What Minerals Are Needed For Electric Cars


The Battery Minerals Mix

Coal contains critical minerals necessary to produce electric vehicle batteries

The cells in the average battery with a 60 kilowatt-hour capacitythe same size thats used in a Chevy Boltcontained roughly 185 kilograms of minerals. This figure excludes materials in the electrolyte, binder, separator, and battery pack casing.

The cathode contains the widest variety of minerals and is arguably the most important and expensive component of the battery. The composition of the cathode is a major determinant in the performance of the battery, with each mineral offering a unique benefit.

For example, NMC batteries, which accounted for 72% of batteries used in EVs in 2020 , have a cathode composed of nickel, manganese, and cobalt along with lithium. The higher nickel content in these batteries tends to increase their energy density or the amount of energy stored per unit of volume, increasing the driving range of the EV. Cobalt and manganese often act as stabilizers in NMC batteries, improving their safety.

Altogether, materials in the cathode account for 31.3% of the mineral weight in the average battery produced in 2020. This figure doesnt include aluminum, which is used in nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathode chemistries, but is also used elsewhere in the battery for casing and current collectors.

What Minerals Are Needed For Evs

With the growing capital investments in EVs, also comes a significant turning point for the minerals market that makes EVs possible. The minerals used to manufacture EVs include silver, copper, nickel, lithium, graphite, aluminum and more. Compared to traditional combustion engines, battery-powered EVs require far higher amounts of all of these minerals and metals.

For example, silver is used both in the manufacture of EVs and in EV charging stations because of its excellent oxide resistance and durability under harsh operating environments. According to the Silver Institute, silver is often used in control units that manage functions like infotainment systems, navigation systems, electric power steering and safety features such as airbag deployment systems, automatic braking, security and driver alertness systems. Silver is used at higher rates in EVs, at 25 to 50 grams of silver per vehicle, compared to 15 to 28 grams for traditional cars.

Where Do Ev Battery Minerals Come From

EVs help fight one global problem climate change but they create another: mineral dependency. Will we become as reliant on those who mine and process those minerals as we are on those who produce our oil and gas?

Energy isnt just economics: its politics, too. The Ukraine crisis has taught Europe that its dependence on Russian oil and gas is a strategic weakness. Europe has now taken the decision to wean itself off Russian energy, so it is likely that the transition to sustainable energy sources will accelerate. But are we merely sleepwalking into the next problem?

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Stage : Sourcing Raw Materials

Lithium, nickel and cobalt are the key metals used to make EV batteries.Analysts believe there is a potential shortfall in the global mining capacityrequired to extract the minerals needed to manufacture sufficient batteriesto meet projected EV demand.

This shortfall may arise due tofactors including:

  • Price volatility

Price of Lithium

Price of Lithium

  • Uncertainty over future battery compositions: for example, while lithium-ion batteries are at presentthe reigning replacement for the internal combustion engine, the next generation of solid state batteries may result in a relative decrease in nickel and cobalt demand and a relative increase in lithium demand and
  • The potential for trade tensions between the US and China to impact the supply of these minerals and others used in EVs and associated technologies .

Our estimates suggest that asignificant amount potentially upto US$30-45 billion may need tobe invested in mining capacity by2025 in order to meet the demandfor EVs and their batteries.

Up to


invested in mining capacity by2025

One of the success factors for thesignificant commercial opportunity providedby this increase in mining capacity will relateto risk management and legal compliance.

There is also currently a lack of contractstandardisation for the supply of theseraw materials. It is anticipated that thiswill come in due course however, at themoment, negotiations on key terms can betime consuming.

Electrification To Place Demand On Global Electricity Networks

Rare Earth Metals In Electric Car Batteries

The move toward EVs, as well as electrification of other transport, is set to place pressure on electricity generation around the world. However, the IEA believes the additional electricity needed to power the rise in EV demand is sizeable but largely manageable.

The IEA forecasts EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will consume just 1.5% of total electricity demand by 2030, representing just 6% of the total increase in need from present levels. This is mainly because of larger lifts in demand for electricity from industry, commercial and residential sectors over the same period.

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A Plants Uncertain Future

Tiehms buckwheat has yellow flowers, stands about five or six inches high and grows on about 10 acres in the Silver Peak Range of southwest Nevada. It was discovered in 1983, and is one of the 255 species of buckwheat. There are 80 species of buckwheat in Nevada, and 11 are exclusive to the state. Experts say Tiehms buckwheat can grow nowhere else in the world. Building the mine is likely to trigger extinction, they say.

The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, has pushed for the federal government to designate Tiehms buckwheat an endangered species in a bid to save it.

A Nevada District court judge ruled April 21 that the US Fish and Wildlife Service needs to decide within a month whether to list Tiehms buckwheat as an endangered species. The agency, which was already conducting a review of Tiehms buckwheat at the time of the judges ruling, told CNN Business that it does comment on pending litigation.

Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director of the Center for Biological Diversity, told CNN Business his group is ready for years of fighting in court to protect Tiehms buckwheat. He believes society needs to think more critically aboutthe appropriate site for a lithium mine, and the value of biodiversity.

On top of an endangered buckwheat isnt the right place, he said. Biodiversity is what gives us clean air to breath and clean water to drink and its what puts food on our plates.

Hunter Biden Said He Would Be Happy To Introduce Business Partner To Top Chinese Official: Emails

Hunter Bidens investment firm helped broker a 2016 deal that gave a Chinese state-backed company control of a massive African mine rich in cobalt a mineral essential for the production of electric car batteries.

The deal, first reported by the Washington Free Beacon during the 2020 presidential campaign, was spotlighted by the New York Times Saturday as Congress inches closer to approving President Bidens $2 trillion social spending plan, which earmarks billions of dollars to promote electric vehicles.

In 2016, an investment firm founded by Hunter Biden with several Chinese partners was cut into a complex $3.8 billion transaction that transferred 80 percent of Congos Tenke Fungurum mine from an American company to Beijing-backed China Molybdenum.

President Joe Biden, Hunter Bidens father, was the sitting vice president when the deal was struck.

The mine is one of the worlds largest sources of cobalt and Chinas control of the mineral presents a critical vulnerability to the future of the U.S. domestic auto industry, Bidens White House reported in June.

A White House spokesman said that Joe Biden had no knowledge of his sons involvement with the sale, the Times reported.

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Spotlight: Cobalt Mining In The Democratic Republic Of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo accounts for more than 60% of global cobalt production. Cobalt is often mined as a by-product of copper, both under large-scale commercial operations and artisanal mining.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre’s Transition Mineral Tracker covers 5 companies mining cobalt in the DRC: China Molybdenum, Eurasian Resources Group, Gécamines, Glencore and Shalina Resources.

The conditions under which cobalt is mined in the country has attracted international attention due to the use of child labour in artisanal mining. But there are numerous allegations against conventional large-scale mining operations as well. In relation to cobalt mining in the DRC alone, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre recorded 31 allegations of human rights abuse between 2007 and 2019. These allegations encompass a broad spectrum of issues, including environmental pollution, corruption, dangerous working conditions and displacement of local communities with insufficient consultation and compensation.

These cases highlight the responsibility that investors bear when financing and profiting from these cobalt mining projects. To address these risks, the UN Principles for Responsible Investment produced guidelines to help investors promote responsible sourcing practices in the cobalt supply chain.

Electric vehicle companies should be aware of the frequent violations of environmental best practice and human rights linked to lithium and cobalt mining.

Exclusive: Tesla Expects Global Shortage Of Electric Vehicle Battery Minerals

MG Electric Car Batteries How Are They Built?

By Ernest Scheyder

3 Min Read

WASHINGTON – Tesla Inc expects global shortages of nickel, copper and other electric-vehicle battery minerals down the road due to underinvestment in the mining sector, the companys global supply manager for battery metals told an industry conference on Thursday, according to two sources.

The company, a major minerals consumer, has rarely talked publicly about its views on the metals industry. Copper, nickel, lithium and related minerals are key components used to make electric-vehicle batteries and other parts.

Sarah Maryssael, Teslas global supply manager for battery metals, told a closed-door Washington conference of miners, regulators and lawmakers that the automaker sees a shortage of key EV minerals coming, according to the sources.

According to a Tesla spokesman, the comments were industry-specific and referring to the long-term supply challenges that may occur with regards to these metals.

The copper industry has suffered from years of underinvestment, and it is now working feverishly to develop new mines and bring fresh supply online as the electrification trend envelops the global economy. Freeport-McMoRan Inc, the worlds largest publicly traded copper producer, is expanding in the United States and Indonesia.

All that will make the red metal – and other minerals – scarcer commodities, which worries Tesla.

Reporting by Ernest Scheyder in Washington Editing by Matthew Lewis

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Impacts Of Cobalt Mining

The majority of global cobalt production is concentrated in two southern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo: Lualaba and Haut-Katanga. Industrial-scale copper-cobalt mines operated by a mix of state-owned, Chinese and multinational companies account for 80% of Congolese cobalt production.

Pollution from these operations impacts on public health and impedes the growth of agriculture and tourismsectors that could help diversify the regions economy and reduce its dependence on mining. Bribes of government officials by companies often prevent local communities and workers from reaping the economic benefits of these mines. Cases of illicit financial flows, tax evasion and other improprieties by large mining companies have reduced what little economic benefits the sector offers the country and affected communities.While only producing an estimated 20% of Congolese cobalt, the artisanal cobalt mining sector has attracted the lions share of negative international attention, largely due to the presence of child labour in artisinal mining operations. Calls by artisanal mining cooperatives to make the sector safer and more viable for those who depend on it have largely been ignored by mining companies and downstream cobalt users.

Where Key Minerals Used In Evs Come From

What minerals are used uniquely in the manufacture of electric passenger vehicles? Is the U.S. self-sufficient in these minerals, or does it rely on imports? And if the latter, what are the source countries? These questions are addressed in two tables.

Table 1, below, lists the weight of the minerals used in a typical electric passenger car and a typical IC-engine conventional car. The data are from the International Energy Agency. Importantly, they are applicable for cars and not for vehicles in general, and they are not specifically tailored to the cars made in the U.S.

Table 1


The data show that of the eight minerals used in electric cars, five are not used in conventionally powered cars: graphite, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earths. Furthermore, two additional minerals copper and manganese are used in electric cars in more than twice the quantity, by weight, as they are used in conventional cars. Finally, zinc is used to the same extent in both types of cars.

Table 2 includes two sets of information. The first set involves the 2020 U.S. net import reliance for the eight minerals used in electric cars. The data, which come from the U.S. Geological Survey , represent the imports for all uses, and not just for vehicles. The table shows that the net import reliance is 50% or greater for all but one mineral of interest .

Table 2

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Responsible Minerals Sourcing For Renewable Energy

Earthworks commissioned research from the University of Technology Sydneys Institute for Sustainable Futures detailing projected minerals demand to build electric vehicles, solar arrays, wind turbines and other renewable energy infrastructure – and the need for responsible sourcing efforts to protect impacted communities.

We are in the midst of an urgent transition to renewable energya transition necessary to avert climate catastrophe. Yet clean energy infrastructure requires minerals that are dug out of the ground.

Lithium, cobalt and nickelkey minerals used to make the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles are of principal concern, based on research Earthworks commissioned from the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney. The skyrocketing demand for these minerals is driving the expansion of miningand its destructive impacts on ecosystems and communitiesin geographic hotspots throughout the world, including the ocean, with disproportionately negative impacts in the Global South.

In a 100% renewable energy future, demand could reach 136% of the documented nickel deposits that are economically feasible to extract, 280% for lithium and 426% for cobalt.

Iea: Mineral Supplies For Electric Cars Must Increase 30

Automakers pledge ethical minerals sourcing for electric cars ...

05.05.2021 | 6:00amRenewables

At least 30 times as much lithium, nickel and other key minerals may be required by the electric car industry by 2040 to meet global climate targets, according to the International Energy Agency .

These metals are among a handful that are considered vital in the manufacture of solar panels, wind turbines and other clean energy technologies.

Overall, the Paris-based organisation says the production of these key minerals may need to quadruple over the next two decades to achieve the Paris Agreement target of limiting warming to well below 2C, or expand by as much as six times to reach net-zero globally by 2050.

Its new report examining the status of these minerals concludes that todays supply and investment plans fall short of what will be necessary for a widespread clean energy transition.

The IEA report examines the barriers some of which have previously been covered by Carbon Brief that could prevent the mineral industry from scaling up to meet this future demand.

However, in an introduction to the report, IEA executive director Dr Fatih Birol writes:

These hazards are real, but they are surmountable. The response from policymakers and companies will determine whether critical minerals remain a vital enabler for clean energy transitions or become a bottleneck in the process.

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Teslas Dominance In The Us

Tesla is the worlds most renowned electric car company and its dominance in the U.S. is unmatched.

Between 2011 and 2019, Tesla accounted for 40% of all EVs sold in the United States. Furthermore, Tesla cars have been the top-selling EV models in the U.S. in every year since 2015.

EV Model

*EstimatesSource: Cleantechnica

Tesla accounted for over 50% of EV sales in the U.S. in 2021 with the Model Ylaunched in 2019taking the top spot. Furthermore, the Model Y remained the bestselling EV in the first quarter of 2022, with Tesla taking up a massive 75% of the EV market share.

Despite Teslas popularity, it could face a challenge as other automakers roll out new models and expand EV production. For example, General Motors aims to make 20 EV models available by 2025, and Ford expects to produce at least 2 million EVs annually by 2026. This increase in competition from incumbents and new entrants could eat away at Teslas market share in the coming years.

Scaling Up An Industry

The International Energy Agency estimates that the world currently has enough capacity to recycle 180,000 metric tons of dead EV batteries a year. For comparison, all of the EVs put on the road in 2019 will eventually generate 500,000 metric tons of battery waste.

And thats just one year. By 2040, the IEA estimates there could be 1,300 gigawatt hours worth of spent batteries in need of recycling. To put that in terms of mass, Harper notes that an 80 kilowatt hour battery pack from a Tesla Model 3 weighs just over a thousand pounds. If all of those dead batteries came from Tesla Model 3s, this amount of spent battery storage capacity translates to nearly 8 million metric tons of battery wastewhich, Harper notes, is 1.3 times the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

If recycling can be scaled up, that waste could be a significant source of minerals. In a sustainable development scenario where the EV market grows at a pace consistent with limiting global warming to less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit , the IEA estimates that recycling could meet up to 12 percent of the EV industrys minerals demand by 2040. But if the same climate scenario is paired with a more optimistic set of recycling assumptions, recycling could play a much bigger role.

Still, even if recycling only meets a quarter to a third of our battery mineral demand over the coming decades, Riofrancos says its an important area to focus on because it helps us rethink our relationship with technology.

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