15 Best Lithium Stocks To Buy in 2022

Most electric cars are powered by lithium-ion batteries. Driven by surging demand for electric vehicle batteries, lithium prices more than doubled in 2021. And lithium carbonate prices continued to rise in 2022. Learn which lithium stocks you can buy to benefit from the transition to electric cars.

Anna Ng   Updated May 15th, 2022

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Why invest in lithium?

Most EVs are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries: the lithium-ion battery is the priciest component of an EV, accounting for 30-40% of the cost. Lithium – a soft, silvery metal – is lightweight, rechargeable, and can store a lot of energy, which makes it an ideal battery material. Though lithium-ion batteries are also used in laptops and cell phones, in the future most lithium will likely be used for electric car batteries.

Chile – the Saudi Arabia of lithium – is home to over 50% of the world’s reserves. Australia is another big producer. After lithium is extracted and processed, manufacturers ship products like lithium carbonate or hydroxide to EV battery-makers like CATL.

While not very scarce, lithium is expensive to extract from hard rock minerals (spodumene) or salt brine. Due to years of underinvestment in new projects and difficulties in getting permits, supply has been constrained. Lithium mines take a long time to reach capacity, which is why supply can remain limited for a while.

Ironically, environmental opposition is delaying new lithium projects, even though the mineral is key to combatting climate change. Although there is some new supply coming from Australia and Brazil, projects in China and Serbia are delayed or shut down by local protests.

Lithium carbonate prices have more than doubled in 2021, rising another 80% in 2022. (Lithium carbonate is the benchmark for lithium pricing.) Even Elon Musk lamented the high cost of lithium, which Tesla needs for its batteries.

Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a lithium-focused research firm, expects a deficit of lithium in 2022. According to Rio Tinto, lithium demand should grow 25-35% a year over the next decade. And IHS Markit, another research provider, expects the market to more than double between 2021 and 2025.

However, the lithium industry is inherently cyclical and subject to boom and bust cycles.

Lithium carbonate prices soar in 2021-2022

In yuan per ton

Source: Trading Economics, as of 3/30/2022

What are the best lithium stocks?

Lithium stocks list

  • Albemarle Corp (ALB)
  • Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM)
  • Livent Corporation (LTHM)
  • Ganfeng Lithium (GNENF)
  • Tianqi Lithium (SHE: 002466)
  • Allkem Ltd (OROCF)
  • Piedmont Lithium Limited (PLL)
  • Lithium Americas Corporation (LAC)
  • Standard Lithium (SLI)
  • Sigma Lithium (SGML)
  • Ioneer Ltd (GSCCF)
  • Pilbara Minerals (PILBF)
  • Mineral Resources Ltd (MALRF)
  • Rock Tech Lithium Inc (RCKTF)
  • Rio Tinto plc (RIO)

Here is the list of the top 15 (mostly pure-play) lithium stocks.

1. Albemarle Corp (ALB)

  • Market capitalization: $22.5 billion
  • Year-to-date return: -18%

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Albemarle Corp is one of the world’s largest lithium producers, with mines in Chile and Australia. However, ALB is not a pure-play lithium company, though lithium is the largest segment at about 55% of revenue. Rather, ALB is a global specialty chemicals business that is also involved in bromine (used to make fire retardants), catalysts used in oil refining, and applied surface treatments.

But, unlike lithium upstarts, ALB has over $3.3 billion in revenue, and it is solidly profitable. However, because 90% of lithium business is contracted in advance, you may not see rising lithium spot prices reflected in ALB earnings right away.

2. Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM)

  • Market capitalization: $20.5 billion
  • Year-to-date return: 45%

SQM is another major lithium producer, with around 20% market share. SQM hails from Chile and has some of the best lithium deposits in South America. SQM’s access to brine deposits in the salt flats of the Atacama Desert is a key advantage due to low lithium manufacturing costs. Besides lithium, SQM produces fertilizer, iodine, potassium, and industrial chemicals. With about $2.8 billion in revenues, the company has strong profit margins and pays a dividend.

At the end of 2021, SQM dropped when Gabriel Boric, a left-wing activist, was elected President of Chile. He supports higher taxes and more environmental oversight of miners like SQM. However, SQM recovered in early 2022 as lithium supplies continued to be tight.

3. Livent Corporation (LTHM)

  • Market capitalization: $3.5 billion
  • Year-to-date return: -16%

Based in Philadelphia, Livent Corp is an American pure-play lithium company that manufactures lithium for batteries and industrial applications. It is one of Tesla’s lithium suppliers. About half of revenue is from energy storage, including EV batteries. To extract lithium, Livent mines deposits in Argentina and Canada. Given the strength of the lithium market, Livent revenues grew from $288 million in 2020 to $420 million in 2021. And, unlike many lithium startups, Livent is profitable.

4. Ganfeng Lithium (GNENF)

  • Market capitalization: 178 billion HKD
  • Year-to-date return: -28%

China’s Ganfeng Lithium is the world’s largest lithium producer/refiner. Most of the lithium comes from the Mount Marion Project in Australia. In addition to producing and processing lithium, Ganfeng Lithium has a battery business: it makes lithium-ion batteries used in EVs, battery storage, and electronic devices. Ganfeng Lithium is listed on Shenzhen and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges, but it also trades over the counter (OTC) in the U.S.

5. Tianqi Lithium (SHE: 002466)

  • Market capitalization: 113 billion CNY
  • Year-to-date return: -24%

Chengdu, China-based Tianqi Lithium is another large lithium producer with mines in Australia, Chile, and China. The company has seen a big rebound in profitability in 2021 as lithium prices soared. However, Tianqi Lithium is only listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, making it hard to access for most U.S. investors. Learn how to invest in mainland China stocks here.

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6. Allkem Ltd (OROCF)

  • Market capitalization: 7.8 billion AUD
  • Year-to-date return: 16%

Allkem is the result of the merger between Australian lithium producers Orocobre Limited and Galaxy Resources. The company has operations in Australia, Argentina, and Canada. However, is a relatively small business; it is barely profitable even on an adjusted basis.

7. Piedmont Lithium Limited (PLL)

  • Market capitalization: 1.6 billion AUD
  • Year-to-date return: 20%

North Carolina-based Piedmont Lithium is an emerging U.S. lithium producer. The company is developing hard rock lithium assets in three locations: Gaston County in North Carolina, Quebec in Canada, and Cape Coast in Ghana. Piedmont has announced a supply agreement with Tesla and the stock doubled, though deliveries have been postponed due to North Carolina mining permit application delays. Because the company’s mines are still being developed, Piedmont Lithium doesn’t generate any revenue. It’s one of the more speculative stocks on the list.

8. Lithium Americas Corporation (LAC)

  • Market capitalization: 4.4 billion CAD
  • Year-to-date return: -18%

Canadian company Lithium Americas Corporation (LAC) is developing lithium mining projects in Jujuy, Argentina and Thacker Pass in Nevada, USA. Thacker Pass is the largest known lithium resource in the U.S. In a bid to grow market share, in November 2021, LAC acquired Millennial Lithium Corp, a developer of a lithium mine in Argentina, for $400 million. Chinese lithium miner Ganfeng Lithium, mentioned above, is LAC’s largest shareholder with an 11% stake. Because projects are still in the development stage, LAC doesn’t generate any revenue. Like Piedmont Limited, it is one of the more speculative lithium plays.

9. Standard Lithium (SLI)

  • Market capitalization: 1.4 billion CAD
  • Year-to-date return: -32%

Standard Lithium is developing a processing technology to extract lithium from brine. This extraction process, known as “LiSTR,” is supposed to drastically reduce the time it takes to recover lithium from brine; it may also be more environmentally friendly. To test its thesis, SLI is working on a flagship project, called the “Lanxess Project,” in Southern Arkansas. SLI was endorsed by Koch Strategic Platforms, part of Koch Industries, which made a $100 million investment. A highly risky stock, SLI doesn’t generate any revenue and has been targeted in a recent short-seller report.

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10. Sigma Lithium (SGML)

  • Market capitalization: 2.0 billion CAD
  • Year-to-date return: 50%

Canadian company Sigma Lithium is developing a hard rock lithium deposit in its wholly-owned Grota do Cirilo Project in Brazil. SGML believes it can become one of the world’s lowest-cost lithium producers, and it aims to produce battery-grade lithium concentrate specifically designed for EV customer specifications. Although SGML has been running a pilot project in Brazil since 2018, the mine is still under development, and SGML doesn’t generate revenue.

11. Ioneer Ltd (GSCCF)

  • Market capitalization: 1.4 billion AUD
  • Year-to-date return: -18%

Sydney, Australia-headquartered Ioneer Ltd is developing a lithium mine in Nevada, USA. Once the mine is developed, INR hopes to become one of the largest low-cost lithium and boron producers in the U.S. However, they still have a long way to go – the first shipments (and corresponding revenue) are expected in the second half of 2024.

12. Pilbara Minerals (PILBF)

  • Market capitalization: 8.5 billion AUD
  • Year-to-date return: -19%

Pilbara Minerals is an Australian lithium and tantalite mining company. It owns 100% of the Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project, located in Western Australia. Mined lithium is sold to a global network of customers, including Ganfeng Lithium and EV battery manufacturer CATL. With 176 million AUD in 2021 revenues, Pilbara is already generating sales.

13. Mineral Resources Ltd (MALRF)

  • Market capitalization: 11.1 billion AUD
  • Year-to-date return: 0%

An Australian mining company, MIN produces iron ore, lithium, and manganese. Although MIN is not a lithium pure-play, the company is diversified, has over 3.7 billion AUD in 2021 revenue, and is highly profitable.

14. Rock Tech Lithium (RCKTF)

  • Market capitalization: 355 million CAD
  • Year-to-date return: -30%

Canadian startup Rock Tech Lithium is working on a lithium project in Canada and a lithium hydroxide converter in Germany. The company aims to produce lithium specifically for EV batteries, ensuring supply chain transparency and fast time to market.

15. Rio Tinto plc (RIO

  • Market capitalization: $118 billion
  • Year-to-date return: 7%

Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto may not be top of mind for lithium, but they are serious about expanding into battery metals. In late 2021, Rio Tinto bought the Salar del Rincon lithium project in Argentina for $825 million. Rio also has a $2.4 billion lithium mine in Serbia. These two projects could make Rio Tinto one of the top lithium producers over the next decade.

Lithium stocks ETFs

What if you don’t want to pick individual stocks? You can still invest in lithium through two ETFs, Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF (LIT) and Amplify Lithium and Battery Tech ETF (BATT). Read our review of lithium ETFs.

NOT INVESTMENT ADVICE. The content is for informational purposes only; you should not construe any such information as investment advice.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is lithium a good investment?

Lithium carbonate prices have more than doubled in 2021 as carmakers speed up the production of electric vehicles. Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a lithium-focused research firm, expects a deficit of lithium in 2022. And IHS Markit, another research provider, expects the market to more than double between 2021 and 2025. However, lithium remains a volatile commodity.

Who is Tesla buying lithium from?

Tesla has several lithium suppliers, including Ganfeng Lithium, Livent, Sichuan Yahua Industrial Group. Tesla has also signed an agreement with Piedmont Lithium, though it’s unclear when shipments will begin.

Who is the largest producer of lithium?

China’s Ganfeng Lithium is the world’s largest producer of battery-grade lithium.

What country has the most lithium?

Chile is home to over 50% of the world’s reserves. Other large lithium reserve owners are Australia, Argentina, and China.

Is there lithium in the U.S.?

Even though the U.S. has large lithium reserves and several U.S. lithium projects are under development, at the moment, only one U.S. lithium mine – Silver Peak in Nevada – is operational.