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The world's largest lithium producing countries in 2022 - report

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(Kitco News) - Estimated global mine lithium production in 2022 increased by 21.5% to 130,000 tonnes of contained lithium (excluding USA). Australia was the largest lithium producing country, followed by Chile and China.

According to preliminary data released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), estimated global mine production of lithium in 2022 was ~130,000 tonnes of contained lithium (excluding USA), up 21.5% from 2021 (107,000 tonnes).

USGS said that lithium production increased in response to strong demand from the lithium-ion battery market and increased prices of lithium, adding that global consumption of lithium in 2022 was estimated to be 134,000 tonnes, a 41% increase from 95,000 tonnes in 2021.

USGS noted that six mineral operations in Australia, one mineral tailings operation in Brazil, two brine operations each in Argentina and Chile, and three mineral and two brine operations in China accounted for the majority of world lithium production. Additionally, smaller operations in Brazil, Canada, China, Portugal, the United States, and Zimbabwe also contributed to world lithium production.

"Owing to the rapid increase in demand and prices of lithium in 2022, established lithium operations worldwide increased or were in the process of increasing production capacity," USGS said.

Global mine lithium production, tonnes of contained lithium. 2022* - preliminary data. Source: USGS.

With mine production of 61,000 tonnes of contained lithium, Australia was the largest lithium producer in 2022, followed by Chile (39,000 tonnes), China (19,000 tonnes) and Argentina (6,200 tonnes).

Lithium producing countries, tonnes of contained lithium. 2022* - preliminary data. Source: USGS.

Lithium supply security has become a top priority for technology companies in Asia, Europe, and the United States, USGS said.

"Strategic alliances and joint ventures among technology companies and exploration companies continued to be established to ensure a reliable, diversified supply of lithium for battery suppliers and vehicle manufacturers," the authors of the report found.

USGS noted that brine-based lithium sources were in various stages of development or exploration in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, China, and the United States.

Mineral-based lithium sources were in various stages of development or exploration in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Congo (Kinshasa), Czechia, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, the United States, and Zimbabwe.

Lithium-clay sources were in various stages of development or exploration in Mexico and the United States.

According to the report, global end-use markets of lithium were estimated as follows: batteries, 80%; ceramics and glass, 7%; lubricating greases, 4%; continuous casting mold flux powders, 2%; air treatment, 1%; medical, 1%; and other uses, 5%.

USGS said that lithium consumption for batteries increased significantly in recent years because rechargeable lithium batteries have been used extensively in the growing market for electric vehicles and portable electronic devices, and increasingly have been used in electric tools, and grid storage applications.

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