As expansion programs at South American brine operations slow down, the bulk of new lithium capacity is coming from hard rock mines.
While demand growth continues to accelerate the supply response has been dramatic. Last year saw four new spodumene operations enter the market and while concentrate (6% free on board Australia) traded either side of $900 a tonne for most of 2018, prices fell sharply in January.
According to industry tracker Benchmark Minerals combined output at these operations last year totalled over 175,000 tonnes and ramp up is continuing.
Apart from the new mines, Talison-Albemarle's Greenbushes spodumene mine, the world's largest, is doubling capacity and in January earthworks began on a massive new plant fed by the mine.