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ILiA: Supporting the global lithium industry in 2024

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The International Lithium Association ( ILiA )’s Secretary General  Roland Chavasse, discusses an exciting year of advancement for the organization and considers what the lithium sector will experience in 2024.

Lithium’s significance in a number of industries, particularly energy storage and transportation, is set to continue growing as the new year approaches. Lithium is a linchpin poised to influence modern advancement and the environment because of its crucial role in the transition to the green energy future.

Roland Chavasse explores ILiA’s effective initiatives, emerging trends, and the opportunities that lie away for the sector in this perceptive interview as he discusses its position within the fluid landscape of the lithium industry.

How do you think about ILiA’s work in 2023 after another fruitful year for the lithium industry? Were there any noteworthy achievements for ilia?

The International Lithium Association and the lithium industry both saw significant growth in 2023. We are a worldwide organization that represents the lithium value chain and is led by members rather than for financial gain. Our membership and activity follow the expansion of this chain. Over 65 organizational members from all over the world have joined ILiA since its launch in September 2021, along with seven non-commercial Affiliated Partners and Honorary Fellows.

Now, 85 % of the lithium available on the market is supplied simultaneously by our members, who hail from 25 different nations. The Association has solid foundations on which to build because ILA represents the overall lithium value chain, including producers, trainee miners, specialized service providers, and recyclers.

Some of our projects have begun to produce results over the past 12 months, enabling us to provide members with genuine value. This includes our four new subcommittees, which focus on sustainability, health and safety, education, and concerned sourcing, as well as our monthly magazine and networking events.

The Lithium Voice, our publication, was started to advance our understanding of lithium. Many people are surprised by the variety of uses lithium has in addition to playing a crucial part in the production of lithium-ion batteries ( LIBs ), and we write about them all! Our mission is straightforward: if lithium is involved, we will write about it. The Lithium Voice is applicable here for free and is published in English, Chinese, and Spanish.

How are in-person events helping the battery industry with COVID-19 in the rearview mirror?

Did you know that last year there were more than 100 lithium-related events? To keep track of them all, we created a global salt events calendar in 2023 and posted it online with our stakeholders. We are keeping track of yet more events this year, and you can easily add them all to your calendar!

Attending every lithium event next year would have required a full-time job, but we were able to attend more than 20 and give presentations at the majority of them. Our own event calendar also expanded well. In Salta, Argentina, Perth, Australia, London, the United Kingdom, and Las Vegas, United States, we held in-person networking events. This was in addition to our regular series of webinars that are only available to members and cover topics related to the lithium market as well as environmental, social, and governance ( ESG) issues.

Over the past 12 months, how has lithium demand changed? Are there any new trends, and how far along are we in achieving the upcoming climate targets?

The short answer is that the switch to natural transportation caused lithium demand to continue to grow by two times last year. Sales of electric vehicles ( EV ) reached 14 million units in 2023, a 34 % increase from 2022.

The energy transition faces difficulties, just like any major industrial policy, but momentum is gaining and regulatory support is expanding.

Another interesting development is the expanding use of lithium batteries in energy storage systems ( ESS). Meeting net zero targets, storing energy from various sources, and discharging it as needed all depend on ESS. When an increasing amount of electricity is generated by continuous renewable sources, ESS helps to balance the energy grid, provide back power, and improve grid stability.

What steps are being taken to address any recent challenges in the supply chain for lithium batteries?

Because lithium’s social and economical importance is rising so quickly, education is a constant challenge. Politicians hardly ever brought up lithium five years ago, but today it’s a popular topic with all the media attention and governmental interest it generates. There is a genuine need for trustworthy lithium information from business, regulators, and the general public.

The time required to start new technological lithium mines presents a significant challenge on saneer levels. This takes up to ten years longer than the time required to construct a refinery or an electric manufacturing facility. It is encouraging to see some countries carefully examining their legislative framework in order to encourage faster development of lithium mines without sacrificing the quality of the process. We frequently hear from our members that the bottleneck is the time taken to secure permission.

All of ILiA’s members support sustainability in the sector. Exist any new practices that are assisting in ensuring this farther?

Yes, that is accurate. In fact, when the founding members of ILiA founded the organization in 2021, sustainability was one of their three guiding principles and a crucial factor. We encourage our members to use workshops, webinars, and the work of our technological subcommittees to supply lithium that is properly and sustainably sourced.

Some lithium companies are implementing performance certification standards. Although ILiA does not support any specific mining standard, it is important to note that two of our Core Members, Albemarle Corporation and SQM, achieved the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance ( IRMA ) standard last year, which is regarded by many in the industry as the most challenging mining standards to achieve.

What initiatives is ILiA pursuing to help its members achieve sustainability?

The Ecological Lithium Subcommittee, one of our flagship projects, is developing standardized recommendations for assessing the environmental impact of the carbon and water used in lithium mining and refining as a byproduct. We anticipate that this will significantly streamline how lithium life cycle assessments (LC As ) are conducted. Producers, suppliers, LCA practitioners, authorities, and academia will all be able to access the standardized guidance because it is straightforward and easy to understand. Our objective is for lithium LCAs to accurately reflect the market and include trustworthy data that is close.

It is crucial for the lithium industry because it will serve as a yardstick by which the sector can assess its credentials in terms of greenhouse gases. It will be accessible for download on the ILiA website.

Under the direction of Mark De Boer from Albemarle Corporation, we assembled a worldwide multi-stakeholder team of both members and non-members for this project. The first chapter, which will be released in the second quarter of 2024, focuses on lithium’s carbon footprint. The following chapter, which will be released in the second half of 2024, will look at the lithium industry’s water footprint. Anyone interested in participating should get in touch with us. Both projects are open to the public.

How have industry players adapted to these changes, and what regulation or policy changes have had an impact on the lithium market over the previous year?

For the lithium industry, the past year marked something of a turning point as some significant regulations and laws took effect. For instance, the Vital Organic Materials Act, which aims to strengthen circularity and recycling, increase and diversify the EU’s supply of crucial raw materials, and promote research and innovation on resource efficiency, was approved by the European Union in November 2023.

Battery recycling is another important theme in governmental developments. An EV’s battery can be recovered numerous times, resulting in a circular economy as opposed to linear one. In anticipation of the retirement of batteries from the second generation of EVs, the lithium industry is increasing recycling capacity. A lot of regulation is also working to get ready for this possibility.

What led to the risk management options analysis ( RMOA ) for various lithium products being ordered by the top players in the lithium value chain?

We are a member-led organization, and at the members ‘ request, we started the RMOA project in June 2023. The use and handling of lithium carbonate, hydroxide, chlorine, and metal are the topics of this project. The goal is to improve regulators ‘ and industry participants ‘ knowledge of lithium’s uses and life cycle, as well as that of its three most popular salts.

We began by conducting a thorough analysis of the numerous lithium applications. In order to map out how lithium moves through various value chains, we have conducted in-depth interviews with industry leaders. This significant piece of lithium research will highlight gaps and aid regulators in having an educated discussion.

How will the results of this analysis help regulators and business partners better understand lithium’s uses and life cycle?

We can better understand how salt carbonate, hydroxide, chlorine, and metal should be handled by understanding how they are used. In terms of the common social acceptance of lithium activities, this work is also significant. It shows how accountable, open, and dedicated to worker safety the lithium industry is.

On a relevant matter, we have been expressing our worries about the proposed re-classification of lithium salts by the European Union in collaboration with another commodity associations. While ILiA does not question the necessity of proportionately regulating dangerous substances or the cautious principle, we firmly believe that substance classification must be based on clear, persuasive, and comprehensive scientific evidence. We believe this could have implications for countries around the world. This is particularly correct for a substance of critical importance where an incorrect interpretation would have substantial long-term and broad-ranging effects on the energy transition, as well as on human health and well-being.

Could you list the Association’s key priorities or objectives for the coming year?

The RMOA and the release of our recommendations on how to measure the carbon and water used in lithium production will continue to be our flagship projects in the upcoming year. The overall lithium industry will gain from these historic projects, which will offer a solid foundation for future expansion.

We will host lithium networking events all over the world in addition to keeping a complete journal of speaking engagements at the big world lithium conferences. The LCA guidance documents for lithium, our second significant piece of work, will be the focus of the majority of our efforts.

All four of ILiA’s subcommittees have entire agendas, including initiatives like education and responsible sourcing. For The Lithium Voice magazine, we intend to speak with influential people in the lithium sector. Of course, we also use our monthly newsletter ( to subscribe, email info@lithium .org ) to keep our lithium network up to date on all significant regulatory changes and lithium events.

Another prosperous year for the lithium sector and Illinois is anticipated!

Verónica Castro-Allende

With a rich background in urban technology and IoT, Veronica brings a unique blend of expertise and innovation to our platform. Her work focuses on integrating advanced engineering solutions into smart city infrastructures, emphasizing sustainable and efficient urban development. Her insightful contributions shed light on the future of urban living, blending technical prowess with practical urban applications

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