Friday, January 1, 2021


Australia is the number one global lithium producer, underpinned by strong government support and a robust project pipeline. According to the USGS, Australia accounted for 54.4% of global lithium production in 2019, more than double the output of the world’s second-largest producer, Chile.
According to Statista, demand for lithium will more than double over the next 5 years to 820,000 tons.

China controls more than half of the world’s lithium processing and refining and has three-fourths of the lithium-ion battery megafactories in the world, according to the International Energy Agency.
The U.S. holds almost 8 million metric tons in reserve, ranking it among the top five countries in the world, according to the USGS.
But there is only one operating lithium mine in the U.S., Albemarle’s Silver Peak in Nevada.
Albemarle announced in January 2021 that it plans to double production capacity by 2025.
There are several domestic lithium projects in the works in Nevada, North Carolina, California and Arkansas, among other places.

Lithium isn’t rare. It’s the 33rd most abundant element.
There are a few places where there are significant stores of lithium. The Bolivian salt flats are believed to be home to more than 70% of the world’s lithium. But extraction is complicated, so it’s expensive, dangerous and requires 500,000 gallons of water per ton of lithium.

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Open cut hard rock mining, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia 
Brine pools and processing areas at SQM’s lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat. (Image courtesy of SQM.)

Visitors inspect a brine pool at a Sociedad QuĂ­mica y Minera de Chile (SQM) lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat in the Atacama Desert, Chile.  (May 29, 2019)

The Thacker Pass lithium mine is host to the largest known lithium resource in the US.
Humboldt County in northern Nevada
Canadian Lithium Americas Corp. (LAC) owns the Thacker Pass lithium project 

US homegrown lithium developments well-positioned near Tesla battery factory

Livent: Focused on Lithium for the Next Generation of Batteries

Livent, which was spun out of FMC Corporation in 2018, is a Philadelphia-based company with a lithium history that dates back to the 1940s. Compared to the other large Western players, namely Albemarle and SQM, which own and operate some non-lithium businesses, Livent is a pure-play company focused only on lithium.

Livent operates one of the lowest-cost lithium mineral deposits in the world, the Salar del Hombre Muerto in Argentina. The company’s operations sit at the low end of the global cost curve to produce lithium carbonate. Yet, the company’s strategy is to focus on lithium hydroxide. As such, it is important to note that brine-based raw materials like these require a two-step process to get to lithium hydroxide: a conversion into lithium carbonate first and then a conversion into lithium hydroxide. This extra step adds costs, but the all-in cost structure for lithium hydroxide, which we estimate to be about $5,800, remains below today’s depressed lithium prices.

The growing prevalence of nickel-rich batteries, which require lithium hydroxide, supports Livent’s business strategy. The company estimates nickel-rich batteries should increase their market share from about 25% today to 75% by the end of the decade.

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