Lithium is among the most important materials in the energy transition due to its centrality to battery technology.

Lithium (Li)

Lithium is of central importance to the energy transition. Lithium enables the efficient storage of energy and is therefore ubiquitous in rechargeable battery technologies. Over 70 percent of lithium is currently used in batteries – notably in consumer electronic devices. Most forecasts suggest a massive increase in demand for lithium, due to the material’s growing use in electric vehicles and energy storage systems.

Australia is by far the largest current producer, but the ‘lithium triangle’ of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina contains the bulk of the world’s known reserves. Current lithium operations are generally not associated with major ESG issues. Planned projects in South America are set to attract major opposition from NGOs over their anticipated environmental impacts, however.

Main Uses and Attributes

The principal industrial applications for lithium metal are in metallurgy, where the active element is used to remove of impurities in the refining of such metals as iron, nickel, copper, and zinc and their alloys.

Over 70 percent of lithium is used in batteries, including in rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras, energy storage systems and electric vehicles. Lithium is also used in some non-rechargeable batteries for components like heart pacemakers, toys, clocks, and military applications. Lithium carbonate is also as a medication, while lithium metal alloys are also used in aircraft, bicycle frames and high-speed trains. Lithium oxide is used in special glasses and glass ceramics.

Main Uses

  • Batteries
  • Metal Alloys

Key Industries

  • Automotive
  • Electronics and Communications
  • Energy

Key Countries

Top Producer Australia
Top Reserves Chile

Supply Chain Risk

TDi assesses Lithium for key risks affecting the security of supply, and for its association with artisanal and small-scale mining.

Overall Supply Chain Resilience Risk
Strength of Association with ASM
Very Low Moderate Very High

Country Governance Risks

Lithium's association with countries experiencing:

Violence and Conflict
Weak Rule of Law
Poor Human Rights
Poor Environmental Governance
Very Low Moderate Very High

Association with ESG issues

TDi Sustainability's data rates Lithium's association with the following issues as high or very high:

Indigenous Peoples Rights
Company/Community Conflicts
Very Low Moderate Very High

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