With all the forecasts for the growth of electric vehicles and all the new batteries to back up solar power the demand for lithium seems set to explode.
This article talks about some of the challenges with scaling up production in the worlds largest resource basin.
Lithium Squeeze Looms as Top Miner Front-Loads, Chile Says
Most of the commentary on this post has revolved around the fact that Cobalt and not Lithium is perhaps the more critical resource. Some perspective on that material presented in the graphic below from a great Electrek article that details the raw material puzzle – “Breakdown of raw materials in Tesla’s batteries and possible bottlenecks.”
Here is another great article from Tech Crunch breaking down the cobalt topic with a bit more detail – No Cobalt, No Tesla. “The battery industry currently uses 42 percent of global cobalt production, a critical metal for Lithium-ion cells. The remaining 58 percent is used in diverse industrial and military applications (super alloys, catalysts, magnets, pigments…) that rely exclusively on the material.”
The Tech Crunch article also references a summary of the cobalt market from John Peterson – Tesla’s Evolving Cobalt Nightmare. John makes the important point that it is likely cobalt and not lithium that is the potential bottleneck in the supply chain, “While new lithium resources can be developed if prices are high enough, 94% of the world’s cobalt is produced as a by-product of copper and nickel mining.”