Buried in a piece at Mining.com about South Korea and Bolivia’s joint-venture to develop the latter nation’s significant lithium reserves – critical to lithium-ion batteries used in cell phones, laptops and electric cars – is this comment from Argentinean officials:
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 – to manage prices and limit overproduction.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 4 million tons of known lithium in the U.S., but only one U.S. company is presently involved in pulling them from of the ground.
Currently, 120,000 tons of lithium are extracted worldwide. As Mining.com notes:
If electric cars achieve a 5% penetration rate by 2020, an additional 60,000 tons of lithium will be needed to fill the demand.
That’s a 50 percent increase in supply. We’ve seen how the real OPEC affects petroleum-based transportation. Will we really want to substitute a “lithium OPEC” for the electric-car era?