Supplies of cobalt and lithium, key for making the batteries that power electric cars and mobile phones, are likely to be limited by 2050, German researchers have warned.
According to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) study, published this week in the journal Nature Reviews Materials, a shortage and price increase of cobalt are likely to occur in about thirty years, especially since demand for the metal is expected to be twice as high as today’s identified global reserves.
The authors are not so pessimist when it comes to lithium, as there are several companies rushing to explore and produce the so-called white petroleum. They do warn production will have to be strongly boosted — more than ten times, they predict — to match future demand.
However, the scientists claim that since both elements are geographically present in regions believed to be politically unstable, strong concerns about a possible shortage and associated price increase of both remain.
Not everyone agrees with that premise. At the end of February, Morgan Stanley sent shares of lithium producers and explorers tumbling after it forecast a huge surplus in the market for the battery raw material in 2022, resulting in expected prices nearly halving from today’s levels.