The US and China are in a global scramble to line up lithium supplies. From F. William Engdahl at globalresearch.ca:
For several years since the global push to develop mass-scale Electric Vehicles, the element Lithium has come intofocus as a strategic metal. Demand is enormous in China, in the EU and in the USA at present, and securing control over lithium supplies is already developing its own geopolitics not unlike that for the control of oil.
China Moves to Secure Sources
For China, which has set major targets to become the world’s largest producer of EVs, developing lithium battery materials is a priority for the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period. Though China has its own lithium reserves, recovery is limited, and China has gone to secure lithium mining rights abroad.
In Australia Chinese companyTalison Lithium, controlled by Tianqi, mines and owns the world’s largest and highest grade spodumene reserves in Greenbushes, Western Australia near Perth.
Talison Lithium Inc. is the world’s largest primary lithium producer. Their Greenbushes site in Australia produces today some 75% of China’s lithium demands and about forty percent of world demand. This as well as other vital Australian raw materials, has made relations with Australia, traditionally a firm US ally, of strategic importance to Beijing. As well, China has become the largest trade partner for Australia.