Menu
Energy / Newsletter of 7 Octobre 2019

Minerals in short supply, what alternatives are out there to produce electric vehicles?


​Last May, as Benchmark Minerals Intelligence brought together the mining industries, regulators and legislators, Tesla alerted the US government to the risk of a global shortage of metals and minerals needed to produce electric vehicle batteries, including lithium, copper, nickel and graphite, in particular.


Last May, as Benchmark Minerals Intelligence brought together the mining industries, regulators and legislators, Tesla alerted the US government to the risk of a global shortage of metals and minerals needed to produce electric vehicle batteries, including lithium, copper, nickel and graphite, in particular.

According to the manufacturer, under-investment in the mining sector is to blame. Tesla estimates some 3 million tons of copper, 1.3 tons of nickel and 263,000 tons of cobalt will be needed to produce 140 million electric vehicles by 2030. Dizzying figures that can be explained by the significant resource requirements of manufacturing electric vehicles, which require, for instance, twice as much copper as traditional combustion vehicles. But figures that are put into perspective when compared with other products in the digital industry, and those with high metal consumption rates, such as virtual assistants, smart objects, etc.

​Reviving the mining industry against a backdrop of environmental debate and social awareness

In this context of exponential demand, the mining industry is being revived. Whether opening new mines, modernising existing ones, building new refinery plants ... all over the world, mining projects for electrified transport are on the rise. And this is all in the face of environmental challenges and social awareness. Like in the Basses-Laurentides region of Quebec, for example, where residents are opposed to the exploitation of a graphite mine by Canada Carbon. 

The United States and Europe are adapting their strategies and seeking to secure new supplies in a field largely dependent on foreign imports. Currently, more than half the world’s cobalt production comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while 77% of the cobalt used in electric vehicle batteries is refined in China. Countries are starting to explore their mining potential once again, as illustrated by the recent discovery of significant lithium resources in Portugal and tungsten in France. The European Union wants to develop its own battery supply chain and France and Germany are investing to open up new production lines. 

​What are the alternatives to mineral ores?

To overcome predicted shortfalls, the electric vehicle industry will have to look to other solutions, such as substitute materials, the development of battery recycling programmes, even searching for extra-terrestrial sources. All alternatives are being considered by states in the context of bringing to an end our reliance on fossil fuel vehicles and our conversion to electric forms of transport. 

Most recent articles