Rising demand for lithium has seen the metal’s production quadruple over the last ten years. As a key material in lithium-ion batteries, the global demand for lightweight lithium has grown alongside the push towards net zero emissions. 

The emergence of Electric Vehicles (EVs) is the primary driver of the future-focused mineral’s new heights. 

For many years, until 2010, the uses for lithium were wide and varied. The ceramics and glassmaking industries accounted for around one-third of lithium consumed for a long time.

Fast forward to 2021, and that demand has shrunk to just 14%, a distant second behind batteries which consume a massive 74% of all lithium produced worldwide today.

End-use Lithium Consumption 2010 (%) Lithium Consumption 2021 (%)
Batteries 23% 74%
Ceramics and glass 31% 14%
Lubricating greases 10% 3%
Air treatment 5% 1%
Continuous casting   4%   2%
Other 27% 6%
Total 100% 100%

Considering how much that production has and is projected to increase, we can expect battery technology alone to require 1.5 million tonnes of lithium by 2025 and double again to 3 million tonnes by 2030.  That’s a vast amount of “White Gold” yet to come out of the ground.

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Who Digs up Our Lithium?

Sources of lithium have been in flux over the years.

Rewinding to the 1990s, the US was the world’s largest lithium producer, accounting for one-third of all production.

But some things never stay the same.

Chile took the mantle of the number-1 lithium powerhouse after the US and until 2010, relying on its massive Salar de Atacama lithium brine deposits – some of the world’s richest. 

However, Australia has risen to the top of the lithium podium since then. 

Compared to Chile’s brine deposits, Australia unearths a wealth of Li from hard-rock mines and the mineral spodumene contained inside. 

Australia alone now produces 52% of the world’s lithium. 

China is the world’s third-largest producer, acquiring several assets worldwide over the last decade on a $5.6B spending spree. 

The communist nation is also home to 60% of the world’s lithium battery refining capacity.

Rank Country 2021 Production (tonnes) % of Total
#1 Australia 🇦🇺 55,416 52%
#2 Chile 🇨🇱 26,000 25%
#3 China 🇨🇳 14,000 13%
#4 Argentina 🇦🇷 5,967 6%
#5 Brazil 🇧🇷 1,500 1%
#6 Zimbabwe 🇿🇼 1,200 1%
#7 Portugal 🇵🇹 900 1%
#8 United States 🇺🇸 900 1%
Rest of World 🌍 102 0.1%
Total 105,984 100%

The Future of Lithium Production

To put all this in perspective, the world produced just 540,000 tonnes of Lithium Carbonate in 2021. 

Yet based on the above demand projections, production will need to triple by 2025 and increase again nearly six times by 2030!

And while supply has been on a steep growth line, it can take six to over 15 years for new lithium projects to come online. 

Because of this, the lithium market is projected to be in drought over the next few years.


The world’s demand for lightweight lithium has gone from strength to strength over the last 25 years.

Initially relied on for ceramics, glass and lubrication applications, the rise of lithium-ion batteries has seen demand quadruple over the last decade, with projections of a 3 million tonne requirement by 2030.

Much of this rests with electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers and their supply chains. 

After changing hands many times, Australia is now the dominant performer in global lithium production, accounting for over half the world’s supply alone.

Gone are the days of varied use, however, with battery technology requiring 74% of the world’s stock to keep up with its rapid advance.

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