Lithium shortage strains battery supply

Joanne Carew
By Joanne Carew, ITWeb Cape-based contributor.
Johannesburg, 14 Aug 2012

Lithium shortage strains battery supply

A shortage of lithium is driving up consumer prices for battery powered mobile gadgets, writes The Saudi Gazette.

Lithium is the main ingredient in long-life batteries used in smartphones, tablets, electric vehicles and other sought-after products. In recent years, the mineral's priced tripled as demand spiked.

Paul Watson, CEO for GTSO resources, the mining subsidiary of Green Technology Solutions, warned that the release of the iPhone 5 will further strain global stockpiles. The market for lithium is now valued at $1 billion a year. Market research forecasts that the lithium-ion batteries market will reach $43 billion by 2020.

These batteries generate more electricity than competing cells such as lead-acid. GTSO is urging greater interest in the recycling of lithium batteries to help meet the growing requirements for the metal.

According to Virtual Strategy, e-waste consists of unwanted, obsolete or broken computers and other electronic devices that are tossed out by consumers. Canada is one of the world's top producers of e-waste, an estimated 272 000 tonnes of e-waste to the dump every year.

As demand for iPads, electric cars and other new technologies explodes around the world, the prices for the minerals used to manufacture old, unwanted electronics is becoming more and more valuable, and GTSO is working to capitalise on this new resource.

“By recycling e-waste, we can not only keep toxic materials away from our landfills and groundwater, but also reclaim deposits of gold, silver, platinum, palladium, lithium and more,” says Watson. “Canada is a major area of interest for our company right now due to both the lithium projects underway there as well as its underserved urban mining potential.”

“The salt lakes of South America contain about 75% of the world's known lithium resources," 4-traders quotes Watson as saying.

“Chile is a developed economy with established mining infrastructure, which makes it the perfect place to pursue and develop new lithium resources for mining and recycling. The global market for lithium is set to explode very soon, and we plan to grow right along with it,” he adds.

GTSO is working to service a fast-growing global appetite for rare and precious metals to compete in an exciting sector that includes International Lithium and North American Tungsten.