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(Wallace Refiners) – According to the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER), global lithium production was stronger than anticipated in 2020, driven in response to increasing EV demand.
DISER said that global lithium output in 2020 is estimated at 439,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). Production is forecast at 516,000 tonnes LCE in 2021, and projected to be 1,084,000 tonnes by 2026. At this stage, supply may fall short of demand unless significant recycling is undertaken, or mine and brine operations are expanded beyond initial projections, the report indicated.
World demand for lithium is estimated to increase from 305,000 tonnes LCE in 2020 to 426,000 tonnes in 2021. Demand is then forecast to exceed half a million tonnes in 2022, and more than 1.0 million tonnes by 2026 as global electric vehicle uptake rises further.
DISER noted that “Green” stimulus packages and tightening emissions standards in Europe, are changing the nature of a previously oversupplied market. As a result, the gap between supply and demand is narrowing. Stockpiles still exist, but their size is difficult to determine — with some suggestions of 4-8 weeks for spodumene. Additionally, offtake and equity investments continue, suggesting security of supply may be an issue going forward, the report explained.
Meanwhile, according to the report’s findings, Australian production is expected to rise over the outlook period, from 244,000 tonnes LCE in 2020–21 to 571,000 tonnes LCE in 2025–26, maintaining around 50% of world output.
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