With the demand for lithium continuing to increase due to the exponentially rising numbers of consumer products, investors are now racing to invest their money in companies mining the periodic table’s lightest metal. As more products use lithium as one of its components – battery-powered vehicles, iPads, tablets, lubricants and even ceramics -- prices of the metal have tripled since 2000 in a market currently worth $1 billion a year.
Leading analysts at Dahlman Rose & Co. expect demand for lithium to double by 2020 as companies producing lithium battery-powered products like Toyota Motor Corp. (Prius hybrid vehicle) and Apple Inc. (iPad and iPhones) have few alternatives for the metal.
Mining companies Talison Lithium Ltd., Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA, Rockwood Holdings Inc. and FMC Corp., account for 95 percent of world lithium supply. Rio Tinto Group could join the group should it go ahead with a mine in Serbia that it claims could produce 20 percent of global lithium output.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Evy Hambro, who manages about $13 billion in mining stocks for BlackRock, said that some companies now want to have lithium exposure. According to Roskill Information Services Ltd. analyst Robert Baylis, the demand for lithium ion rechargeable batteries in Asia has pushed lithium prices higher by a threefold in the last 12 years.