The man at the helm of one of North America’s leading lithium companies has expressed his respect and admiration for China’s dominance of the nascent industry in light of the way it has left the rest of the world in the dust.
During an interview with the media last November 21st, American Lithium CEO Simon Clarke explained to anchors how China managed to muscle its way to the top of the global lithium scene, saying that the country’s lithium professionals have played a great game.
Clarke pointed out that much of China’s dominance in the industry can be credited to quiet busy work in terms of both research and business development. Chinese mineral and mining companies spent much of the past decade identifying key deposits of lithium ore and spodumene throughout the world in the hope of securing claims upon them before anyone else did.
These companies also spent time developing relevant technologies for a more efficient and effective way of mining and refining the valuable metal, eventually perfecting these and implementing them in different facilities throughout the world.
The rest of the world, however, is now sorely pressed to catch up.
But Clarke admits that lithium is a very difficult mineral to recover from raw ore, and that much of the technology now being utilized for doing so was developed by the Chinese.
However, while it may seem a considerable challenge, it may still be possible for American and European firms to gain a lead over their main Asian competitor. At present, a number of leading world economies are seeking to augment their lithium resources in order to reduce their dependence on China and other dominant nations in the lithium trade.
The European Union is one such state, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has emphasized that Europe needs to step up its game in terms of addressing its supply security and holdings, as well as developing its own processing facilities.
China Has a Massive Lead
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s World Energy Outlook for 2022, China accounts for around 60% of the world’s total lithium supply, as well as 75% of all lithium-ion (LiOn) batteries currently in use the world over.
The country also controls 90% of the rare earth processing sector – a potential area of concern, given how these minerals as well as lithium are becoming more important than either crude petroleum and natural gas.