Argentina is disputing with Chile South America’s top producer of the mineral lithium, a key ingredient for the production of electric cars and its rechargeable batteries allowing them to retain energy far longer, and as a consequence its price has soared more than 30% to a record US$ 12.000 a ton this year.
The age of electrification across the transportation sector, the solar panel revolution, and Tesla's battery giga-factory are igniting a battle for the cheapest battery. That will transform lithium into a boom-time mineral and the hottest commodity on the energy investor's radar. It has been easy to take lithium for granted.
By John C.K. Daly - The US currently imports more than 80% of the lithium it uses, with the silvery metal winding up in batteries from cell phones to electric cars.
Chile revoked the concession awarded to Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile to exploit substantial reserves of lithium in the Andes region, acknowledging problems with the tender process.
The world leading lithium producer SQM has won a tender to develop a lithium concession in Chile, which produces around 40% of the metal, used widely in hybrid vehicles and computer and smart-phone batteries, the Mining Ministry said on Monday.
Argentina is promoting the idea of an OPEC-like cartel for itself, Bolivia and Chile, which together control 85% of the world's reserves of lithium, a key component in electric car batteries.
Canadian miner Lithium Americas Corp said it plans to start building a lithium carbonate facility next year at its Cauchuri project in the Argentine province of Jujuy. The plant with a total capacity of 40,000 tons per annum is expected to start adding to the company's revenue in 2014, Lithium Americas said in a statement.