Lithium: Price Collapse Secures Green Transition, Causes Headaches

what is the current price of lithium

EV makers, including Tesla TSLA , were scrambling to buttress their own lithium supplies. Lithium sellers such as Ganfeng Lithium, the Albemarle Corporation, and others were so swamped with orders they were holding auctions, which routinely pushed prices upward. Tesla decreased their prices in some cases by 30% this year, yet it hasn’t seemed to be enough to increase demand. Lithium is earning its current moniker, “white gold,” and all the geopolitical contention that comes with it. When Argentina’s new libertarian president, Javier Milei, announced sweeping reforms, a prominent one was making it easier to export lithium. The U.S. subsequently announced financial support to make that happen.

what is the current price of lithium

In the late 1800s, it was used to treat mania with such positive results that lithium is still used in psychiatry today. In the 1790s, Jozé Bonifácio de Andralda e Silva from Brazil discovered petalite on Utö, a Swedish island. This was the first lithium mineral to be found but it wasn’t until 1817 that lithium was identified as a new metal in its own right. Commodities fluctuate all the time, and over-investment in production is hardly a unique story. What separates lithium, and what makes this situation so dangerous, is the intense geopolitical competition lithium is subject to, the regulatory environment lithium interfaces with, and lithium’s role in combating climate change.


Another factor that affects lithium prices is the rarity of the metal. During the times when supplies run low, prices often spike. Lithium is mainly used for energy storage such as batteries for electric vehicles and sustainable energy generation. The price of Lithium is expected to rise substantially in coming years as the world moves further towards using green energy and lower carbon industry.

The London Metal Exchange (LME) works closely with the lithium industry to provide more information, forecasts, charts, and lithium prices to investors. Market prices for lithium have fluctuated dramatically over the past few years as investors have speculated over the supply and demand for lithium in the growing market for electric vehicle batteries. Fears over another crash, current capital losses, and a lack of production increase even when input prices are at rock bottom may stymie efforts to increase lithium production for years. This price crash should remind everyone that green energy is just as susceptible to market forces as its competitors in the fossil fuels industry.

what is the current price of lithium

Our responsive widgets and charts scale to nearly any display size. Johan August Arfvedson of Stockholm analysed the mineral when he realized it contained an unknown metal that was a new alkali and a version of sodium. The metal’s name is derived from the Greek word “lithos” meaning stone.

Daily Metal Spot Prices Lithium Price (USD / Metric Ton) for the Last Day

Lithium is vital because of its indispensability in modern green technologies, especially advanced batteries. Countries in the developing world have been able to tap into vital new revenue streams even as the price of lithium was pushed downwards. One of the main forecasts that investors rely on to predict the market price is the current global demand and supply chain. In particular, the price is driven by the demand for two forms of the metal – lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide.

  1. Just over a year ago, lithium prices were sitting at nearly $80,000 a ton in December 2022.
  2. The metal’s name is derived from the Greek word “lithos” meaning stone.
  3. Lithium has a silvery veneer and is a soft and malleable metal.

A degree of stability is necessary in order to rescue the lithium market. Prices of lithium need to be low enough that consumers, such as battery manufacturers, can make a profit, but high enough to encourage suppliers towards long-term expansion and investment. In one year, the cost of lithium has dropped a staggering 80%. Lithium prices currently hover at approximately $13600 a ton as of December 18th 2023. The commodity remains extremely valuable due to its essential roles in the fields of medicine, technology, and to investors looking to add a sought-after commodity to their portfolio. Lithium mining produced an estimated 82,000 metric tons of lithium in 2020 and the global reserves in 2021 is at an estimated 21 million tonnes.

Metal Price Charts

The metal plays an essential role in the creation of lithium-ion batteries, especially for laptops, mobile phones, electric vehicles, and pacemakers. Lithium is also used to create alloys with magnesium and aluminium which are then deployed in armour plating, aircraft and trains. In Australia, lithium comes from mining ores of other minerals. Chile and Argentina extract lithium from the brine of underwater lakes. The water is brought to the surface and allowed to evaporate. The remaining saline solution is processed to extract the lithium, usually by electrolysis.

Lithium has a silvery veneer and is a soft and malleable metal. It has a potent reaction to water and with air, it rapidly oxidizes after being cut. Once lithium is cut and exposed, it develops a black oxide layer. Lithium is the only metal that reacts at room temperature with nitrogen. When burning, lithium has a crimson flame that turns white when the fire turns more vigorous. It has a melting point of 180.50°C (356.90°F) and a boiling point of 1342°C (2448°F).

When Namibia conflicted with a Chinese mining company, it was over the export of lithium. After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, one of the few economic opportunities that emerged was for the export of lithium from the Taliban-ruled Emirate. Lithium can rarely be obtained by investors in its physical form but the metal can be traded effectively in other ways. One can buy shares in companies that are involved with lithium mining and production. Lithium is traded as both Lithium Hydroxide and Lithium Carbonate. Besides being used extensively in the medical and psychiatric fields, lithium also offers vast applications in other areas.

Lithium is toxic and ingestion is often done under close medical supervision. Lithium carbonate is prescribed for manic depression (also known as bipolar disorder) and sometimes for lesser grades of depression. From early on, lithium was used in the medical world as a treatment for physical and psychiatric conditions. In the mid-1800’s it was unsuccessfully used to remedy gout and uric acid calculi.

Two of the world’s major lithium producers are Australia and Chile. China and Argentina also produce the metal to a lesser degree. The metal is found in trace amounts in many rocks and mineral water but is more abundant in minerals such as petalite, spodumene, lepidolite, and amblygonite. Lithium is a silvery-white metal that resembles aluminium or platinum. On the periodic table, it belongs to Group 1 (Ia) which holds the other alkali metals hydrogen (H), sodium (Na), rubidium (Rb) potassium (K), cesium (Cs), and francium (Fr). It is known as a soft substance with the lowest density of all metals (0.534 g/cm3).

On balance, this is an overwhelmingly positive thing, as the maturation of green energy has made solar electricity cheaper than coal and created large, moneyed constituencies interested in the success of green energy. While theoretically, EV makers can produce more vehicles with dropping battery prices, demand for EVs has slowed as leaders such as Tesla try to produce vehicles for the mass market. Previously, the market appealed to luxury buyers and early adopters, creating significant growth. Unfortunately for all, this vision has been interrupted by some of the perennial enemies of the orderly market – human greed and poor planning. Just over a year ago, lithium prices were sitting at nearly $80,000 a ton in December 2022. The U.S. government was so worried about the metal’s price and its impact on advanced technologies it enacted a comprehensive supply review.






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