Minerals are not often seen as a highly valuable commodity. While some are used for jewelry, or infrastructure, or even agriculture. The most important ones in the modern world are the minerals used in technology. And there are few minerals as widely used in technology as Lithium. Lithium sees use in batteries, nuclear fusion, and medications, to start.
A lot of the modern uses of lithium are quite complex. It’s used in processes like solvent extraction, ion exchange, and membrane separation. These processes are small and specific things, but they create a demand of millions of metric tons. Luckily Lithium is easily retrievable in the processes it is used in. Unlike some minerals, it can easily be recovered and reused.
Lithium, interestingly, comes from a lot of different places all over the world. While Australia is the biggest producer, Chile holds the biggest reserves. The U.S holds not even 4% of the reserves, making it highly reliant on the global market. This has created a massive imbalance in the supply chain. Countries like Chile and Australia control over 65% of the market alone. Yet every country demands and utilizes lithium.
For the most part this is undeniably due to batteries. They are not only heavily used, but are becoming more and more popular as time passes. To understand why, just think of all the electric devices that are increasing in demand. Electric vehicles, energy-storage, phones, electric tools, everything and anything today can use batteries.
Lithium, ultimately, is one key mineral in the move away from fossil fuels. Lithium powers electric cars, a product that is so in demand that lithium prices have tripled. While lithium can and is heavily recycled, it can be hard to keep up. This is what has set Lithium apart in the market today. It’s power and influence is undeniable, and in an electric world that isn’t going to change.