Carmakers face fierce battle for lithium until 2030, warns top producer – by Harry Dempsey (Financial Times – August 7, 2022)

US company Albemarle says market will remain tight for the next seven to eight years

Carmakers face a battle for the rest of the decade to secure the lithium needed to help power the electric vehicle revolution, as demand threatens to overwhelm supply, one of the biggest producers of the metal has warned.

Lithium’s use in electric car batteries has put the raw material at the heart of a global competition that has pitted the world’s largest carmakers against each other and drawn in governments as they all race to increase and safeguard supply.

This year carmakers ranging from Stellantis to BMW have invested in lithium start-ups, underlining the pressure the industry faces as more of the world shifts to electric vehicles. Last week, General Motors said it would pay Livent, another producer, $200mn upfront to secure the raw material.

Kent Masters, chief executive of Albemarle, the largest publicly traded lithium producer, said the market will remain tight despite efforts to unlock more of the metal. “It’s systemic for a pretty long period of time,” Masters said of the challenge facing the industry. “For seven to eight years it stays pretty tight.”

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