Miners are producing more lithium than ever before as the electric vehicle demand continues to exponentially increase.
According to data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), approximately 100,000 tonnes of lithium was produced worldwide in 2021 (not including the US). This is an 18 per cent increase on 2020 when 82,500 tonnes of lithium were produced.
The last time global lithium production topped 90,000 tonnes was in 2018 when 95,000 tonnes were produced.
The data suggests Australia produced 55,000 tonnes of lithium in 2021, a 28 per cent increase from the 39,700 tonnes of lithium produced in 2020.
This positioned Australia as the global leader in lithium production in 2021, with Chile (26,000 tonnes), China (14,000 tonnes) and Argentina (6,200 tonnes) the next highest producers.
At the end of 2021, the world’s lithium resources increased to 89 million tonnes, a reflection of the global exploration rush in response to the commodity’s sky-high demand.
Bolivia had 21 million tonnes of lithium resources, Argentina had 19 million tonnes, Chile had 9.8 million tonnes and Australia had 7.3 million tonnes.
“Lithium supply security has become a top priority for technology companies in Asia, Europe and the United States,” the report stated.
“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.”
Despite this, the lithium price has surged to start 2022, with the supply of the commodity unable to keep up with demand.
After lithium carbonate prices in China breached 300,000 yuan ($66,195) per tonne in January, the price had escalated to 382,500 yuan ($84,423) per tonne at the time of writing.
This comes as the electric vehicle (EV) boom hits full tilt. According to research firm Canalys, global EV sales increased by 160 per cent in the first half of 2021 when compared to the year earlier. Canalys found total global car sales were up 26 per cent across the same timeframe.