As electric cars become increasingly popular, the race to produce lithium is heating up.
CNBC's Phil LeBeau reported there is a 15% annual growth in lithium worldwide.
"One of the key drivers is the fact that lithium is essential to the batteries in electric vehicles," LeBeau said. A battery with lithium-ion is rechargeable.
Goldman Sachs analysts said they see lithium-ion batteries as the mainstream technology over the next five years -- and China is one market that is "charged up and ready to grow."
The analyst team with GS said in a June 8 research note that energy storage demand is surging in China as renewable use grows, energy efficiency requirements evolve and electric vehicles sales ramp up.
China is dominating the lithium market as 97% of electric buses and 75% of their batteries are produced in the country, according to IDTechEx.
IDTechEx Research also sees the market growing to $30 billion in 2026, and expects electric bus batteries will overtake the consumer electronic battery sector by 2019-20.
But LeBeau pointed out as he reported from Central Valley, Nev., that investors are noticing the increase in demand for lithium and are exploring new areas where the mineral may be mined.
These companies are not alone in the race for lithium.
Tesla Motors (TSLA) is racing to finish its own Gigafactory. The company says that with a planned production rate of 500,000 cars per year in the latter half of this decade, "Tesla alone will require today's entire worldwide production of lithium-ion batteries."
The Gigafactory is expected to begin cell production in 2017, and will reach full capacity by 2020.
The Gigafactory "will produce more lithium-ion batteries annually than were produced worldwide in 2013," the company said.
According to the Goldman Sachs analysts, "even modest [electric vehicle] penetration for electric vehicles could triple lithium demand by 2025."