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sqm running out of lithium

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    Checkout this article hot off tomorrow's press???

    The Saudi Arabia of Lithium
    Forbes Magazine dated November 24, 2008

    http://www.forbes.com/home/forbes/2008/1124/034_2.html

    There is considerable debate as to how much lithium carbonate is required per kwh in a lithium-ion battery, but 3.1 pounds is one common estimate that's in line with calculations from Argonne National Laboratory. If you use that rule of thumb, a mass-market electric car will require 124 pounds of lithium carbonate.

    Only 102,000 tons of lithium carbonate were produced in 2007, and only about a quarter went into batteries of any kind. SQM forecasts that global production will rise to 176,000 tons by 2018, 10% of which will be for automobiles, enough for 284,000 electric-only vehicles. That doesn't even account for demand from future hybrids using lithium batteries. The Freedonia Group, a market research firm, has forecast that worldwide hybrid sales will hit 4.5 million vehicles in 2013. There's quite a gap here.

    William Tahil, the founder of Meridian International Research, a technology consultancy in Martainville, France, has argued that there simply isn't enough economically recoverable lithium on the planet to support the auto industry's ambitious plans. Tahil estimated that only 4.4 million tons of the world's lithium resources can be extracted without prohibitive cost, a supply he believes will be quickly exhausted if lithium-ion batteries become a staple of next-generation cars.

    Tahil reserves particular skepticism for SQM. The company states that it has already discovered 5.7 million tons of lithium in the Salar de Atacama and that only 45% of its lake-bed claim has been explored. But Tahil, who is not a geologist, scoffs at that assessment; he believes that the brine starts to run out below 130 feet under the salar.

    "You have a mother lode, where [the brine] is excellent quality, and every time you put the pick in you come out with a nugget. But the further out from the mother lode, you have to start panning. It takes more work." By Tahil's estimate the Chileans may have already exhausted half of the salar 's mother lode.

 
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