Lithium market research

Assessment of the prospects for lithium market development. Directions for the use of lithium in modern conditions. Analysis of global market factors affecting prices for major lithium products. Assessment of lithium mining production and stocks.

Рубрика Экономика и экономическая теория
Вид статья
Язык английский
Дата добавления 06.05.2019
Размер файла 45,5 K

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Размещено на

National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University


Maksimenkov Evgeniy Michailovich,

Provotorov Mikhail Vladimirovich

Zyablova Natalia Nikolaevna Senior lecturer


This article examines the prospects for market development of lithium. Many lithium products satisfy variety of use. The global market factors effect on the price of the main lithium products, consumed by the market.

Key words: lithium, lithium reserves, lithium world production.


Настоящая статья рассматривает перспективы развития рынка лития. Множество литиевых продуктов удовлетворяет разнообразие конечного использования. На цены на главные литиевые продукты, потребляемые рынком, воздействуют широкие факторы мирового рынка.

Ключевые слова: литий, запасы лития, мировое производство лития.


Lithium is a chemical element with symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silverwhite metal. Lithium is the lightest metal and has a number of unique properties.

The lithium metal and its compounds are widely used in various areas of production of the advanced countries of the world. Traditional scope of lithium products - is getting electrolysis of aluminum, glass and ceramics. Also, lithium and its compounds are applied in the production of lubricants, synthetic rubber, electric batteries and in some advanced technical fields. Among the most promising applications of lithium are the most important production of aluminum-lithium alloys, chemical power sources (hits) and tritium fertile materials [1,2].

The lithium content in the upper continental crust is 21 g / t in sea water of 0.17 mg / l. The main minerals of lithium - lepidolite - KLi1,5Al1,5 [Si3AlO10] (F, OH) 2 and pyroxene spodumene - LiAl [Si2O6]. When lithium does not form independent minerals, it is isomorphic to replace potassium in common rock-forming minerals

Lithium deposits are known in Russia (more than 50% of the country's reserves of rare metal deposits are concentrated in Murmansk region), Bolivia (Salar de Uyuni - the largest in the world), Argentina, Mexico, Afghanistan, Chile, the USA, Canada, Brazil, Spain, Sweden, China, Australia and Zimbabwe.

Lithium mine production and reserves in tonnes

lithium market price product

Lithium reserves in thousand tonnes. [3]











Other countries


Total holdings


Chile and Argentina produced the largest portion of the world's lithium salt lakes approximately 46 % of the total production of lithium (company FMC, Rockwood and SQM). Company Talison Lithium delivers ~ 34 % of the global lithium and about 65% of the lithium mineral spodumene. With regard to global demand, the reserves of lithium are presented in abundance, and the existing manufacturers are expected to plan to expand production to meet growing needs.


Lithium-ion battery [4,5]

Developers are looking for more variety of electric vehicles and specialized sources of lithium carbonate. Lithium batteries require very high purity lithium carbonate (over 99.5%) which should have very consistent quality and a certain level of impurities.


Lithium fluoride, artificially grown as crystal, is clear and transparent and often used in specialist optics for IR, UV and VUV (vacuum UV) applications. Lithium fluoride is sometimes used in focal lenses of telescopes. [6][7]

Organic and polymer chemistry

Organolithium compounds are widely used in the production of polymer and finechemicals. In the polymer industry, which is the dominant consumer of these reagents, alkyl lithium compounds are catalysts/initiators[8] in anionic polymerization of unfunctionalized olefins.[10] For the production of fine chemicals, organolithium compounds function as strong bases and as reagents for the formation of carbon-carbon bonds. Organolithium compounds are prepared from lithium metal and alkyl halides.

Lithium world production.

Given an annual market growth of 7-12% between 2016 and 2020 lithium market is expected to experience a shortage of production capacity, and may require additional new production sources.

Lithium is used in a large number of industries because of its unique high electrochemical potential, low coefficient of thermal expansion and catalytic properties.

World consumption of lithium increased from 12,800 tons in 2000 to 22,600 tons in 2008, which is 6% in average per year-0. Demand decreased by approximately 13% in 2009, due to the global economic crisis, but fully recovered in 2010, to about 24,500 tons. Glass and ceramic industry - the largest consumers of lithium, about 31% of total consumption, followed by batteries - 23 % (as compared to 6% in 2000). Major automakers are predicting that the sector of hybrid and full electric vehicles will grow steadily and reach a market share of cars in the 10-30% by 2020. As a result, the demand for lithium will grow 100200% over the same period of time. In addition to the steady growth in the sector of batteries and electric vehicles, all other applications of lithium are expected to also be expanded according to the economic growth in the world as a whole.

Glass and ceramic industries make up the largest portion of the total consumption of lithium (~ 31%). Small additions of lithium in glass manufacturing process makes it easier to reduce the energy consumption of 10.5%. The use of lithium in glass production is estimated at 25% of total consumption, or more than 6000 tonnes. Rising energy costs and the modernization of production methods lead to the fact that increase of the use of metal in this sector, resulting in an annual increase in consumption of lithium in the glass industry is expected above average. Similarly, energy savings in the production of aluminum, plastics and rubber products, which is the potential for a higher annual rate of growth in these areas.

Opportunity for growth

Electrification of the vehicle is the greatest opportunity for growth in demand for lithium. Hybrid and full electric vehicles obtain share in the market each year. Developing countries have the opportunity to start producing electric vehicles more quickly, given the large number of first-time buyers (lacking in vehicles), and they have recently started to develop the network infrastructure and the government started focusing on the growing problem of environmental pollution.

Lithium consumption continues to grow despite the global economic crisis, the debt crisis in the Eurozone and a slowdown in China. Rechargeable lithium batteries continue to maintain this growth at a high level, helped by an increase in the production of portable consumer electronics as well as increase the capacity of batteries. The unique properties of lithium are also supported by the growth in other markets that have experienced decline, including the production of fat, glass, and metal powders. Consumption of lithium already surpassed 2008 levels and amounted to 26,500 tons in 2012. Demand for lithium will grow at around 8% per year for the base case scenario, the market of electric vehicles is becoming more and more important for growth as we approach the year 2017.


Set of lithium products meet a variety of end-use, in which lithium is consumed, complicating the global balance of supply / demand and evaluation. The price of the main lithium products consumed by the market, such as carbonate and hydroxide, broader factors affect the global market and supply / demand, other products in tandem with these starting materials and some completely independent of them, such as lithium metal and organolithium. Prices for lithium carbonate increased in 2010 but remain below 2007 highs. The prospect of new supply entering the market companies, acts as a barrier to raise prices, despite the growing demand.


1. Kogan BI Rare metals. Status and prospects. Moscow, Nauka, 1976, p. 356.

2. Nicholson P., Evans K. Evaluating new directions for the lithium, market. J. Miner, Metals and Mater. Soc., 1998 v.20, № 5, p. 27 29.

3. U.S. Geological Survey, 2012, commodity summaries 2011: U.S. Geological Survey.

4. IEC 62133. Secondary cells and batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes - Safety requirements for portable sealed secondary cells, and for batteries made from them, for use in portable applications (2.0ed.). International Electrotechnical Commission. December 2012. ISBN 978-283220-505-1.

5. Jump up IEC 61960. Secondary cells and batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes - Secondary lithium cells and batteries for portable applications (2.0 ed.). International Electrotechnical Commission. June 2011. ISBN 978-2-88912-538-8.

6. Hammond, C. R. (2000). The Elements, in Handbook of Chemistry and Physics 81st edition. CRC press. ISBN 0-8493-0481-4.

7. "Organometallics". IHS Chemicals. February 2012.

8. Yurkovetskii, A. V.; Kofman, V. L.; Makovetskii, K. L. (2005). "Polymerization of 1,2-dimethylenecyclobutane by organolithium initiators". Russian Chemical Bulletin 37 (9).

9. Roderic P.; Cheng, Pao Luo (1986). "Functionalization of polymeric organolithium compounds. Amination of poly(styryl)lithium". Macromolecules 19 (5): 1291.

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