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Lithium: Good News for the Australian Mining Industry

In good news for the Australian mining industry, miners produced 55,000 tonnes of lithium in 2021, a 28% increase from the 39,700 tonnes of lithium produced in 2020. This is approximately half of global production.

Australia is the global leader in lithium production in 2021, with Chile (26,000 tonnes), China (14,000 tonnes), and Argentina (6,200 tonnes) as the runners up. Clearly, Australian miners have a huge lead over the competition.

By the end of 2021, the known reserves of lithium resources globally increased to 89 million tonnes spread amongst South America and Australia. Bolivia had 21 million tonnes of lithium resources, Argentina had 19 million tonnes, Chile had 9.8 million tonnes, and Australia had 7.3 million tonnes.

Lithium demand has reached sky-high levels as the demand for EV batteries has continued to increase exponentially, leading to increases in prices. Lithium carbonate prices in China passed 300,000 yuan ($66,195) per tonne in January, and have now escalated to 382,500 yuan ($84,423) per tonne.

“Lithium supply security has become a top priority for technology companies in Asia, Europe and the United States,” a United States Geological Survey (USGS) report stated. “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.”

More good news for the Australian mining industry comes from the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The desert is famous as a gold mining area, but now, rare earth element strikes are being recorded in the western sector. Assays found 14 of 20 rock chip samples hold more than 1% total rare earth oxides (TREO), with the highest reading indicating a TREO of 12.45%, including 11,592 parts per million (ppm) of dysprosium. Follow-up fieldwork in October found 13 of 23 rock chip samples hold more than 1% TREO, headlined by an 8.77% TREO reading from TARK0037.

“Rare earths are becoming more and more important to the supply chain for industry particularly around decarbonisation and electrification of cars, and this commodity pathway provides additional value to our West Tanami project,” Killi Resources CEO Kathryn Cutler said.

Australians are very good at mining. They don’t call us diggers for nothing. These developments will help the Australian economy and progress the rEVolution.

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David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].


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