Tens of billions on exploration and mines will secure lithium supplies

Varying estimates of lithium deposits could provide lithium for anything from a further 100 million cars — about 10 percent of the global auto fleet — to 10 billion or more.

* estimate cost of building and running a mine and processing plant
* estimate future prices.
* current geological information about the mineral
* estimate of demand. The amount of lithium used per kilowatt-hour of battery power is changing rapidly as manufacturers improve efficiency. One 2015 study by Citigroup Inc. estimated about two kilograms of lithium carbonate equivalent are needed for each kWh; more recent appraisals by Deutsche Bank AG and Advantage Lithium reckon it’s about a third as much.

There will be many more geological discoveries with more effort to find supplies.

By 2030, Tianqi Lithium, SQM, Albemarle, and FMC will have to supply enough lithium to feed the equivalent of 35 plants the size of the Tesla Gigafactory now being built in Nevada. The total investment in new mines, including some for other elements used in lithium ion batteries, will likely range from $350 billion to $750 billion.

A 300% increase in lithium prices would only add 2% to the price of electric vehicles.