Lithium is one of the most important natural resources in the world. In recent years, its demand has risen dramatically due to its widespread use in electronics, batteries, and other industrial applications. As such, many countries are looking to increase their production of this precious resource, with nine nations being the top suppliers worldwide.
The leader of this international pack is Chile, which has seen tremendous growth in its lithium mining operations over the last decade. This South American nation has been estimated to hold up to 11 million metric tons of lithium reserves, with the largest of the deposits located in Salar de Atacama. The Atacama desert is the site of many global lithium mines, and has become the cornerstone of Chile’s production. In 2018 alone, the country supplied over half of the world’s production of lithium, with expectations that this number may climb in the coming years.
The second leading nation in terms of lithium production is Australia, which is one of the largest producers in the world. In 2019, Australia was estimated to produce 11 thousand metric tons of lithium from their salt lake mining operations, particularly in Western Australia. Massive reserves of this element have also been found in the Northern Territory and the Mount Isa region, further adding to the country’s estimated global lithium output.
The United States is third on the list, with its production mostly centered in the state of Nevada. Here, the Clayton Valley and Silver Peak mines, both of which are owned by the Albemarle Corporation, are the two largest sources of lithium production. Other notable American operations include Belle Helene and River Valley mine sites.
Ranking fourth is China, where multiple lithium miners, including Tianqi Lithium Industries, are based. Although the number of active operations vary, the country has continued to refine and develop its lithium extraction process, aiming to open numerous new sites in the coming years.
Argentina follows closely behind in the fifth spot, with most of its production coming from the “Lithium Triangle”, located in the provinces of Catamarca, Jujuy, and Salta. This region is believed to hold the largest reserves of lithium in the world, and as such, the Argentinian government has taken steps to regulate and increase their production even further.
In sixth is Portugal, whose northernmost region is home to the Pego mine, which supplies most of the country’s lithium. Currently, the Pego mine is the sole operating lithium miner in the country, though more are expected to open in the near future.
Ranking seventh and eighth are Zimbabwe and India, both of which have seen limited lithium production in recent years. Zimbabwe has the Kamativi mine, which produces about five hundred metric tons annually. India, on the other hand, has the UmIa mine in the state of Bihar, as well as other operations in the regions of Mizoram and Rajasthan.
Finally, the ninth largest producer of lithium is Zimbabwe, with production mostly concentrated in the northern regions of Karoi and Zvishavane. While this country has a relatively small mine network, they are quickly expanding their operations and are expected to become a major player in the lithium market in the coming years.
Overall, it is evident that the nine countries featured in this article are some of the most prolific producers of lithium in the world. While the demand for this element continues to rise, it is likely that these countries will continue to expand their operations and develop new sources of the resource.