London, UK, April 22, 2021: The global market for lithium mining is poised for stupendous expansion at more than 26% CAGR over the period of 2021–2025. As suggested by a recent market intelligence report of Fairfield Market Research, global valuation of lithium mining market will reach past US$1 Bn towards the end of forecast period. Increasing consumption of Li-ion batteries by automotive and consumer electronics industries is expected to create a measurable boost in need for lithium mining activities in the near future.
Key Insights into Lithium Mining Market:
- Over 15 million MT lithium deposits are globally available in an extractable form
- Chile (8.6 MMT), Australia (2.8 MMT), Argentina (1.7 MMT), and China (1MMT) lead in terms of potential/extractable lithium reserves
- Australia and China constituted more than 60% of world’s lithium production in 2019
- In 2019, the production of lithium stood at 77 thousand MT whereas, the demand registered was 57.7 thousand MT. Thus, close to 20 thousand MT of lithium was over-produced and left unsold to be stocked later
- Lithium producers will benefit from EV sales. The current EV stock is expected to double by 2030 and EVs are anticipated to displace conventional passenger vehicle sales by 10% towards 2025 end
- Li-ion battery prices dropped to 89% between 2010 and 2020, thereby increasing affordability of EVs to general public
- Cost of lithium hydroxide is higher than that of lithium carbonate. However, increasing demand for the former in development of highly efficient Li-ion batteries will overtake that of the latter in the next few years
- Lithium production has been free from any significant disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic. Also, the current high stock levels of lithium would be sufficient to buffer the industry.
Reliance on Lithium Continues; Extensive List of Applications Sustains Demand
Lithium mining activities are gaining strong ground on the back of an accelerating demand for electric vehicles (EVs) as they are powered by lithium-ion batteries. Frontrunners such as the UK, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, and Norway have already announced a phase-out for conventional internal combustion engine-powered cars. In addition, lithium continues to witness sustained traction in other application areas such as glass and ceramics to aluminium products, lubricants, and polymers. Application of this white metal in sectors like air treatment is crucial, which warrants decent demand through the forecast period.
Lithium will remain the area of interest for top automotive companies, battery technology giants, chemicals manufacturing companies, and governments. Investments are thus flooding the lithium mining market. Some significant strategic alliances are expected to be seen between companies and miners in the near future. Presenting an ideal material for use in dehumidification and cooling applications, lithium is witnessing heightening demand prospects. Escalating demand for lithium from air conditioning equipment manufacturers is slated to unlock multiple doors of opportunities for market participants.
Australia on the Frontier in Production of Lithium
In terms of production, Australia will continue to capture the top spot, with over half the share in global production volume. China will also remain an important market for lithium consumers, suggests the report. However, the Chile-Argentina-Bolivia cluster – popularly the Lithium Triangle, continues to face challenges thrown by existing sustainability issues raised by indigenous communities and respective governments. These stumbling blocks are preventing these three major producers to participate in global lithium export.
Contentious Angle of Lithium Mining to be a Game Changer in Future
The rise of EVs and unprecedented pace of e-mobility created an instant impression that the lithium invention is soon to bear its fruit. However, the cost-efficient processes of lithium mining that are used today prove to be highly energy- and mineral-intensive. The world is thus seemingly not meeting the ultimate goal of e-mobility, i.e., reduced environmental footprint and lowered carbon emission as mining is being performed at the cost of environment. The question that remains is can the existing lithium mining get more sustainable and more efficient.
Global leaders in EV space such as Volkswagen Group and Mercedes-Benz are pioneering the movement that would make the industry reassess its value chain to spot possibilities of creating a sustainable lithium production process that has a lower footprint and can potentially stand as an alternative to mining in future. Geothermal brines also appear to be a promising source for lithium recovery, reveals research. Utilising lithium from recycled batteries and electronic goods is being considered a viable option but the existing quantity would not suffice the current demand from all over the globe. World Bank clearly states that looking at lithium consumption by EVs alone, nearly fivefold of the current mined lithium will be required, if the global climate target is to be met in 2050.
While research reaffirms that electric cars will heavily depend on lithium as a key raw material for the next couple of decades more, it also says that a majority of this lithium will not be ‘new’ but ‘recovered or recycled’. This situation will however take a lot more time to begin, possibly by the end of this decade till a sufficient quality of Li-ion battery are returned for recycling.
The report elaborates on strategic insights of some of the leading companies participating in the global lithium mining market competition. Ganfeng Lithium Co., Ltd., SQM S.A., Albemarle Corporation, Mineral Resources, Lithium Americas Corp., Tianqi Lithium, Livent, and Orocobre Limited Pty Ltd. are some of the top players profiled in the study.
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