Global lithium production up 21% in 2021, Australia leads the way

Based on the preliminary data released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), estimated global mine production of lithium in 2021 was 100,000 tonnes of lithium content (excluding USA), a 21% increase over 2020 (82,500 tonnes).

USGS said that global lithium production increased in response to strong demand from the lithium-ion battery market and increased prices of lithium. Global consumption of lithium in 2021 was estimated to be 93,000 tonnes, a 33% increase from 70,000 tonnes in 2020.

USGS said that four mineral operations in Australia, two brine operations each in Argentina and Chile, and two brine and one mineral operation in China accounted for the majority of world lithium production. Additionally, smaller operations in Brazil, China, Portugal, the United States, and Zimbabwe also contributed to world lithium production.

According to the report, owing to the resurgence in demand and increased prices of lithium in 2021, established lithium operations worldwide resumed capacity expansion plans, which were postponed in 2020 in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

With 55,000 tonnes of mined lithium content, Australia was the largest lithium producer in 2021, followed by Chile (26,000 tonnes), China (14,000 tonnes) and Argentina (6,200 tonnes).

Lithium supply security has become a top priority for technology companies in Asia, Europe, and the United States, USGS added.

“Strategic alliances and joint ventures among technology companies and exploration companies continued to be established to ensure a reliable, diversified supply of lithium for battery suppliers and vehicle manufacturers,” the authors of the report said.

According to the report, brine-based lithium sources were in various stages of development in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, China, and the United States.

Mineral-based lithium sources were in various stages of development in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Congo (Kinshasa), Czechia, Finland, Germany, Mali, Namibia, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, the United States, and Zimbabwe.

Lithium-clay sources were in various stages of development in Mexico and the United States; and a searlesite source was in development in the United States.

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