The coronavirus pandemic is uncovering new risk in the global supply chain for lithium-ion batteries as countries that are pivotal in producing lithium and other metals needed for battery manufacturing roll out restrictions in a bid to control the spread of the virus.
Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, an information provider specializing in the lithium-ion battery sector, wrote in a recent report that the coronavirus outbreak has led to a logistical slowdown throughout the supply chain, stretching around the world.
In Australia, a major producer of lithium, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies warned members of stringent interstate travel restrictions. In South America, Chile has implemented a national curfew, and parts of Santiago are in quarantine, while Argentina has a countrywide quarantine.
In Africa, cobalt supply disruptions could occur due to border and port closures in South Africa in tandem with a lockdown in the cobalt-producing Democratic Republic of Congo.
Thus far, no significant supply shortages of battery raw material or anode and cathode material have been reported, largely because of oversupply from 2019, according to Benchmark. However, transportation bans and delays in China are raising concerns about raw materials shipments and the ability to deliver finished products to customers.