(Bloomberg) — Lithium’s vital role in electric-vehicle batteries means automakers, miners and investors are racing to figure out how much supply the world will need in the coming years — and also how much it’s going to get. The problem is the predictions vary wildly.
The metal’s price has surged fivefold in the past year, reflecting mounting worries about availability. For years, batteries and EVs have become cheaper to make as the technology improved and production stepped up. But now there’s a risk that rising costs of raw materials — and lithium in particular — could hobble the transition just as momentum picks up.
The stakes are high for carmakers that are spending billions of dollars betting on a battery-powered future. Mining companies and governments are responding with ambitious plans to boost production. But demand is growing at such a breathtaking pace that it’s not clear whether it will be enough.
In a survey of six leading lithium forecasters, estimates for how the market will look in 2025 range from a deficit equal to 13% of demand to a 17% surplus. Projections for the market’s size diverge sharply too, with demand forecasts ranging from as little as 502,000 tons to as much as 1.25 million tons.
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