More than 300 new mines will be needed worldwide to meet growing demand for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, according to a new forecast from a mining analyst.
Benchmark Mineral Intelligence estimates that at least 384 new mines of graphite, lithium, nickel and cobalt will be needed to meet the demand for electric vehicles by 2035. If battery materials can be recycled in sufficient quantities, the company indicates that approximately 336 new mines would be required.
Andrew Miller, COO of Benchmark, said he wasn’t surprised when they arrived at the numbers.
“You know, it’s something that builds,” he told CBC News.
“The targets, if you’re talking about the demand for electric vehicles, are going up. We release our forecasts quarterly and that number has only gone up.”
Miller said the rest of the world is catching up with China when it comes to demand for electric vehicles.
Traditional automakers like General Motors, Volkswagen and Hyundai have also started offering more electric vehicles.
With the exception of cobalt, Miller said there are enough minerals in the ground to meet the growing demand for batteries, but mines can take years to develop. However, there are types of batteries called lithium iron phosphate batteries that no longer require cobalt.
“Canada has enormous potential,” Miller said.
“Some of these mines are already in development today. A large number of lithium prospects are being developed across Canada.”
US tax credits are a benefit to Canada
He said new tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States will benefit Canada because they apply to vehicles built in North America that use minerals mined in the United States or its free trade partners.
Miller said recycling batteries to recover their metals will become more important as demand grows and the mining industry struggles to keep up.
It will also be important for mining companies to expand their operations responsibly, he added.
“I think a huge opportunity for the next generation of miners and suppliers in the electric vehicle market is to make sure things are done in a sustainable way,” Miller said.
“To deploy new methods, new practices, to develop the clean energy benchmarks on site as well as the energy used to really ensure that the materials that go into powering this electric vehicle revolution are sustainable and responsibly sourced.”
Steve LeVine, editor of The Electric, a publication that focuses on electric vehicles and the lithium-ion batteries that power them, previously told CBC News that automakers are unlikely to be able to achieve their projections for electric vehicles as demand continues to rise.
He said current mines cannot meet future demand.
“At the end of the decade, the desire is to manufacture between 25 and 40 million EVs, if we count the Chinese [industry] and Tesla,” LeVine said.
“There’s enough nickel to make 13 million.”
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