The demand for lithium-ion batteries is rising worldwide, driven largely by the green energy transition to fight climate change. The rising demand for lithium-ion batteries also increases the demand for lithium (Li), the main raw material for battery production.
According to Grand View Research, the international lithium market was valued at $7.50 billion in 2022 and will touch $24 billion in 2030, growing at a CAGR of 12.3% from 2023 to 2030.
Until the 1990s, the lithium market was dominated by US-based lithium mining companies, but by the turn of the 21st century, lithium production had concentrated in a few countries like Australia, Chile, and Portugal.
Today, America is trying to catch up with the lithium mining race by setting up more mining locations. It can bring some opportunities and challenges for the US lithium mining industry in the coming years.
Opportunities for Lithium Mining
Reduce shortages and imports
Lithium mining creates a steady supply of raw materials. Lithium mining companies can bring down lithium shortages and imports if they can channel their investment in the right direction and deliver large-scale industrialization efficiently.
Create new jobs
As per a new study by Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, the world needs to produce twenty times more lithium by 2050 to meet the rising demand for energy storage, particularly for electric vehicles. So, setting up more lithium mining companies means more jobs and wealth creation.
Along with conventional lithium mining techniques, technological advancements like direct lithium extraction (DLE) and direct lithium to product (DLP) help the lithium mining industry meet the soaring demand for lithium. Besides, they can lower the industry’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) footprint and costs.
Eco-friendly lithium mining
The U.S. can do lithium mining in several environmentally friendly ways. For example, the Salton Sea, a lake rich in lithium in California, lies above a geothermal reservoir currently used to generate electricity through geothermal power plants. The steam from the geothermal reservoir contains lithium, which can be extracted using tools called scrubbers. Therefore, places like the Salton Sea continue to generate renewable geothermal energy while contributing to the lithium supply.
Challenges in Lithium Mining
Environmental and social issues
Environmental issues include carbon emissions, land degradation, and water contamination. One example of the social issues is when several indigenous tribes filed lawsuits against a new lithium mining site in Nevada owing to a lack of transparency in consultation and threats to their sacred sites.
The US still lacks the technical expertise to extract lithium from conventional sources like brine and hard rock and unconventional sources like geothermal steam. In addition, lithium mining companies find it challenging to implement the latest technologies like DLE and DLP.
The US, with multiple federal, state, and local agencies, has faced numerous regulatory hurdles at various stages of permitting and financing lithium mining projects.
Vibrating Equipment and Solutions for the Changing Times
Carrier Vibrating Equipment is a globally leading innovator in vibratory technology. We are experts in designing and manufacturing a wide range of highly efficient, low maintenance, easily cleanable, and precisely controllable vibrating equipment.
Some of our equipment includes vibrating conveyors, feeders, screeners, and more.
Our machines are developed to perform various processing functions efficiently and reliably to meet the custom specifications of our clients.