The global lithium-ion battery metals market was valued at USD 14,551.60 million in 2021. It is projected to reach USD 213,855.18 million by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 34.80% during the forecast period (2022–2030).A lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode through an electrolyte to the positive electrode during discharge and back during charging. The rising demand for lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries from the automotive industry, consumer electronics, and energy storage systems drive the market for lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. With sales of electric vehicles (EVs) reaching historic highs, the automotive sector has seen an exponential demand increase for Li-ion batteries in recent years.
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Rising Electric Vehicle Sales
Since most electric vehicles use lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries to power cars, lithium-ion batteries are a crucial component of electric vehicles (EVs). Depending on the cell chemistry, various metals are used in Li-ion batteries in different compositions and quantities. The demand for Li-ion batteries has increased due to the rising sales of electric vehicles. Due to the exponential rise in demand, companies are increasing the production of electric vehicles. BYD, a Chinese EV maker, declared in April 2022 that it is ceasing the production of gasoline-powered vehicles and concentrating only on creating electric vehicles to fulfill the rising demand.
Increasing Demand for Consumer Electronics Applications
It is not easy to fathom daily living without consumer electronics like mobile phones, laptops, I-pads, and many more because they are such an integral part of daily existence. Sony pioneered the commercialization of Li-ion batteries for electronics in 1991, laying the groundwork for smartphones and portable computers. Sales of smartphones have increased rapidly in several developing nations, including India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and South Africa. The increasing need for smartphones is expected to contribute to the expansion of the industry.
High-Performance Advantages over Lead-Acid Batteries
Lead-acid batteries were previously the standard in automobiles before the introduction of Li-ion batteries. Industries were already looking for alternatives to lead-acid batteries due to the presence of lead, a dangerous metal both to humans and the environment. Additionally, lead-acid batteries' high weight and low energy density raised questions and encouraged the use of Li-ion batteries. All these issues were resolved after people started using Li-ion batteries, which do not contain lead. Additionally, a Li-ion battery's energy density can range from 125 to 600+ Watt-hours/Liter (Wh/L), whereas lead-acid batteries only have an energy density of 50 to 90 Wh/L, depending on the cell chemistry.
Increasing Cost of Lithium, Cobalt, and Nickel
The pricing of battery metals significantly influences the cost of Li-ion batteries. In order to expand the usage of Li-ion batteries worldwide, businesses continuously strive to lower their costs. Lithium, cobalt, and nickel are three essential metals used in Li-ion batteries, but their prices are highly volatile and frequently change dramatically. Essential metal costs have increased dramatically over the past few years, which has caused problems for both Li-ion battery producers and consumers. Due to the rising pricing, numerous businesses have been investigating the idea of going into the lithium mining sector. For instance, Elon Musk stated in April 2022 that Tesla might need to go into mining and refining lithium on their own due to the recent spike in lithium costs.
Human Rights Concerns in the Mining of Cobalt
One of the most crucial metals for Li-ion batteries is cobalt because it is utilized in a variety of cell chemistries, including nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM), lithium cobalt oxide (LCO), and nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA). Companies are attempting to avoid cobalt despite being one of the most crucial metals for Li-ion batteries because of its high cost and the problems with human rights that come with cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to the commission of Foreign Relations (CFR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo produces more than 70% of the world's cobalt, and multiple human rights are violated while the metal is mined. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the cobalt mining industry has child labor, fatal accidents, violent clashes, ethnic warfare, and poor working conditions.
High Investment in New Li-Ion Battery Metals R&D
Several research projects are looking into the viability of employing manganese, copper, and aluminum as the primary metal in Li-ion batteries. A growing number of research projects are looking for cost-effective substitutes for the pricey metals without sacrificing the energy density and capacity of Li-ion batteries due to the steadily rising prices of lithium, cobalt, and nickel. In order to replace cobalt and nickel in Li-ion batteries, businesses are running research projects to examine the possibilities of employing metals, metal alloys, metal oxides, or other metal compounds as the cathode or anode.
The global lithium-ion battery metals market is segmented by constituent metal, cell chemistry, and end-user application.
Based on constituent metals, the global lithium-ion battery metals market is bifurcated into lithium, cobalt, nickel, and other metals.
The nickel segment is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 30.45% during the forecast period. Nickel is currently the most prevalent metal in lithium-ion batteries due to the strong demand for nickel cobalt aluminum (NCA) and nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) cell chemistry, primarily employed in electric vehicles. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Indonesia was the world's top nickel producer in 2021. Nickel is used frequently in manufacturing steel, coatings, coinage, glass, catalysts, ceramics, magnets, and batteries.
The first commonly utilized important metal for producing the cathode, anode, and electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries is lithium. Li-ion batteries are superior to other battery types, including high charge density, low maintenance, cell voltage, no priming requirement, and various battery kinds. Consumer electronics, electric vehicles, energy storage, and power supply are a few areas where lithium-ion batteries are widely used. In addition to Li-ion batteries, lithium is utilized in several other products, including polymers, greases and lubricants, continuous casting, ceramics, and glass.
Based on cell chemistry, the global lithium-ion battery metals market is bifurcated into lithium-cobalt oxide (LCO), nickel-cobalt-manganese (NMC), nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA), lithium-magnesium oxide (LMO), lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP), and other cell chemistries.
The lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) segment owns the highest market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 36.75% during the forecast period. Due to its higher stability and lower fire danger, lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) cell chemistry offers one of the safest lithium-ion batteries for off-grid applications. It has a graphite anode and LFP cathode, which have good electrochemical performance and less resistance. The nano-scale phosphate cathode material used in LFP cell chemistry has good thermal stability, a high current rating, a long cycle life, and is safe. Due to its greater safety and economic advantages over other cell chemistries, LFP is increasingly used in passenger cars, buses, logistic vehicles, and low-speed electric vehicles.
The stable cell chemistry of lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) has a very high energy storage capacity. NCA comprises a graphite anode and a lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (LiNiCoAlO2) cathode. NCA cell chemistry has a high specific energy, adequate specific power, and long battery life. In addition to many other things, this cell chemistry uses electric automobiles, medical equipment, and power grids. Most notably, Tesla, one of the world's top manufacturers of electric vehicles, uses NCA cathodes in some of its models, including the Model-3 and Model-Y.
Based on end-user applications, the global lithium-ion battery metals market is bifurcated into the automotive industry, consumer electronics industry, energy storage systems, and others.
The automotive industry segment is the highest contributor to the market and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 34.78% during the forecast period. The automotive industry, specifically electric vehicles, has the most significant end-use application for lithium-ion batteries and is expanding quickly. Electric motorcycles, sedans, buses, and trucks are just a few vehicles in the automotive sector that use Li-ion batteries. Along with lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries are among the two most frequently used batteries in the automobile sector. Due to their low price, lead-acid batteries were once the favored option for the automotive industry.
The consumer electronics industry became the first to use Li-ion batteries when Sony started using LCO batteries for its camcorders. The business began working on the initiative to create rechargeable batteries in 1987, making LCO batteries in 1988 and shipping LCO battery-related products in 1990. Lithium-ion batteries have a better energy density and stability than nickel-cadmium, sodium hydride, and other batteries. LCO, LTO, LFP, NCA, and NMC are the lithium-ion cell chemistries most frequently utilized in consumer devices. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are used in various consumer electronics products, including electric toothbrushes, hoverboards, tablets, smartphones, and vaping equipment.
The global lithium-ion battery metals market is divided into four regions, namely North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
Asia-Pacific Dominates the Global Market
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Asia-Pacific is the most significant shareholder in the global lithium-ion battery metals market and is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 38.95% over the projection period. Due to the increasing use of electric vehicles, the existence of significant actors along the Li-ion battery supply chain, the sizeable reserves of battery metals, and the various nations' clean energy regulations, the demand for Li-ion battery metals in the Asia-Pacific area is on the rise. The region's market for Li-ion battery metals is growing due to the rising demand for comprehensive energy storage systems and the region's growing population.
North America is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 39.40%, generating USD 62,019.30 million during the forecast period. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the area has a robust charging infrastructure that should sustain the expansion of EVs, which is anticipated to increase to 224 GWh by 2025 from roughly 59 GWh in 2020. LG Chem and Panasonic Corporation are the area's leading producers of lithium-ion batteries. By 2030, Tesla, one of the major producers of solar and electric vehicles, desires to sell 20 million electric vehicles yearly and install 1,500 GWh of Li-ion battery-based energy storage.
The European market for lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery metals is currently dominated by the demand from electric vehicle manufacturers. The adoption of electric vehicles results from the CO2 criteria set by the European Union (EU) for vehicle makers, which call for an average level of 95g/km in 2021. The market for Li-ion battery metals in Europe is driven by the region's increasing use of electric vehicles. Since Li-ion batteries are employed in IoT devices, the demand for the metals used in Li-ion batteries has increased. The region's market for Li-ion battery metals is anticipated to expand in the coming years due to the rising usage and sales of IoT devices.
In the Middle East and Africa, the market for metals used in lithium-ion batteries is anticipated to expand at a healthy CAGR during the forecast period. Demand for metals for lithium-ion batteries is being stimulated by expanding industries like consumer electronics, the automotive industry, the market for electrical appliances, and the MRO sector. The need for consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and energy storage is expanding steadily at a healthy rate, fueling the demand for lithium-ion batteries. As a result, the need for lithium-ion battery metals may increase in the years to come.
The global lithium-ion battery metals market’s key players are Lygend Resources, Norilsk Nickel, BASF Toda Battery Materials, L&F, China Molybdenum Co., ltd, Umicore, Lithium, BHP, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Albemarle Corporation, Livent, Glencore PLC, Posco Chemical, Toda Kogyo Corporation, Huayou Cobalt Co., Ltd, Nichia Corporation, Tianqi Lithium Corporation, Fortum, Wildcat Discovery, CoreMax, NEI Corporation, Texpower EV, CAMX Power, and Echion Technologies Ltd.