According to Bloomberg, the highest bid of lithium at an online sale surged by 140% in 6 months, revealing that demand for the metal may spike tremendously. Pibara Minerals Ltd.’s of spodumene concentrate attracted a top bid of $5,650 ton on Wednesday for a cargo of 5,000 tons. Compare this price with $2,350 at the previous sale in late October on the Australian miner’s Battery Metal Exchange.
The spike in the auction bid corresponds to increase in lithium carbonate in China. The rally lost its momentum recently, with prices at $71,182 ton according to Asian Metal Inc. Factors associated with the drop are disrupted supply chains due to a series of COVID-19 outbreaks and resulting lockdowns by the CCP.
The rising lithium price will cause upheaval in the Electric Vehicle (EV) market, as it’s a key ingredient in EV batteries and increases materials and manufacturing costs. Earlier this month, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla called for an investment in lithium mining to fulfill the need for increased demand of the essential metal.
“We think we’re going to need to help the industry on this front,” Musk said. “I’d certainly encourage entrepreneurs out there who are looking for opportunities to get into the lithium business. Lithium margins right now are practically software margins.”
Musk has commented several times on Twitter in the past 2 years that Tesla may enter the lithium mining business to shore up supplies and ensure reasonable prices for the EV giant. According to Foley & Lardner, lithium demand could increase up to 20 times by 2030. The lack of future supply will put a damper on the EV industry and the U.S. governments’ plans to increase the market share of EV sales to 50% by said year.
It will be a major challenge to meet this goal if current lithium mining and production remains constant. The U.S. currently has one active lithium mine in Nevada, and the country produces less than 2% of global lithium supplies. An index of global lithium prices compiled by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence surged 280% in 2021 and another 127% in the first quarter of 2022.
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