(Bloomberg) -- China’s efforts to ramp up lithium extraction could see it accounting for nearly a third of the world’s supply by the middle of the decade, according to UBS AG.

The bank expects Chinese-controlled mines, including projects in Africa, to raise output to 705,000 tons by 2025, from 194,000 tons in 2022. That would lift China’s share of the mineral critical to electric-vehicle batteries to 32% of global supply, from 24% last year, according to a note on Friday.

The race to secure lithium is playing out at the highest levels, with nations including the US prioritizing access to the materials necessary for making batteries as the world turns away from fossil fuels. China’s needs are particularly acute because it’s home to the world’s biggest market for new energy vehicles.

The rise in Chinese output will include an increase in material derived from lepidolite, a lithium-bearing rock often overlooked as poor quality and environmentally unsound because of its low yield and high energy costs. UBS sees lepidolite in China accounting for 280,000 tons of lithium in 2025, or 13% of global supply, from 88,000 tons last year, as the government continues to support the sector. 

Beijing has already moved to curb unlicensed lepidolite extraction in Jiangxi province, a major mining hub, as it seeks to exert more control over its deposits.  

The Week’s Diary

(All times Beijing unless noted.)

Monday, March 13

  • Last day of National People’s Congress in Beijing

Tuesday, March 14

  • Nothing major scheduled

Wednesday, March 15

  • China sets monthly medium-term lending rate, 09:20
  • China industrial output for Jan.-Feb., including steel & aluminum; coal, gas & power generation; and crude oil & refining. 10:00
    • Retail sales, fixed assets, property investment, residential property sales, jobless rate
  • CCTD’s weekly online briefing on China’s coal market, 15:00
  • Mysteel Southeastern China Aluminum Summit in Foshan, Guangdong, day 1
  • EARNINGS: CGN Power, Daqo New Energy, Power Assets

Thursday, March 16

  • China new home prices for February, 09:30
  • China Hydrogen Summit in Shanghai, day 1
  • Mysteel Southeastern China Aluminum Summit, Foshan, Guangdong, day 2
  • EARNINGS: Rusal

Friday, March 17

  • China Jan.-Feb. output data for base metals and oil products
  • China weekly iron ore port stockpiles
  • Shanghai exchange weekly commodities inventory, ~15:30
  • China Hydrogen Summit in Shanghai, day 2
  • Mysteel Southeastern China Aluminum Summit, Foshan, Guangdong, day 3
  • EARNINGS: CMOC, Hong Kong & China Gas

Saturday, March 18

  • China’s 2nd batch of Jan.-Feb. trade data, including agricultural imports; LNG & pipeline gas imports; oil products trade breakdown; alumina, copper and rare-earth product exports; bauxite, steel & aluminum product imports

On The Wire

Chinese President Xi Jinping capped this year’s National People’s Congress by securing a third, norm-defying term in office and shaping some of the policies that will steer the world’s second-largest economy through the year ahead.

--With assistance from Annie Lee.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.