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Albemarle ups lithium demand forecast to 3.7 MMt in 2030, calls for higher prices to support new projects to meet demand gap

In its 2023 Strategic Update, Albemarle Corporation raised its forecast for 2030 global lithium demand (LCE, lithium carbonate equivalent) to 3.7MMt—an increase of 15% from its previous forecast due to the impact of the US “Inflation Reduction Act” and strong EV demand.


Albemarle also estimates the 2030 mined supply to come in at 2.9 MMt LCE—creating an 800,000 tonne supply deficit, net of recycling. Higher prices of more than $20/kg will be required over the next decade to support the more than 100 new projects required, in Albemarle’s analysis, to bridge that gap and support demand fully.


Lower grade, higher cost projects will be required to fill that growing demand gap, Albemarle said. Bringin on new capacity requires extensive time and resources, starting with early exploration and target testing (3-6 years) to engineering and economic studies (6-7 years) to construction and initial production (0.5 to 2 years). Recent hard rock mining projects have taken up to 10 years to start of production; integrated projects come in at around 14 years.

Albemarle currently has a estimated lithium conversion capacity (ktpa LCE basis) of some 200 ktpa; the company said it has the potential to expand that to 500-600 ktpa by 2030—up 15% from its previous target.



"Higher prices of more than $20/kg will be required over the next decade ..."

Well the price has already hit $80/kg for techical grade Lithium carbonate, with no reason to come down, never mind higer purity battery grade which means each kWh of battery capacity now costs at least $80 for lithium carbonate alone - if you can get it. This cost is and will make EVs even more unaffordable.

There is no way "100 new projects" - mines - can be developed by 2030. The number of new mines opened since 2007 (and the publication of "The Trouble with Lithium" that predicted the shortfall that is now happening) has been a handful - because it's not possible.

If we do not get out heads out of cloud cuckoo land and at least do something more sensible like Sodium Ion batteries which don't spontaneously combust or die in winter EVs will remain a tiny niche.

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