Lithium is an essential component in electric vehicles, portable electronics and computers, ceramics and glass. Current annual demand levels of approximately 25,000 tonnes of lithium are expected to grow to around 40,000 tonnes over the next decade.
According to the United States Geological Survey, global production of lithium carbonate equivalent (CLE) reached 180,000 metric tons in 2011, an increase of over 21% compared to 2010 figures, led by increasing output in China. Demand continues to grow, as new lithium-based electric vehicles enter the market. Prices are expected to remain within the US$4500 to US$5000 per tonne range in the near term.
Longer-term, lithium is a strategic commodity with long-term growth fundamentals, despite near-term price softening caused by issues of over supply.
Tantalum is a rare lustrous transition metal. Primary demand originates in the electronics industry; tantalum capacitors are used in such products as mobile phones, computers, video games and DVD players.
Consumption of tantalum reached an all-time peak in 2008, before the global economic downturn caused a drop in demand. A strong recovery was seen in 2010 and although the market has eased in 2011 and early 2012, analysts such as Roskill expect a return to a growth trend by 2015.
Lithium Carbonate Export Prices, China & Chile (US$ per metric tonne)