Lithium is the powerhouse behind rechargeable batteries. It’s seen a remarkable demand surge, driven by the growing adoption of electric vehicles and clean technologies. As a result, the global lithium-ion battery market has grown robustly. It was valued at $52 billion in 2022. Experts project it will catapult to an impressive $194 billion by the end of the decade. This demand growth has sparked a significant uptick in global lithium production. Consequently, a handful of countries have risen to the forefront of this burgeoning industry. So, let’s take an insightful look into these top lithium producing countries:
Australia: The Leading Lithium Producer
Australia tops the list of lithium-producing countries, with a production of 61,000 metric tons (MT) in 2022, up from 55,000 MT in 2021. The country extracts lithium directly from hard rock mines, specifically the mineral spodumene. The Greenbushes lithium asset, operated by Talison Lithium, a subsidiary jointly owned by Tianqi Lithium and Albemarle, is a significant contributor to Australia’s lithium production.
Chile: A Major Player in Lithium Production
Chile is the second-largest lithium producer, with a production of 39,000 MT in 2022. Unlike Australia, Chile extracts lithium from brine deposits. The Salar de Atacama salt flat in Chile is a significant source of lithium for SQM, a top lithium producer, and Albemarle.
China: A Key Player in the Lithium Supply Chain
China ranks third in lithium production, with a production of 19,000 MT in 2022. Although its production is comparatively low, China is the largest consumer of lithium due to its electronics manufacturing and electric vehicle industries. It also produces more than three-quarters of the world’s lithium-ion batteries and controls most of the world’s lithium-processing facilities.
Other Notable Lithium Producers
Argentina ranks fourth in lithium production, with a production of 6,200 MT in 2022. Other notable lithium producers include Brazil (2,200 MT), Zimbabwe (800 MT), Portugal (600 MT), Canada (500 MT), and the United States.
The global lithium production rose sharply from 107,000 MT in 2021 to 130,000 MT in 2022, excluding US production. As the demand for lithium continues to rise, these countries are expected to increase their production capacities to meet the growing needs of the energy storage and electric vehicle industries.