Jun 15, 2023 - Business

Standard Lithium's first plant unlikely to change U.S. dependence

Data: Benchmark Mineral Intelligence; Chart: Axios Visuals

As consumer adoption of electric cars accelerates, global demand is expected to grow at a compounded rate of 25% annually through 2030.

Zoom in: Demand for lithium batteries in the U.S. alone is expected to grow sixfold in those seven years, becoming a $55 billion annual industry.

  • A "battery belt" is developing in the U.S., mostly east of Arkansas, that could be an economic boon for the heartland.

Yes, but: Most of the world's lithium comes from Australia and South America and most EV batteries are made in China.

By the numbers: The price of lithium carbonate, a processed version of the metal used in batteries, climbed from an average of $7,508 per metric ton in January 2020 to nearly $71,000 three years later — an 845% increase.

  • It dropped to $44,000 per ton as of June 14, but the overall trend is up.

What he's saying: Mintak claims SLI's first plant will double the total lithium produced in the U.S.

  • Yes, but: The only mine producing lithium in the country is the Silver Peak in Nevada, which uses evaporative ponds.

The bottom line: Silver Peak produces about 5,000 tons — or 2% of the world's need — so whenever SLI's first plant ramps up, it will be far from making the U.S. lithium independent.

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