Monday, August 27, 2012
The above shows lithium production globally. The data come from this paper before 2009 and from the USGS after that. Since the USGS excludes US production (to protect proprietary information of the sole US producer) I have added the 2008 US production to the 2009-2011 totals, which are therefore approximate. Since US production in 2008 was less than 3% of the total, the error is probably small.
As you'd expect, lithium production grew fairly steadily for decades but has taken off in recent years due to the widespread adoption of lithium batteries for many purposes. The average growth rate over the last decade was 8.1%. The USGS estimates around 30 million tons of lithium resource globally, so we are currently only mining a little over 0.1% of it per year - there is no significant resource constraint here until the late 21st century at the earliest.