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Raw Material Extraction

Data from October 2023

Battery raw materials such as lithium, graphite, cobalt and nickel are indispensable for the production of lithium-ion batteries. The demand for the individual raw materials is strongly dependent on the type of battery required or the cell chemistry used, mainly because of the cathode material used in the batteries (see tool window »Material«). The four different raw materials are extracted in different regions of the world. Centers of concentration are, on the one hand, Oceania (with Australia and Indonesia as major players) or South America (e.g. Chile or Brazil). But there are also relevant raw material deposits for the battery industry in the northern hemisphere (e.g. Asia and North America). In the tool window, only the extraction of natural graphite is displayed for graphite. Synthetic graphite is also used for batteries, but its global production capacity is difficult to determine.

The tool window shows quantities of the extraction of raw materials required for the battery (independent of their use in batteries or other products).

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The webtool is only available for screen resolutions from 992 px.

In addition to the four raw materials mentioned above, other starting materials play an important role as basic components of the battery. Due to the increasing demand for so-called NMC cathode material (consisting of nickel, cobalt and manganese, see tool window »Material«), nickel (which also has an increasing share in the material itself as a result of new active material formulations) and cobalt (due to its partly human rights violating and monopolistic raw material mining, e.g. in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) are seen as critical raw materials. Manganese or, for example, iron phosphate, which in turn is used in a different cell chemistry, are considered less critical due to their large reserves and inexpensive extraction. Graphite is the most commonly used active material on the anode side (see tool window »Material«). For this reason, large quantities are also required for battery production. Lithium as the eponym of the battery and at the same time the most important electrochemical element of the cell completes the selection of critical materials described here.


Global lithium demand will continue to grow strongly in the coming years, almost in proportion to overall battery demand. In 2021, the three largest raw material producers worldwide were Australia (52 percent), Chile (25 percent) and China (13 percent). Currently, there are activities for a future expansion of production capacities in the so-called "Lithium Triangle" (a region in South America which includes Bolivia and Argentina in addition to Chile). In addition, other countries in South America, such as Mexico, want to enter the production of the battery feedstock.

For further processing in the battery industry, lithium hydroxide (LiOH) and lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) are mostly used as starting materials. As here in the tool, the amount of Lithium is indicated with the help of the so-called lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE).

If the global demand in tons is compared with the market volume in dollars, it is noticeable that the lithium price on which the conversion is based varies considerably. Since 2022, it has risen to over $35,000 per ton (for comparison, the price in 2021 was under $15,000 per ton). Experts assume that a price reduction will also continue in the long term due to increasing production capacities, among other factors.

Currently, around 150 kt of lithium is needed for batteries. The demand will grow to 450 kt by 2030.


Due to the increasing nickel content in NMC cathode material, together with the growing market share of NMC cathode chemistry in recent years, the demand for nickel for battery production has grown very strongly. Unlike lithium, however, nickel is also used on a large scale in other industries (e.g. the steel industry). The worldwide production capacities are therefore significantly higher (more than 25 times the amount of lithium).

The main suppliers of the primary raw material nickel in 2021 were Indonesia (36 percent), the Philippines (13 percent) and Russia (9 percent). In addition, there were other countries with relevant market shares (e.g. Canada, China or Australia). In Indonesia, in particular, there are currently many activities to expand product capacities.

Worldwide, approx. 2,750 kt of nickel were mined in 2021. However, around 10 percent of this, or 350 kt, was used for battery production. In 2030, the share for battery production will increase and be 1,500 kt.


Cobalt is often seen as one of the most critical battery raw materials. On the one hand, because of the very high dependency of supplies from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and on the other hand, because some of the local mining takes place under conditions that violate human rights. The market share of cobalt produced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been above 70 percent for years. In 2021, it reached a value of 73 percent. Other, much smaller producers were Australia (3 percent) and Canada (3 percent). As with nickel production, there are efforts to ramp up production in Indonesia.

Cobalt had a material price of approximately $62,000/ton in 2022, making it one of the most expensive battery raw materials. The commodity price has been fluctuating very much in recent years. In 2022, approximately 150 kt of cobalt was required globally for battery production. Thus, the required raw material had a value of approximately USD 9 billion in 2022. The demand will increase to around 300 kt by 2030.


Graphite is divided into natural graphite and artificial graphite. Natural graphite is produced directly in the mine. In the case of artificial graphite, the required graphite structure is produced chemically from raw materials containing carbon. As mentioned above, only natural graphite is considered in the tool. The share of natural graphite for battery production was about 30 percent in 2023. By 2030, it will drop to 20 percent.

Almost 80 percent of the (natural) graphite was produced in China in 2021. This monopoly position is not as pronounced for any of the other battery raw materials considered (in the past, cobalt from the Congo had an even higher market share). Other producing countries were Brazil (7 percent) and Mozambique (3 percent).

Although there are further developments in anode materials with silicon or even metallic lithium, it cannot be assumed in the foreseeable future that there will be a reduction in the amount of graphite required for the production of anodes. This is also because silicon, for example, is usually only mixed with graphite (in a relatively small proportion).

Due to the high mass fraction in the anode, a relatively large amount of graphite is required for battery production. As early as 2023, approximately 1.000 kt of the raw material will be required for the production of battery cells. The graphite is very inexpensive and costs less than 1,000 USD per ton. Thus, the graphite for cell production has an approximate market volume of 1,000 million USD in 2023.

In many of the raw material-producing countries, there are very few downstream value-adding steps in battery production. In some cases, not even the refinement of the raw materials takes place in the country itself. For example, many battery raw materials are finally purified in China to the required battery quality. However, there are national efforts to change this in many of the countries. Countries like Indonesia are trying to establish cell production and integration into applications in their own countries. Countries like Australia are also investing in cell production. In Mexico, for example, lithium mining has been nationalized to control that the land is not exploited exclusively for the mining of raw materials and for no other profitable production steps.