Uses for Lithium and its derivatives
Other than the obvious talk about lithium batteries being used and/or developed for use in electric cars, lithium now powers your iPhone, your iPad, many of your laptops, your Android devices and your BlackBerry. It is more and more being used in all mobile devices and will be the dominant player there very shortly (lithium-ion battery and the lithium iron phosphate battery). Additionally, Lithium niobate is used to make cell phones.
Lithium is used in the production of high-temperature resistant glass and ceramics (think stove tops) and high-strength alloys used in new aircraft production. Lithium is used to absorb neutrons in nuclear fusion. Lithium can be combined with other metals (usually aluminum, cadmium, copper or manganese) to make airplane parts
Lithium hydroxide and lithium peroxide are used to purify air in submarines and on spacecraft. (Lithium peroxide reacts with carbon dioxide to produce oxygen.)
One of the most important uses of lithium is in the treatment of bipolar disorder and depression. Salts of lithium (such as lithium carbonate and lithium citrate) are mood stabilizers. Over 100 million prescriptions per year have lithium salts in the medication.
Lithium can be used in focal lenses for telescopes and common spectacles. Lithium chloride and lithium bromide are effective desiccant. A desiccant is a substances that keeps something (usually a container) dry by absorbing (or adsorbing) water molecules. Lithium, and its hydrides, are used as high energy additives in rocket propellants.
Lithium powers many of the 100 million new electric bikes built in China over the past few years, the largest market for such vehicles in the world, by a factor of 98%, and China will soon be the largest automobile market in the world as well as the largest electric vehicle market in the world.
Mining and Production
Lithium is plentiful in nature, (sea water for instance) but is very hard to produce in volume for industrial purposes from most sources other than lithium rich brine deposits such as those found in Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia, as well as China. Clay deposit such as those found in Clayton Valley, Nevada, and pegmatite deposits like those in Australia, (Talison, at Greenbushes) Ireland, and Canada.
Companies such as Talison Lithium (TLTHF.PK) or TLH.T, with both rich brine deposits in South America and rock lithium (from pegmatites) will benefit most from the multiple uses of lithium and its derivatives. Companies owning the richest brine deposits in Chile, and Argentina, such as, Sociedad Qumica y Minera de Chile S.A. (SQM), FMC, and Rodinia Lithium (RDNAF.PK), will benefit as mother nature does most of the processing there in the arid, Atacama Dessert.
As the only U.S. centric lithium deposits of significance, the clay deposits at Clayton Valley, Nevada, will benefit and both Western Lithium, (WLCDF.PK), and Rodinia Lithium, which own a significant portion of those deposits.