How Much Demand for Lithium is There?

Lithium is used in a very wide variety of resources including lithium for use in primary and secondary batteries.  This type of lithium is called battery grade metal. Battery grade lithium has been on the increase by about 25% year over year since 2000. With the push for lithium to be used in electric cars the obvious question would be is how much lithium is available worldwide?

In the most recent edition of “The Economics of Lithium” (Roskill Market Reports, 11th Edition, 2009), worldwide lithium reserves are as follows:

  • Current worldwide production is about 22,800 tonnes Lithium. (or 114,000 tonnes carbonate)*
  • Current worldwide demand is about 23,000 tonnes Lithium. (or 122,000 tonnes carbonate)*
  • Current estimates of worldwide Lithium reserves total about 30,000,000 tonnes Lithium (or 150,000,000 tonnes Lithium Carbonate)*

Interesting the world’s supply of lithium is concentrated by producers in very few countries. The largest concentration of lithium is in the America’s (Argentina and Chile). Australia also has a large producer, Talison Minerals, and in the U.S. Chemetall is the only U.S. domestic source of lithium raw material and the largest global producer of lithium and lithium compounds used in batteries, pharmaceuticals and many other industries.

According to the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, January 2010):

  • identified lithium resources the United States total 2.5 million tons
  • identified lithium resources for Bolivia total 9 million tons
  • identified lithium resources for Chile total in excess of 7.5 million tons
  • identified lithium resources for Argentina total in excess of 2.5 million tons
  • identified lithium resources for China total in excess of 2.5 million tons

 Until next time, Dan Hagopian –
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