Lithium Exploration and Mining: A Global Overview

Lithium Exploration and Mining: A Global Overview

Lithium Exploration and Mining: A Global Overview

Lithium Exploration and Mining: A Global Overview

Lithium, a crucial ingredient in the batteries that power electric vehicles and store renewable energy, has been thrust into the spotlight due to the global shift towards a more sustainable future. This essential element is found in several regions around the world. Here's an overview of where lithium is explored and mined.

1. Australia

Australia is currently the largest producer of lithium globally. The Greenbushes lithium mine in Western Australia, owned by Talison Lithium, is the world's largest and highest-grade lithium mine1. Australian lithium is typically extracted through traditional hard-rock mining, where spodumene ore is mined and processed to extract lithium.

2. South America's Lithium Triangle

The Lithium Triangle, consisting of parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, holds more than half of the world's lithium reserves2. This region contains vast salt flats, including the Salar de Atacama in Chile and the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, which are rich in lithium. Here, lithium is extracted through a process of solar evaporation of saline brine.

Chile was the second-largest lithium producer in 2020, after Australia, with Argentina also ranking high. However, Bolivia, despite its enormous lithium potential, has faced numerous challenges in exploiting its lithium resources due to technical, environmental, and social issues.

3. China

China is a significant player in the lithium sector, ranking as one of the top lithium-producing countries. China's lithium primarily comes from lithium-rich brine sources in Tibet and the Sichuan province, and from spodumene mines in the Jiangxi province3. China also dominates the lithium refining industry, controlling a significant share of the lithium hydroxide production needed for high-nickel lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium Exploration and Mining: A Global Overview

4. North America

The United States and Canada both have lithium mining operations. The Silver Peak mine in Nevada is the only lithium-producing mine currently in operation in the U.S. Still, the Thacker Pass lithium project, also in Nevada, holds promising reserves; and many other lithium projects in the US are currently being developed.

In Canada, the North American Lithium (NAL) project has recently re-started production on their open-pit mine that was previously active as of 2018. The current owners, Sayona Mining (75%) and Piedmont Lithium (25%), are currently have an agreement with LG Chem and Tesla to provide spodumene-concentrate from NAL in H2, 2023. Other advanced projects throughout the province of Quebec are in the feasibility stage. Many more hard-rock lithium projects of interest are in the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Additionally, there are a few companies working in the oilfields of Alberta and Saskatchewan to tap into and extract the lithium from brine.

5. Europe

Europe currently has limited lithium production, with the Cinovec project on the Czech-German border being one of the most significant prospects[^6^]. Portugal also has notable lithium reserves. However, given the European Union's aggressive electric vehicle and battery manufacturing goals, there is an increasing push for developing domestic lithium resources.

6. Brazil

Brazil has an abundance of hard-rock lithium occurrences, but the only known advanced project is operated by Sigma Lithium, where the company is ramping up production at its Grota do Cirilo project. Full-scale production is expected in 2024 .

Lithium Exploration and Mining: A Global Overview


In conclusion, lithium is explored and mined in several regions globally, with Australia and South America's Lithium Triangle leading the way. As the demand for this vital element continues to rise, we can expect to see more countries investing in lithium exploration and mining. This global pursuit of lithium must be balanced with responsible environmental practices to ensure that the transition to a cleaner, greener future is sustainable. With the high standards of ESG in Canada and the US, combined with a strong geo-political strategic push towards domestic supply, North America is poised to see rapid advancement of lithium projects to meet the growing demand.


  1. Australia's lithium miners pivot towards refined products
  2. The Lithium Triangle: Where Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia Meet
  3. China's lithium price decline is an early Christmas present for EV manufacturers