In 1976 a National Research Council Panel estimated that Western World lithium reserves and resources totaled 10.6 million tonnes as elemental lithium.
Subsequent discoveries, particularly in brines in the southern Andes and the plateaus of western China and Tibet have increased the tonnages significantly. Geothermal brines and lithium bearing clays add to the total.
This current estimate totals 28.4 million tonnes Li equivalent to more than 150.0 million tonnes of lithium carbonate of which nearly 14.0 million tonnes lithium (about 74.0 million tonnes of carbonate) are at active or proposed operations.
This can be compared with current demand for lithium chemicals which approximates to 84,000 tonnes as lithium carbonate equivalents (16,000 tonnes Li).
Concerns regarding lithium availability for hybrid or electric vehicle batteries or other foreseeable applications are unfounded.