Metals & Mining News

Race for heavy metals puts electric car revolution at risk


It is thought there is enough of the materials available in the ground to go around. But mines take time and money to develop. And many materials are concentrated in certain countries such as China, Russia, and the DRC.

Supply constraints and price spikes, threatening the shift to greener technologies and disruption to businesses, are on the horizon without intervention to develop supply chains, experts are warning.

“The supply of clean energy depends on mined natural resources, which are steeped in geological, geopolitical and governance challenges,” says KPMG in its report published yesterday.

“The very beginning of that supply chain – the sourcing of metals, minerals and resources could turn out to be the weakest link.”

Civil servants raised looming raw materials crunches as far back as 2012, in a report warning of strains on supplies of some raw materials, including those used in high-tech, defence and green technologies.

UK politicians have since embraced green technology that will intensify demand for those materials, banning the sale of new combustion engines by 2030 and planning a four-fold increase in wind power, as they try to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

It is hoped many of those wind turbines and batteries will be made in the UK. That will require a lot of raw materials. The Faraday Institution estimates that the UK will need 14,000 tonnes of cobalt, 75,000 tonnes of lithium and 86,000 tonnes of nickel to produce 92Gwh of electric vehicle batteries in 2035. That compares to below 2,000 tonnes used today.


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