China charges Australia’s lithium boom – by Lachlan Colquhoun (Asia Times – January 23, 2018)

Australia enjoys new mining growth with rising demand for the light metal used in many ‘next generation’ technologies

Australia is on the cusp of a new commodities boom as a lithium exporter, and Chinese investors are well ahead in the race to secure their supply.

As the critical ingredient in next generation battery storage and electric vehicle technologies, global demand for lithium is forecast to grow at a compound rate of 18% in the decade to 2025, according to Macquarie Research.

In 2015, Australia supplied around 36% of the world’s lithium. By 2021, that proportion is forecast to grow to 48% of a much larger global market. Australian exports of spodumene, the mineral ore containing lithium, have increased 84% in the three years since 2014.

“The increasing demand is a game changer for producers at the higher end of the cost curve in Australia,” explains Patrick Cocquerel, global head of natural resources at Australian bank Westpac.

Cocquerel says that until recently the lithium market was dominated by lower cost products from South America produced in vast salt lakes.

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