Lithium is the lightest solid element and an alkali metal. It is the 31st most abundant element, and is used in batteries for cell phones and cameras and in high performance aerospace alloys. High-capacity lithium-ion batteries are used to power electric vehicles. Lithium deuteride is used in staged thermonuclear weapons as a fusion fuel. Compounds of lithium are also used as mood stabilizing drugs. Chile is the leading producer of lithium, though the largest lithium reserves lie in the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.
Domestic Production and Use: Chile was the leading lithium chemical producer in the world; Argentina, China, and the United States also were major producers. Australia and Zimbabwe were major producers of lithium ore concentrates. The United States remained the leading importer of lithium minerals and compounds and the leading producer of value-added lithium materials. Because only one company produced lithium compounds from domestic resources, reported production and value of production were withheld from publication to avoid disclosing company proprietary data. Estimation of value for the lithium mineral compounds produced in the United States is extremely difficult because of the large number of compounds used in a wide variety of end uses and the great variability of the prices for the different compounds. Two companies produced a large array of downstream lithium compounds in the United States from domestic or South American lithium carbonate. A U.S. recycling company produced a small quantity of lithium carbonate from solutions recovered during the recycling of lithium-ion batteries.
Although lithium markets vary by location, global end-use markets are estimated as follows: ceramics and glass, 31%; batteries, 23%; lubricating greases, 9%; air treatment, 6%; primary aluminum production, 6%; continuous casting, 4%; rubber and thermoplastics, 4%; pharmaceuticals, 2%; and other uses, 15%. Lithium use in batteries expanded significantly in recent years because rechargeable lithium batteries were being used increasingly in portable electronic devices and electrical tools.
Events, Trends, and Issues: Market conditions improved for lithium-based products in 2010. Sales volumes for the major lithium producers were reported to be up more than 30% by mid-2010. Consumption by lithium end-use markets for batteries, ceramics and glass, grease, and other industrial applications all increased. The leading lithium producer in Chile lowered its lithium prices by 20% in 2010. Many new companies continued exploring for lithium on claims worldwide. Numerous claims in Nevada, as well as Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, and Canada, have been leased or staked.
The only active lithium carbonate plant in the United States was a brine operation in Nevada. Subsurface brines have become the dominant raw material for lithium carbonate production worldwide because of lower production costs compared with the mining and processing costs for hard-rock ores. Two brine operations in Chile dominate the world market, and a facility at a brine deposit in Argentina produced lithium carbonate and lithium chloride. Two additional brine operations were under development in Argentina. Worldwide, most lithium minerals mined were used directly as ore concentrates in ceramics and glass applications rather than as feedstock for lithium carbonate and other lithium compounds.
In an effort to increase the quality of lithium suitable for advanced transportation batteries, the sole active lithium production company in United States began the expansion of its lithium operation in North Carolina to include battery-grade lithium hydroxide. Funding for the project was obtained in part from the U.S. Department of Energy. An emerging Australian lithium ore producer commenced lithium concentrate production in Western Australia. The lithium concentrate was to be converted to battery-grade lithium carbonate in China to supply the Asian market. Australia’s leading lithium ore miner merged with an emerging lithium brine mining company to develop a lithium brine operation in Chile.
Batteries, especially rechargeable batteries, are the uses for lithium compounds with the largest growth potential. Demand for rechargeable lithium batteries continued to gain market share over rechargeable nonlithium batteries for use in cordless tools, portable computers and cellular telephones, and video cameras. Major automobile companies were pursuing the development of lithium batteries for hybrid electric vehicles—vehicles with an internal combustion engine and a battery-powered electric motor. Most commercially available hybrid vehicles use other types of batteries, although future generations of these vehicles may use lithium. Nonrechargeable lithium batteries were used in calculators, cameras, computers, electronic games, watches, and other devices.
Asian technology companies continued to invest in the development of lithium operations in other countries to ensure a stable supply of lithium for their battery industries. With lithium carbonate being one of the lowest cost components of a lithium-ion battery, the issue to be addressed was not cost difference or production efficiency but supply security attained by acquiring lithium from a number of different lithium sources.
World Resources: The identified lithium resources total 4 million tons in the United States and approximately 29 million tons in other countries. Among the other countries, identified lithium resources for Bolivia and Chile total 9 million tons and in excess of 7.5 million tons, respectively. China and Argentina total 5.4 million tons and 2.6 million tons of identified lithium resources, respectively, while Brazil, Congo, and Serbia each contain approximately 1 million tons. Identified lithium resources for Australia and Canada total 630,000 tons and 360,000 tons, respectively.
Substitutes: Substitution for lithium compounds is possible in batteries, ceramics, greases, and manufactured glass. Examples are calcium and aluminum soaps as substitutes for stearates in greases; calcium, magnesium, mercury, and zinc as anode material in primary batteries; and sodic and potassic fluxes in ceramics and glass manufacture. Lithium carbonate is not considered to be an essential ingredient in aluminum potlines. Substitutes for aluminum-lithium alloys in structural materials are composite materials consisting of boron, glass, or polymer fibers in engineering resins
A123 Systems (NASDAQ: AONE) - rechargeable lithium-ion batteries
Advanced Battery Technologies (NASDAQ: ABAT) - http://www.abat.com.cn/ - Rechargeable polymer lithium-ion (PLI) batteries
Altair Nanotechnologies (NASDAQ: ALTI) - http://www.altairnano.com/ - Nano-structured lithium titanate batteries
Avalon Rare Metals (AMEX: AVL) - Separation Rapids petalite deposit near Kenora, Ontario.
Avanex (NASDAQ: AVNX) - Lithium niobate optical modulators Hong Kong Highpower Technology (AMEX: HPJ) - http://www.haopengbattery.com/en/ - Lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries
Axeon Holdings (LON: AXE) - http://www.axeon.com/Technology/Cells/Lithium-%28secondary-rechargeable%29.aspx - The largest independent supplier of lithium-ion batteries in Europe Polypore (NYSE: PPO) - membrane separators for lithium batteries
Canada Lithium Corporation (CVE: CLQ) - Lithium brine propsect in Esmeralda County, NV, and a lithium spodumene pegmatite deposit in Quebec
Channel Resources (CVE: CHU) - Fox Creek Lithium Brine Project in Alberta, Canada
China BAK Battery (NASDAQ: CBAK) - http://www.bak.com.cn/product.asp - Chinese producer of cylindrical lithium-ion cells, lithium polymer cells, and aluminium-case lithium-ion cells
China Sun Group High Tech (OTC: CSGH) - Lithium iron phosphate and cobaltosic oxide
Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW) - Dow is developing advanced lithium batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.
First Lithium Resources (CVE: MCI) - lithium exploration in Canada.
FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC) - Lithium metal and organic lithium compounds at its Bessemer City, NC, and Bayport, TX facilities. Salar de Hombre Muerto property in Argentina
HudBay Minerals (NYSE: HBM) - Spodumene mine and concentrating plant at Bernic Lake, Manitoba.
International Lithium Corp. (CVE: ILC)
Galaxy Resources (ASX: GXY) - Mt. Cattlin Lithium/Tantalum Project near Ravensthorpe, Western Australia
Greenlight Resources (CVE: GR) - Brazil Lake property near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Jourdan Resources (CVE: JOR)
Latin American Minerals (CVE: LAT) - Salares Potash-Lithium Project on the Puna plateau in northwestern Argentina
Li3 Energy (OTC: LIEG) - Maricunga lithium brine project in Chile
Lithium Americas (TSE: LAC) - Cauchari-Olaroz lithium properties in the Jujuy and Salta provinces of Argentina
Lithium Corporation (OTC: LTUM) - Salt Wells lithium property
Lithium Exploration Group (OTC: LEXG) - Valleyview Project in Canada and Salta Project in Argentina
Lithium One (CVE: LI) - Cyr Lithium Prospect in Quebec
Mammoth Energy Group (PINK: MMTE) - their Compania Lithium Investments Limitada of Chile owns lithium concessions in the Salar de Maricunga basin in Copiapo, Chile
Nemaska Exploration (CVE: NMX) - Whabouchi lithium-beryllium property in Quebec
New World Resource Corp (CVE: NW) - Pastos Grandes brine project in southwestern Bolivia
Obtala Resources (LON: OBT) - Arizaro lithium claims in north-western Argentina
Orocobre (ASX: ORE) - Salar de Olaroz lithium project in northwestern Argentina.
Perilya (ASX: PEM) - Moblan lithium project in Canada
Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO) - Discovered jadarite, a mineral containing a high percentage of lithium oxide
Rock Tech Lithium (CVE: RCK) - Kapiwak Pegmatite Region in Quebec
Rockwood Holdings (NYSE: ROC) - Their Chemetall Foote subsidiardy produces lithium carbonate from brines near Silver Peak, NV. They also have a butyllithium plant in New Johnsonville, TN and facilities for downstream lithium compounds in Kings Mountain, NC. Their Chilean subsidiary, Sociedad Chilena de Litio, proudces lithium carbonate and lithium chloride from a brine deposit
Rodinia Lithium (CVE: RM) - Clayton Valley lithium property in Emeralda County, Nevada; Salar de Salinas Grandes lithium property in Jujuy Province, Argentina; and Strider lithium property in Manitoba, Canada
Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (NYSE: SQM) - http://www.sqm.com/ - This lithium giant is also a major producer of iodine.
Taiyo Yuden (TYO: 6976) - Cylindrical lithium ion capacitor
Talison Lithium (TSE: TLH) - Spodumene deposit in Western Australia
Tucana Lithium (OTC: TUCA) - Abigail lithium property in the James Bay regio of Quebec
Ultra Lithium (CVE: ULI) - Berland River property in Alberta, Canada, and Zigzag Lake property in Ontario, Canada
Valence Technology (NASDAQ: VLNC) - http://www.valence.com/products/battery_modules - Lithium Iron Magnesium Phosphate (LiFeMgPO4) batteries
Western Lithium (CVE: WLC) - Lithium-rich hectorite clay deposits in King's Valley, Nevada.
(wiki) - Lithium on Wikipedia
Lithium News 2011-07-25 - (sta) - Stanford transparent batteries: seeing straight through to the future?
2011-07-11 - (ma) - Air Force seeks to boost manufacturing and affordability of lithium ion military battery power
2011-07-10 - (mn) - Future of electric cars hinges on better batteries
2011-07-07 - (th) - Seth Fletcher on superbatteries, electric cars, and the new lithium economy
2011-07-06 - (rin) - Lithium prices continue to climb
2011-07-06 - (evw) - Lithium iron phosphate (LMP/LFP) battery
2011-06-30 - (fc) - The rush to electric cars will replace oil barons with lithium dictators
2011-06-30 - (afp) - Argentina considers OPEC-like deal for lithium
2011-06-30 - (bw) - Canada Lithium says China demand to outstrip supply by 2015
2011-06-29 - (en) - Tripling lithium battery capacity with aluminium-celmet
2011-06-29 - (reu) - Why lithium-ion batteries die so young
2011-06-28 - (im) - Mitsubishi considers producing lithium in Chile
2011-06-27 - (en) - Lithium prices rise with battery demand
2011-06-24 - (sa) - Bolivia: Government intervention and the pace of lithium battery adoption
2011-06-24 - (sa) - Lithium batteries and electric cars: Why oil ETFs are better investments for now
2011-06-23 - (prn) - FMC Lithium announces global price increases
2011-06-20 - (cd) - Chengdu firm to revolutionize lithium battery sector
2011-06-20 - (cd) - Geely head has major investment in lithium
2011-06-16 - (bw) - Rockwood’s lithium division announces global price increases
2011-06-15 - (rin) - Lithium resource in Argentina attracting analyst interest
2011-06-14 - (mw) - Lithium explorers brace for greater competition
2011-06-14 - (aus) - Talison to restrict supply of lithium
2011-06-13 - (zac) - Best lithium battery stock you've never heard of
2011-06-13 - (etf) - Lithium ETF higher after A123 Systems upgrade
2011-06-13 - (cnw) - Canada Lithium confirms Quebec lithium mine viability
2011-06-01 - (bw) - China closes strategic lithium transaction in Latin America
2011-05-19 - (ts) - Green Energy: Lithium battery makers fork in the road
2011-05-18 - (mw) - Mammoth Energy Group completes due diligence on Chilean lithium acquistions
2011-05-18 - (ri) - Inflationary costs impacting lithium producer
2011-05-17 - (mw) - Lithium-ion battery makers show significant growth potential
2011-05-09 - (npr) - Lithium battery industry keeps going, and going...
2011-05-12 - (mw) - TNR Gold Corp.: International Lithium Corp. spin-out record date set
2011-02-14 - (pi - Talison Lithium's Q2 sales soars 79%
2010-12-06 - (sa) - Is it time to invest in lithium?
2010-11-12 - (ber) - Japanese companies help Bolivia with lithium production
2010-11-11 - (ta) - Battle heats up for critical lithium
2010-11-10 - (lin) - Top lithium producers
2010-11-07 - (bl) - Galaxy Resources looking to acquisitions to expand production lithium
2010-10-30 - (mp) - Iran "partner" in the industrialization of Bolivia's lithium reserves
2010-10-28 - (cnn) - Bolivia poised to power world's electric cars
2010-10-28 - (pi) - Rock Tech to begin exploration program at Georgia Lake Lithium Project in Ontario
2010-10-28 - (mw) - China Lithium Technologies unveils new Lithium Magic ube product series at the China Import and Export Fair in Guanzhou
2010-10-28 - (mg) - Canada Lithium finds more resources north of Val d'Or
2010-10-27 - (pr) - BASF breaks ground for North America's most advanced production facility for lithium-ion battery materials
2010-10-27 - (cnet) - Sanyo eyes tenfold increase in lithium ion battery capacity
2010-10-27 - (hc) - Bolivia rebuffs LG and Mitsubishi, eyes state-owned lithium ion battery venture
2010-10-27 - (rin) - Lithium producer sees strong demand recovery in lithium primaries
2010-10-27 - (tec) - Lithium projects galore 2010-10-27 - (msn) - Bolivian lithium plans hurts foreign companies: French envoy
2010-10-26 - (ct) - Lithium ETF plays growth of electric cars and mobile electronics
2010-10-26 - (dw) - Hybrid lithium ion capacitors from Taiyo Yuden
2010-10-21 - (bw) - Morales: Bolivia to make lithium batteries on own
2010-10-21 - (xin) - Lithium-ion battery bank to be established in S California
2010-10-19 - (bw) - Lithium demand may triple by 2020 on batteries, Orocobre says
2010-10-13 - (rin) - Australian lithium producer reports strong results
2010-03-09 - (ft) - Copper and lithium scramble to power the energy future
2010-03-09 - (nyt) - The lithium chase
2010-01-20 - (wsj) - Toyota seeks lithium supply for batteries
2009-10-21 - (fp) - Bolivia's lithium-powered future
2009-08-05 - (dow) - Dow Kokam receives $161 million U.S. Department of Energy grant
2009-07-13 - (icis) - Lithium producers set to benefit from growth in hybrid autos market
2008-11-09 - (bbc) - Bolivia holds key to electric car future.
2007-08-03 - (mw) - Two ways to play the lithium boom