(TibetanReview.net, Mar12’23) – China is highly dependent on Qinghai Province in northeastern Tibet for its domestic supply of lithium, a key material for making batteries for new energy vehicles (NEVs), but imports around 75% of the resource, according to China’s official globaltimes.cn Mar 10. The context was the announcement of China’s plan to launch its first seawater lithium extraction projects to be undertaken in Qingdao in East China’s Shandong Province on Mar 8.
The seawater project was described as marking an important step in facilitating China’s lithium self-sufficiency. Still, its lithium self-sufficiency rate will only be 9.6% in 2025.
The report said that given the intense use particularly of lithium in the NEV industry, China is the world leader in terms of production, consumption and exports. It exported 679,000 NEVs last year, a year-on-year increase of 120%, the report said.
Given the huge demand for NEVs and the high dependency on lithium imports, there is a big gap to narrow in terms of domestic supply and demand, industry insiders were cited as saying.
The report said Chinese companies had been extracting lithium at domestic salt lakes, mostly in Qinghai Province, which is relatively rich in the resource.
It noted that China’s largest lithium extraction project, which is run by QingHai Salt Lake Industry Co in Qinghai Province, had commenced trial operations in Aug 2021.