JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) - Australia has the opportunity to expand its lithium value chain by an estimated $2-trillion in the next two years, a report revealed on Tuesday.
In Future Smart Strategies' report, titled 'A lithium industry in Australia: A value chain analysis for downstreaming Australia's lithium resources', released by the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (Amec), it was highlighted that batteries of smartphones and electrical vehicles represented the greatest opportunities for the country's lithium miners.
"With projects at Greenbushes, Mt Cattlin, Mt Marion and Pilgangoora all ramping up production, Australia will dominate the front of the lithium value chain for the foreseeable future," Amec pointed out.
The genesis of this lithium surge could be traced back to 1991, when Sony commercialised the lithium-ion rechargeable battery. As lithium battery production costs fell, and mobile phone and electric car uptake boomed, the global demand for lithium grew exponentially.
"This report is a call to action; there is a unique opportunity for Australia to undertake greater lithium downstream processing," said Amec CEO Warren Pearce.
He added that Australia produced more than 60% of the world's lithium, dominating one end of the value chain. "Australia also produces all of the minerals (other than soda ash) that are needed to manufacture lithium rechargeable batteries.
"The country has a series of comparative advantages that we can capitalise on, if government and industry collaborate to achieve greater downstream processing," he noted.
Pearce warned that there was a two-year window before it was set where battery components and batteries would be manufactured and by whom. "If we work collaboratively, Australia could take a leading role in one of the breakthrough energy technologies. The time to act is now," he averred.