At this moment, the demand for lithium for EV batteries and computer and phone products is ramping up at ever increasing rates. But North America produces only 1% of all lithium and most of the mines are near Indigenous lands. The destruction of the land and water and dangers to health are real dangers. How will the demand for this product be met to produce enough electric vehicles to meet the requirements of governments to satisfy the market of new vehicles taking ICE cars and trucks off the roads?
This article in The Guardian is a great read. Continue to read
The bulk of production happens in Australia and Chile, both countries where Albemarle [a US-based multinational company with Saudi and Chinese ties] has mines, and involves both brine extraction and rock extraction, where an ore called spodumene, that contains high levels of lithium, is dug up in open pits. Some farmers in Australia have complained of possible pollution of waterways from the runoff from this sort of mining.
If demand for electric cars takes off as expected – California and New York, for example, have both mandated no new diesel or gasoline cars can be sold after 2035 – then the likes of Ford, Tesla and General Motors will need around 900,000 tons of lithium from the US and Canada to if production is to be fulfilled domestically, according to Rystad Energy. Production in north America is only likely to reach 600,000 tons by 2030, the research firm estimates.
“There is already a deficit of lithium and we don’t see any surplus situation coming from local operations,” said James Ley, an expert in the global energy metals market at Rystad. “The investment is going to increase and lots of new mining projects will kick off, but it’s not coming quickly. It can take years for a new mine to come to fruition.”
The industry also faces scrutiny of its environmental impact, such as potential harm to local biodiversity and its use of water in places, such as Nevada, that are facing increasingly severe droughts as the world heats up.