The lithium compounds market is projected to grow from USD 5.3 billion in 2020 to USD 13.5 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 20.6% from 2020 to 2025. The increasing demand for lithium compounds from end uses such as Li-ion batteries, glass & ceramics, polymers, and lubricants, among others, is expected to drive the lithium compounds market.
Based on derivative, the lithium carbonate segment accounted for the largest share of the lithium compounds market in 2019. Lithium carbonate is a lithium salt of carbonate used widely in the processing of metal oxides. It is the first lithium compound that is extracted from the brines and the first compound in the production chain; it is a building block for other lithium derivatives. Lithium carbonate is used in various applications such as glass & ceramics, aluminum production, pharmaceuticals, and Li-ion batteries. It is also used to reduce the melting point of silica that is used in ovenware glass. In ceramics, it is used to render color & shine. The rising demand for lithium carbonate from the Li-ion battery industry is expected to drive its market during the forecast period.
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Based on end use, the Li-ion batteries segment accounted for the largest share in 2019. Lithium-ion batteries have become the gold standard for electric vehicles because they store more power per unit of weight compared to alternatives such as nickel-cadmium. Nickel-cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries were formerly used in computers and cell phones. However, these sources of energy had low power capabilities, shorter charge periods, and were heavier than lithium batteries. Li-ion batteries have a high energy density, longer run time, and an extended life cycle compared to traditional lead-acid batteries, which helps meet the current requirements of the worldwide energy market.
Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM) (Chile), Livent Corporation (US), Albemarle Corporation (US), Tianqi Lithium Industries Inc. (China), and Ganfeng Lithium Company Limited (China) are the key players in this market. Other noteworthy public and private players in this market are China Lithium Products Technology Company Limited (China), Sichuan Ni&Co Guorun New Materials Company Limited (China), Shanghai China Lithium Industrial Company Limited (China), Nemaska Lithium Inc. (Canada), Bacanora Lithium (United Kingdom), Lithium Americas (Canada), Galaxy Resources Limited (Australia), Orocobre Limited (Australia), Shandong Ruifu Lithium Industry Company Limited (China), Neo Lithium Corporation (Canada), and Millennial Lithium Corporation (Canada) These players have adopted strategies such as acquisitions, agreements, expansions, joint ventures, and divestments to enhance their position in the market.
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Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd., in August 2019, increased its stake to 50% in Minera Exar, the holding company of the Cauchari-Olaroz project. This project is expected to produce 25,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium per annum in the first phase, beginning in 2021. Post further expansion, its capacity will be increased to 40,000 metric tons per annum for a period of 40 years. This acquisition will boost Ganfeng’s lithium raw material supply to meet the future demand for lithium compounds.
In June 2019, Bacanora Lithium and Ganfeng Lithium entered into an investment and offtake agreement, with Ganfeng investing USD 17 million to acquire 29.99% and 22.5% of Bacanora and Sonora Lithium, respectively. Bacanora Lithium is also liable to supply 50% of stage 1 production of lithium at the Sonora Lithium project to Ganfeng. By this agreement, Bacanora aims to leverage the expertise of Ganfeng for the completion of the project, which will help it lower the cost of manufacturing of lithium compounds for supply in the global market.
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