SHANGHAI, April 18 (Reuters) – The global lithium industry will need $10 billion-$12 billion of investment over the next decade to meet surging demand amid the electric vehicle boom, an executive of Chilean miner SQM said on Wednesday.
Demand for the metal is set to grow by 600,000-800,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent over the next 10 years, Daniel Jimenez, senior commercial vice president at SQM, said. Lithium carbonate is a chemical used to make batteries for electric vehicles.
“So a lot of capital needs to be put on the table for this to materialise, which is a challenge,” Jimenez told the Metal Bulletin Battery Materials Conference in Shanghai.
Some original equipment manufacturers, such as battery producers and some car manufacturers, “have started to get involved in lithium projects, financing or co-financing the development,” he added, citing Toyota Motor Corp and Great Wall Motor as examples.
“This is a trend we will probably continue seeing because there is a legitimate concern on the side of the vehicle manufacturers” over the reliability of supply sources, Jimenez said. In addition, the lithium industry “has shown a poor track record of delivering projects on time,” he added.