Chilean Lithium Prices Decline Even as Demand Soars – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – May 7, 2019)

Lithium export prices from the world’s second-largest producing nation fell in the first quarter, marking the first decline for the mineral that is key to electric vehicle batteries since at least 2014.

Chile exported lithium carbonate at an average price of $12,183 per ton, 0.9 percent down from the same period a year earlier, according to data from Chilean customs compiled by Bloomberg. Prices have soared 167 percent in the past five years.

The South American nation holds the world’s largest lithium reserves, the lightest metal on the periodic table and a key component in the manufacture of rechargeable batteries that power electric cars.

Demand for lithium is expected to soar from 300,000 tons per year in 2018 to 850,000 tons in 2025, according to estimates from Bloomberg NEF.

Chilean lithium is mined by the world’s two top producers, Albemarle Corp and Soc. Quimica y Minera de Chile SA, both of which have large operations on the northern Atacama salt flat.

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