Iran Says It Has Found Millions of Tons of Lithium

But even if that's the case, extracting and exporting it could be tricky
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2023 1:10 PM CST
Iran Says It Found a Staggering Amount of Lithium
   (Getty Images / AL-Travelpicture)

Over the weekend Iran announced that lithium—prized for its importance in electric vehicle and cell phone batteries—has been found within its borders. A lot of it. Per the country's Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade, the deposit is estimated at 8.5 million tons. If that number pans out, that would make the reserve in Hamedan, in the country's west, the second biggest in the world, reports CNBC. The biggest, at 9.2 million tons, is in Chile. What that could mean for Iran and the rest of the world:

  • Lithium prices surged in 2022. Per the latest USGS stats, 98 million tons of lithium have been identified around the globe. Were Iran to increase that figure by nearly 10%, the overall price could drop.
  • But the thorn is whether Iran would be able to broadly export it due to sanctions.
  • That's not the only caveat. Lithium analyst Thomas Chandler with SFA Oxford tells QZ that much would depend upon the quality of the grade and "how economical it might be to mine."
  • Mining Technology flags potential geopolitical implications, pointing out that China could be a big buyer and noting that Russian state media outlet Sputnik labeled the discovery as one that "rendered Western sanctions worthless."
  • QZ delves into the China angle. It's already making heavy lithium investments in other countries (like Bolivia) and is the only trade partner with active ties to Iran that could handle large-scale lithium refinement and make the financial investment Iran would likely need to extract the metal.
(Read more lithium stories.)

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