This article provides insights into the exports of lithium using detailed commodity data from Customs declarations.
Global demand for lithium has grown significantly in recent years. Due to its lightweight properties, lithium is a key component in the production of rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs), renewable energy storage, and consumer devices such as mobile phones, laptops, and cameras.
Australia is the world’s biggest exporter of lithium¹. In 2020, 46% of the world’s lithium came from Australia and exports of lithium are expected to continue to increase, forecasted to contribute $9.4 billion in revenue to the Australian economy by 2023-24².
Australian lithium mines primarily extract spodumene concentrate, which is a lithium mineral derived from pegmatite and the most widely exploited lithium mineral source³. Spodumene is further processed to produce lithium hydroxide (preferred for batteries) or lithium carbonate (sometimes used in batteries but more commonly medications, glass production, and other uses). Australian exports of lithium are primarily in the form of spodumene concentrate however as global demand grows, several Australian lithium mines are commencing production of lithium hydroxide⁴.