Iran discovers the second-largest lithium reserve in the world
Lithium has become in a few years a fundamental metal for the energy transition. A material for which the more you search, the more reserves you find. Something that has been demonstrated once again with the announcement by the Islamic Republic of Iran of the discovery of what would be one of the largest lithium reserves in the world.
According to Iran’s Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Commerce, lithium deposits could contain some 8.5 million metric tons ready for extraction which would make it one of the largest discoveries in the world.
Currently, Chile is the second largest lithium producer in the world with 39,000 MT last year. But its estimated reserves are the largest on the planet, with 9.2 million MT.
In this way, according to the figures of the Iranian government, this would allow them to surpass Australia as the second power in known reserves and also to do it with a lot of difference since the Australians have around 4.7 MT.
Curiously in all the statistics Bolivia is left out, which according to estimates would have the largest lithium reserves by far, with 21 million MT. But the lack of development of the industry in the Andean country may be the reason why it does not appear in the statistics at the moment.
The Iranian administration has also indicated that the possibility that the reserves are even higher is not ruled out. Especially in the Hamadan region, located 400 km from Tehran, known for its large clay deposits.
Now the administration hopes to find a way to extract and process a metal that has seen its prices soar in recent years in the heat of demand for electric cars and backup batteries. And it is that only in 2022, lithium prices have grown by 182% according to data from Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.
Meanwhile, S&P Global has warned of a global lithium shortage from 2024 due to growing demand, which is encouraging the search for new deposits. According to the consultancy, there are currently 53 lithium mining projects, but they will not be able to meet global demand, even if they are aggressively expanded, estimating that the deficit by 2030 will be 605,000 tons.
Why is Iran looking for lithium?
The most curious of all is that this discovery has a lot to do with oil. And it is that in 2018 the United States decreed an embargo on oil exports from Iran as punishment for its work with nuclear materials. Some jobs that the Americans feared would be for the production of a bomb, while the Iranians indicated that it was for civilian use.
But this embargo was a severe blow to the economy and a loud and clear warning that the dependence on hydrocarbons was very dangerous, so the Islamic Republic launched into the search for alternatives in economic matters. And one of them has been the mining industry.
An industry that has seen its activity increase significantly, generating billions of dollars and creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs for the population of Iran, and which has now placed the country on the map of one of the key components for a future precisely far from oil.