EV Myth: Battery Minerals are Limited

March 28, 2024

Battery Minerals are Limited

Many people believe that there aren’t enough critical minerals in the world to support EV batteries.

Recent research challenges the notion that we’re running out of critical minerals for electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

According to a 2023 Sustainability by Numbers paper, the world holds substantial reserves of lithium, totaling 88 million tonnes. This amount is projected to meet the demand for electric vehicles for decades to come. Moreover, known feasible lithium reserves have increased significantly, from 4 million tonnes in 2008 to 22 million tonnes in 2020, thanks to ongoing exploration efforts uncovering commercially viable deposits.

The Energy Transitions Commission’s 2023 report supports this concept. It reveals that advancements in battery designs and electrochemistry have slashed future cobalt needs by 50% in just five years. Notably, half of Tesla vehicles now use cobalt-free batteries, with nickel-free LFP batteries powering 40% of EVs, a remarkable jump from 7% in 2019.

Looking ahead, the Energy Transitions Commission predicts that by 2040, over half of the lithium used in batteries could come from recycling efforts. Additionally, cobalt, a critical mineral often associated with EV batteries, has long been employed in refining petrol and diesel, as well as in electronic devices like phones and laptops.

To address concerns about ethical sourcing, most European and American car manufacturers, along with computer and chip producers, are part of The Fair Cobalt Alliance. This alliance ensures that cobalt used in their products originates from audited sources, free from child labour.

As technology evolves, the need for critical or rare earth minerals is expected to decrease significantly. Emerging battery chemistries, particularly solid-state designs, and alternative materials like silicone replacing graphite, offer promising avenues for reducing reliance on these minerals.