The lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery is set to fuel a revolution in electric vehicles (EV), home energy storage and even the powering of entire cities. Yet, increasing demand for the Li-ion battery is revealing and amplifying a wide spectrum of risks associated with the materials that make up the battery itself.
As new battery technology transforms consumer markets, there is a growing realisation that the transition to electric is not without social and environmental impact in the countries where battery materials – specifically cobalt, lithium, nickel, graphite and manganese – are mined and chemically processed into battery grade materials.
These risks present significant reputational, legal, compliance and commercial concerns for major industries harnessing the battery revolution including automotive, electronics and utilities infrastructure. For local communities, the risks represent impacts that could exacerbate or even cause environmental and social problems ranging from air pollution to child labour to conflict.
Companies within these sectors are faced with the twin challenge of mitigating the major
sourcing risks across these battery metals while simultaneously responding to the rising external pressure factors compounding their impact.
This paper explores this twin challenge and, for the first time, provides a coherent picture of the responsible sourcing challenge the battery industry faces over the next decade.