Lithium: a critical component of the energy transition
Lithium is a very light alkaline mineral, found only in nature:
- Lithium deposits are found in the form of brines at the heart of salars, which are large, partially dried salt lakes.
- It is found in clays or hard rocks such as pegmatite, or granite, as is the case on the site of the Beauvoir kaolins.
The major lithium resources identified today are in South America, Australia and China, which are also currently the major production regions.
Global demand for lithium to increase tenfold by 2030
Over the past decade, global demand for lithium has doubled, and the use of lithium has spread to many sectors, including the automotive sector through rechargeable battery manufacturers.
Originally developed in the 1990s, lithium batteries rapidly became commonplace. Today, battery manufacturers rely on lithium-ion technology, which requires lithium, a material critical for its high electrochemical potential, size and lightness.
This use of lithium for the automotive industry continues to increase, supporting the growth of the sector. Given the environmental challenges ahead, this growth is expected to continue over the next 10 years and increase tenfold by 2030.
This announcement by Imerys of the opening of a lithium mine in mainland France, that I welcome and support - both as Minister of Energy and Climate and as Minister in charge of mineral resources - goes beyond the success of an industrial project, as our mineral resources are a strategic asset. The lithium that will be responsibly extracted in Echassières will allow us a stable and sustainable supply for electric batteries required for low carbon mobility, in line with our Fitfor55 objectives and the future Critical Raw Material Act. It is essential to achieve energy and industrial independence by becoming a leader in low carbon technologies.