Lithium: The energy source of the future | WORLD
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Lithium: The energy source of the future

By the Numbers

Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Lithium: The energy source of the future
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The current number of domestic lithium production facilities—one plant in Nevada—according to the United States Geological Survey.

Oil may power the world of today, but lithium, a silvery-white metal placed third on the periodic table, may power the world of the future. And that future looks bright for the United States depending on your perspective. Though it has negligible production today, the U.S. holds about 10 percent of the estimated 89 million tons of lithium reserves in the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. And while South America produces more than half of the world’s lithium presently, Chinese industry dominates the world’s lithium-ion battery market. Industry experts expect lithium demand to rise rapidly in the next decade. But environmental concerns may prevent the U.S. from reaching its lithium potential.


The number of millions of tons the USGS ­estimates for Bolivia’s largest-in-the-world lithium reserve, though the nation has almost no domestic production currently.


The share of global lithium production expected to be gobbled up by the electric car market by 2030, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.


The increase in battery-grade lithium prices on the Chinese market in 2021, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.


The number of billions of dollars China invested in lithium mining in recent years, allowing it to produce 15 times more lithium each year than the United States despite having a smaller share of the world’s proven reserves, according to Forbes.


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