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Lithium: for harnessing renewable energy

May 29, 2014

Lithium, which has the chemical symbol Li and an atomic number of 3, is the first metal in the periodic table. Lithium has many uses, the most prominent being in batteries for cell phones, laptops, and electric and hybrid vehicles. Worldwide sources of lithium are broken down by ore-deposit type as follows: closed-basin brines, 58%; pegmatites and related granites, 26%; lithium-enriched clays, 7%; oilfield brines, 3%; geothermal brines, 3%; and lithium-enriched zeolites, 3% (2013 statistics). There are over 39 million tons of lithium resources worldwide. Of this resource, the USGS estimates there to be approximately 13 million tons of current economically recoverable lithium reserves. To help predict where future lithium supplies might be located, USGS scientists study how and where identified resources are concentrated in the Earth’s crust, and they use that knowledge to assess the likelihood that undiscovered resources also exist.