The World Forum - June 17th, 2024

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Lithium shortages threaten Europe’s electric car transition

 



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Europe’s transition to electric cars is under threat because of persisting shortages of lithium, the key battery component that will power the vehicles of the future.


EU plans to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 mean demand for lithium is set to surge fivefold by 2030 to 550,000 tonnes per year — more than double the 200,000 tonnes the region will be able to produce, according to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.


The supply problem has been highlighted by the world’s largest lithium producer Albemarle, which has sidelined plans to extract lithium in Europe after failing to find a commercially viable site.


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The projected lithium deficit in a market already suffering global shortages and high prices of $62,000 per tonne — more than five times the average cost of production despite a recent drop — may prove existential for European carmakers.


Without a homegrown supply of the battery gold, Europe’s auto groups could find it difficult to compete with China, which is rapidly expanding its electric car industry and making inroads into the European market.


A sign of China’s dominance in the field is that it controls 60 per cent of global lithium processing, which turns a concentrate produced from brine or ore into lithium chemical compounds such as carbonate or hydroxide that are used in car batteries.


https://www.ft.com/content/154c53aa-5a9a-4004-abf9-2e6e5396dca4



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