The global lithium market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.8% from 2016-2020, according to a report available from Research and Markets. Lithium and its derivative components are used in end-use segments such as batteries, ceramics and glass, lubricants, metallurgy, air treatment, and polymers. Rising demand for lithium-ion batteries used in grid-connected storage is expected to boost growth, as is demand for electric vehicles, particularly in China. In 2015, China became the largest market for these vehicles (214,282 sold), followed by Western Europe (184,501) and the U.S. (115,263). The market in China is expected to grow at a CAGR of 27%, which translates into increasing demand for lithium batteries.8
In the U.S., lithium exports increased by 24.6% to 1,770 t in 2015, while imports for consumption jumped 40.6% to 2,980 t. Worldwide, lithium production increased slightly in 2015 in response to increased lithium demand for battery applications; major producers expected worldwide lithium consumption in 2015 to be approximately 32,500 t, representing a 5% increase from 2014’s 31,000 t. Estimated global end-use markets include: batteries, 35%; ceramics and glass, 32%; lubricating greases, 9%; air treatment and continuous casting mold flux powders, 5% each; polymer production, 4%; primary aluminum production, 1%; and other uses, 9%.
Lithium supply security has become a top priority for technology companies in the U.S. and Asia. Strategic alliances and joint ventures will continue to be established to ensure a reliable, diversified supply of lithium for battery suppliers and vehicle manufacturers. In 2015, brine operations were under development in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and the U.S.; spodumene mining operations were under development in Australia, Canada, China and Finland; a jadarite mining operation was under development in Serbia; and a lithium clay mining operation was under development in Mexico.
8. Global Lithium Market 2016-2020 (published May 2016; $2,500), Research and Markets, www.researchandmarkets.com.