New lithium mines and growing demand for materials used to make lithium batteries for electric vehicles puts Australia in a position to dominate the world’s lithium supply.
Mining and agribusiness reporter, Darryn Gray, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, has quoted Citi analyst Clarke Wilkins as saying Western Australia will provide over half of the world’s lithium supply because all of the world’s hard rock (spodumene) mines “are basically in WA.” Wilkins is quoted as saying that “there are projects outside of Australia, but it’s unlikely that any of those will be really of material scale production until a number of years away. Because you’ve got infrastructure, you’ve got a mining culture, the biggest projects tend to be in Australia, so Australia does lead the world in terms of development of these hard rock mines.”
Gray also reports Pilbara Minerals’ Ken Brinsden as saying the company’s Pilgangoora mine would be “one of the world’s largest lithium mines”, and was expected to start processing rocks to produce spodumene concentrate containing lithium with a first shipment of spodumene concentrate sometime in late June.
Despite the optimism, Gray points to volatile stock price movements of ASX-listed lithium companies in recent months. Rising share prices have been affected by concerns that the lithium market could be in over-supply in future years. Gray quotes Lachlan Shaw, commodity strategist with UBS as saying, “The industry is going through very rapid growth, and there will be bumps and curves along the way. … There’s a pretty wide range of views out there about demand growth, and about how the industry works. And because the range of views is so diverse, there’s added volatility”.