The world faces a shortage of lithium for electric vehicle batteries

Lithium is in high demand due to rapid growth in the production of electric vehicles that use lithium-ion batteries, but there is a global shortage of metal supply, with Western countries rushing to create new mines for compete with China.

The Serbian government on Thursday revoked licenses for a major lithium project owned by British-Australian miner Rio Tinto Plc, which industry experts say is expected to prolong a supply shortage until the middle of the decade. .

Here are some key facts about major lithium mines and supply based on data from the Australian Department of Industry, the US Geological Survey, company reports and a Credit Suisse report.


Lithium is currently produced from hard rock or brine mines. Australia is the world’s largest supplier, with production coming from hard rock mines. Argentina, Chile and China produce it mainly from salt lakes.

Total global production, measured in lithium carbonate equivalent, was forecast in December at 485,000 tonnes in 2021, rising to 615,000 tonnes in 2022 and 821,000 tonnes in 2023, according to Australia’s Department of Industry.

Credit Suisse analysts are more conservative, seeing 2022 production at 588,000 tons and 2023 at 736,000 tons, and forecast demand to outpace supply growth, with demand at 689,000 tons in 2022 and 902,000 tonnes in 2023, around two thirds of which will be for electric vehicles. batteries.

Lithium price

Lithium carbonate prices have hit record highs over the past year due to strong demand from Chinese battery makers.

On January 18, Allkem, the world’s top 10 producer, said it expects prices in the half year to June to rise to around $20,000 (around Rs 15 lakh) per tonne at point of loading, in up about 80% compared to the six months to December. 2021.

The largest mines in the world

Greenbushes, Western Australia, Talison Lithium (a joint venture of Tianqi Lithium, IGO and Albemarle. Current production capacity of 1.34 million tonnes per annum of chemical grade and technical grade lithium concentrate.

Pilgangoora, Western Australia, owned by Pilbara Minerals, plans to produce 400,000 to 450,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate by June 2022.

Mt Cattlin, Western Australia, owned by Allkem, the company resulting from the merger of Orocobre and Galaxy Resources, produced 230,065 tonnes of spodumene concentrate in 2021.

Mibra, Minas Gerais, Brazil, owned by Advanced Metallurgical Group, producing 90,000 tons per year of spodumene.

Mount Marion, Western Australia, owned by Mineral Resources Ltd, is on track to produce 450,000 to 475,000 tonnes of spodumene by June 2022.

Salar de Atacama, Antofagasta, Chile, owned by Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (SQM), producing 110,000 tons per year of lithium carbonate.

Chaerhan Lake Mine, in Qinghai, China, owned by Qinghai Salt Lake BYD Resources Development Co, capacity of 10,000 tons per year of lithium carbonate

Yajiang Cuola Mine, Sichuan, China, owned by Tianqi Lithium, capacity 10,000 tons per year.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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