Russia may enter the top 5 lithium producers in the world
"Due to the development of existing deposits, Russia may enter the top 5 largest producers (lithium - ed.) in the next decade, second only to Chile, Argentina, China and Australia. In the future, production volumes may grow even more if the technologies developed in the Russian Federation for extracting lithium from solutions are effective," the report says.
According to experts, Russia has huge reserves of lithium ore, reaching 10% of the world. "The balance reserves of lithium in Russia, taken into account in the ores of 14 deposits, amount to 3.5 million tons of lithium oxide, and about 1 million more are off–balance reserves in the whole country," the authors specify.
At the same time, according to Roscongress, there is a significant shortage of this metal on the Russian market. Russia has been completely dependent on lithium imports since 1997, when a mine in the Krasnoyarsk Territory was closed. "There has been no production of its own since that moment, and last year the country faced difficulties in import purchases when Argentina and Chile refused to supply lithium to Russia," experts explain.
The authors of the report believe that the authorities should speed up the issuance of permits for the development of the largest domestic field in the Murmansk region. "This should provide Russia with 10% of the global market by the end of the decade, based on the estimated production volumes," the report says.
Experts admit that lithium prices on the world market are declining: if in December 2022 lithium hydroxide cost 85 thousand dollars, now the price has fallen below 35 thousand dollars per ton. In their opinion, this trend will continue in the coming years due to the growth of supply and competition in the market. However, the authors are confident that lithium projects in Russia will have a positive profitability even with a reduction in metal prices to 20 thousand dollars per ton.
The main consumer of lithium is the automotive industry, and this direction is actively developing in the Russian Federation, the authors explain. Lithium is used in the production of batteries for electric vehicles. "By 2030, Russia plans to produce up to 220 thousand electric vehicles of various types annually." – explained in the report.