There is no shortage of raw lithium. China’s dominance of lithium processing is where the potential problem lies.
2,850,000 billion and 20 million: two numbers that can enlighten us all about the looming lithium shortage. That first is mine and therefore wrong – but it’s useful still.
Scientists think they know the rough composition of the crust of the Earth, the lithosphere. The percentage of each element contained is the Clarke Number. That times the known weight is how much is out there of each element. For lithium, that gives us 2,850,000 billion tonnes.
Of course, this is ludicrous as a number detailing how much lithium can actually use – it assumes we leave nowhere for us to stand, for a start. But it does give that outer, outer bound. Much of the amount of any – and every – element is highly dispersed, fractions of a percentage point spread throughout nearly everything.
It’s also true that we happily mine gold at one gram per tonne of rock – that’s 1 part per million. If we’re prepared to pay the price of gold for an element, we can get rather a lot of it. The Red Sea is 3 ppm lithium – and there are those who claim to be able to mine that right now. It is indeed physically possible to do so; it’s the claim that it would make economic sense to do so that currently raises eyebrows.
For the rest of this article: https://thediplomat.com/2023/11/where-chinas-lithium-monopoly-comes-from/