January 31, 2024

The booming electric vehicle (EV) industry has sparked concerns about whether lithium production can keep up with the escalating demand. Incorrys delved into an analysis of historical and forecasted data while highlighting key developments and initiatives within the lithium industry. Moreover, we explore the global lithium reserves and recycling efforts to shed light on the sustainability of lithium supply.

The supply of raw lithium ore grew rapidly beginning in 2017 as the demand for Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries began to show strong growth. Globally, lithium ore production averaged about 600,000 tonnes /year between 2010 and 2016 before jumping up to almost 2 million tonnes in 2017. It continued to grow in 2018 before declining slightly in 2019 and 2020, the latter being impacted by the Covid pandemic. Incorrys is forecasting lithium ore production to almost triple from 2.7 million tonnes in 2022 to over 7.5 million tonnes in 2030. This growth underscores the importance of lithium in supporting the transition to sustainable energy systems, particularly for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage. Approximately 5% of the total supply is refined into high-purity lithium compounds, which play a vital role in various industries, including battery production.

By country, Australia has been the dominant force in Lithium ore production averaging 75% of global historical production between 2010 and 2022, with their market share increasing from 62% to 82% over that time period. After Australia, Chile averaged about 8% of the global market share from 2010-2022 and China at about 3%.

Global Lithium Ore Production and Forecast

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has identified a potential 98 million tonnes of lithium resources worldwide through geological exploration. Further, the discovered lithium reserves stand at 26 million tonnes which is sufficient for the production of nearly 2.7 billion electric vehicles.

Refining is a crucial step in the lithium supply chain, as it transforms the raw lithium ore into high-purity lithium products that are suitable for different applications. The refining process involves various chemical and physical processes to extract and purify the lithium compounds. Approximately 5% of the total supply of lithium ore is refined into various lithium compounds.

Historically, global refined lithium supply has shown consistent growth, reaching around 130,000 tonnes in 2022. Incorrys is forecasting supply to increase over 10% to 145,000 tonnes in 2023 indicating industry efforts to meet the mounting demand. Incorrys expects that by 2030, the supply of lithium will nearly triple to almost 360,000 tonnes.

Global Refined Lithium Production and Forecast

Recognizing the increasing demand, key players within the lithium industry have announced significant expansion plans and technological advancements, including:

  • Albemarle intends to expand its lithium mining operations in the Atacama Salt Flat in Chile by 2028 and, using direct lithium extraction technology, they aim to increase production capacity.
  • Pilbara Minerals, based in Australia, plan to expand their production capacity to 1,000,000 tonnes of spodumene ore per year, starting in 2023.
  • Recognizing the importance of sustainability, efforts are being made to recycle and repurpose lithium batteries. For example, according to a survey conducted by the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association-Specialized Committee of Secondary Resources (CNIA-SCSR), a total of 300,000 tonnes of lithium battery scrap, including batteries, pole ends, and black mass, were recycled in China in 2022.

To ensure a sustainable lithium supply in support of the growth of the EV industry, collaboration between governments, mining companies, and battery manufacturers is critical.

While concerns persist about the availability of lithium production to meet the growing demand, several factors provide reassurance:

  • There are significant discovered and potential resources worldwide to satisfy the demand of ore lithium.
  • Expansion plans, coupled with recycling efforts and technological advancements, indicate the industry’s commitment to meeting future lithium demand.



  1. Albemarle. (2023, June 30). Lithium Resources. https://www.albemarle.com/offerings/lithium/resources–recycling/lithium-resources
  2. Metal.com. (2023, January 20). More Than 300,000 mt of Lithium Battery Scrap Was Recycled in China in 2022, Recycling Market to Embrace Both Opportunities and Challenges in 2023. https://news.metal.com/newscontent/102073901/more-than-300000-mt-of-lithium-battery-scrap-was-recycled-in-china-in-2022-recycling-market-to-embrace-both-opportunities-and-challenges-in-2023/
  3. National Mineral Information Center. (2023). Lithium Statistics and Information. – https://www.usgs.gov/centers/national-minerals-information-center/lithium-statistics-and-information
  4. Pibara Minerals. (2023). https://pilbaraminerals.com.au/our-company/our-projects/pilgangoora-operation/
  5. S.News. (2023, May 11). Albemarle Aims to Expand Chile Lithium Mine in 2028 With New Technology. https://money.usnews.com/investing/news/articles/2023-05-11/albemarle-aims-to-expand-chile-lithium-mine-in-2028-with-new-technology