Worldwide lithium reserves, by country
Lithium is a soft, silver-white metal within the alkali metal group on the periodic table. In nature, lithium occurs only in compounds due to its high reactivity. Chile had the largest lithium reserves worldwide in 2017 by a large margin. Chile had an estimated 7.5 million metric tons of lithium reserves. China came in second with reserves estimated at 3.2 million metric tons. Mineral reserves are defined as those minerals that were extractable or producible at the time of estimate. Australia was the top country in terms of lithium mine production in 2017, producing 18,700 metric tons of lithium that year.
Lithium is used primarily in batteries, glass and ceramics, with other uses including rocket fuel and lasers. The global lithium battery market is projected to grow substantially in coming years, from 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2011 to over 15 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. The electric vehicle market will propel the growth of the lithium market as the number of hybrid and electric vehicles powered by rechargeable lithium batteries picks up. In 2016 the top producers of lithium battery cells were estimated to be Panasonic Sanyo, AESC, and LG Chem. By 2025, it is projected that the global clean energy demand will account for over half of the lithium carbonate demand worldwide, with U.S. clean energy demand accounting for eight percent of lithium demand. It is expected that Germany, China, Japan, and France will be leading electric vehicle producing countries.