It's the modern gold rush. Around the world, the most sought-after mineral isn't a precious metal, nor is it oil and gas…it's lithium.
Lithium, or "white petroleum" as some call it, has become a crucial element in today's high-tech economy.
Demand for lithium is soaring, and producers are frantically searching for new sources of supply. Prices have doubled in the last two years, rising as high as $16,500 per ton.
The biggest reason for the surge? The immense demand for lithium-ion batteries, needed to power electric vehicles (EV), cell phone and wind turbines.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, the surge in demand has pushed lithium miners to new areas in search of rich deposits.
Traditional production of lithium and lithium-ion batteries is concentrated in a few key areas, but with demand set to increase dramatically in the coming years, investors are searching for creative new ways to increase global supply.
A boom in Canadian lithium mining is pushing companies like Nemaska Lithium (TSX: NMX) and Power Metals Corp. (TSXV: PWM.V) to tap new deposits of lithium.
The fact that China is trying to corner the market has made the search for new deposits even more intense, as U.S. and European firms try to get around Chinese domination.
For the last five years, the commodities world has focused on the epic showdown between OPEC and U.S. shale drillers for oil market share. But it's the war over "white petroleum" that will dominate the next decade.
Cornering the Market
In January, Zion Market Research projected lithium-ion battery sales to grow at an annualized rate of 13.7 percent, rising to $67.6 billion by 2022.
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