Lithium is a comparatively rare element, although it is found in many rocks and some brines, but always in very low concentrations. There are a fairly large number of both lithium mineral and brine deposits but only comparatively a few of them are of actual or potential commercial value. Many are very small, others are too low in grade. At 20 mg lithium per kg of Earth's crust, lithium is the 25th most abundant element. Nickel and lead have the about the same abundance.
The largest reserve base of lithium is in the Salar de Uyuni area of Bolivia, which has 5.4 million tons. According to the US Geological Survey, the production and reserves of lithium in metric tons are in the table.
Contrary to the USGS data in the table, other estimates put Chile's reserve base at 7,520,000 metric tons of lithium, and Argentina's at 6,000,000 metric tons.
On June 13, 2010, the New York Times reported that "Just this month, American geologists working with the Pentagon team have been conducting ground surveys on dry salt lakes in western Afghanistan where they believe there are large deposits of lithium. Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni Province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large of those of Bolivia, which now has the world’s largest known lithium reserves.
Metallic lithium and its complex hydrides, such a Li, are used as high energy additives to rocket propellants. Lithium peroxide, lithium nitrate, lithium chlorate and lithium perchlorate are used as oxidizers in rocket propellants, and also in oxygen candles that supply submarines and space capsules with oxygen.
Lithium deuteride was the fusion fuel of choice in early versions of the hydrogen bomb. When bombarded by neutrons, both 6Li and 7Li produce tritium—this reaction, which was not fully understood when hydrogen bombs were first tested, was responsible for the runaway yield of the Castle Bravo nuclear test. Tritium fuses with deuterium in a fusion reaction that is relatively easy to achieve. Although details remain secret, lithium-6 deuteride still apparently plays a role in modern nuclear weapons, as a fusion material.
Electrical and electronic uses:
Lithium batteries are disposable (primary) batteries with lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode. Lithium batteries are not to be confused with lithium-ion batteries, which are high energy-density rechargeable batteries. Other rechargeable batteries include the lithium-ion polymer battery, lithium iron phosphate battery, and the nanowire battery. New technologies are constantly being announced.
Lithium niobate is used extensively in telecommunication products such as mobile phones and optical modulators, for such components as resonant crystals. Lithium applications are used in more than 60% of mobile phones.
It will have a great role in present and future rechargeable car batteries and automobile industry.