While those watching the North Asian lithium markets wail over weakened spot lithium activity in the face of decreased consumer demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and steadily falling commodity prices, lithium firms in the United States and Canada remain optimistic as 2023 draws to a close. Indeed, many companies are looking forward to a construction boom in the coming year that could substantially increase the domestic supply of lithium in both nations.
This has been most visible in areas like Quebec where companies as well as the public sector have sunk massive investments into the mining industry if only to boost the domestic supply chain and drive up productivity from mining to EV assembly lines. Indeed, according to Ressources Québec vice-president Jean-François Béland, the demand for lithium in the province remains strong in light of Canada’s push towards electric-powered transportation.
Béland also compared the world’s burgeoning appetite for lithium and other rare metals critical to the shift to renewables to how coal and petroleum were the power sources of choice in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The way global supply chains were constrained throughout the early years of the COVID pandemic led to skyrocketing lithium prices as nations scrambled to secure their respective stockpiles of the metal and reduce their dependence on countries like China in the face of mounting socioeconomic tensions.
In recent months, world governments have implemented policies related to a shift to clean energy, industrial onshoring, and the strengthening of regional supply chains. However, the recent drop in lithium prices in the global market has driven officials and mining firms to take a closer look at their assets, leading to strategies for maximizing underutilized lithium holdings, the expedition of current initiatives, as well as being open to opportunities in 2024.
Indeed, the coming year looks promising when it comes to lithium-related infrastructure. Construction on lithium facilities in the American states of Arkansas, California, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas are in the offing, along with other structures rising over the northern border in Quebec.
The latter involves a follow-through on the extraction of spodumene concentrate, one of the key raw materials for lithium production, which North American Lithium (NAL) began this year under a joint venture between Piedmont Lithium and Sayona Mining.