(Photo: Waldemar Brandt/Unsplash)Various parts of the world are rapidly working to make the switch from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles (EVs). But one mining CEO insists there isn’t enough lithium available to meet every target’s deadline.
Keith Phillips, CEO of Piedmont Lithium, recently conducted an interview with Yahoo Finance in which he stated there’d be a “real crunch” to get enough lithium for every region’s EV goals. “Yes, we’ll have enough, but not by that time,” he said. “We don’t have enough in the world to turn that much [lithium] production in the world by 2035.”
Phillips’ interview closely follows the announcement of two significant US emissions reduction goals. The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed into law a few weeks ago, seeks to reduce carbon emissions by as much as 40 percent. It also incentivizes drivers to buy electric and fuel cell vehicles by providing up to $7,500 in tax credits (the full amount of which is only provided if the vehicle is manufactured in the US). Though it isn’t quite as environmentally aggressive as the failed Build Back Better Act, the Inflation Reduction Act is said to accomplish 90 percent of the former’s greenhouse gas reduction goals by 2035.
California legislators also made history recently by voting to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by the same year. This would ideally help slow climate change and have an incredibly positive impact on California’s air, which—between smog and wildfires—is some of the worst-quality air in the country. But many Californians are concerned about the state’s ability to handle a large increase in EVs; its energy grid is already struggling to the point that residents have been told to stop charging their EVs during certain times, turn up their thermostats, and think twice before running large appliances. Now they have the global lithium supply to worry about, too.
Lithium is an essential component of any EV battery. The average EV battery requires eight to 10 kilograms of the material, which is found in lithium carbonate, the ore sought by miners. There are only a few lithium mining operations based in the US, Piedmont Lithium being one of them. Piedmont plans on opening a lithium processing plant in Tennessee next year, which will help support the country’s impending demand by processing 30,000 metric tons of lithium per year. But that’s small potatoes compared with Australia, Latin America, and China, which conducted 98 percent of the world’s lithium mining in 2020. While these regions’ mining operations are expected to expand as much as 20 percent year over year, Phillips is skeptical that all the world’s EV goals will be able to remain on track.
“The world has changed. We’re now in an era where everyone’s going to want an electric car. The car companies can’t make them fast enough, and people are now looking for the lithium they need for the batteries to go in those electric cars,” Phillips told Yahoo. “Energy security is a national issue.”
Source by www.extremetech.com