Driven by the consumer electronics, energy storage, and electric vehicle industries, the global demand for lithium is expected to rise 8.9 percent per year through 2019, said a Feb. 2 report from Freedonia Group.
Demand for the metal is predicted to reach 49,350 tons in 2019, with a value of $1.7 billion. Demand will increase the most in China, which has seen its rechargeable battery segment grow significantly. South Korea and Japan will also see increased demand, while North America is expected to post the fastest gains due to an increasing number of Li-ion batteries produced in the United States. India will also see an increased demand for batteries due to its growing manufacturing center, while countries in Western Europe, particularly in Germany, will ramp up production of Li-ion batteries.
Honda and General Motors have partnered up to manufacture fuel cells that use lithium at a joint venture company called Fuel Cell System Manufacturing. Ford is expected to need batteries for seven global electric vehicles to be released in the next five years. Panasonic is also using lithium for its flexible Li-ion battery, three versions of which were shown off at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 in Las Vegas.
“Our small devices are increasing, like wearables and IoT devices, and the product design depends on battery size,” said Panasonic’s Assistant Chief of Wearable Energy, Yoriko Yagi, in a press release. “If we want small devices, we need small batteries.”
With increased demand and pressure for lithium comes an increased price. Mining company Lithium X has a market capitalization of $115 million from its operations in the ‘lithium triangle,’ Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile. Companies operating in the “lithium triangle” have been known to have market caps as high as $250 million to $1 billion. Tesla’s commitment to “absorb the entire world’s lithium production,” as CEO Elon Musk said, may draw activity in the industry to the Gigafactory in Nevada, at which the company plans to use to produce 35 gigawatts of lithium batteries by 2018.
Filed Under: Materials • advanced