lithiumThe most sought-after natural resource of the 21st century and beyond may not be petroleum. We may see the focus shift to the crucial ingredient in the advanced battery revolution: Lithium.

Lithium is used in laptops, cell phones, cameras and hybrid and electric vehicles. It makes batteries lighter and greatly increases their storage capacity.

A recent report by SinoLatin projected the global demand for lithium to more than double by 2020, propelled by an increasing global demand for electric vehicles.

The report, called “Is Lithium the 21st Century’s Oil?,” pointed to South America as what may be the resource center of the next 100 years.

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Argentina, Bolivia and Chile are home to 70 to 75 percent of the world’s lithium deposits. These countries will start to have great geopolitical importance as countries like China and the United States move toward electric-powered vehicles, predicted the report.

The average laptop uses about 5 grams of lithium, but an electric vehicle could have more than 150 grams. This led the report writers to coin electric vehicles the “holy grail” of the lithium industry.

The lithium producer Chemetall predicted there could be six million vehicles with lithium batteries on the road by 2018.

“We think that the ‘road to riches’ in the 21st century may not necessarily be paved with gold, but with a silvery metal known as lithium,” the report’s authors note.

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