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Lithium: Powering the green revolution with no substitute in sight

Lithium plays a key role in batteries, notably in large traction batteries that are used for e-mobility. Because lithium has the lowest atomic mass of all metals and also the highest normal potential, it cannot be replaced by an equally effective material in batteries without increasing their weight substantially.

The increase in demand for lithium is particularly noticeable because it has few applications besides for batteries. Global demand and production was low until the recent shift towards greener technologies. At present, the EU’s demand for lithium is met mainly (79 per cent) from Chilean sources, meaning a very high dependency.

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Beyond additional mining, the large-scale recycling of lithium from batteries that are no longer usable for their intended purpose will be necessary in the future, even if further deposits are discovered as a result of rising prices and increased exploration.

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