The growing demand for lithium
The global demand for Lithium is on the up, worldwide demand for finished Lithium is around 160,000 tons a year. It is expected to rise to 400,000 to 500,000 per year over the next decade.
According to data from USGS, worldwide lithium production increased slightly in 2015 as a result of an increased demand for battery applications – of which lithium is a key component.
Batteries, specifically rechargeable batteries, have been identified as the largest potential growth area for lithium compounds with the demand for these far outweighing that of other rechargeable ones. Demand is also on the rise as automobile companies have entered the market, developing lithium batteries for electric and hybrid electric vehicles.
- Mineral-sourced lithium regained market share and was estimated to account for one-half of the world’s lithium supply in 2015 – which was 32,500 Mt.
- Rechargeable lithium batteries are used extensively in the growing market for portable electronic devices and increasingly are used in electric tools, electric vehicles, and grid storage applications. Lithium minerals were used directly as ore concentrates in ceramics and glass applications worldwide.
As for world mine production and reserves of lithium, the three powerhouses as listed in the report are:
- Australia leads the charge with 13,400 Mt production of lithium, with 2,000,000 in lithium reserves. Chile comes ins a close second, with 11,500 Mt of lithium and 7,500,000 in reserves. And the third largest producer is China, with 2,200 Mt in production and 3,200,000.
Three lithium producers from across the world:
The only lithium producer in North America is Lithium X, in Clayton Valley, Nevada. The Albermarle’s Silver Peak brine evaporation project, which has been the only lithium brine production in North America since 1966. Recent reports have revealed that Clayton Valley has an inferred resource of 816,000.
Lithium X also owns the Sal de Los Angeles project in the Salta Province, Argentina. It contains a Mineral Resource Estimate of 1,037,000 tonnes of lithium carbonated. Lithium X is focusing on becoming a low cost supplier for the burgeoning lithium battery industry, working with global battery giants like Panasonic, AESC, LG and BYD.
Australian lithium producers Pilbara Minerals own the Pilgangoora development project. The project contains the world’s second largest spodumene resource and one of the largest tantalite resources. With plans to become a leading low cost lithium supplier, a recent Ore Reserve estimate published in March this year revealed a 29.5 million tonnes of lithium oxide.
Shanghai China Lithium, founded in 2002, is a Chinese based lithium production company. The company produces an annual output of 600 tons of lithium dihydrogen phosphate; 3000 tons of Litium Carbonate, and 2500 tons of battery grade lithium hydroxide.
The September issue of Mining Global Magazine is here!
Get in touch with our editor Dale Benton at [email protected]
DRC selects Fortescue to develop giant hydro project
Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC's) government said on Tuesday Fortescue Metals Group would develop the Grand Inga hydroelectric power project, including a 4,800-megawatt dam that has already been committed to Chinese and Spanish developers.
Fortescue to develop dams for world's largest hydroelectric project
Australia's Fortescue confirmed it was in talks with Congo to develop a series of dams that could become the world's largest hydroelectric project, but it said no formal binding agreement had been concluded.
Fortescue's involvement is the latest twist in Congo's decades-long quest to expand Inga, whose two existing dams - completed in 1972 and 1982 - have a combined installed capacity of nearly 1,800 MW.
The proposed expansion of six more dams would bring capacity to over 40,000 MW, roughly double the size of China's Three Gorges dam, currently the world's largest. Total development costs have been estimated at up to $80bn.
In 2018, a Chinese consortium that includes China Three Gorges Corporation and a Spanish consortium that includes AEE Power signed a deal with Congo's government to develop the third dam, known as Inga 3.
Ground has yet to be broken on Inga 3 because of questions over its financial viability. Alexy Kayembe De Bampende, President Felix Tshisekedi's top infrastructure advisor, said the project would now be led by Fortescue.
"Fortescue will be the sole operator for the entire Grand Inga (3 to 8). Chinese & co are welcome to join Fortescue," he told Reuters."There has been discussion between Chinese (Three Gorges) & AEE and (Fortescue) since last year to work together."
Three Gorges and AEE Power did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
DRC's Grand Inga green energy project will create hundreds of thousands of jobs
In a memorandum of understanding signed between Fortescue and Congo in September 2020, Fortescue "acknowledges the existing potential rights held on Inga 3 by third parties".
"In the event that, for any reason, such rights to develop Inga 3 become available, the government of the DRC undertakes to secure for Fortescue Future Industries an exclusive first option to develop Inga 3," it said.
A senior official at the government's Agency for the Development and Promotion of Grand Inga (ADPI), speaking on condition of anonymity, said the ADPI had not been involved in the talks with Fortescue.
Fortescue chairman Andrew Forrest met Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Sunday to discuss the project. Forrest said Fortescue would use the energy from Inga to produce hydrogen to export around the world.
"The capital cost of this will be many many tens of billions of dollars and direct and indirect employment will be in the hundreds of thousands," he told reporters.
Fortescue has said it plans to fund the majority of its green energy projects off its balance sheet, investing about $1bn a year of its own money.
Fortescue's statement was made in response to an article in the Australian Financial Review.
Meanwhile, Fortescue has teamed up with Hatch, Anglo American and BHP, to form a Green Hydrogen Consortium focused on ways of using green hydrogen to accelerate decarbonisation within their operations globally.