Tesla Motors and now Volvo may have big plans to end the addiction of drivers to fossil fuels via electric vehicles, however the environmental footprint of mining raw materials used in car batteries and their eventual disposal are emerging as a flash point.
As the mining sector presents a green face and extracts raw materials from lithium to cobalt and nickel that constitute electric batteries, so the focus on their environmental standards and energy efficient production methods will intensify. At the tail-end of the electric vehicle boom is the matter of improving the recycling of lithium-ion batteries and making sure the environmental impact is also contained.
“There will be more scrutiny over the supply chain for electric vehicles than there is from the consumer electronics industry due to the green credentials of EVs,” says Robert Baylis, an analyst at consultancy Roskill. “And recycling is probably not going to have an impact for 10 years, and may not reach significant volume for 15-30 years.”
This week Volvo Cars said by 2019 all its new cars will be electric, while Tesla is set to launch its first mass-market Model 3 electric car this month. A 12-fold increase in battery capacity will be required by 2025, according to analysts at UBS.
Mining companies are already positioning themselves to meet the increased need for raw materials that go into lithium-ion batteries, but there is growing concerns over their environmental footprint especially as a host of new mining companies start production to meet rapid rises in demand.
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