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Australia’s Lithium Production And Profits Are Soaring

Australia, the world’s largest producer of lithium, is taking advantage of skyrocketing demand for this critical metal. The country’s lithium production and profits have soared in recent years, and that growth is set to continue.

This is one of the outtakes from a government report that Canberra issues on a quarterly basis. The latest edition noted that Australia’s earnings from lithium exports are set to expand tenfold over two years, from less than $715 million (A$1.1 billion) in 2020-2021 to almost $9 billion (A$13.8 billion) in 2022-2023.

Citing strong EV sales figures from this year, the Australian Office of the Chief Economist noted that “Key global automakers continue to accelerate plans to transition to EVs by developing new product lines and converting existing manufacturing capacity.”

“The global market share for passenger EVs has quadrupled since 2019, with EV sales representing about 9% of the car market in 2021. Strong underlying demand and EV manufacturers’ declarations of further increases in production imply that EV sales could reach almost 40% of vehicle sales annually by 2030,” the report’s authors also said.

EV sales in the 12 months to June 2022 rose by 36 percent, the report pointed out, with China’s EV sales soaring by 110 percent, and sales in North America rising by 27 percent. Sales in Europe inched up by 6 percent.

Driven by EV sales and other demand sources, lithium demand is forecast to expand by 40 percent over the next two years, the Office of the Chief Economist said, adding it would top 1 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent by 2024.

Against this backdrop, shortages of spodumene, lithium hydroxide, and lithium carbonate are pushing prices ever higher. 

Spodumene prices are set to climb over the next year, with the price per ton hitting $3,280 per ton in 2023, from $2,730 per ton this year, before declining to $2,490 per ton in 2024.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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