The World Can’t Wean Itself Off Chinese Lithium

Lithium projects outside China have been at the mercy of the markets, slowing and expanding as the price of lithium ebbs and flows. But domestic investment has been almost constant. As a result, China is the only country that can take lithium from raw material through to finished batteries without having to rely on imported chemicals or components. That’s mostly due to a political environment that emphasizes reducing the cost of lithium rather than maximizing shareholder value.

But China isn’t producing nearly enough lithium to satisfy its domestic appetite—and besides, only about 10 percent of the material that goes into a battery is actually lithium. The country still relies on

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