Automakers are scrambling to secure supplies of the once-obscure “white gold” in a politically and environmentally charged rivalry from China to Nevada to Chile due to the threat of potential lithium shortages for electric vehicle batteries.
General Motors Co. and the parent company of China’s BYD Auto Ltd. directly invested in lithium miners in an unusual move for a sector that depends on external suppliers for copper and other raw materials.
Others are making investments in businesses that refine lithium or recycle the silvery-white metal from old batteries.
Plans to increase sales of electric vehicles to tens of millions annually would be hampered by a shortage of lithium resources.
Political disputes over resources and criticisms of the environmental costs of resource extraction are being fueled by it.
At a conference hosted by Deutsche Bank in the middle of June, GM’s chief financial officer, Paul A. Jacobson, stated, “We already have that risk” of not being able to get enough.
We must develop alliances with those who can provide us with lithium in the form we require, according to Jacobson.
Ford Motor Company has agreements with lithium suppliers on two continents that are valid for up to 11 years.
Honda Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are attempting to decrease their dependence on recently-mined ore by
Despite sales of electric SUVs, sports vehicles, and sedans rising by 55% last year, the world’s lithium output is on course to treble this decade.
About eight kilograms (17 pounds) of lithium are needed for each battery, along with cobalt, nickel, and other metals.
The supply of EV batteries will be in limited supply, according to Joshua Cobb, senior car analyst at BMI.
Lithium, which has become another point of contention in tense U.S.-Chinese ties, has increased uncertainty.
Beijing, Washington, and other countries are tightening access restrictions because they view the availability of metal for electric car production as a geopolitical problem.
On the basis of security, Canada ordered three Chinese businesses to surrender their lithium mining holdings last year.
By mandating miners to make investments in processing and refining before they can export, some governments, such as those in Indonesia, Chile, and Zimbabwe, are attempting to optimize their return on resources of lithium, cobalt, and nickel.
By contributing $650 million to the Canadian developer of the largest U.S. source of lithium, a Nevada mine, GM is purchasing direct access to the metal. GM claims it will get enough in exchange to buy 1 million automobiles annually.
The Biden administration has championed the construction of the Nevada mine as part of its clean energy plan, but environmentalists and American Indians are requesting that a federal judge halt its progress.
According to opponents, it may contaminate soil, water sources, and bird nesting areas.
According to Leonardo Paoli and Timur Gul of the International Energy Agency, the sector may see shortages of lithium and cobalt as early as 2025 despite increasing supply.