China could control one-third of global lithium market by 2025. Details here

China is the largest market for electrified vehicles and the biggest producer of EV batteries in the world, which is propelling the growth of the coun
An aerial view shows the brine pools and processing areas of the Soquimich (SQM) lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat in the Atacama desert of northern Chile,
An aerial view shows the brine pools and processing areas of the Soquimich (SQM) lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat in the Atacama desert of northern Chile,

China is undoubtedly the biggest player in the new energy vehicle segment, specifically lithium-powered electric vehicles. A Bloomberg report has quoted UBS AG forecasting that China will account for nearly one-third of the global supply of the precious mineral by 2025, owing to the country's efforts to ramp up lithium extraction.

In 2022, more than 5.92 million new passenger vehicles with plug-in electric powertrains were registered in China, which is a whopping 83 per cent surge as compared to the NEVs sold in the country in 2021. Among these 5.92 million units of NEVs, pure battery electric vehicles sold around 4.35 million units contributing 22 per cent to the total sales of the new energy vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles contributed eight per cent with 1.58 million units. This marked an impressive 30 per cent of the country's total passenger vehicle sales in 2022.

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In January this year, China registered a record number of NEVs. Around 343,691 new passenger plug-in electric cars were registered in the country in the first month of this year, which was a negative result, as it marked an eight per cent decline compared to the same month a year ago. With such a huge number of electrified vehicles being sold in the country, China is topping the chart of global EV sales as well as in terms of demand for lithium batteries, propelling the growth of lithium-ion battery manufacturing in the country.

China not only manufactures lithium-ion EV batteries for its domestic market demand but exports to the global markets, including India as well. Clearly, the country aims to control the market that has huge potential for growth in the coming years with a keen focus on electrified mobility.

The Chinese-controlled mines, including the African projects, are reportedly expected to raise lithium production to 705,000 tons by 2025, up from 194,000 tons produced in 2022. This will eventually raise China's share in the global lithium market to 32 per cent from 24 per cent recorded in 2022.

Lithium is the most important mineral for electric vehicles, and these new energy vehicles are at the forefront of the mobility technology transition. Hence, the race to secure lithium is becoming intense. Several countries, including the US, have prioritised access to the precious materials necessary for making EV batteries as the world is turning away from fossil fuels. China, the world's biggest market for NEVs, aims to capture the largest chunk of the market pie.

Interestingly, despite being the world's biggest producer of new energy vehicles, China holds only a modest slice of global lithium reserves. Hence, like many other commodities foundational to a modern economy, China is overly reliant on foreign lithium supplies for its often world-leading production of EV batteries. Keeping an eye on the goal of establishing a monopoly on the lithium supply chain, China is keen on saving the lithium depository in its territory as of now and ramping up the mining in other countries where Chinese-origin companies own lithium mines.

First Published Date: 13 Mar 2023, 15:13 PM IST

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