The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) is urging the Australian Government and industry to act and expand in the next two years along the estimated $2 trillion lithium value chain.
AMEC has released a report by Future Smart Strategies, titled A lithium industry in Australia: A value chain analysis for downstreaming Australia's lithium resources.
According to the report, and based on the contracted supply from Australia for this year of some 24,300 contained tonnes of lithium (LME) compared to the global consumption forecast of most forecasters of 40,000 tonnes of LME, Australia is likely to capture as much as 60% of the global market.
Mr Warren Pearce, Chief Executive Officer, AMEC believes that lithium in the batteries of smartphones and electrical vehicles represent one of Australia's great opportunities. "With projects at Greenbushes, Mt Cattlin, Mt Marion and Pilgangoora all ramping up production, Australia will dominate the front of the lithium value chain for the foreseeable future", said Mr Pearce.
The genesis of this lithium surge can be traced back to 1991 when Sony commercialised the lithium-ion rechargeable battery. As lithium battery production costs fell, and mobile phone and electric car uptake has boomed, the global demand for lithium has grown exponentially.
"This report is a call to action. There is a unique opportunity for Australia to undertake greater lithium downstream processing," said Mr Pearce.
"Australia produces over 60% of the world's lithium, dominating one end of the value chain. Australia also produces all of the minerals (other than soda ash) that are needed to manufacture lithium rechargeable batteries.
"Australia has a series of comparative advantages that we can capitalise on, if Government and industry collaborate to achieve greater downstream processing.
"It is important that all levels of Government engage with industry to grasp this opportunity. We need Government to support industry to create new jobs and revenues for local communities.
"We have a window of roughly two years before it is set where battery components and batteries will be manufactured and by whom."