Electric Vehicles: Driving the Demand for Minerals

Posted on June 22, 2017 by Minerals Make Life

You may have noticed more and more electric vehicles on the road lately. And in the next few years, you can expect to be seeing more of these high-tech cars—unless, of course, manufacturers can’t get timely access to the mineral resource supplies required to make them.

According to a recent Bloomberg article, a sharp increase in the demandfor electric vehicles has sparked a race to supply the minerals necessary to create the batteries that power these advanced technologies. The article reported that demand for cobalt alone will rise to 30 times the current level by the year 2030. Electric car batteries require 15 kilograms of cobalt while other electronics like laptops are typically made with 33 grams and smartphones require six grams of cobalt.

Other minerals like lithium, iron and molybdenum are fundamental to the construction of electric vehicles. Lithium is used to create rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power electric and hybrid vehicles. Demand for lithium is expected to triple by the year 2020, but the U.S. currently only produces five percent of the world’s lithium carbonate. That’s a shocking drop from the late 1990s when the U.S. produced 75 percent of the world’s lithium. Minerals are also essential to the safety of passengers and drivers. Iron is used to make the protective bodies of electric vehicles, and molybdenum is an essential component of airbags.

Regulations have grown increasingly more duplicative on the federal and state levels over the years. In the midst of growing consumer appetite for sustainable and advanced technologies like electric vehicles, the U.S. needs to streamline outdated mine permitting policies. Currently, it can take up to 10 years to obtain a mine permit in the U.S. But the current demand for minerals like cobalt, lithium, iron and molybdenum will not slow down. Manufacturers and tech producers are faced with making a difficult decision; slow production or import mineral resources to meet demand.

To boost production of U.S. made electric vehicles, lawmakers must take action to pass laws and regulations that will modernize our nation’s mine permitting process, promote access to domestic mineral resources and create jobs that will drive the U.S. economy.

Learn more about the U.S. miner permitting process here.

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