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Benchmark Mineral Intelligence: lithium industry needs $42B investment to meet 2030 demand

The lithium industry needs $42 billion of investment if it is to meet 2030 demand, according to analysis by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. This works out at approximately $7 billion a year between now and 2028 if the industry is to meet lithium demand by the end of the decade.

Benchmark forecasts lithium demand in 2030 will reach 2.4 million tonnes LCE (lithium carbonate equivalent)—almost 1.8 million tonnes more than the 600,000 tonnes of lithium Benchmark forecasts will be produced in 2022.


Benchmark Lithium Price Index as of 22 April 2022

China’s domestic lithium market has become more liquid in recent months, with more frequent transactions and higher traded volumes on the spot market, relative to other global regions, prompting greater price volatility in shorter time spans.

As such, Benchmark will now move from bi-monthly to weekly publication of its Chinese lithium prices. Benchmark now publishes weekly prices for:

  • Lithium Carbonate, EXW China, ≥99.5% Li2O3 (Battery grade)

  • Lithium Carbonate, EXW China, ≥99.0% Li2O3 (Technical grade)

  • Lithium Hydroxide, EXW China, ≥56.5% LiOH

By 2030, there will also be a deficit of 230,000 tonnes of refined nickel, as assessed by Benchmark’s Nickel Forecast. In 2021, a third of global refined nickel supply came from Indonesia and this is forecast to 50% in 2025. However, the carbon footprint of Indonesian nickel can be much higher than other supply chain routes according to Bruna Grossl, a life Cycle assessment (LCA) practitioner at Benchmark.

Car companies are finally catching on to the great raw material disconnect.

—Cameron Hughes, Benchmark Analyst



Hopefully, EV consumer demand will keep up with such expectations. There are only so many government and corporate fleets, single-family homes, and dedicated multi-family home hook-ups to make this expensive, electric transition convenient. I doubt that the majority of the US, asia, and non-EU european countries will legislate or effectively tax EV full-purchase/ sale/ use compliance. Also, electrical capacity and distribution networks outside of the G7 are unlikely to be upgraded or support off-the-grid electric production. This early EV numbers take-up will possibly plateau slightly higher until past the late 2020s.

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