Lithium Market

Lithium is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal that is highly reactive, incredibly light and low in density. Though it had a diverse range of applications throughout history, in recent years, it has become a critical component of lithium-ion (‘Li-ion’) batteries due its reactivity, lightness and ability to be recharged.

The consensus among industry experts is that demand for lithium will experience significant growth in the coming years due to the increased penetration of electric vehicles (EVs) globally and the popularisation of renewable energy, leading to increased demand for battery storage for a plethora of consumer goods and grid storage.

Exponential EV take-up is being driven by policy and consumer sentiment with global car companies responding.  China monthly EV sales reached a new record of 502,545 sales in December 2021, up 125% since January 20201.  BMW continued their rapid path to electronification delivering 97,000 plug-in electric cars in Q4 2021 (up to 29.6% year on year)2.

As a key raw material for batteries lithium prices are responding.  Spodumene concentrate prices are now US$3,000/t FOB Australia3 (up +600% over the past year) with battery grade lithium carbonate pricing up 402% from July 20204.

With the demand surge expected to continue, S&P forecasts global production of lithium to increase by 55% in 2022 against 2020 figures.


Global Lithium Supply & Demand (kt LCE5)

1 Source: Inside EVs

2 Source: Inside EVs

3 Source: S&P Global Platts, Metals Daily 14 January 2022

4 Source: S&P Global Platts, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence & Fastmarkets

5 LCE: Lithium Carbonate Equivalent

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