The demand for lithium has increased due to the increase in the production of electric vehicles using lithium-ion batteries. But there is a crisis of its supply all over the world. The competition is on to bring new mines to the western countries to compete with China. On Thursday, Serbia’s government cancelled the license of a major lithium project owned by Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto Plc, according to sources. Let us focus on some facts on major lithium mines and lithium supplies, based on data from the Australian Department of Industry, the US Geological Survey, the company’s report and the Credit Suisse report.
As we know, Lithium comes from hard rock or salt mines. Australia is considered as the world’s largest supplier of production from hard rock mines. At the same time, China, Chile and Argentina, Chile are producing it from salt lakes. Total global production of lithium carbonate stood at 485,000 tonnes in December 2021 according to Australia’s Department of Industry. This was projected to increase to 615,000 tonnes in 2022 and to 821,000 tonnes in 2023. Credit Suisse’s analysis predicts lithium production to be 588,000 tonnes in 2022 and 736,000 tonnes in 2023. But its demand will be high. The main reason for its high demand is the batteries used in electric vehicles.
Lithium carbonate prices have attained high records in the past one year due to the increased demand from Chinese battery makers. Allkem, one of the world’s top 10 lithium producers, has said that its price will be $ 20,000 (about Rs 15 lakh) per tonne by June.
Here are some of the world’s largest lithium mines, Greenbush (Western Australia). It can produce up to 1.34 million tonnes annually, Pilgungur (Western Australia). It is expected to produce 400,000-450,000 tonnes by June 2022, Mount Catlin (Western Australia). The mining company here produced 230,065 tonnes of spodumene concentrate in 2021, Mibra (Brazil). Every year 90,000 tonnes of spodumene is produced here, Mound Marion (Western Australia). It is supposed to produce 450,000-475,000 tonnes of spodumene by June 2022.