* Neometals considers splitting technology from mining business
* Shares down nearly 20 percent in 2017
* GRAPHIC: Global electric vehicle market - tmsnrt.rs/2ppiLi3
By Zandi Shabalala
LONDON, June 15 (Reuters) - Australian lithium miner Neometals plans to list in New York and may spin off its processing technology in an attempt to boost its share value, Chief Executive Chris Reed said.
The share prices of lithium producers are volatile because of uncertainty surrounding supply, demand and pricing as analysts disagree over the potential size of the market for electric vehicles, many of which use lithium batteries.
Neometals stands out from the crowd, Reed said, because it uses a combination of chemicals to accelerate the process of creating lithium, cutting costs.
He predicted the U.S. market, with its large contingent of institutional investors, would value his firm’s technical expertise.
“Mining is well understood in Australia. Our plan to process our mineral concentrates into lithium battery materials and development of new processing technologies is not,” Reed told Reuters.
He said Neometals was eyeing a listing under the Nasdaq International Designation - an upgrade of its over-the-counter offering - within the next two years.
Most operators in the lithium triangle of high-altitude lakes and salt flats that straddles Chile, Argentina and Bolivia rely on salt pools.
These take many months to produce lithium, although some operators say that once the process has begun, its duration becomes irrelevant because it creates a steady stream of lithium production.
Rechargeable batteries containing lithium are used in mobile phones and electric cars, whose sales are forecast to rise fourfold from 2015 levels to 2.5 percent of the global car market by 2020, Wood Mackenzie consultant James Whiteside said.
Consulting group CRU expects lithium demand to grow by around 20,000 tonnes per year over the next few years, from just over 200,000 tonnes in 2016.
Many companies have been seeking to get into lithium, although not all projects are delivering. Lithium bulls say it would take only a slightly bigger takeup in electric vehicles than many predict to result in a shortfall.
Lithium-based equities rallied over the previous two years, but have fallen this year because of a combination of profit-taking and fears of a supply bubble.
Neometals shares are down nearly 20 percent since the start of the year, in line with the wider trend.
Apart from a lithium and a titanium mine, Neometals has two processing plants and recycles batteries to recover cobalt in Canada.
Reporting by Zandi Shabalala; Editing by Dale Hudson