Where Are Lithium Ion Batteries Made?
You’ve probably heard the question: “Where are lithium ion batteries made?” You’re not alone. About 80% of the world’s supply of lithium is mined and processed in the U.S. and South America. However, there are other regions that produce a large percentage of this energy source. For example, China is the world’s top producer of lithium ion batteries, while Japan ranks second.
80% of the world’s lithium ion batteries are mined and processed in the U.S.
Mining and processing lithium in the U.S. is a critical part of lithium ion battery production. This country is home to a significant supply of lithium. The majority of battery-grade lithium is mined from spodumene ores and processed by acid leaching and concentration in evaporation ponds. Lithium is then converted to battery-grade lithium carbonate.
Although the U.S. owns about 8.5% of the world’s lithium ion battery supply, we’ve had very little involvement in processing and refining lithium. While we own one brine pool and one lithium refinery, we have no significant presence in the production of lithium-based batteries. Most lithium is exported to China and other countries.
Lithium is an essential component of electric vehicles. With a rapidly growing electric vehicle market, the U.S. is looking to gain a competitive edge in lithium production. The Department of Energy has released a blueprint for revitalizing the battery supply chain, including incentives for domestic mining and processing and processes for recycling lithium-ion batteries. In the process of developing this blueprint, Washington has taken steps to protect state environmentalists and local communities.
80% of the world’s lithium ion batteries are mined and processed in South America
South America is home to most of the world’s lithium resources. The region accounts for approximately 80 percent of the world’s lithium production. Lithium is extracted from Bolivia and Chile, which together account for two-thirds of the world’s reserves. Moreover, Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia are the most important mining areas for lithium, which is the key ingredient in lithium ion batteries.
Argentina produces around 10% of the world’s lithium, and its production is poised to increase as companies become more willing to take risks. However, environmentalists are pushing back against this expansion, as they worry about social and environmental impact on Puna region. Mexico is another candidate for lithium mining, but the current political environment and difficult geology make it a poor option.
China is the leader in lithium ion battery production
While the United States is the world’s largest lithium producer, China is on the cusp of dominating the global lithium market. The Chinese government’s “Made in 2025” industrial strategy and more than $60 billion in electric vehicle subsidies have helped China develop a domestic battery industry. Chinese companies are already investing millions to find domestic sources of lithium.
China’s battery manufacturing industry is a key component of the green revolution. Companies like CATL produce lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and have access to huge supplies of raw materials. The Chinese government has acted to safeguard their business, creating a captive market and doling out money to CATL when it needed it.
Japan ranks second
In the global supply chain for lithium ion batteries, Japan is the second largest country, after China. China accounts for almost 80% of global raw material refining and production capacity and controls around 60% of component manufacturing. Japan, South Korea, and Germany all rank in the top five, although China dominates in several areas. However, Japan lacks China’s level of influence in the raw materials and component production processes, and South Korea scores higher on environmental and RII criteria.
China is rapidly becoming the world leader in the production and supply of lithium ion batteries. The country has surpassed Japan and South Korea in recent years and now controls over 80 percent of the world’s lithium-ion battery production and refining capacity. In addition, it controls more than 60 percent of the component manufacturing and raw material supply chains.
South Korea ranks third
South Korea’s lithium-ion battery industry has been growing rapidly in recent years. It is a global leader in the information and communications technology sector and has a history of fostering collaboration between the academic community and industry. Samsung has been an innovator of battery technology, introducing breakthroughs that have accelerated the global market for lithium-ion batteries.
In the first half of this year, Korean companies accounted for more than thirty percent of the world’s lithium-ion battery market, behind Japan and China. However, the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan affected the Japanese battery industry, disrupting the supply of batteries and parts.