Monday, August 27, 2012

Global Lithium Production 1950-2011

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.


Alexander Ac said...

Would be interesting to see the unit of enery per unit of lithium extracted...


buck smith said...

I believe the unit of energy could be obtained within better than an order of magnitude by taking the price of Lithium and making a first order best fit to price of energy expressed as diesel or bunker fuel Maybe we will get the best coffeciient by using the period befoe the sharp run up in 2005. It would be good to compare both the full period and the one before the run up. My thinking is that 1/3 to 2/3 of the price is energy including transportation to market. I would guess 10 to 20% royalties to the land owner and a smilar range for profit, probably higher recently as demand has ramped. Labor will be a small component of the price as will capitol equipment maybe 5% to 15% each.