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Rockwood Lithium opens new lithium production facility in Nevada; announces global price increases for lithium salts

Rockwood Lithium has opened its expanded manufacturing facility in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Rockwood is leveraging a $28.4-million investment from the Recovery Act to expand its North Carolina lithium production facility as well as its production operations in Silver Peak, Nevada.

This project will increase the United States’ capacity to produce lithium; the federal investment leveraged more than $46 million in additional private sector funding.

As the market for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and other advanced clean energy technologies grows worldwide, rare earth elements and other critical materials, including lithium, are facing increasing global demand. The Kings Mountain and Silver Peak plants will produce lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate—both used to produce lithium-ion batteries.

Between 1980 and 2009, the demand for lithium has tripled. After holding world leadership in lithium production in the early 1990s, the US now imports the majority of its lithium materials and compounds from South America.

In May, Rockwood announced global price increases, as contracts permit, of up to $1,000 per metric tonne for its lithium salts, especially lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide, effective 1 July.

Rockwood Lithium also recently announced plans to invest $140 million in a new lithium carbonate production plant in Chile. That investment, along with the company’s $75-million expansion program in the United States, will increase total annual production capacity to 50,000 metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent by end of 2013. (Earlier post.)



The estimates for world lithium recoverable reserves keep going up and was set at about 36 MT two years ago. Based on the last 10 years growing estimates, the world could contain 100++ MT of recoverable lithium. That would be enough for about 1000 to 2000 million large EVs depending on EV battery technology used.

Eventually, (or before we have built 2B EVs) lithium batteries will be recycled to recover most of the lithium initially used. By using lithium over and over again, the 100++ MT could last a long time.

Bob Wallace

50,000 metric tons. 50,000,000 kg of lithium carbonate.

"2 kg to 3 kg of technical grade Lithium Carbonate per nominal kWh of PHEV battery capacity".

The Nissan Leaf has a 24kW battery pack. 48 to 72kg of lithium carbonate per Leaf.

690,000 to 1,042,000 "Leaf packs" per year out of this one facility.


Meridian and Tahil are trying to suggest lithium shortages.
Here is the use of lithium for the 22 kwh pack in the Kangoo ZE:
'The Renault-Nissan Alliance is actively working on establishing recycling processes and infrastructures suited to automotive batteries. To put the demand for lithium supplies into perspective, the Alliance’s 250kg AESC batteries contain 3 kg of lithium.'

Lithium carbonate is 18% lithium by weight, so that is about 0.75kg per kwh of lithium carbonate, or 18kw of lithium carbonate for the 24kwh Leaf pack.

Bob Wallace

18kg of lithium carbonate for the 24kWh Leaf pack?

Sweetly better.

2.75 million "Leaf packs" per year from this facility.


I think that in general, people are much more comfortable assuming there will be a shortage or peak in whatever commodity under consideration, more so if they can attribute the problem to other people's greed.

Juan Carlos Zuleta

The peak lithium hypothesis pops up once again. For a critique of it, see my articles: and


Will future storage units still use lithium or a lot less per Kwh?


The price of lithium is going up but the cost of batteries is going to go down because we'll make it up on volume.

Yes and I have some swamp land in south Florida you might be interested in.

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