Lithium Demand

The majority of increased demand for Lithium comes from electric vehicles (EV’s), which are predicted to be cheaper than petroleum fueled cars by 2024.  Industry growth is expected to translate into 25 million EV’s being sold annually by the year 2030.  Additionally, government production quotas in China, in an effort to reduce pollution, are set to bring total investment in Lithium mining to between $350 billion and $750 billion by 2030.

Lithium is mined on six continents. Even if the market triples, there are 185 years’ worth of reserves in the ground, Deutsche Bank estimates:

High Lithium Prices Are Not a Deal Breaker:

Predicted EV Car Sales (2017-2030):

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Lithium Supply

Hard-rock ore containing lithium (pegmatite*) is extracted at open-pit or underground mines using conventional mining techniques. The ore is processed and concentrated using a variety of methods prior to direct use or further processing into lithium compounds.

*Pegmatite is a coarse-grained intrusive igneous rock formed from crystallized magma below the Earth’s crust. Pegmatite lithium deposits, also known as hard-rock lithium deposits, can contain extractable amounts of a number of elements, including lithium, tin, tantalum and niobium. Lithium in pegmatites is most commonly found in the mineral spodumene, but also may be present in petalite, lepidolite, amblygonite, and eucryptite.

Growth Sectors

From cellphones to laptops to electric vehicles, lithium makes up an increasingly important part of technology used in the daily lives of billions around the world. Currently, lithium demand is rooted in the following categories:

Batteries

The global lithium-ion battery market is projected to reach USD $62B at a CAGR of over 16% by 2023. Emergence of cloud-based technologies is a major factor driving growth as well as increasing demand for lithium-ion battery across verticals like automotive, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and IT & telecomm.

Lubricant Grease

An estimated 2.38 billion pound market, in which lithium-based greases make up 75%. Lithium-based greases generally have good stability, high temperature characteristics and water-resistance properties.

Glass

Lithium typically sourced from the mineral spodumene reduces the viscosity and thermal expansion of glass and, therefore, leads to increased melting efficiencies and/or larger effective furnace capacities. The end result is a substantial energy savings for the glass manufacturers.

Ceramics

Lithium is used in the ceramics industry to produce glazes. The glazes improve a ceramic piece’s shock absorption and stain resistance, protecting the piece against damage. Lithium carbonate typically is used for glass applications.

Health & Wellness Products

Lithium, in trace amounts (around 0.170 mg/L), can be prescribed to those with bipolar disorders or individuals with depression who don’t respond successfully to anti-depressants.

Electric Vehicle Market

This is an exponentially growing market.