Feb
14
2009

Lithium futures

Lithium is harvested from salt water: Lithium is recovered from brine pools in Chile.
Lithium is harvested from salt water: Lithium is recovered from brine pools in Chile.Courtesy ar.obrien

Where does lithium come from?

Demand for lithium needed for lithium ion batteries is exploding but the world supply is very limited. The main producers of Lithium minerals are Chile, Argentina, the USA, China, Australia and Russia. Three fourths of the world's lithium reserves are in South America.

Bolivia has most of the world's lithium

More than one third of the world's known lithium is in Bolivia.

The U.S. Geological Survey pegs Bolivia's deposits at 5.4 million extractable tons. The U.S. has 410,000 tons, while China has 1.1 million and Chile has 3 million. Daily Tech

Bolivians reject exploitation

The Bolivian government is headed by President Evo Morales. A new Constitution that Mr. Morales managed to get passed last month could give native Bolivians control over the natural resources in their territory.

“The previous imperialist model of exploitation of our natural resources will never be repeated in Bolivia,” said Saúl Villegas, head of a division in Comibol that oversees lithium extraction. “Maybe there could be the possibility of foreigners accepted as minority partners, or better yet, as our clients.” New York Times

The trouble with lithium

A study by Meridian International Research points out the trouble with lithium (click link to read 22 pg PDF) in powering the world's future fleet of electric vehicles.

Analysis of lithium's geological resource base shows that there is insufficient economically recoverable lithium available in the Earth's crust to sustain Electric Vehicle manufacture in the volumes required, based solely on Li Ion batteries.

The alternative battery technologies of ZnAir and NaNiCl are not resource constrained and offer potentially higher performance than Li MoralesIon."

Lithium supplies are very limited

If Bolivia wants to cash in on their lithium reserves, they need to move before better alternatives come to the market.

"We have the most magnificent lithium reserves on the planet, but if we don't step into the race now, we will lose this chance. The market will find other solutions." said Juan Carlos Zuleta, an economist in La Paz. Detroit News

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

This You Tube video explains that Chile's Salar de Atacama desert is a major source for the world's lithium.

posted on Sun, 09/13/2009 - 7:20pm

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