to stretch, learn and develop to fulfil your potential at work.

Quarter life, a series by The Conversation

This article is part of Quarter Life, a series about issues affecting those of us in our twenties and thirties. From the challenges of beginning a career and taking care of our mental health, to the excitement of starting a family, adopting a pet or just making friends as an adult. The articles in this series explore the questions and bring answers as we navigate this turbulent period of life. You may be interested in:

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Human resource managers use potential – and in particular, leadership potential – to identify the employees that could be their organisation’s future leaders. In the business world (and often in academic research too), the term “high potential” typically means you are able to develop further and faster than others in a similar situation.

Someone with leadership potential has the capacity to be an effective leader in the future, but may need support to develop the right skills and experience to succeed. So, how can you work out your own leadership potential? Research highlights three main traits you need:

1. Growth: learning and motivation

Many studies identify the ability to learn as key to predicting future leadership effectiveness. This incorporates keenness to learn, the ability to extract as many lessons as possible from different experiences, and to adapt by applying these to enhance your future performance.

This explains why some people learn more from their experiences (and develop faster) than others. There is also a motivational component that includes drive and perseverance to achieve results, and the ambition to lead.

2. Foundational: cognitive and personality characteristics

Research shows that people who are more emotionally balanced, sociable, ambitious, conscientious and curious are more likely to become leaders.

Also, because it’s important to be able to make decisions effectively in any senior role, cognitive capabilities are key. These typically include strong judgment skills in complex and ambiguous situations, and being able to collect and evaluate information from diverse sources to reach solid decisions.

3. Career: qualities specific to the future role

Some models of potential also include “career dimensions”, which are specific skills relevant to a future role. For leadership potential, these might include qualities such as strategic thinking or collaboration.

New technology and workplace trends are among the factors that are changing how we work. This means the demands of future roles – and the career-specific qualities required to excel in them – may be quite different to those of your current job. In fact, research shows that more than 70% of today’s top performers still lack the key qualities that will help them to be successful in their future roles.

How can you develop these qualities?

As rapid change renders knowledge and skills out of date at an astonishing rate, the ability to learn is increasingly crucial to future leaders. Rather than “having all the answers”, you need to be able to find or figure the answers out. This means that leaders need the humility to know they don’t know it all, and the interpersonal skills to listen openly and learn from a diverse network of people.

At the height of the COVID pandemic, for example, New Zealand’s then prime minister Jacinda Ardern didn’t have all the answers. But she used her platform to quite literally ask for information. Ardern did a series of video interviews with different experts to get some key answers, speaking to a psychologist about coping with the stresses of the pandemic, and an experienced business mentor about supporting small businesses.

Having asked, listened and sought varied insights, leaders must then apply strong judgment and problem-solving skills to decide on the best way forward – even if there is no obvious path. This draws upon cognitive ability, but it also involves skills that can be learnt.

Man in shirt at laptop, looking forward and sitting between two other people, raising hand.
People with leadership potential ask questions and learn from their experiences. Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Problems identifying potential

Unfortunately, organisations often rely upon current (or past) performance as a barometer of potential, which is far from ideal – not just because only a small proportion of current high performers also have high potential, but because people with strong potential may not currently be performing at their best. Perhaps they aren’t in the right role, or aren’t being sufficiently stretched or supported.

Either way, your employer shouldn’t conflate your current performance with your potential. This could also perpetuate the lack of diversity that persists at leadership level in many firms. Past performance is limited by opportunity. Some people, due to biases and stereotypes, may not have been offered the chance to show what they are capable of yet.

To avoid these problems, organisations need to assess their employees objectively to find those with leadership potential. This could include doing psychometric tests of their personality and cognitive and learning abilities. Simulations of typical tasks or problems could also replicate the likely cognitive demands of future leadership roles, helping to identify people who can best cope and learn from the experience.

Supporting future leaders

It’s important to remember that potential does not automatically unfold once it’s identified. Indeed, some studies claim that 40% of high-potential promotions end in failure.

However, if you’re good at learning from experiences and applying this to improve how you do things, and are motivated to progress and grow, you have a good chance of developing the career dimension qualities needed to be a future leader – and to do this faster than your peers.

But organisations must help by finding ways to stretch employees, while also building the scaffolding to support their learning and development. They should balance challenge with support through coaching, to help employees learn as much as they can from their experiences. If you want to be a future leader, you can then use these experiences to enhance your job performance and reach your full potential.

Zara Whysall also works for Kiddy & Partners, part of Gateley Plc.

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